Archive for the 'Products' Category



Crystal Reports formula function libraries (2016)

Saturday 26 November 2016 @ 11:52 pm

It is time for my annual comparison of formula function libraries. If you aren’t familiar with User Function Libraries (or UFLs) they are DLL files that add new formula functions to your Crystal Reports formula editor. With these functions your formulas can do some pretty amazing things like:

1) Carry values from today’s report to tomorrow’s report
2) Carry values from one report to another.
3) Append lines of text to an external text file.
4) Automatically copy a value to the clipboard.
5) Check the user name of the user running the report.
6) See if a file or folder exists (on your network or on the internet).
7) Rename/copy/delete a file on your hard drive or network drive.
8) Launch an application or run a batch file.
9) Execute a SQL statement (Select/Insert/Delete).
10) Send an Email using information in the report.
11) Create a table of contents or an index for your report.
12) Calculate distances between zip codes or long./lat. coordinates.

If this sounds interesting you can read my complete comparison including a list of all the functions provided by each DLL. The five UFL providers are:

Bjarke Viksoe (U2lwin32)
Maginus Software (CRUFLMAG)
Millet Software (Cut Light)
Chelsea Tech (File Mgt, Text, Share and others)
CrystalKiwi (Export, Table of Contents)

The only product that has changed since last year is Cut Light, which now includes a handful of new functions:

  • Convert time strings (hh:mm) into seconds
  • Resize images
  • Convert HTML or a URL into an image
  • Set/Get/Reset lookup values in memory arrays

If you need help deploying one of these functions in a project let me know.




Save 10% on Crystal Reports

Thursday 10 November 2016 @ 5:58 pm

For a limited time, you can save 10% on any Crystal solutions product purchased individually. Just visit crystalreports.com to buy new licenses or upgrade from an older version. Then use the promo code:

TENCRYSTAL

And if you want to purchase one NUL (named user license) of the following three products:

SAP Crystal Reports
SAP Crystal Dashboard Design (Excelsius)
SAP Crystal Server

You can click here to purchase the entire bundle for $495 (a savings of 43%).  Of course there isn’t much to be done with one NUL of CR server, and I don’t use Excelsius myself. But if you were planning to use these products this is an inexpensive way to get them.

And if these links or promo code stop working, I would call the SAP Sales number and ask for the discounts.  It never hurts to ask.




Automatically translate report text to another language

Sunday 30 October 2016 @ 10:39 am

Supporting multiple languages in Crystal Reports just became much easier.  Ido Millet of Millet Software has added a new translation feature to DataLink Viewer.  This allows reports to automatically translate all static text objects from one language to another.   The feature taps into Google Translate, so it supports any of the 100 or so languages that Google supports.  Automated translation is not perfect, but I have found that Google Translate is amazingly accurate for an automated tool, and is getting better all the time.

To take advantage of this feature the report has to be run with web access.  It also needs a Google account and a Google API key.  The Google API key is not free but it is only $20 for 1 million translated characters.  (DLV only translates each text object once per report, even if it appears on multiple pages.)

If you want to translate the dynamic content of your reports (fields and formulas) then you can add Millet Software’s Cut Light dll to your environment.  This adds a formula function that can pass text from fields and formulas to the same API for translation.

Here is a link to the new section of DLV user manual which explains how it all works and a short video demonstration.

If you have a use for this I am sure that Ido would be happy to hear from you.




Updated comparison of Crystal Reports viewers (2016)

Saturday 24 September 2016 @ 9:20 am

You use Crystal Reports to create, change and run reports. But what if you have users who just need to refresh/view/print/export? Do they need copies of Crystal Reports? Do you need to configure an expensive web server?

The most cost effective method for letting a user run reports is to install a third-party client-based viewer. They are offered by a dozen different vendors.  Don’t get sidetracked by the “viewer” that is put out by SAP because that tool won’t refresh reports.  Every viewer in my list allows you to refresh reports.

Every September I compare the features of these viewers and post the results. The comparison page provides a brief introduction to each product including what sets it apart. There is also a detailed feature matrix (PDF) that shows some of the specifics for comparison, like prices. I have even included a glossary of features in case you aren’t familiar with the terminology.

This year there are 12 vendors in the review but one of them is only listed as a warning (EasyStreet Software).   The web site is still there so I keep including them, but I am not sure if the purchases pages work.  Customers haven’t heard from them in several years and the Better Business Bureau has given them a “D-” rating for not responding to complaints.

The 11 active vendors are:

Crystal Corral by Groff Automation
rptView by Pursuit Technology
cView by Chelsea Technologies
ViewerFX by Origin Software
Crystal Kiwi Viewer by Crystal Kiwi
Report Viewer Pro by Report Viewer Limited
RV by Climate 27
Logicity Pro by SaberLogic
Report Runner Viewer by Jeff-Net
RTag Report Viewer by RTag
DataLink Viewer by Millet SW

If you have feedback to provide on any of these products, I would love to know what you think.




RPT management utilities for 2016

Tuesday 26 July 2016 @ 11:51 pm

I have just updated my comparison of RPT management utilities for 2016. These are tools that allow you to scan, document, compare and in some cases batch update RPT files.  The list now includes 8 tools:

Report Runner Documentor by Jeff-Net
R-Tag Documentation and Search by R-Tag
R-Tag Version Control by R-Tag
Report Miner by the Retsel Group
Code Search Professional by Find it EZ Software Corp.
Dev Surge Enterprise by Find it EZ Software Corp.
Report Analyzer by Cortex Systems
.rpt Inspector 3 Professional Suite by Software Forces, LLC




SAP embraces the Crystal ecosystem

Saturday 23 July 2016 @ 2:15 pm

Something has changed at SAP. In the past it was rare that I heard them mention third party products. Now they are openly promoting them on their web site through the SAP Analytics Extension Directory. It is great to see them embracing the rich ecosystem that makes Crystal Reports so powerful. So, if you are a Crystal user or a Crystal-related vendor you might want check it out. It lists all sorts of add-on tools for the entire SAP product line, including Crystal Reports, and it even allows users to rate the tools. The Crystal selection is still small, but it should eventually be a nice compliment to my Product Links page and annual comparisons.

The real surprise was when someone from SAP asked me to list my formulas page in the directory. I declined once because it required a partnership agreement with SAP (lots of fine print). But then they changed it to a simpler “vendor agreement”. So I went through the process this week to list that one page. It is currently the only free extension listed for Crystal Reports.

So if you are a vendor you should consider submitting your product. I found the process relatively painless.




Special offer from Find it EZ

Thursday 7 July 2016 @ 11:29 pm

The team at Find it EZ have announced a special promotion through August 12th. If you can show that you own a license for any of the RPT management utilities in my annual review matrix, they will give you a free 1-year subscription to their latest Dev Surge 365 product. Dev Surge 365 supports the latest versions of Crystal Reports/BOE and also provides native support for SAP HANA. So if you were thinking about an upgrade, this is worth checking out.

To claim your free license, first register on finditez.com. Then contact sales@finditez.com to submit proof of purchase. They will send you your free copy of Dev Surge 365. If you are an existing Find it EZ customers you are also eligible for a free additional license if you can show proof of a past purchase of one of these products.




Crystal Reports versions over time (2016)

Tuesday 14 June 2016 @ 11:34 pm

I do this chart each year based on my newsletter subscribers.  It shows the version of Crystal Reports that they were using when they sign up for the newsletter. Over time, it shows which versions have staying power and how quickly new versions take hold. I have included numbers for 2016, even though the year is only about half way there. Those numbers will change in next year’s chart when 2016 is complete.

Note that almost 1/4 of users are still using Crystal Reports XI, which is over 10 years old. That is roughly the same as the user base for the next two versions combined.  That may be partly because all versions after XI are limited to the .NET runtime engine.

versionmix2016




Crystal Reports 2016 new features

Thursday 9 June 2016 @ 2:55 pm

After 8 years I have finally purchased a new version of Crystal Reports. I skipped the last two upgrades because there wasn’t enough to justify the cost of the upgrade. But there are several new features in CR 2016. Here is what’s new:

Formatting conditions for lines and boxes:
Six new formula condition buttons to control formatting properties of lines and boxes based on data or parameter conditions:

Suppression
Style
Width
Border color
Fill Color (Boxes Only)
Drop Shadow (Boxes Only)

Vertical Alignment Control:
Before now, all objects were top-aligned. Now there is a control that allows you to set vertical alignment to top, center or bottom. And there is a formula condition button that allows you to change the alignment based on data or parameter conditions. The function constants are:
crTopAligned
crCenteredVertically
crBottomAligned

Functions:
GetValueDescriptions()
When you create a parameter you are allowed to assign a description to each parameter value. Before CR 2016 you were only able to use the parameter values in your formulas. There was no easy way to get to the descriptions associated with the chosen values, although there were some cumbersome workarounds. Crystal 2016 has a new function that can read this list of descriptions. Here is a formula that would display the descriptions of all the selected values for the {?items} parameter.

Join( GetValueDescriptions( {?Items} ) , ‘, ‘ )

Range Functions
These functions are for getting the top and bottom from ranges values, but they don’t provide any new capabilities that I can see. They do the same thing that CR already does with the minimum() and maximum() functions. They were probably added to make the CR formula language more compatible with other languages.

GetLowerBound()
GetUpperBound()




Crystal Reports 2016 is being sold?

Sunday 29 May 2016 @ 1:28 pm

I just purchased CR 2016, but it might just be a fluke of the SAP store.

One of my customers needs to buy a new copy of Crystal Reports. They asked if the should buy CR 2013 or CR 2016. I told them that CR 2016 was not yet released and they said it was listed in the SAP store. So I went to the Crystal Reports product page and hit “buy SAP Crystal Reports”. It took me to CR 2013. But then I clicked the product name to see the store listing for CR 2013. and on that page, in the list of “Other Versions” of the product, was a link to “SAP Crystal Reports 2016“. That link allowed me to put Crystal Reports 2016 into my cart and purchase it.

I already have CR 2008 so I purchased the upgrade to CR 2016. I received a download link, downloaded the software and started to install it. But the download link didn’t come with an installation key. I received the key 48 hours later.

I still have a suspicion that the store prepared the purchase page to be ready for the upcoming release, but didn’t mean to make it visible.  That would explain why the product page points to CR 2013. Also, no one else is selling or even mentioning CR 2016. SAP usually offers a big promotional discount on the current versions just before the new version is released and I haven’t seen that.

But despite all of that that the SAP store is selling CR 2016.  And, I have confirmed that the new features listed in my previous blog post are actually in the live product.




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