When my customers send me report problems they sometimes feel the need to send me a photo album. I will get a screen shot of the linking window, a screen shot of the preview tab, a screen shot of some key formulas, etc. It is much more efficient to send me the RPT file. With the RPT I can open the linking window myself, open any formulas, and open anything else that might help me troubleshoot the report. An RPT can replace most of the screenshots I get and gives me much more information. If the RPT can’t be saved with data I may need a PDF or a screen shot of the preview or a specific error message, but reports that can be saved with data rarely need any screenshots tagging along.
There is even a trick that allows you to create an RPT with saved data from within an application (like a web portal or a report viewer). You use the export option and export to RPT format. Now, some apps and even some reports restrict your available export formats, but RPT format is available in most environments. And, by exporting to RPT format you create an RPT with saved data. The data should match what you see in preview within the application.
For example, today I was helping a customer to fix bugs in some very complex reports. A team of testers had started sending bug reports for my team to fix. After looking at the first few bug reports I noticed that the customer had screen shots from the testers and then had to replicate the scenario so that we could recreate the error, and then fix it. I asked why the testers didn’t just export their test scenario to RPT format. The customer was thrilled to learn that this was an option. Tomorrow we start troubleshooting with RPT files.
So, if you plan on having me troubleshoot one of your Crystal Reports, please send the RPT file.