Archive for the 'Products' Category
I have just updated my comparison of RPT management utilities for 2021. These are tools that allow you to scan, document, compare and in some cases batch update RPT files. The list includes 9 tools:
Report Runner Documentor by Jeff-Net
R-Tag Documentation and Search by R-Tag
CR Data Source Updater by R-Tag
Visual CUT and DataLink Viewer by Millet Software
Report Miner by the Retsel Group
Code Search Professional by Find it EZ Software Corp.
Dev Surge 365 by Find it EZ Software Corp.
.rpt Inspector 3 Professional Suite by Software Forces, LLC
.rpt Inspector Online by Software Forces, LLC
Last week I invited developers to recompile the source code for this free 32-bit UFL into a 64-bit version of the same DLL. Today someone sent me a DLL they had compiled and I have posted it on my site. I consider it a Beta version since he only tested the function he needed (FileAppendLine). But there are 37 other functions included in the dll. The developer also admitted that “the code still assumes a 32-bit word length”, which might cause problems on some of the functions.
I can’t test it yet since I haven’t upgraded to CR 2020. But if you have CR2020 and want to try some of these functions, you can download and test the DLL. If you do any testing, let me know which functions you try and if you run into any problems. And if someone feels like doing a more complete conversion, you can download the source code for the original 32-bit dll.
Last week I mentioned the U2lwin.DLL. It is a Crystal Reports user function library (UFL) that is currently available in 32-bit but not yet in 64-bit. This means that users who have this dll and who upgrade to CR 2020 will lose some of their formula functions.
This week I checked in with the developer, Bjarke Viksoe. He has always posted the source code for this dll on his web site. He said it is fine if someone else takes the source code and creates a 64-bit version of the dll. He doesn’t even mind hosting the upgraded file if that helps.
Of course, most of my readers are not application programmers, and neither am I. But I know that a few of you write serious code. If anyone wants to take a crack at this you can download the source code and give it a shot. The current source code uses Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0.
In the meantime, if you upgrade to CR 202o, there is another DLL that you can purchase called Cut Light by Millet Software. It is one the UFLs in my annual comparison of UFLs. Cut light has at least twice as many functions as U2lwin with many that are the same. So it might have the functions you need, and it comes in both 32-bit and 64-bit. It isn’t free but it also isn’t very expensive.
Some of my customers are transitioning from 32-bit versions of Crystal Reports to Crystal Reports 2020, which is 64-bit. This creates some issues since ODBC/OLEDB drivers are either 32-bit or 64-bit. Switching to CR 2020 requires different drivers and (if using ODBC) different ODBC Data Source Name (DSN) entries.
The same applies to UFL function DLL files. For instance the free ufl named u2lwin32.dll only comes in a 32-bit version. Some commercial ones come in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions. Switching to CR 2020 requires that you use 64-bit UFL libraries.
The good news is that RPT files in CR 2020 are backward compatible with earlier versions, probably back to Crystal Reports v9. So you can modify and run a single RPT file in both CR2020 and earlier versions. But you do need different connectivity. What my customers are doing is naming the connections the same in both the 32 and 64 bit environment. That way users in both environments can run the same report without modification.
If you run into any strange behaviors in using CR 2020 or in the transition, please let me know and I will share with others.
I have just updated my comparison of server-based scheduling tools for 2021. These tools are similar to the desktop-based scheduling tools I write about every March, but these are designed to be run on server. This allows multiple people to schedule reports for automated delivery by Email, FTP or network folder.
There are 11 products on the list this year and a few feature updates and price changes. The blog page provides a brief overview of each product. It also has a link to the feature matrix that compares roughly 70 features of these tools. There is even a feature glossary that defines all the terms. So if you need a short course in automating Crystal Reports delivery, this is a pretty good place to start.
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:
How would you like your reports to be automatically run, exported to a PDF and delivered to your Email InBox every Monday morning at 6am? The Crystal Reports designer doesn’t provide a way to do this (unless you upgrade to CR Server or BO Enterprise). But if you look at third party products like those on my LINKS page you will find several reasonably priced or free tools that do this. Some do even more. So every March I go through the list and publish a feature comparison on my blog.
There are 11 active products in the list again this year. The page linked above provides a brief description of each product and lists the features that set it apart. Then there is a detailed feature matrix that shows the key specifics for comparison, including prices. To clarify the matrix terminology I have written a feature glossary to explain what each feature means. Finally there are links to the vendor websites so that you can get more information on each product. In May I will be updating a separate article that compares server based scheduling tools. If you think one person can manage all of your scheduling you are probably fine with one of the desktop tools, regardless of the number of people receiving the scheduled output. But if you plan to have multiple people scheduling reports then you may want to consider a server based tool.
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.
There are many ways to deploy Crystal Reports to users. I normally lean toward the simpler and less expensive options, like locally installed viewers, or scheduled delivery of PDF output. But there are environments where a web based option is necessary. The “official” options from SAP are Crystal (Reports) Server and BO Enterprise. But there are other, less expensive products out there that also provide web delivery of Crystal Reports. These third party products allow your users to run and view reports from a browser. You can also centrally manage your report deployment from a browser.
I have created a page on my blog that lists and compares these products, and I update it every January with info from the vendors. This year the list features 8 products:
Crystal Reports Server – a traditional Web portal
Report Runner Web Portal – a traditional Web portal
IntelliFront BI – a traditional Web portal
Ripplestone – a traditional Web portal
rePORTAL CR – a traditional Web portal
ReCrystallize Server – a traditional Web portal
ReCrystallize Pro – a launch page generator for the web
Bezlio – a SaaS Web viewer
The blog page mentioned above contains a brief rundown on what each product does and provides links to all of the product web sites. I have also posted a feature matrix (xls) that shows some of the specifics for comparison, including prices.
If you have any feedback to share on these tools I would be happy to hear from you.
I recently got to experiment with the new “Web Widget” features of Visual Cut. This adds two additional export options that allow you to create either an interactive Web Grid or an interactive Web Pivot Table. These files can then be uploaded to virtually any web site, allowing users to interact with the data.
To make this work the report should be very simple, either details with column headings or a single group level with column headings (and hidden details). You export the report to one of these formats and Visual Cut creates an HTML template file with a JSON file to hold the data. As a test I exported a simple report and then uploaded these files to my own web site. In my test I was able to interact with the Pivot table to adjust Rows and Columns, add filter and totals, and add a chart to visualize the data.
My test only scratched the surface. To learn more about what you can do with this new feature you can watch the demo videos (Web Grid Video and Web Pivot Table Video) or read the new section in the Visual Cut user manual. You can also try out the demo pages for either the Web Grid or the Web Pivot Table.