For both PHP and ASP.NET, which reporting tool you prefer to create, preview and print reports? Not just printing the web-page directly, any professional third-party or an open-source tool.
We use ASP.Net here and for our reports we use Crystal Reports. The pro for that one is that you can do pretty much anything with it. The cons are many and trying to figure out how to do what you want can be a bit of a chore. The major issue being googling is annoying, as everything is behind a pay wall. Everyone wants to make money off of their Crystal knowledge.
I know some teams in my company also use SQL Reporting Services. The major issue we've found there is that the report viewer runs in an ActiveX control. Not all of our clients wish to install the add on to run the report.
At my last company, we used a third party library by DevExpress that had a very nice grid. We allowed full client editing of the grid so they could arrange and group columns how they wanted, then we provided an Excel export option. Once the use got the data the way they wanted it on the screen, they could just export the report and print it that way. We also provided an option to save their settings so they could pull it out for later.
I guess it all depends what you are looking for. There is more than likely an option out there for you, but you need to figure out what your needs are and what requirements you need to fulfill for your customers.
There are tools like Crystal, PDF and DevExpress. At this very moment i was tooked over a project that have a "free" installation of Crystal and ASPX-based functionality to create and print reports through the web browser.
What I often think of those third party based reports (Also as visitor), they are easy/clean enough to build up dynamically with pure CSS/HTML as output. Pros: The client doesn't have to understand controls and the server doesn't have to deal with (not seldom) heavy installations of reporting software. Such installations also make future migrations more complicated. Lastly: In the end, in some solutions, there are same amount of coding to create the output.
Yes you create even bars and (at least simple) graph with html and css. If complicated graph you have free (if importan) flash plugins that create nice outputs. Take a look at 'FusionCharts Free'.
A 500 pages report sounds too complex for pure html printing though. Due to memory issues, reading in all content to browser.
Please take a look at Windward Reports (disclaimer - I'm the CTO there). We work very well with both PHP and ASP.NET (both C# and VB). With Windward you design the reports in Word, Excel, and/or PowerPoint so design is a breeze.