Archive for the 'Products' Category
I have just updated my comparison of server-based scheduling tools for 2013. 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 again this year with a few feature updates and price changes since last year. The article provides a brief overview of each product. It also links to a 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, you have come to the right place.
When I started teaching Crystal Reports in 1995 I was also teaching another tool called R&R. In comparing the two I found that R&R had about 20 features that were missing from that year’s version of Crystal. Crystal had five features I liked that were missing in R&R. But the next year, when the next version of CR came out, the numbers had flipped. Most of the R&R features that I had mentioned were now included in Crystal. That started my transition from R&R to Crystal. So yesterday, when I made my first attempt at comparing Crystal Reports and SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) there was a bit of déjà vu.
For the past 8 years I have been able to Continue Reading »
Crystal Reports vs SSRS
If you have been considering purchasing Find it EZ then you might want to do before the end of March. The developers of Find it EZ are offering my readers a 25% discount on purchases through 3/31/2013. Use this link to get the discount. And they are planning a price increase in mid-March so if you use the link now there is an extra savings.
If you aren’t familiar with Find it EZ, it is a source code scanning tool that I have written about as part of my comparison of RPT management utilities. It can search your entire application, including your RPT files, for the use of specific tables, fields and text.
The promotion this month is to highlight some recent updates. Find it EZ is now:
- certified to run on Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012
- certified for Citrix Server with floating license concurrent distributed user support
- certified for SQL Server 2012 and latest version of SSRS
- able to search your database by owner or schema
- able to scan within MS Query files
If you have tried it and have any feedback, please let me know.
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 server based option is necessary. The “official” options from SAP are Crystal (Reports) Server and BO Enterprise. You can read about these on the SAP website. But there are other, less expensive products out there that many users never see. These are third party products that allow you to centrally manage your report deployment from your server.
There is a page on my blog that lists and compares these products, and I update it every January. This year the list includes the same 7 products from last year and one new product that was just released: Continue Reading »
Server based deployment options compared (2013)
I think it was in 1996 that the Crystal Reports part of my business took the lead over the R&R Report Writer part. Every since then I have been looking out for the next tool to take the lead. So I like to stay exposed to the alternatives to the Crystal Reports product line. With that in mind I found an interesting article comparing Pentaho and JasperSoft as alternatives to the Business Objects and Oracle product lines. These are not so much competitors to stand-alone Crystal Reports, but are more comparable to the server level tools like CR Server or BO Enterprise. Both Pentaho and JasperSoft offer a free ‘open source’ version as well as a commercial version, which makes them appealing to small businesses. Of course the cost of the software is only part of the equation and you have to factor in the time it takes to install and configure these tools, and the overhead to maintain them. I find that very few of my customers need ‘full stack’ solutions like these. I just like to stay informed.
It is time for my annual comparison of formula function libraries, and this year I have added a new one, which is actually a very old one. It has been hiding at the bottom of my LINKS page for a decade and you can read about it here.
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, or from one report to another.
2) Append lines to an external text file.
3) Automatically copy a value to the clipboard.
4) Check the user name of the user running the report.
5) See if a file or folder exists – either on your network or on the internet (http).
6) Rename/copy/delete a file on your hard drive or network drive.
7) Launch an application or run a batch file.
8) Execute a SQL statement (Select/Insert/Delete).
9) Send an Email using information in the report.
10) Create a table of contents or an index for your report.
11) 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)
If you need help deploying one of these functions in a project let me know. I am sure I will be able to help.
I have been writing about UFLs now for several years. So I was a bit chagrined this week when I realized that I have been hosting a UFL on my site since 2002 and never thought to include it in the review. This UFL was written by Paul Birch who was with a group in the UK called Maginus Software Solutions. He gave me a free copy and also allowed me to host a copy for others to use on my site. It has been on my LINKS page ever since. I just tested it and it works just fine in versions 8.5, 10 and 12 so I am guessing it will work in other versions as well.
The main reason I found it useful is that it has a function that will strip out any punctuation from a string. I think it does this by only allowing English characters, numbers and spaces. If you deal with international character sets Continue Reading »
Rediscovering a long forgotten UFL
I recently got a chance to work on a project using Crystal Reports to read QuickBooks data. To read QB data from CR you have to use a special ODBC driver called QODBC put out by FLEXquarters. This an unusual driver in that when it queries the QB tables it displays a small counter panel for each table, showing the records returned from that table. If your report includes 6 tables and you will see a stack of 6 small windows pop open and close as QODBC assembles your data set. There is a switch to hide them if you choose.
We found another quirk when tried to deploy the reports to users with a client side viewer program. The report worked fine in CR but would not return any data through the viewer. It took a while to find the problem. Before QODBC can access QB data you have to run the first query while you are logged into QB as an administrator. The instructions made this sound like a one time process, but we found that Continue Reading »
Crystal Reports and QuickBooks
I recently wrote about a DLL that can post a tweet directly to your twitter account. There are also some desktop scheduling tools and server-based scheduling tools that can post messages directly to twitter. These are all in the $1000 and up price range. Now there is a third option to consider.
Ido Millet of Millet software recently wrote up a case study in the user manual of Visual Cut (page 41). It shows how the Santa Monica Fire Department uses Visual CUT to tweet calls for service as they entered into their database. A report is scheduled Continue Reading »
A new way to Tweet report data
I have written before about 2 free tools that allow you to generate PDFs simply by printing your report – or virtually any printable document. I recently learned about a third free tool offered by the folks at pdfconverter.com. They offer a completly free version of their commercial PDF creation software. It does everything that the other 2 tools do and it runs on 8 operating systems. The most surprising part is that it also comes with free support. I kept looking for a catch but I haven’t found one yet. It puts no watermarks or advertising into the PDF and has no time limit. The only advertising I saw was an upgrade panel that appears next to your print optins.
So if you are looking for a way to print out PDF documents, it is worth a try.