Archive for the 'News' Category
I have decided to make my Intro course materials available to download, for free. There are several reasons behind this decision:
1) Crystal use is slowly declining. This might encourage use of the product in a small way.
2) Classroom training was becoming rare, and stopped completely by the pandemic.
3) My work is now mostly consulting, so there is less call for course materials.
4) I hope for some good karma.
So you are welcome to download the materials and use them. Share them with your friends. Please do not modify them or try to sell them.
Note that as a consultant, people often pay me to help them use or learn Crystal. You can, too. So if you have questions about Crystal Reports I am happy to schedule a short consult for you. This is explained further on these links:
I wrote about CR 2020 last summer, and linked to a blog post about things that were different. One of the things mentioned in that article was that CR 2020 no longer supports DAO connections. DAO allows Crystal to connect directly to classic MS Access (.mdb) and classic Excel (.xls) files. The DAO driver came as part of Crystal Reports.
In CR 2020 you have to use OLEDB or ODBC to connect to these files. This requires that you have the 64-bit version of the Microsoft Access Database Engine 2016 Redistributable, which is a separate download.
I just got an Email from Gordon Portanier of ReCrystalize who reminded me that this will affect anyone using the Xtreme sample database which is in .MDB format. This database was originally provided as part of Crystal Reports, but starting with CR 2008 it was no longer included. I use it in my course materials so I still provide it as a download for my students and others.
So if you are using CR 2020, here are the revised instructions for connecting to the Xtreme.MDB from CR 2020. For this to work you have to have already downloaded and installed the redistributable mentioned above.
1) In the Database Expert, open the node called “Create New Connection”
2) Under that open the node called “OLE DB (ADO)”
2) Select the provider “Microsoft Office 12.0 Access Database Engine” and click “next”
3) Choose “Access” from the database type drop-down.
4) Click the ellipse button and locate the folder where you have Xtreme.mdb
5) Double click Xtreme.mdb and click “Finish”
Gordon also mentioned that SAP has published their own document on connecting to MS Access from CR 2020. However, this document says that you can still use the DAO method in addition to ODBC and OLEDB. Neither Gordon nor I could get that approach to work in CR 2020 and both had to use OLE DB in the end.
And now for some breaking news. It appears that SAP is starting to release Crystal Reports 2020 and Crystal Reports Server 2020. Based on things I have heard the scheduled release of CR 2020 as packaged product is Early August. I haven’t seen the software, but I read an article about Crystal Reports 2020 written by Pursuit Technology with some actual details. The big news is that it is the first 64 bit version of Crystal Reports.
One other significant change is that come January, Crystal Reports will no longer be available from resellers. The only place to purchase Crystal next year will be the SAP web site. This is part of a reconfiguration of the SAP partner program and will probably result in the elimination of many smaller resellers.
If anyone has more info to share on this topic, please let me know.
I now have a copy of the very first version of Crystal Reports – still in the box with shrinkwrap. I had never even seen this version before. This original version of Crystal Reports was released in 1991. I didn’t even hear about Crystal till 1994. I did collect all the versions from 3 on but never ran across v1 or v2. So it was a nice surprise when Dan Smith of Crystal Certified Solutions in Buffalo sent me a copy. Thanks, Dan.
Starting with CR 2008, the Crystal Reports sample data was changed from an MDB to several XML files. Fortunately, the Xtreme MDB was still available for download, along with the associated sample reports. I linked to this download from my blog and website so that students with newer version of CR could still do the lessons in my course materials. That link worked for about 10 years.
Today I learned that this link has finally died. I will try to find another link to download the file. Until I find one the link will point to a copy on my own site.
I don’t usually rush to apply service packs (i.e. ‘if it ain’t broke…’). Usually the fixed items don’t apply to what I do. So when SAP notified me about SP3 for CR 2016 I was ready to ignore it for a while. But I read through the list of fixes anyway, just in case, and the second to last item was something useful. It corrects a scrolling bug in the formula editor so we can now use the mouse wheel to scroll up and down in long formulas. I decided to do the update right away since I write lots of long formulas.
But the update was a hassle. It starts with 5 minutes of extracting files and then immediately pops up a “Fatal” error:
“Fatal Error: At least one port in the range 4520-4539 must be opened for the installation to proceed. …”
So why would a service pack for a locally installed app require access to ports? After a few searches I found that this is a red herring error message. It also occurs on some full Crystal Reports installs. The keys to getting past this error on a full install are to:
1) Run the setup from the Root folder
2) Use “Run as an administrator”.
But the service pack is a self extracting compressed exe. Placing the exe in C:\ and running it as administrator didn’t solve the problem for me. What worked for me in both Win 10 and Win 8.1 was to:
1) Use an Unzip utility (e.g. 7zip) to extract the compressed files/folders into a new folder.
2) Put this new folder in C:\.
3) Run the Setup.exe in this folder as an administrator.
Even then there was another snag. The install couldn’t finish because of a “suppressed reboot”:
“A reboot request was suppressed on the local machine.
Reboot the machine in order to proceed with the installation”
But it wasn’t clear how to do this. My only options were “retry” and “cancel”. So I canceled, did a manual reboot and then ran the setup.exe a second time. That allowed the SP to install and now I can scroll through my formulas. It was just much more work than I expected.
One of my readers just pointed out their own blog post about installing CR 2016 and having the same exact issues. Had I seen that post when writing this one my post would have been a link to his.
I just stumbled across a FAQ on the SAP website that has some useful information. It was written in 2016 but the information still seems to apply. Many of the answers are links to other pages, like the link to the trial versions or the links to the service packs. I already had most of this information, but learned at least one new trick from the FAQ page.
Retrieving your License Key from the registry:
With older versions of Crystal you could go into Help > About and grab your complete license key. This was helpful if you were changing hardware or installing on a second PC. With more recent versions you have to go into the license manager and you can only see a portion of the key. I recently had to track down a license key and wished I knew how to extract it from the PC. Today I saw that 0ne of the tricks in the FAQ is how to find a full license key by searching the registry, using the portion of the key you can see in the license manager. I’ll be ready next time.
I do this chart each year based on my newsletter subscribers. It shows the version of Crystal Reports that they were using when they signed up for the newsletter. Over time, it shows which versions have staying power and how quickly new versions take hold. I have included numbers for 2018, even though the year is only about two thirds over. Those numbers will shift a bit in next year’s chart when 2018 is complete.
The chart shows that over 25% of my 2018 subscribers are still using Crystal Reports XI (circa 2005) which is version 11.x. Last year I was concerned that some of these users might really be on CR 2011 (version 14.o) since those do get confused. But when I Emailed some of those people they all said that they were using the old XI version. For some of them, upgrading past Crystal Reports XI would be a major undertaking, because all the newer versions are limited to the .NET runtime. Customers that have built an application around the older runtime engine would have to rebuild the Crystal components of that app in order to upgrade to a later version of CR.
I just read an interesting blog post from Andrew Baines entitled “Farewell Xcelsius/BOB Dashboards/Crystal Dashboards“.
Apparently, SAP will stop supporting their dashboard tool some time next year, and they have dropped it from the price list. I also just checked the SAP “30-day trial” page and the listing for “SAP Crystal Dashboard Design” is no longer listed there.
I can’t say that I will miss this tool, since it never really fit with what I did. You can read my approach to dashboards here. But if you are using this software it is time to start looking for something else.
The SAP Vancouver office celebrated the 25th anniversary of Crystal Reports last fall. They even sent me a commemorative pin as part of the celebration.
Now, in keeping with the ’25’ theme, they have asked TrustRadius to collect independent user reviews of Crystal Reports and Crystal Server. If you complete the process you get a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate.
Note that these reviews are structured and very detailed. I wrote a review of Crystal Reports, both to support the product and so that I could write about the process for my readers. It took me about an hour to complete. There are 9 different sections to the review and many of the sections ‘recommend’ at least 50 words. The sections are:
- Use Case
- Data Sources
- Data Sharing
You can read my review here.
A few other notes.
1) TrustRadius is independent of SAP and SAP doesn’t see the reviews before they are published. However TrustRadius has to approve and publish your review before you get your gift card. It can take up to a week after your review is published to get the card.
2) Before you can start the process, you have to sign into TrustRadius using your LinkedIn account.
If you decide to write a review you can use this link. If you encounter any problems, let me know.