Archive for the 'Products' Category
If you have been considering purchasing Find it EZ then you might want to do it in the next few weeks. The developers of Find it EZ are offering my readers a 25% discount on purchases through 6/20/2012. Use this link to get the discount.
Find it EZ is a source code scanning tool that I have included in my comparison of RPT management utilities. It allows you to search your entire application, including your RPT files, for the use of specific tables, fields and text.
The current promotion is to highlight the release of version 4.0 which adds new features like team collaboration and Continue Reading »
Discount on purchases of Find it EZ
Every fall I do a review of custom functions libraries that you can add into Crystal Reports. These are formula functions that are added into your formula editor and allow your formulas to do all sorts of wonderful things, like interacting with other programs and pulling in information from unusual sources. It looks like I will be adding a new one in the near future.
Pursuit Technology, a consulting group in the UK, has recently released a function that allows your report to authenticate into your Twitter account and send a ‘tweet’ notification directly from a report formula. The content of the tweet can be calculated in the report formula. This can be handy if you use twitter as Continue Reading »
Custom Function lets your report send a ‘tweet’
A customer recently contacted me with a strange problem caused by one specific report. The report was generating SQL that caused the database to slow. The could see the SQL statement in the log, but they were having a hard time determining which report was generating that particular SQL statement (they have lots of reports). They asked if there was a tool that could search through the SQL generated by a group of reports to find a specific SQL phrase.
I was doubtful, because this SQL is not stored in the RPT file. It is generated on the fly. So to do this, a tool would need to open the report and connect to the specific data connection so that the correct SQL could be generated. The only tool that came to mind was Find it EZ. I wrote another post a few months back about how Find it EZ could search for tables and fields in SQL Expressions and commands. I wasn’t sure that it would work for the SQL generated on the fly by CR, but I figured it was worth checking. I was pleased to find that Find it EZ will, in fact, do this.
They have also recently added the capability to search the saved data stored in a report for specific data values. For more information about Find itEZ and other RPT file management tools, you should read my review of this product category.
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 year I go through the list and publish a feature comparison on my blog.
I discovered and added one new tool this year, bringing the pool of reviewed tools up to nine. The article provides a brief introduction to each product and describes what sets that product apart. Then there is a detailed feature matrix that shows the key specifics for comparison, including prices and the install base. To clarify the matrix 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 covering server based scheduling tools. If you think one person can manage all of your scheduling you are probably fine with one of these 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.
I have written before about using Bar Codes in Crystal Reports, but recently two different customers have asked me about including QR codes on their reports. For those of you who have not seen them, QR codes are the square scan codes that have small boxes in each corner. Here is a QR Code for my Email address:
The advantage of QR codes over traditional bar codes is that they have extra error checking built in, which means that even a slightly blurry scan, such as one done by a smartphone or tablet camera, can still be decoded and used.
There are several ways that you can incorporate QR codes into Crystal Reports.
1) If you have a single QR Code, or a small number of them, then you can use a free web based QR Code Generator to generate the image. You can then insert the image into the report. If you have several you could Continue Reading »
Printing QR Codes within your Crystal Reports
Got this last week:
“Ken, thank you for this comparison. I wish I had had it before I selected my previous Crystal Viewer…. I purchased quite a few licenses of a product and intended to schedule reports on it. The scheduling aspect never worked and no matter how many messages and emails I sent to the support people, no one EVER called me back or seemed to care that I was having problems. They literally ignored me.”
This vendor tells me that they responded to the Emails they received, and at this point the customer has moved on. However, if this customer had contacted me at the time, then their would have been no question about a response from the vendor. I review Continue Reading »
Vendor Responsiveness (good and bad).
Millet Software has just released version 6.5 of Visual Cut, one of my favorite tools for automating Crystal Reports. There are about 50 fixes and new features but the one that stood out was the ability to export to XLSX format. This format supports more than a million rows in a single tab and consumes much less disk space.
Another handy new feature, pointed out by Jared Faulkner of JF Electric , is the “After_Success_SQL” command that allows you to run a SQL statement after a completed report, or for each group in a burst. This gives you the ability to update the database with tracking information for each e-mailed or exported item. Doing this before required having the CUT Light UFL (also by Millet Software) but now this is built into Visual Cut.
If you want to learn more about Visual Cut or one of the other similar tools, then you should read my annual review of Desktop Schedulers. The review is done each March so it will be updated next month.
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: Continue Reading »
Server based deployment options compared (2012)
Jeff-Net has released a free Edition of Report Runner viewer. It is completely free, can be installed as many times as you like and doesn’t have any ads. It is only missing 2 features that are included in their paid edition:
1) You can’t launch reports from the command line (batch files).
2) You can’t customize the interface
But otherwise it can do everything a report viewer should do (preview, print, export, refresh, etc). To get your license you have to provide a company based Email address (not Hotmail/Gmail/etc.). That’s it.
If you want to compare the features of Report Runner with the other free (and paid) viewers you can read my review of Crystal Reports Viewers, which I update every September.
It is always a good sign when vendors respond quickly to user requests. Earlier this month the developers of Find it EZ received a request from a potential customer. He needed to search for table and field names within his SQL commands and SQL expressions. The next day this user was using a new version of Find it EZ, including this new feature. The user was surprised that he didn’t even need to fill in the report parameters before the SQL was searched – something required by his old software.
This support for embedded SQL searches is now included in the current release of Find it EZ. It also added a search of Crystal Dashboards (Xcelsius) files and even the embedded Excel models. See this article for more info on Find it EZ and special pricing through the end of this month.