Archive for the 'Products' Category
There have been reports of Crystal third party vendors that have gone out of business and/or at least stopped responding to calls and email. If you are looking to switch from an AWOL vendor, R-Tag is offering a 20% discount on their products from now until 9/1/2015. Just show them evidence of your product purchase and get a discount on:
– R-Tag Crystal Viewer
– R-Tag Crystal Reports Scheduler
– R-Tag Crystal reports bundle
For more information about viewers or schedulers (including R-Tag) see my annual comparisons:
I have just updated my comparison of RPT management utilities for 2015. These are tools that allow you to scan, document, compare and update RPT files. This year the number of products is twice as long as when I last posted about this category. The list now includes:
Report Runner Documentor by Jeff-Net
R-Tag Documentation and Search by R-Tag
CR Data Source 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
One of my customers has about 50 reports that all point to the same SQL Server database. When they moved their database they needed to “Set Location” for all 50 reports. Normally you can set all the tables from one connection to another in one step by updating the old connection to the new connection. This should work as long as all the tables have the same name.
But in SQL Server, Crystal sees the table names like this:
So if the name of the database is changed Crystal thinks the table name is different. So when this user tried to “Set Location” at the connection level, she got “invalid object” errors. She learned that the name of the database had been changed when setting up the new server.
When Crystal can’t find a matching table name in the new connection, you have to map each table in the report to the corresponding table in the new connection and update them individually. With 6-8 tables in each report the process would take a few hours. I thought we might be able to fool Crystal into just looking at the table portion of the name, but after trying a few things it didn’t seem like we were getting anywhere.
So I suggested that she check out the report management utilities on my annual comparison. There happens to be one that is only $99, CR Data Source by R-Tag, and it is designed to do just that one thing – Set Location. I did wonder if it would have trouble with the database change but the customer reported back that it did the job and saved her several hours of tedium.
Next month I will be reviewing all of the RPT management utilities, and there is one new product this year. Find it EZ has recently released Dev Surge Enterprise 2015 which is designed to work with SAP’s enterprise level software products (BOE Enterprise and CR Server). It does everything that the original Code Search Pro does, but adds a number of features including:
- Reading reports contained in Crystal Server 2008 through 2013 repositories
- Reading reports contained in BOE XI 3.0 through BOBJ BI 4.1 repositories.
- Reporting on the properties of BOE Infoview Crystal Report schedules
- Reporting on user security access to BOE Infoview Reports and shortcuts
- Reading reports contained in several version control systems (VSS, git, etc)
- Doing report comparisons
Dev Surge Enterprise 2015 costs $468 and more information is available on the product web page.
This is my annual chart showing the versions of Crystal Reports that my newsletter subscribers were using when they signed up. It gives you a sense for which versions are being used and how quickly the new versions are catching on. I have included numbers for 2015 so far even though the year is only about half way there
Note that 43% of this year’s new subscribers are actively using products which are 10 years old (XI) or even older.
If you are using Crystal Reports to read PeopleSoft data you may be in for a nasty surprise soon. Once you upgrade to PeopeTools 8.55 you will no longer be able to use Crystal Reports.
According to this support thread (available to users with support subscriptions) there will be no way to connect to the PeopleSoft security layer in PT8.55. And the process scheduler will no longer recognize Crystal Reports. Users are being told that they will have to replace Crystal Reports with Oracle’s BI Publisher tool, but I am being told that BIP can’t match the features of Crystal Reports. I am going to ask for some specific examples and will try to incorporate the Oracle BI Publisher into my comparison of reporting tools.
If this affects you, it might not hurt to let your contacts at PeopleSoft know.
I have just updated my comparison of server-based scheduling tools for 2015. 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 9 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.
In February I started an ambitious project. I expect it to hit critical mass in 6-12 months. I want to compare Crystal Reports to the other leading BI tools. I plan to include SSRS, MS Access, Tablaeu, QlikView, Indicee, Logi Ad Hoc, List and Label and a few others. The goal will be to help users understand how these tools are different and therefore which tool is best for a specific set of requirements.
One challenge is that these tools are very different in both purpose and approach. So my plan is to create a detailed feature matrix showing what each tool can do and also how it is different. The process and the end result will resemble the comparisons I do for third party products.
Another challenge is that I am not an expert in most of these tools. So, like I do in my other comparisons, I will rely on the people who know the tools best. Ideally the vendors will provide the information directly. One vendor already has. Vendors who want their software represented accurately have some incentive to participate. And when the vendor doesn’t participate I will recruit competent users to review the feature list and mark the features supported by each product.
My job will be to tease out the features that best highlight the differences between products. I will also have to write up the feature definitions so that they are objective and meaningful.
Would you like to help? There are several ways to get involved:
1) Tell me the tools you think I should include, especially ones I didn’t mention. That will help me prioritize products.
2) If you have expertise in any of these tools you can volunteer to review the feature list for that product.
3) Even if you have only limited experience with one of these tools, your impressions would be welcome.
This weeks puzzle:
A customer upgraded to Sage (PeachTree) v2015 last week. Everything seemed to work fine, but their most important Crystal Report wouldn’t run because it uses Sage custom functions, and those functions were not showing up in Crystal. The Sage software has a button to install these custom functions, but clicking this button didn’t change anything. Sage support couldn’t solve the problem so the customer called me.
I know that all Crystal custom functions come from DLLs and I assumed that this Sage DLL was either missing or in the wrong place. The customer asked Sage support for the name of the DLL so we could search for it. They sent him lots of information, but not the file name.
So the customer did a fresh install of Sage v2015 on a local PC, and everything worked correctly. So I opened up Crystal and could see the Sage custom functions listed together – along with the name of the DLL. We searched for that file (U2Lpeach.dll) and found it in:
We then checked that same folder on the server and found that the DLL was in that same folder. But yet when we opened Crystal on that same server the Sage functions were not visible. Crystal had several other custom functions that were working, so I searched for those DLLs and found them in a different folder on the server:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Business Objects\BusinessObjects Enterprise 12.0\win32_x86
Since we knew that Crystal could read the DLLs in that folder, we copied the Sage DLL and pasted it in with the others. Once we restarted Crystal the Sage functions appeared. The difference probably has to do with a windows environment variable somewhere, but rather than mess with the server settings we decided that a duplicate DLL was workable solution.
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 is one new product this year for a total of 11 products. 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.