The Crystal Reports Underground News - Volume 2007.11 (November
an independent source for Crystal Reports Information by Ken
Contents for November 2007:
** Crystal Reports 2008
** SAP purchases BO/IBM
** Free Crystal Reports Viewer (with scheduling and Email)
** Open enrollment
classes December 2007
** Free Trial of "Mass
** PDF eXPLODE fails on
** *NEW* Guide to SQL
Expressions, Options and Commands
** Create a formula
library in Phrase Express
** Free MICR font (Turn
blank security paper into check stock)
** Store a value today
and use it in a different report tomorrow
** Read back issues at
Crystal Reports 2008 (Version 12):
Usually a new version of CR is a mixed bag. There are always new
features and improvements but there are usually some removed
features or things that get worse. So far what I have seen of
Crystal Reports 12 is a handful of improvements and nothing made
worse. Here are the new things you can do:
1) Add individual non-summary columns to a cross-tab:
You can now manually
insert rows or columns anywhere in a cross-tab. These can do
calculations using values from other cells in the cross-tab,
including other manually created cells. The new values are even
available for charting.
2) Make a parameter optional:
Now users can skip a
parameter. There is even a function that allows a formula to check
if a parameter was skipped, so it can know what to do. This means we
can do things like have users skip a date parameter and have the
report use today, yesterday or any other date calculation as the
default (skip) behavior. This feature even applies to dynamic
parameters so we now can say a skipped parameter means ALL, or some
other default value without resorting to a union query.
3) Change a parameter value without refreshing:
You get to assign
parameters to an interactive side panel. Selection parameters can be
changed and applied to the saved data, which allows you to select
subsets without refreshing. Formatting parameters can change the
behavior of the report on the fly.
4) Add sort controls to the report:
These objects allow you
to interactively change your sort fields and sort directions in
5) Disconnect the size of the design area from the printer:
This is great for those
wide reports that are designed solely for export. We no longer need
to configure a fictitious wide carriage printer to get a wide design
6) Change the page orientation within a single report:
This is especially handy
for subreports that need to be landscape inside a main report that
7) Create a duplicate formula or running total:
If you need a series of
similar formulas (and I do all the time), just right click on the
first one formula and select "duplicate". A second formula is
created that is identical except for the name, which will have a
number append to the formula name. Each time you "duplicate" you
get the next number in the sequence. I believe that this feature was
also available in XIr2.
8) Built-in bar code font:
Right click any "bar
code-able" value and have it display the field using a bar code
9) Auto-complete for field names in the formula editor:
Just type an open curly
bracket in the formula editor to get a list of all available fields.
Type the first few characters to narrow the list to field names that
start with those characters.
10) Save Lock Password:
Requires the user to
enter a password before saving over the original report (from within
Crystal). Allows saving under a new name without the password.
11) Search all report formulas for a field, formula or parameter.
(This should have been
added long ago.)
12) Page Break after N Visible Groups.
I see what it does, but
it must solve a problem I have never had to solve.
Then there are places where they fixed things that they broke in XI:
* You can now copy
(static) parameters from one report to another.
* Date parameters now
have a decent calendar control again.
* Date parameters can
now use normal date format again.
Then there are the things I haven't played with yet:
* More powerful XML
* Flash integration
* Adobe Flex
* Xcelsius content
embedded in reports
Version 12 reports can be
opened by older versions of Crystal Reports, all the way back to
version 9. Any new features will not appear. Any new function used
in a formula will generate an error. Surprisingly, a cross-tab with
the new manual columns will still run without error in older
versions of Crystal. The manually added columns disappear but no
errors are generated.
Crystal 12 is still using
Named User licensing. That means you need a valid license for every
report designer, regardless of how often they use the product. See
my recent blog article for more explanation on Named User Licenses.
There is only one edition of Crystal Reports 12 so everyone gets the
same tools and rights to deploy applications. Thick client
applications can be deployed, as always, without restrictions. Same
for deploying server based applications internally. Providing server
based apps to your customers requires that each customer own a copy
of CR 2008.
The EULA for the CR 2008 BETA had a set of restriction taken
directly from the Enterprise license. That made all consulting and
training on CR12 a violation of the license. After I pointed this
out a new EULA was posted on the website. The new license is also
included with the product trial download. I'm not sure if the new
EULA made it into the boxed product or not, but you can download the
updated EULA from the BO website.
The only remaining restriction is for training. The EULA says that
you need BO's written permission if you use the software to deliver
training. They have given me written permission with no conditions,
but they have yet to explain how the process will work for others.
Stay tuned for more on this issue.
SAP purchases Business Objects / IBM Purchases Cognos:
Crystal Reports has changed hands again, this time BO was swallowed
by yet a bigger entity - SAP. This is considered a friendly takeover
so it will remain to be seen if/how this affects the Crystal product
line. The general opinion is that it is a good fit. And SAP has
decided that BO will operate as a separate unit so I don't expect
any significant changes in the near term.
On a related note - IBM just purchased Cognos this week and Hyperion
was recently purchased by Oracle. So the big 3 BI vendors are now
all part of something bigger.
Free Crystal Reports Viewer with, Scheduling and Email Distribution:
SaberLogic of Wadsworth, OH has developed a new Crystal Reports
viewer. It allows reports to be refreshed, scheduled, exported,
printed and even sent out via Email. It is called Logicity and is
compatible with all versions of Crystal from 8.5 through XI. They
have released both a free version and a PRO ($45) version with extra
features. My readers get a discount on the PRO version till
12/31/07. See my
Open enrollment classes December 2007:
You need information to run your business, so stop struggling with
Crystal Reports and learn how to use it fully. Come join one of my
small classes (3-5 students) and learn how to make Crystal work for
you. My Intro class makes sure you know all of the basics. We even
include material on cross-tabs, charts and formulas. The Advanced
class shows you how to solve several common reporting problems as
well as when to use advanced features like running totals,
subreports, parameters and commands. Users of any version are
welcome. Classes are held in Frederick, MD and the next round is
mid-December 2007. See my web site for more details or call me at
So what makes my class different? I have written my own course
materials and have used them to teach over 2,000 satisfied
students. And, I give you a toll-free number so you can call me
after class with questions.
Or, if you want to schedule a class at your office, using your data,
that is my specialty. I have even found several other top-notch
instructors around the US, UK and Canada that can deliver my class
at your location for a very competitive price. Call or
visit my web site
for more details.
Mass Verify now has a Trial Download:
David Martinko of Redeemed Software has added a trial download for
Mass Verify, and encourages you to try it. Mass Verify performs the
"Verify Database" step for multiple reports in one step. See my
LINKS page for more info and a discount.
PDF eXPLODE fails on Vista:
Not all of the third party utilities I use are are fully compatible
with Vista. Some need to have their compatibility settings adjusted
to be run in XP mode. Some need to be run as Administrator. Some do
not run at all. For example, PDF eXPLODE does not currently work on
Vista (but they are working on it).
If you run into any compatibility issues with Vista and Crystal
Reports or a Crystal utility, I would love to hear about it.
Coming! The Expert's Guide to SQL Expressions, Options and Commands
Use these SQL tools to improve performance, solve data problems and
add capabilities to your queries. This new guide, ready in January,
covers all versions from 8.5 through 12. It shows when and how you
can change the reports SQL, and how to use your own SQL as the basis
of a report.
In the section on SQL expressions I show 16 different SQL
calculations that you can pass directly to the database. These
include string manipulations, boolean tests, data type conversions
and date calculations. Many of these demonstrate useful functions
that are not listed in the SQL expression editor. I even explain
the rules for writing subqueries within a Crystal SQL Expression,
something that you won't find documented anywhere else. And each of
these expression examples is shown in 4 different SQL flavors (SQL
Server, Oracle, MS Access and MySQL).
If this is something that interests you let me know and I will
notify you as soon as it is ready.
Create a formula library in Phrase Express:
I have been testing out a handy little utility called Phrase Express
for a few months. Phrase Express lets you store a library of phrases
that you can quickly paste into Email messages and other documents.
I use it primarily to help with Email phrases that I type several
times a day and it is great. It works with any text based
So I had to slap my forehead when Tim Garner (College of the
Sequoias)and Ido Millet (Millet Software) suggested that I use it
for storing Crystal Reports formulas. You wouldn't believe how
often I visit my own web site just to copy a formula. So I took the
formulas I use most often and stored them in Phrase Express. I can
now paste them directly into the formula editor with a few clicks. I
could even assign hot key combinations or 'auto correct'
abbreviations to call up my favorites. You should try it if you
have a list of formulas that you use regularly.
It costs only $19.95 and you can
try it for free. Technically you can continue to use it for
free for 'non-commercial' use. (I guess that is for those of you who
use Crystal Reports strictly for fun.) I am even working on library
of my top 20 formulas to share, so other users can import my library
directly into their own Phrase Express library.
So, let me know if you try Phrase Express, what you think of it, and
if you are interested in the library.
Free MICR font (Turn blank security paper into check stock):
Many of my customers use Crystal Reports to print checks. This can
be a tricky endeavor, especially aligning the report output with the
One solution is to incorporate all of the check stock information
into the report itself and then to print the check on "blank"
security check stock paper. Printing the static lines, boxes and
text is pretty straightforward. But one part of the check keeps most
people from ever trying this. That would be the MICR characters,
(Magnetic Ink Character Recognition). That is the special line of
numbers at the bottom of each check. Printing this line requires a
special font and a special magnetic toner.
However, one of my readers,Erik Rasmussen, has successfully done
this with Crystal Reports and sent me a link for a free MICR Font
that you can use to print that line. The font is called GnuMICR and
it was created from scratch by Eric Sandeen of Saint Paul,
Minnesota. See my
for more information on using this font.
Store a value today and use it in a different report tomorrow:
Those of you who have worked with subreports know that you can pass
a value from the subreport to the main report and back again. But
have you ever needed to create a value in one report and use that
value in a completely different report? Or maybe you need to store a
value from a monthly report and use it in next month's report? Here
are 2 ways to accomplish this using 3rd Party dll files:
Chelsea Technologies has just released the Share UFL that allows you
to store a value to an external XML file. The value can be then
retrieved in any report - even the next instance of the same report.
And you can store as many values as you need. A free trial version
is available and the cost to purchase is roughly $100.
A less expensive option is to use the CUT Light DLL provided by
Millet Software. This has been around for years and I just
remembered that it could be used to do the same thing. The main
difference is that CUT Light stores your values in an INI file
rather than an XML file. CUT Light also provides a dozen other
useful functions in the same DLL.
For Links and syntax examples see my
Ken Hamady, MS
525K East Market St.
Leesburg, VA 20176
Copyright 2007 by Ken Hamady
All rights reserved -
Republishing this material requires written permission