Archive for the 'Products' 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:
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.
In older versions, all you had to do to retrieve your Crystal Reports license key was go into Help > About. That screen would show the key and your registration number (if you registered the software). In more recent versions the key is no longer there. There is a license manager under the [Help] menu but it only shows you the first few and last few characters of your license key. I assume this was intended as a security measure. However, if you need to reinstall Crystal Reports when you upgrade your hardware you might struggle a bit. Here are three other ways to find your key:
- Check your Email. Most installs are downloads and the key is Emailed to the person making the purchase. You might have received that Email or had it forwarded to you.
- Call SAP Sales. If you purchased it directly from SAP (the most common option these days) they should be able to look up your account and give you the key.
- Or, my favorite, pull it from the registry. You will probably find it in this registry key:
Suite XI 4.0/Crystal Reports/Keycodes/CR Dev
The registry key will contain the license key followed by an 8-digit numeric date, separated by a colon.
It is time for my annual comparison of formula function libraries. If you aren’t familiar with User Function Libraries (or UFLs) they are DLL files that add new formula functions to your Crystal Reports formula editor. With these functions your formulas can do some pretty amazing things like:
1) Carry values from today’s report to tomorrow’s report
2) Carry values from one report to another.
3) Append lines of text to an external text file.
4) Automatically copy a value to the clipboard.
5) Check the user name of the user running the report.
6) See if a file or folder exists (on your network or on the internet).
7) Rename/copy/delete a file on your hard drive or network drive.
8) Launch an application or run a batch file.
9) Execute a SQL statement (Select/Insert/Delete).
10) Send an Email using information in the report.
11) Create a table of contents or an index for your report.
12) Generate bar codes without having to install any fonts
If this sounds interesting you can read my complete comparison including a list of all the functions provided by each DLL. The five UFL providers are:
Bjarke Viksoe (U2lwin32)
Maginus Software (CRUFLMAG)
Millet Software (CUT Light)
Chelsea Tech (File Mgt, Text, Share and others)
CrystalKiwi (Export, Table of Contents)
The only product that has changed since last year is CUT Light, which added some enhancements to existing capabilities.
If you need help deploying one of these functions in a project let me know.
There are several ways to create totals in Crystal. This week I solved problems for two different customers by changing the type of total they were using. I will give a short explanation here, but if you want to really understand this topic you should download the Expert’s Guide to Totals in Crystal Reports from my website ($12). It comes with example reports and exercises.
The primary method for creating totals in Crystal is to add summary fields. In the menu use Insert > Summary or find the Sigma symbol on the tool bar. Some users default to using running totals because they see them listed in the Field Explorer. But summary fields have several advantages over running totals. Summary fields can be:
1) placed in the Group Header as well as the Group Footer
2) used in the Group Selection formula as a group level filter
3) used in Group Sorting to rank the groups in order based on a subtotal value
4) Copied to other group/report sections to create additional summaries
You can’t do these with running totals, so my first choice for creating any total is to use a summary field.
But there are specific situations when a running total will solve a problem that you can’t solve with a regular summary field:
1) If you want to watch the value change, row by row, like the balance in a checkbook
2) If the column you are totaling has duplicates and you need to skip the duplicates
3) If you use Group Selection and then want a total of just the groups that meet the criteria
4) If you do a TopN without others and need a total that doesn’t include the others
Some users also use running totals because you can apply a condition directly to the total. This way the total only includes records that meet a specific criteria. But if you write an If-Then formula with your condition you can use a regular summary field and get the same result. This gives you the conditional total without giving up all the advantages of summary fields.
And, if you get really stuck on a total issue, you can call me for a short consult.
You use Crystal Reports to create, change and run reports. But what if you have users who just need to refresh/view/print/export? Do they need copies of Crystal Reports? Do you need to configure an expensive web server?
The most cost effective method for letting a user run reports is to install a third-party client-based viewer. They are offered by ten different vendors. Don’t get sidetracked by the official SAP “viewer” because that tool won’t refresh reports. Every viewer in my list allows you to refresh reports.
Every September I update the features of these viewers. The comparison page provides a brief introduction to each product including what sets it apart. There is also a detailed feature matrix (xls) that shows some of the specifics for comparison, like prices. I have even included a glossary of features in case you aren’t familiar with the terminology. There are a handful of new features in this year’s matrix which are marked in blue.
There are 10 active products in this year’s review and 4 “ghost” products that are mentioned as warnings. A ghost product has a web site but it hasn’t changed in years and no one responds to requests for information.
The active vendors are:
Crystal Corral by Groff Automation
rptView by Pursuit Technology
CR Dispatch by APB Reports
cView by Chelsea Technologies
ViewerFX by Origin Software
CrystalKiwi Viewer by CrystalKiwi
Logicity Pro by SaberLogic
Report Runner Viewer by Jeff-Net
RTag Report Viewer by RTag
DataLink Viewer by Millet SW
If you have feedback to provide on any of these products, I would love to know what you think.
rePORTAL is one of the products in my list of tools that run Crystal Reports on the web. The developers at rePORTAL recently released rePORTAL v6.5. Some of the new features include the ability to share output to Slack, Dropbox and Google Drive. It also now supports Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) using SMS, Email and Google Authenticator.
If you are looking to run Crystal Reports on the web, my annual review of tools in this class should help you understand your options.