Archive for the 'Products' Category

Updated comparison of Crystal Reports viewers (2017)

Tuesday 26 September 2017 @ 5:08 pm

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 nine 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.

There are 9 active products in this year’s review and 4 “ghost” products that are mentioned as warnings.  A ghost product has a web site but it hasn’t changed in years and no one responds to repeated requests for information.

The active vendors are:

Crystal Corral by Groff Automation
rptView by Pursuit Technology
cView by Chelsea Technologies
ViewerFX by Origin Software
CrystalKiwi Viewer by CrystalKiwi
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.

25% off Find it EZ products

Thursday 21 September 2017 @ 12:26 pm

SAP recently selected Find it EZ products for their first cloud platform partner spotlight. To celebrate, Find it EZ is taking 25% off the price of any new license purchase for Code Search Pro or Dev Surge 365 Enterprise. The offer is currently till October 30.

Here are links to the two product links, but they only work if you are signed in to an SAP account:
Code Search Pro (Desktop or Server editions)
Dev Surge 365 Enterprise

Also note these products may be sold as purchases or subscriptions. For a regular sale the discount is off the purchase price. For subscriptions the discount is on the first year’s license.

Free software for the Houston area

Tuesday 5 September 2017 @ 11:14 pm

From the R-Tag web site:

R-Tag is providing free licenses to companies in the Houston area. The offer is valid until the end of September 2017.

The eligible products are: R-Tag Documentation and Search and R-Tag Crystal Reports Data Source updater.

We already have a free Crystal reports viewer and scheduler (R-Tag Community edition), which might be useful too.

R-Tag Documentation and Search and R-Tag Crystal Reports Data Source updater are useful with Crystal reports migration, backup processing and report development and we hope they might be helpful to companies in the Houston area with on-site servers.

If you are in the Houston area and want to take advantage of this offer, please see the R-Tag contact page.

Crystal Reports Language for Notepad++

Sunday 27 August 2017 @ 9:59 pm

Last week I wrote about using Notepad++ for working with SQL Commands and formulas. I loved the numbered lines and the way it finds matching parens. But I missed the green comments and blue functions. Notepad++ has about 80 languages that it can format correctly but Crystal formula syntax wasn’t one of them. So I decided to see if I could create a custom language for Notepad++ that would format Crystal formulas the way they appear in the formula editor.

After several hours of experiments I have something that I like. It will format a Crystal formula with functions in blue and comments in green. I even added the literals in red like you see in SQL. And you still get numbered lines and the ability to find matching parens and brackets. I even added the ability to fold (temporarily hide) sections between a pair of parens.

So, if you are using Notepad++ and would like to try my Crystal language you can right-click on the link below and save the xml file onto your hard drive. If you just click the link normally your browser will likely open the XML in a new window.

CrystalReports Language UDL for Notepadd++

Then to deploy the file in Notepad++:
1) From the Notepad++ menu go to [Language > Define your language ]
2) At the top of the window click “Import” and open the CrystalReports.xml file you downloaded.
3) Close and Reopen NotePad++

Then when you click “Language” from the Notepad++ menu you should see Crystal Reports at the bottom of the list.  When you select Crystal Reports, the current window should display Crystal formulas in the correct format.  If you get any strange behavior, please let me know.

Using NotePad++ for formulas or SQL Commands

Thursday 24 August 2017 @ 5:50 pm

If you have to write SQL commands or complicated Crystal formulas, it helps to have a good text editor. My favorite is NotePad++. Not only is it free, but it can do many helpful things beyond what Notepad can do:

  • Number each line.
  • Highlight the corresponding paren/bracket whenever you select a paren/bracket
  • Highlight all the instances of any word that you select
  • Record keystroke macros to automatically repeat a series of commands
  • Select a vertical strip of characters from within of a larger block of text (called “column mode”). (e.g. highlight the 5th and 6th characters in all rows at once)
  • Find all of the differences between two text blocks or two lists, using the “compare” plugin.
  • “Fold” (collapse and expand) sections between parentheses or keywords

It can even format the code for 80 different programming languages, including SQL, showing reserved words and comments in different colors. Within a week I will have a UDL (User Defined Language) for Crystal Reports formula syntax. That will allow NotePadd++ to format a Crystal formula to look the same as it would in Crystal, with the comments in green and the functions in blue.

If you want to try out NotePad++ the best place to get it is through  I have written about Ninite before. The advantage of Ninite is that it lets you select multiple items from a list of 80+ freeware apps. Then it gives you a tiny exe that installs all the applications you chose (and nothing else) with one click. No questions, no toolbars no ‘bonus’ apps.  It is one of the few places left where you can get freeware without junk.

RPT management utilities for 2017

Sunday 30 July 2017 @ 2:19 pm

I have just updated my comparison of RPT management utilities for 2017. These are tools that allow you to scan, document, compare and in some cases batch update RPT files.  The list now includes 9 tools:

Report Runner Documentor by Jeff-Net
R-Tag Documentation and Search by R-Tag
CR Data Source by R-Tag
Visual CUT and DataLink Viewer by Millet Software
Report Miner by the Retsel Group
Code Search Professional by Find it EZ Software Corp.
Dev Surge 365 by Find it EZ Software Corp.
Report Analyzer by Cortex Systems
.rpt Inspector 3 Professional Suite by Software Forces, LLC

Crystal Reports versions over time (2017)

Wednesday 28 June 2017 @ 6:43 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 signed 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 2017, even though the year is only about half way there. Those numbers will change in next year’s chart when 2016 is complete.

The chart shows that over 40% of my 2017 subscribers are using Crystal Reports XI, which is over 10 years old. I was concerned that some users might really be on CR 2011 and confused the numbers. Those two versions get confused quite often. So I Emailed some of those people to see if that was a factor, but so far I haven’t heard from anyone who made that mistake.

I think the main factor is probably related to the runtime engine. For some CR customers, upgrading past XI would be a major undertaking, because all the newer versions are limited to the .NET runtime. Customers built an application around the older runtime engine would have to rebuild their app in order to upgrade to a later version of CR.

Version of Crystal Reports used by my subscribers each year

Server-based scheduler comparison (2017)

Monday 29 May 2017 @ 4:28 pm

I have just updated my comparison of server-based scheduling tools for 2017. These tools are similar to the desktop-based scheduling tools I write about every March, but these are designed to be run on server. This allows multiple people to schedule reports for automated delivery by Email, FTP or network folder.

There are 11 products on the list this year (one new) and a few few feature updates and price changes. The blog page provides a brief overview of each product. It also has a link to the feature matrix that compares roughly 70 features of these tools. There is even a feature glossary that defines all the terms. So if you need a short course in automating Crystal Reports delivery, this is a pretty good place to start.

Reports on a phone with no server to setup

Sunday 2 April 2017 @ 1:45 pm

The team at SaberLogic has just created a new way to deploy Crystal Reports on the web. It is a SaaS tool called Bezlio. Bezlio allows users to run reports on demand from the browser on any device (including your phone). But the difference is that you don’t have to set up a web server to provide access. Instead you install something called the Bezlio Remote Data Broker (BRDB) anywhere inside your network firewall. It is the BRDB that actually runs the reports, which are delivered as PDFs back to the user’s browser. Between the user and the BRDB is the Bezlio cloud service.

A user opens a browser and logs into Bezlio like they would with any web portal. Bezlio notifies the BRDB which is listening for requests, and the BRDB sends a list of reports approved for that user. The user selects a report and the BRDB asks the user to fill in any parameters needed for that report. The BRDB then runs the report inside your system and generates the result as a PDF which is sent back to the browser through Bezlio’s server. No data is stored in the cloud and no ports need to be opened in your firewall. All the transfers are token based and encrypted.

For example, I could set up the BRDB on my office workstation and run reports from my phone without having to maintain my own web server. The setup sounds simple and the cost for me as a single user would be $35 a month. The cost for 10 users is $25 per user per month with a 20% discount for buying a full year. The price drops as the user count goes up.

Each Bezlio user license includes a free copy of Logicity Professional so that you can push scheduled reports out if needed, but scheduling is done within the local network, not through the browser.

Two other things to keep in mind. First, the SaaS model is more expensive than buying a portal product in the long run.  This is because you are paying someone to maintain the infrastructure for you. Second, a PDF isn’t interactive.  If you rely on things like drill-down or on-demand subreports you won’t have these in the Bezlio model. But I can see this being popular with a certain segment of users.  For a full list of competitive products in this family you can read my annual comparison of web deployment options.

Comparison of desktop-based schedulers (2017 update)

Monday 27 March 2017 @ 9:22 pm

How would you like your reports to be automatically run, exported to a PDF and delivered to your Email InBox every Monday morning at 6am? The Crystal Reports designer doesn’t provide a way to do this (unless you upgrade to CR Server or BO Enterprise). But if you look at third party products like those on my LINKS page you will find several reasonably priced or free tools that do this. Some do even more. So every March I go through the list and publish a feature comparison on my blog.

There are 12 products in the list this year. The page linked above provides a brief description of each product and lists the features that set it apart. Then there is a detailed feature matrix that shows the key specifics for comparison including prices. To clarify the matrix terminology I have written a feature glossary to explain what each feature means. Finally there are links to the vendor websites so that you can get more information on each product. In May I will be updating a separate article that compares server based scheduling tools. If you think one person can manage all of your scheduling you are probably fine with one of the desktop tools, regardless of the number of people receiving the scheduled output. But if you plan to have multiple people scheduling reports then you may want to consider a server based tool.

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