I recently met with a customer to discuss a project using Crystal Reports for Enterprise. This is the first time a customer has called about this product, which is one of the reasons I haven’t been in a hurry to experiment with it. Another reason is that it is only available within BO Enterprise. To experiment with it on my own would require configuring an Enterprise environment, including a Web Server and getting some data configured within Enterprise. Last, SAP is still in the process of incorporating all of CR’s features into this version, so it is a work in progress. The longer I put it off, the more complete it would be. For instance, support for subreports was added with the last release (4.1). But SAP has said that eventually this will be the only version of CR. If they make good on that I will have to migrate some day.
So, during the meeting I was able to check out a few of the standard feature windows, like the group expert and the section expert. I found that most of the same features are there, but it takes time to find them because the interface is completely different. And we aren’t talking about minor adjustments. Most of the dialogues look absolutely nothing like their older counterparts. Then there are some confusing new names. For instance, in the Section Expert the old “Suppress” feature is now called “Hide” while the old “Hide” feature is now called “Show only on drill-down”. The Details band is renamed “Body”. Fortunately, the formula editor still seems to have most of the existing functions and features, but UFL functions are still not supported. If they hire me for the project I am sure I will have more time to explore, and will catalog any missing features I find.
But I think the biggest challenge for existing CR users will be making connections to the data, which is the first step in doing anything. The new interface will be completely unrecognizable to an existing CR user, since it is focused on connecting to Enterprise Universes and other types of Enterprise data. There is currently no way to connect to any data that is not part of the Enterprise environment, so even starting a simple report to explore the interface can be a challenge.
If any of you have experience with the the new CR For Enterprise I would be interested in your opinions. And if you have any specific features that you have noticed are still missing, please let me know.