Archive for the 'Products' Category

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.

Save money on rePORTAL

Friday 24 March 2017 @ 10:29 am

Reportal Software has just released rePORTAL 6.1, a new version of their web portal for Crystal Reports.  They are offering a 10% discount on all server license fees through April 15, 2017.  I don’t see the server price on their web site but the price was $3,000 per server in January when I did my latest annual review.  That link is also a great place for more information on rePORTAL and the other third party web portals.

Visual Cut adds RPT management capabilities

Tuesday 7 February 2017 @ 11:35 pm

Visual Cut has always been a solid desktop scheduler. I have used it for years to send out my invoices.

But Ido Millet of Millet software has recently added some new features that allow you to scan multiple reports. The scan reads in the database fields, text objects, SQL expressions and all formulas (including selection formulas and property expressions). You can group, sort, search, and export the results. You can also find & replace text and expressions and save the updated versions of these reports. Ido has posted a video demo of this.

Another video demo shows how you can deploy an entire series of new formulas in Excel and import these new formulas into multiple reports. With these new features, Visual Cut will now be included in my annual comparison of RPT management utilities.

Web based deployment options compared (2017)

Friday 27 January 2017 @ 1:00 am

There are many ways to deploy Crystal Reports to users. I normally lean toward the simpler and less expensive options, like locally installed viewers, or scheduled delivery of PDF output. But there are environments where a web based option is necessary. The “official” options from SAP are Crystal (Reports) Server and BO Enterprise. But there are other, less expensive products out there that also web delivery of Crystal Reports. These third party products allow your users to run and view reports from a browser. You can also centrally manage your report deployment from a browser.

I have created a page on my blog that lists and compares these products, and I update it every January. This year the list features 10 products, three of which are being listed for the first time:

Crystal Reports Server – a traditional Web portal
Report Runner Web Portal – a traditional Web portal
IntelliFront BI – a traditional Web portal
Ripplestone – a traditional Web portal
RVweb – a traditional Web portal
rePORTAL CR – a traditional Web portal
ReCrystallize Pro – a launch page generator for the web
ReCrystallize Server – a server-based web viewer
Report Launch – a bridge between BO server products and server based applications
RapidStack – Web Portal service built around Business Objects Enterprise

The blog page mentioned above contains a brief rundown on what each product does and provides links to all of the product web sites. I have also posted a feature matrix (PDF) that shows some of the specifics for comparison, including prices. This year there are several new lines in the matrix. They show which tools provide workflow/BPA support, Web APIs, password management and menu localization. If you have any feedback to share on these tools I would be happy to hear from you.

Reduced prices for the “Expert” series

Sunday 8 January 2017 @ 11:29 pm

Starting this month, the prices for the “Expert” series of educational PDFs have all been cut in half. So if you were hesitant, maybe the new prices will make it easier to try them out.

Check out the full list of titles here along with the new prices.

New web portal from ChristianSteven Software

Thursday 15 December 2016 @ 10:48 pm

ChristianSteven Software has released a new web portal product in 2016 called IntelliFront BI. It can run Crystal Reports, SSRS Reports and MS Power BI dashboards.  It also allows you to create and run proprietary KPI reports and scorecards.

As a web portal, it allows users to run reports on demand.  But it can also run them automatically, either on a fixed schedule or based on data driven events. This allows you to automate business processes and workflows.

It even includes a web service API for integration with other tools and systems. The license is $50,000 which includes unlimited users, unlimited servers and unlimited cores.  They offer a free live demo for those who are interested.

ReCrystalize releases ReCrystalize Server web portal

Thursday 8 December 2016 @ 12:26 am

ReCrystalize has just released a simple web portal called ReCrystalize Server. It allows you to make your Crystal Reports available on an IIS server. Users can browse the reports which are stored in folders. They can then open and refresh the reports through their browser. ReCrystalize Server will prompt the users for any necessary parameters, or you can set up links to run reports with fixed parameters embedded within the URL.

The cost is $995 per server with an optional $500 per year for support and maintenance. For more information you can read about ReCrystalize Server on the ReCrystalize website. There is even a live demo to show you how it works.

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