Jet Express for Excel vs Jet Professional: Should You Upgrade? Part 3 – Freeform Reporting Using the NL Function

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This is part three in an ongoing series that explores the differences between Jet Reports‘ Jet Express for Excel and Jet Professional, and whether upgrading is the best decision for your organization.

Jet Express for Excel includes two Jet Functions: GL and NL, as well as the Table Builder Wizard. All of these tools are greatly expanded in the full version, Jet Professional. The NL Function, in particular, becomes one of the most important functions because it allows you to design freeform reports.

What does “freeform” mean for reporting? In Jet Professional, it means that you can design a report in Excel to look any way you wish. Within the limitations of what Excel can display, you can enter formulas into any cell on an Excel worksheet. This adds a high degree of flexibility that Jet Express for Excel does not have. The NL Function is often the main function in a freeform report, as it is primarily a lookup function. It allows you to create dynamic reports that can change dramatically depending on the filters you use and the returned data. This differs greatly from GL-style financial reports that are usually quite static, with only the numbers changing each month. When you want to report on other areas from your ERP where the results are different each time, a freeform report is very useful.

While the NL Function is available in Jet Express for Excel, it is limited in functionality compared to the full version. It mainly allows you to edit the formulas that you create using the Table Builder. In Jet Professional, you can access more than 10 additional parameters to use in your NL formulas. These allow you to use them throughout a report, rather than just to build a table.

Parameters in Jet Express for Excel vs Jet Professional

Jet Professional NL
Jet Express for Excel NL


The full NL Function is also much more flexible than it initially appears. When combined with the other Jet Functions, it becomes even more powerful. I’ll cover the other two Jet Functions not available in Jet Express for Excel, NF and NP, in a future blog post.

Some potential applications of freeform reports using Jet Professional that are not possible using Jet Express for Excel include:

  • Document-style reports such as custom shipping advice, custom invoices or any other custom documents.
  • Financial Reports dynamically update the rows if you change any of the accounts in the Chart of Accounts.
  • Multi-level grouping reports showing subtotals by group. Examples of this may be Item Sales by Item Category or Posting Group, or Customer Sales by Region.
  • Reports that require pictures such as a company logo that may change depending on which company you are reporting on in your database.
  • Report options (filters) allow for database lookup at the point you run the report, for example, when you select a specific customer or dimension.
  • Reports that require a new worksheet to be dynamically created in the workbook based on the options selected, for example, a departmental report with a new sheet for each department.

If your reporting needs require any of the above functionality, then there is a good chance that you will receive great value by upgrading to the Jet Professional product.

Case Study: Jet Reports imple,mentation for Innpower Corporation
See how BDO IT Solutions implemented a BI solution that improved their capital reporting and variance analysis capabilities.


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