Archive for the 'Products' Category
A few months back I wrote about Sage (Peachtree) dropping the built in Crystal license from their 2015 accounting software. Today I heard from a customer who has already upgraded and realized something that I had missed. There is no longer the ability to run Crystal Reports from within the Sage menu. You can still write reports in Crystal if you have it. You can even use the “GetPeach” custom functions. But Crystal Reports can now be run only outside of Sage software.
This is important because it involves extra costs. To run the reports outside of Sage you either have to have a copy of Crystal Reports, or a third party report viewer. Since Crystal Reports is licensed by “named user” an office would need to have a separate Crystal Reports license for each person running reports – even if they all ran the reports on the same machine. Even with just a handful of users you would be talking thousands of new dollars. Fortunately these reports can also be run from third party viewer programs which are much less expensive. A viewer lets users open, refresh, preview, print and export reports. The difference is that the viewers don’t allow you to modify the reports. So I expect to see Sage customers shopping for viewers in the next year.
If you are not familiar with the available viewers you can read my annual comparison.
I have just updated my comparison of RPT management utilities for 2014. These are tools that allow you to scan, document, compare and update RPT files.
One vendor has closed shop since last year’s list. Within a month or so I expect one new product to be added and one existing product to release a major upgrade. Also, one of the current vendors is looking to sell the rights to their software. The current list of tools is below:
Report Miner by the Retsel Group
Find it EZ Code Search Professional by Find it EZ Software Corp.
Report Analyzer by Cortex Systems
.rpt Inspector 3 Professional Suite by Software Forces, LLC
This post will only be useful for developers who create reports that need to be launched from an application. I have written before about property called “Overriden Qualified Table Names” or OQTN. Filling in this property makes it easier to point the report to a different connection at runtime. The OQTN property starts out empty for each table. To use it you go into the properties of a table in “Set Datasource Location” and enter that table’s name into the OQTN property. You have to do this for each table, view or stored procedure in the report. It surprises me that this property isn’t filled in automatically at the time the table is added, like the table alias property.
A few months back a user contacted me because Continue Reading »
Automatically fill in “Overridden Qualified Table Names”
Cortex systems has two software packages that allow you to manage your RPT files. They are:
Report Analyzer – Allows you to search, cross-reference and document your reports
Object Compare – Finds all the differences between two objects, including RPT files and several other object types.
The developers at Cortex are changing their focus and are interested in selling the source code and IP for these two products. Anyone interested in finding out more can Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I recently met with a customer to discuss a project using Crystal Reports for Enterprise. This is the first time a customer has called about this product, which is one of the reasons I haven’t been in a hurry to experiment with it. Another reason is that it is only available within BO Enterprise. To experiment with it on my own would require configuring an Enterprise environment, including a Web Server and getting some data configured within Enterprise. Last, SAP is still in the process of incorporating all of CR’s features into this version, so it is a work in progress. The longer I put it off, the more complete it would be. For instance, support for subreports was added with the last release (4.1). But SAP has said that eventually this will be the only version of CR. If they make good on that I will have to migrate some day.
So, during the meeting I was able to check out a few of the standard feature windows, like the group expert and the section expert. I found that most Continue Reading »
Crystal Reports for Enterprise
My daughter always wants to try whatever the grownups are eating. When she was very young she saw my wife eating something new and blurted out:
“I want summa dat … wad is dat?”
We still laugh about that. And I often remember that when people call me about dashboards. They tell me they need a dashboard, and then they make it clear that they don’t really know what a dashboard is. Often, someone higher up has heard the buzzword or seen something flashy on a web site and decides that they want “summa dat”.
So lets start with a definition of a dashboard. According to the dashboard specialists at ExcelDashboardWidgets, a dashboard is a report that:
1) Fits on a single page or screen
2) Is graphical and easy to read
3) Shows Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
4) Shows the current status in real time*.
Of course, “real time” varies based on the need. In a manufacturing plant “real time” might mean Continue Reading »
Crystal Reports and dashboards
R-tag is introducing a new price point for their desktop scheduler, the Crystal Scheduler Edition at $299. They are still offering their free “community edition” without any support, but those that need support will now have less of a price hurdle when upgrading to the supported product. The $299 edition will only support Crystal Reports. If you want support for SSRS, ad-hoc queries and dashboards you will need to upgrade to the Pro Edition at $749. See my updated comparison for more information.
I have just updated my comparison of server-based scheduling tools for 2014. 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 8 products on the list this year with one new release and another being discontinued. There are also a few feature updates and price changes since last year. 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.
PeachTree Accounting, now known as Sage Accounting, has a long history of using CR as a reporting engine for custom reports. Sage currently comes with some standard Crystal Reports already written for you, and makes them available directly from the Sage menu. But according to an Email forwarded to me by one of my customers, this is about to change. Sage 50 2015 will no longer come with a version of Crystal reports. Instead Sage is providing an Excel based reporting tool called Sage 50 Business Intelligence. You will still be able to use Crystal if you purchase it yourself, or if you already have a copy from previous version of Sage. You can read the details in this CBA Blog post.
One concern was that Sage would stop supporting their custom functions. These are necessary for things like Quantity on Hand and Cost of Goods. I have written about some of these in the past. But Dave Smith at Phase One Computing Services was able to confirm that Sage is going to continue to provide an option to install these functions for users who still want to use Crystal. See the screenshot below from the 2015 version of Sage.
I have just posted a late-breaking and somewhat surprising update to my annual comparison of Desktop Schedulers. R-Tag has just released a “Community Edition” of their Report Manager … and made it FREE. This free edition has all the same features as the previous paid edition except for one, the ability to run SSRS and SQL Reports. But it can certainly run and schedule all of your Crystal Reports. It uses the latest runtime engine and it can serve as both a viewer and a scheduler.
Of course the free product doesn’t come with the support that you would get if you purchased the Pro Edition ($749). And, if you look at the comparison on the Community Edition page you will see that there are a few special features that you only get with the Pro Edition. But, the Community Edition still represents a powerful product with an impressive set of features – more than enough for most users. Just look at the R-Tag column in my feature grid (PDF) and you will see that their feature list is at the high end. And it is certainly hard to argue with free.
If you try it and want to share your feedback, please drop me a note.