Comparison: New SSRS PDF Viewer vs. Docentric Viewer

It was a long time ago when Microsoft announced that for D365FO environments on-premises no viewer for SSRS reports would be available – ever. Docentric addressed this shortcoming by introducing an embedded PDF viewer that works in both on-premises and cloud environments.

To be honest, it wasn’t so hard to embed the best open-source component for rendering PDFs on the world today, and we can only be proud that Microsoft followed our example, starting from the D365FO version 10.0.3 PU 27. Yes, that’s right – both new SSRS PDF Viewer and Docentric Viewer are based on the same component called PDF.js.

Since Docentric Viewer is part of our Free Edition, which means it works for all your SSRS reports, let’s take a look if there are some advantages of new SSRS PDF Viewer over Docentric Viewer to help you decide whether you should turn it on and start using it.

How to turn on new SSRS PDF Viewer

In D365FO navigate to the hidden menu item SysReportAdministration and turn on the Preview documents using embedded PDF viewer option.

https://usnconeboxax1aos.cloud.onebox.dynamics.com/?cmp=usmf&mi=SysReportAdministration

Is there any difference at all?

If you select SSRS Screen as the target print destination when printing a report, Microsoft’s PDF viewer will open the generated report (if turned on as previously described), and if you select Docentric Screen, Docentric Viewer will be used instead.

As already said, both Docentric and Microsoft embedded the same open-source PDF web viewer PDF.js, but while Microsoft just left PDF.js mostly as is, we made a few additional customization on our custom control (i.e. Docentric Viewer) containing PDF.js. Check below which ones.

Printing to local printers and Download as PDF

Both viewers support this. The only difference is that you can configure the name of the downloading report opened in Docentric Viewer (e.g. "Invoice 2019-707.pdf").

 

Export to Word and Excel

When a report opened in Docentric Viewer, you can export it to Word or Excel. There is a limitation though: Export to Word works only for Docentric designs, and Export to Excel for SSRS designs. The good news is that we are committed to support both Export to Word and Excel for all designs by the end of the year.

Support for multi-document output reports such as Customer account statement

Currently this feature is not working for new SSRS PDF Viewer, if number of printing reports is greater than 5, a fixed value from the SRSFramework macro. This is probably a bug, which Microsoft will fix in one of the next releases.

 

 

On the other hand, when using Docentric Viewer, you can set up maximum number of open reports, while the rest of them will be downloaded as a ZIP in the browser.

 

 

Also, for pre-processed SSRS reports such as Customer invoice and Purchase order, SSRS PDF Viewer takes care of cleaning report tables when a user closes it. This is actually a matter of legacy – namely, SSRS PDF Viewer generates a report, opens it and consequently has to clean the report pre-processed tables on exit. However, this is a less robust solution than cleaning those report tables outside the viewer, i.e. in report execution pipeline for other print destinations, as it happens when Docentric Viewer is used.

Opening large documents

For large documents SSRS PDF Viewer will send the output PDF file for downloading in browser.

 

On the contrary, Docentric Viewer is capable of opening large files, because it operates with a large PDF document content divided in chunks.

 

Preview before print

We employed Docentric Viewer for the Preview before print functionality, which works with other Docentric print destinations File, Printer, Email and Print archive. When a report is open in the viewer, you can still cancel the report execution if you are not satisfied how the report looks. This feature is very convenient when emailing quotes or purchase orders. Additionally, you can check how the outgoing email looks like, or how the default printer name is resolved.

 

 

Fixing bugs not included in official PDF.js releases

We do not know what the Microsoft’s update policy regarding PDF.js and SSRS PDF Viewer is, but let us tell you about ours. Not just that we update Docentric Viewer on regular basis with the latest PDF.js releases but we are also keen to apply those bug-fixes which are not going to become part of official PDF.js releases. Just recently we fixed one such issue for corrupted margins and wrong orientation when printing documents to local printers from the PDF.js viewer (i.e. Docentric Viewer) running in Internet Explorer.

Further customization

Since we built our own custom control, we can easily extend it in order to add additional functionalities. So if you have an idea or a thought to share with us on how to improve Docentric Viewer, don’t hesitate to get in touch and tell us about it.

For example, enabling document printing from the viewer via DRA is already on our roadmap. This option existed in the old SSRS Viewer and proved to be useful for certain scenarios. In one of the next releases users will be able to print from Docentric Viewer using both local and network printers as well as to use Docentric’s Default Printer functionality.

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