Scheduling Engines (Desktop)

November 24, 2017

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 even free) tools that are designed to help you do this. Some do even more.

So this post will compare desktop scheduling tools, providing you with their core features and prices so that you can narrow down your search. I have a separate article covering server based scheduling tools. If you think one person can manage all the 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.

Below is a brief introduction to each product and what sets that product apart. I have also created a detailed feature matrix (PDF) that shows some of the specifics for comparison, including prices. And for those of you who are new to the terminology, I have created a feature glossary to give an expanded definition of what each feature means. Each vendor’s intro below is linked to the vendor’s website so you can get more information.

To avoid repetition, when I say a tool covers “all the basics” I mean that it:
1) Automatically runs a report at a scheduled time.
2) Delivers the report to a printer, exports to a file and/or Emails the report to a user.
3) Has it’s own scheduling engine (as opposed to using Windows Task Scheduler or something else).
4) Exports to all of the standard file formats.
5) Allows you to name the files with a date time stamp.
6) Allows you to launch scheduled tasks from a command line (like a batch file).
7) Allows you to specify parameters within the Schedule.
8) Allows you to specify different data connections within the Schedule.
9) Stores the connection information for a report with an encrypted password.

Some tools add an additional feature called “Bursting”. This is when you take a single grouped report and automatically turn each group’s data into an individual exported file. These files can then be Emailed to a different Email address for each group or saved to group-specific folder. Note that the tools that do bursting do it in different ways.  The most efficient version of bursting lets you do this in a single pass through the database. See the glossary for more information on bursting methods.

One note on version compatibility. My matrix shows the version(s) of the runtime engine used by each tool. All of them use either teh Crystal version 11 (XI) engine or a later engine. You will only need the later engines if you are using the latest Crystal features in your reports, like calculated cross-tab columns, RPTR files, etc.  If you are not using these features then the report will run fine in all of these tools. If you are using the newest features then you should use a tool with the appropriate engine. The front page of my site has links to articles that highlight the new features for each version of CR.  If in doubt I would ask the vendor if the features you use are supported in their softare.

In most cases I have not installed or tested the tools myself. I rely on the vendors for information about their products (and they keep each other honest). So before you purchase one of these tools, especially the ones at the high end, you should confirm with the vendor that they have the features you need. Another reason to contact the vendor before making a purchase is to gauge their responsiveness. Two vendors noted below no longer respond to me at all, although their sites still seem to be running.

I have also avoided evaluating the “ease of use” of these products, because that is too subjective. I recommend that you use this review to narrow your search to 2 or 3 tools. Then talk to the vendors, and then use the free trial before making a decision. If you have already tried one of these products, or are currently using one, let me know. When questions come up I like to have users to talk to for each product.

Crystal Delivery by Groff Automation:

In 2003 Kevin Groff needed to automate his reports and decided to try his hand at programming. The result has morphed over the years into Crystal Delivery.  Recently John Yamich has taken over maintenance of the project. There is a free version of the software which can schedule up to 6 different reports.  The unlimited version costs $30.

Crystal Delivery covers all the basics except for providing command line options. It’s scheduling engine includes exclusions for Business days and holidays and also includes relative date calculations. But at this price you shouldn’t expect a team of support technicians waiting to help you if something goes wrong. If you need support there is an internet forum where users share ideas and suggest solutions.

Smart Report Organizer by DataZimmerman:

Smart Report Organizer  is a brand new product this year (2016).  Features are still  being added and so the price and feature mix may change in the next few months.  It costs $40, or you can get a free version that is limited and doesn’t come with support.

Smart Report Organizer currently covers most of the basics except for command line options. It’s scheduling engine does include relative date calculations and it can schedule delivery to multiple destinations at once.  It can also run reports on demand like a viewer.

Logicity Pro by Saber Logic:

This is a combined viewer/scheduler. It is available for free (without support) as Logicity. The paid version is called Logicity Pro includes some added features and support. It cover all the basics except with one exception. It does not have its own scheduling engine, but uses the Windows Task Scheduler instead. It has added features like running multiple reports in one schedule, sending reports to multiple destinations and encrypting the exported files. And because Logicity is also a viewer, the user can run reports on demand and interact with them in preview mode without having CR installed.

Logicity also has a workaround that can accomplish a burst in some cases. But the page makes it clear that this isn’t a supported feature and takes some manual steps.

Logicity Pro costs $85

EasyView by Easy Street Software: (see warning below **)

EasyView is another combination of viewer and scheduler that has the lowest price above free ($39).   It covers all the basics and adds a few unique features like delivery to cell phone (SMS) and some foreign language editions. It can run as a service so that it can continue to work after you log out. It can deliver to multiple destinations and can even put the file in one destination while sending an Email notification to another.

**Unfortunately, this company seems to have stopped functioning. This vendor stopped responded to me in 2012 and I hear from customers regularly that tell me the same thing, although the web site is still running.

Report Commander by Arcana Development:

Report Commander covers all of the basics except for having its own built in scheduling engine. Instead it can be launched by the Windows Task Scheduler or any other scheduling tool. Because it is all built on command lines, you have the ability to run jobs on demand.

The scheduler can calculate relative dates for filters, and also allows for package delivery where multiple attachments can be included in the same Email message. It can be set to not send messages when the report returns no records.

Report Commander is $149

Report Scheduler Pro 9.0 by Crystal Desk:
This scheduler covers all the basics. It also allows you to schedule multiple reports as a batch. The scheduling engine adds an option for 4-4-5 period scheduling (for folks that use 445 accounting periods). It can do File Transfer via RAS to a remote PC and also delayed delivery, where you run the report now, but deliver it later.

Report Scheduler Pro is $259 .

cViewMANAGER by Chelsea Technologies:
If their site is still under renovation you can Email them using (mo/at/chelseatech.co.nz).

Chelsea Technologies is based in New Zealand. Their scheduler covers all the basics except for the option for launching from the command line. They do report bursting by rerunning the report repeatedly with changing criteria. Their scheduler includes business day scheduling with Holiday exclusions, and 4-4-5 period scheduling (for folks that use 445 accounting periods). Added features include relative date parameters and the ability to schedule actions other than reports.

cViewMANAGER is $599.

R-Tag Crystal Scheduler Light by R-Tag:
R-Tag covers all the basics and adds many additional features. It adds single-pass bursting and the ability to dynamically use field/formula values from the report into things like the export file name, folder name, Email body and Email headers (subject, from, too, cc, etc). It also provides exception handling and empty report handling. You can do event based scheduling (run a job when a data condition is true).  The scheduling engine includes Business Day schedules, Holiday exclusions and 4-4-5 scheduling.

R-tag’s Excel functionality includes exporting to multiple tabs, creating pivot tables and charts and exporting Excel formulas. This functionality is not dependent on having Excel installed. R-Tag also includes sophisticated workflow management that can determine which reports to send, and which external files to include, based on data retrieved at runtime. It can send multiple Emails and generate multiple files from a single task. It is available in both 32-bit an 64-bit versions and is UAC compliant for both Windows 7 and 8.

The Community Edition is Free. R-Tag Crystal Scheduler Light is $499 and includes support and some other features not listed here.

Visual CUT by Millet Software:
Visual CUT covers all the basics. In addition to to its own scheduling interface, Visual CUT can generate commands that can be run by any other scheduling engine including the Windows Task Scheduler. Then it adds many features, like single-pass bursting and the ability to dynamically use field/formula values from the report into things like the export file name, folder name, Email body and Email headers (subject, from, too, cc, etc). The burst can also be run on demand and even from saved data where the entire burst never touches the database.

Visual CUT’s PDF functionality includes generating bookmarks, table of contents, index, splitting and merging documents and several other specialized features. It’s Excel functionality includes exporting to multiple tabs, creating pivot tables and appending or replacing data in an existing spreadsheet. It can also do ODBC exports that can append to or replace data in an existing table. It can generate exception reports, Email alerts, auto-refreshing web dashboards, and many other features.

Visual CUT is $300.

CrystalKiwi Scheduler by CrystalKiwi.com:

CrystalKiwi is based in New Zealand.  It covers all the basics.  It also adds several features like single-pass bursting, exported file encryption and the ability to run SQL Updates and other (non-rpt) actions as part of the scheduled job.

It provides exception handling, empty report handling, and a built-in scheduling engine that can handle business day schedules, holiday exclusions and 4-4-5 scheduling. Other features include relative date parameters and the ability to schedule actions other than reports.

CrystalKiwi is $780.

RemiCrystal by Remiware:
RemiCrystal covers all of the basics except for a a proprietary scheduling engine. It uses the Windows Task Scheduler.  It adds encryption to exported files and can run as a service so that it can continue to work after you log out.

It can run updates in the database after a scheduling job is run and can run other actions before and after the report is run. It has the ability to not send emails when it generates an empty report. And it can schedule SSRS reports as well as Crystal Reports.

RemiCrystal costs $999 per desktop.

Report Runner Batch by Jeff-Net:
This is the most expensive tool in this list ($3,500) and it also appears in my review of server-based schedulers. You can get a much less expensive version of Report Runner Batch but that comes with restrictions on the number of jobs (reports) that you can schedule and features (like bursting). Another unusual feature is that it is priced more as a service than a product, with an annual fee required to continue using the product. The reason for the pricing model is that they have a strong focus on support, with a team available 24/7/365 for critical support: Critical tickets send pages out to two people on call at all times 24 x 7 x 365. They also provide support by phone, email, and online chat. That is something to consider if scheduling is a critical business process for you. It should be noted that included in the annual fee are all product updates and upgrades.

Report Runner Batch covers all the basics and adds an extensive list of delivery destinations including Fax, Twitter and SMS (cell phone text). It can run as a service so that it can continue to work after you log out. It does bursting using a multi-run approach and includes bursting to a newsletter. You can do event based scheduling (run a job when a data condition is true) and it even allows you to schedule non-report tasks. The scheduling engine includes Business Day schedules, Holiday exclusions and 4-4-5 scheduling.

Report Runner Batch is available in both 32 an 64 bit versions and is UAC compliant for both Windows 7, 8 and 10.

Report Runner Batch costs $3,500








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Jeff-Net
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