Have you ever wondered why Crystal allows an export to “RPT” format? Since the file is already in RPT format it might seem like a redundant option. But last week I did a consult and was told that the option of exporting to RPT format was the most valuable information in the entire consult.
So what do you get when you export to RPT format? You get an RPT file that is saved with the preview data. While most of you won’t have any trouble creating an RPT saved with data, some users aren’t so lucky. These are users who can only preview a report within an application like a web or server based app. For these folks, troubleshooting a report is an endless loop of making a change in design mode, uploading the modified report, running the report through the app to see if the change worked, then going back to design mode. I have had to do this and it is a tedious process.
If you are one of those who can only preview within your application, your first step is to check to see if the application allows you to export the report once it is in preview mode. Most apps that use Crystal Reports have an export button. If you have export capabilities then check the list of export formats available. If you see “Crystal Reports (RPT)” as a format option then you have a way to get out of the cycle described above. You simply export the report to RPT format and then open that RPT in Crystal. Now you have both a design and a preview mode with real data. You can switch back and forth and immediately see the result of any changes that you make. There are still a few changes that will require you to upload the report into the application. This includes things like adding a previously unused field, changing a join, or anything else that would normally require a refresh. But most changes can be tried and previewed without going through the upload process.
Once you are done modifying your RPT you have one more important test to do. You have to determine if the exported report can be imported directly back into the application. Often it can, but sometimes the application makes changes to the RPT file as it is run. Those changes may prevent the RPT from working correctly inside the application. If you find that in your situation you can still troubleshoot the report using the exported RPT file. But once testing is finished you will have to make all the same changes to the original RPT and then upload it.