Archive for the 'Products' Category
When CR 2011 was released SAP also introduced Crystal Reports for Enterprise. SAP stated at that time that they were going to focus their future development efforts on the newer product. They also stated that they would continue to support the standalone product, but the wording left some of us wondering how long that support would last.
Recently one of my newsletter subscribers sent me a link to an SAP wiki page. The page expains the difference between Crystal Reports for Enterprise and “classic” Crystal Reports. He found this statement in the overview:
“We will continue to support the Crystal Reports 2011/2013 line of products after Crystal Reports for Enterprise has caught up [with the features in CR].” It isn’t a promise of indefinite support but perhaps they won’t discontine the stand alone version of Crystal reports any time soon. I certainly expect to be supporting Crystal for many more years.
And thanks to Joe Gaietto of Ohio MHAS for sending the updated link.
It seems just about any time I am shopping for something I find a larger selection and lower prices through Amazon. Competing with Amazon is an obvious challenge for any business. So when Amazon announced their own cloud based BI product called QuickSight it got my attention. QuickSight will allow users to visualize their Amazon Web Service (AWS) data as well as data from other sources. Amazon claims that their price is 1/10th the cost of local BI options. Their Standard Edition is $108 per user per year, with the Enterprise Edition being twice that.
QuickSight is not limited to reading AWS cloud data. They are providing outbound connectivity so you can also analyze data that you store locally and data in other cloud services like SalesForce. All of the data is then processed by a new calculation engine they have created named Spice. QuickSight has it’s own visualization designer, but Amazon also provides inbound connectivity so users can tap into the Spice engine from partner tools like Tableau and Qlik.
According to an article on VentureBeat.com, cloud based BI is on the upswing from many vendors:
The rollout of [QuickSight] comes a couple of months after Microsoft’s cloud-based business intelligence service, Power BI, became generally available. And last year IBM brought its Cognos business intelligence software to its SoftLayer public cloud. Salesforce came out with its comparable Analytics Cloud last year, while startups like BIME, Birst, Domo, and GoodData offer standalone cloud BI tools.
They don’t mention that SAP has put their analysis engine, Lumira, in the cloud. You can get a free Lumira account just by registering (1 GB of storage). So it sounds like the future of both large scale data storage AND large scale data analysis may be in the cloud, with the biggest cloud provider of them all taking the lead.
You use Crystal Reports to create, change and run reports. But what if you have users who just need to refresh/view/print/export? Do they need copies of Crystal Reports? Do you need to configure an expensive web server?
The most cost effective method for letting a user run reports is to install a third-party client-based viewer. They are offered by a dozen different vendors. Don’t get sidetracked by the “viewer” that is put out by SAP because that tool won’t refresh reports. Every viewer in my list allows you to refresh reports.
Every September I compare the features of these viewers and post the results. The comparison page provides a brief introduction to each product including what sets it apart. There is also a detailed feature matrix (PDF) that shows some of the specifics for comparison like prices. I have even included a glossary of features in case you aren’t familiar with the terminology.
This year there are 11 vendors in the review but one of them is MIA** – the vendor for EasyView (EasyStreet Software). I have Emailed and called and have not received a response since 2012. Neither have their customers which is probably why the Better Business Bureau has them rated “F”. The web site is still running but I am not sure it the purchases pages are working or not.
The current vendors are:
Crystal Corral by Groff Automation
cView by Chelsea Technologies
ViewerFX by Origin Software
Crystal Kiwi Viewer by Crystal Kiwi
Report Viewer Pro by Report Viewer Limited
RV by Climate 27
Logicity Pro by SaberLogic
Report Runner Viewer by Jeff-Net
Easy View by Easy Street Software (**see warning above)
RTag Report Viewer by RTag
DataLink Viewer by Millet SW
If you have already tried one of these products, or are currently using one, I would love to know what you think.
DocumentBurster is a PDF (or Excel) bursting engine. It can take any multi-page PDF and burst it into separate files or folders, Email them out or deliver them via FTP. It also has command line support so it can be scheduled or run from a shortcut. DocumentBurster does not have an engine to run RPT files so the PDF has to be generated from Crystal, a Crystal viewer or the export tool mentioned in my previous post. All you have to do is make sure that each page of the PDF has a specially formatted (invisible) field. This field tells DocumentBurster which pages go together during the burst. Since the only input you need is a PDF you can use DocumentBurster to burst documents generated by any software package, not just Crystal Reports.
Version 6.2 has been released under the AGPL 3.0 license through SourceForge. That means, among other things, that you can use it for free as long as you don’t expect to receive support from the developer. Version 6.3.3 can be purchased from the vendor for $595 which entitles you to one year of support and updates. The web site also lists a free trial option that is good for 25 downloads, but some will probably use the SourceForge edition for their trial.
I have not used it yet but would be very interested in hearing from someone who has. The complete User Guide is also online.
I just discovered an open source project on SourceForge that might be of interest to someone.
Crystal Report Exporter allows you to run a report and export it to several different formats, all without having Crystal Reports installed. You write a short command line script which can be put into a batch file. The batch file can be run from a scheduler or run as a shortcut. If you want to try it you can download the file from SourceForge, but you will find instructions and examples on the developer’s website.
It is free so don’t expect any significant support. I have not yet tried it yet so if anyone has tried it or is interested in trying it, please let me know what you think. Note that the same thing can be done with several of the viewers or schedulers in my annual comparisons. You can look at any of the ones that support command line input for similar capabilities. But this one does come with source code and has no license restrictions at all so that might appeal to users in specific situations.
Three months ago I mentioned plans for a new comparison matrix. The goal of this new matrix is to compare the features of Crystal Reports to the featurs of other reporting tools. I hope to find the right list of features to highlight the key differences in the products.
I am now ready to release the first draft of the matrix to get things rolling. I have also published a glossary defining the features included in this current draft. There are still blanks and questions, and the feature list will evolve, but I think we have a good start. The current matrix includes Crystal Reports and 5 other competing products:
- SQL Server Reporting Services (Report Builder)
- MS Access (reporting feature)
- List and Label
- R&R ReportWorks
There are also blank columns for Oracle BI Publisher and Tableau. I plan to start those next (with some help). If you are proficient in any of these tools (or another competing tool) here are the ways that you can help out:
You can fill in part or all of an empty column
You can review columns that are complete and see if any features are marked incorrectly.
You can suggest new feature rows that you think will highlight the differences in the products.
You can suggest an additional tool like the ones below.
LogiXML Ad Hoc
I will add tools based on interest level, and the availability of someone to review the features.
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.