The Crystal Reports Underground News - Volume 2004.01 (January 2004)
an independent source for Crystal Reports Information by Ken Hamady
Contents for January, 2004:
** Review of Crystal Reports v10
** License Changes in CRv10
** New Certification options for CR/CE v10
** "Wonderful how you related our data into the course material" - KW
** Bug in HTML Text Interpretation (v9)
** My Library of Crystal Reports Materials:
Expert's Guide to Formulas
Expert Techniques Volumes I and II
Quick Reference to Crystal Reports in Visual Basic
Quick Reference to Crystal Reports in VB.NET
** Who might switch to SQL Server Reporting Services
** CDUGNA 2004 Conference
** Business Objects makes it official
** Read back issues at http://www.kenhamady.com/news.html
Review of Crystal Reports v10:
Well, I just purchased the brand new Version 10 of Crystal Reports and gave it a spin. Here is my review of the upgrade in a nutshell:
You may not notice it.
All of the significant changes relate to either application programming or web deployment with Crystal Enterprise. If you are simply designing and running reports, you will have to hunt for the few minor changes. The good news is that the report file for v10 is backward compatible with v9 (probably because nothing has changed in the RPT format). After scouring the program I found the following new features that do not relate to programmers or the web:
- Horizontal Page Numbers for Cross-tab virtual pages.
- A new chart type called 'Funnel Charts".
- A format painter to transfer properties from one field to another.
- The ability to tab between the "Explorer" windows (Field/Report) like in VB.
- New linking options that allow you to enforce joins to unused tables.
- An option to retain original image color depth instead of 8 bits per pixel.
- An option to prevent "Keep Group Together" from messing up the first page.
- A combined "Save and Close" button in the formula editor.
That is all I could find. If you notice something else, let me know. And they kept the most annoying feature of all. They STILL have the default format for numeric and currency fields set to 'allow field clipping'. This truncates any number that is wider than the column it is in, and doesn't warn you. Why in the world can't we have the overflow indicator as the default? Is there really someone out there that wants field clipping?
The best part of all this for me is that I can immediately start teaching version 10 classes without having to spend weeks rewriting my course materials. So, if you just bought version 10, and need someone to teach you how to use it, I am ready to save you some money.
If you are a programmer working with Crystal Reports, these new features might interest you:
- A 100% Java reporting component, including a custom Java tag library.
- New simplified merge modules for .NET.
- A .NET to Crystal Enterprise upgrade path.
- New simplified APIs for the RAS.
- Two new formula functions that return the Enterprise User Name or User Id.
The have also strengthened the links between Crystal Reports and Crystal Enterprise by adding two new features. The repository has been moved to within Crystal Enterprise and is now a 'managed' repository. This allows you to set security on modifications, but seems to prevent people who don't want CE from using the repository feature. You can also create and report on Business Views. This is like the old "Dictionary" feature which allows you to hide the complexity of the tables and links from the report designer. However, this also can only be used with Crystal Enterprise.
License Changes in CRv10:
One of the first things that I do with each new version of CR is check the license for interesting tidbits. Some of you who are long time readers may remember the wrestling that I did with Crystal Decisions over the definitions in the Broadcast License. Well, the big news is that v10 Developer does not have broadcast restrictions anywhere in the license. I have not confirmed that this is true for Professional or Standard yet but I am betting that this has been pulled completely. Let me know if you have the license for one of these Editions. As it stands I see nothing in the new license about automated distribution and nothing about having 51 people accessing a report. So the price of broadcasting with Crystal has come down from $100K in v8.5; to $2K in v9; to $0 in v10.
Here are a couple of other things that I found interesting:
Section 3.1 - "A Named User may install and use the Software on more than one computer provided that the Named User is the exclusive user of the Software on all computers."
Section 7. j . - "you shall not disclose any Software benchmark results to any third party without Crystal Decisions prior written approval."
I first saw a clause like 7.j. in the license agreement of a Microsoft patch, but I am not sure that this would be enforceable. I mean, could they also write in their license: "You agree that you will not complain publicly about features in the software". Isn't that pretty much what 7.j. is saying?
One last note. I asked Business Objects this week if I could use screen shots of Crystal Reports in my written materials. Crystal Decisions had a pretty liberal policy on that with no written permission required. The BO response was:
".. screen shots are not permitted moving forward .." and later "Anyone using our Intellectual Property must do so with our permission."
I am told that they are putting a program together that will formalize the process for getting permission.
New Certification options for CR/CE v10:
Crystal Reports v10 also has a new Certification program that replaces and improves a bit on the ACE program. The good news is that the tests are now given at testing centers and have a proctor. The bad news is that the process is much more expensive now. The Crystal Certification now involves 5 different classes (80 class hours), with one of the classes being an elective that you can select from a several specialty areas. If you take all of the courses on-line, the cost is $4,665. If you want to take the courses at a public training facility, the cost goes up to $5,965.
You can also be certified in Crystal Enterprise. That costs $7,200 if you do the coursework on-line and $8,375 if you attend actual classes.
They still do not offer a public certification for instructors. Currently, as in the past, the only way to be certified as an instructor is to work for one of their partner organizations. And yet if you tell them that you are going to hire me to teach your class they will sniff and ask, "but is he a certified instructor?" Fortunately, my credentials are more meaningful than their certification. And 1600 satisfied students would agree. See the next section for more details.
"Wonderful how you related our data into the course material" - KW:
This comment is from one of my classes in December. My specialty is teaching at your office, with your data, and I charge about half of what Crystal charges for on-site classes. I have personally taught over 1600 satisfied students and I am still the all-time, top ranked Crystal Reports expert at Tek-Tips.com. To schedule a class, or for more information, give me a call at (540) 338-0194.
Bug in HTML Text Interpretation (v9)
Aaron Alexander of Bluebridge.com shared a bug with me recently. The bug has to do with the HTML interpretation option in Crystal formatting. Aaron says that the code <p> is not translated correctly by Crystal. You have to replace <p> with <p><p> to have it read as it would in HTML. He also found that <strong> is not supported by Crystal's interpreter. If you have a different experience, or other comments on this, please drop me a line.
My Library of Crystal Reports Materials:
Expert's Guide to Formulas ($36)
Expert Techniques Vol. I ($19) and Vol. II ($19)
Quick Reference to Crystal Reports in Visual Basic ($16)
Quick Reference to Crystal Reports in .NET ($14)
Who might switch to SQL Server Reporting Services:
Just a few weeks ago one of my prospective customer's changed his mind. He was considering a Crystal Reports class but decided to put it off indefinitely. His company has decided to implement SQL Server Reporting Services instead of Crystal Reports / Crystal Enterprise. This was the first customer I had lost to SSRS so I decided to ask him a few questions to see how he made the decision.
The thing that surprised me most was that price was the second reason in his mind. The primary reason that they decided to go with SSRS was that they had a better chance of full compatibility with SQL Server and the other Microsoft products. He is hesitant to rely exclusively on Microsoft, but feels that their products seem to play nicely together. Of course the price (SSRS is free with SQL Server) has to also be a major consideration. I even spoke with his developers who said that SSRS allowed them to do everything that they had needed to do in CR.
So, while the end-user reporting market may still belong to CR, you may soon see a shift in how developers and web sites implement reporting.
CDUGNA 2004 Conference:
The CDUGNA 2004 Conference will be held in New Orleans, May 26-28. See the following link for details;
I won't be there, but I know lots of great guys who will. If anyone wants to share their thoughts of the conference with me, I will try to include it in one of my newsletters.
Business Objects makes it official:
In December, Business Objects shareholders voted to approve the acquisition of Crystal Decisions. Crystal Reports and Crystal Enterprise now become part of the Business Objects product line. When you go to CrystalDecisions.com you will be transferred to BusinessObjects.com. However, all of the old web site structure for Crystal Decisions seems to have been retained and you will be forwarded to equivalent pages. Any old bookmarks that you have should work, at least for the time being.
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Ken Hamady, MS
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Copyright 2004 by Ken Hamady
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