Archive for the 'Products' Category
One of the perks of using Crystal Reports is the number of third party tools that have been developed to work with the software. My Product Links page has links to more than 70 items.
So it came as a surprise when a user pointed me to a free tool that I had never heard of. This user had asked me if there were tools that would run and export reports from the command line. I pointed him to my ‘Viewers’ comparison page which has several options. He replied that he had decided to use Crystal Reports Helper which lets you run reports for the command line and export them to a handful of formats. Because it runs from the command line the scripts can be saved in .bat or .cmd files and run from a scheduler. It is a free tool and I had never heard of it.
Crystal Reports Helper was created by Big Ideas Computing Ltd. It was initially created for users of their software application, named dbFront. dbFront lets you quickly build simple web facing applications that allow users to enter and update data. Crystal Reports Helper has since been released it to everyone for free, all you have to do is request it from the vendor.
And thanks to Rich Head of the Greater Iowa Credit Union for sharing this link with me. I haven’t tried Crystal Reports Helper but Rich said it worked fine for him.
One of the managers at SAP recently shared a link with me that I had never seen before. It is a comprehensive FAQ page for the Crystal Reports product family. If looks like about 40 pages of material and covers a wide variety of topics. (For instance, A5 has a searchable list of all the service packs and C5 links to the Knowledge Base). Here is the outline:
A. 1. SAP Crystal Solutions Overview
A. 2. SAP Crystal Solutions Licensing
A. 3. SAP Crystal Solutions Hardware specs, minimum requirements, etc
A. 4. What is the numbering of versions
A. 5. SAP Crystal Solutions Service Packs
A. 6. SAP Crystal Solutions Product versions
A. 7. SAP Crystal Solutions Maintenance and Support
A. 8. SAP Crystal Solutions compatibility
B. 1. SAP Store purchase
What versions of SAP Crystal Reports are available through the SAP Store?
What versions of SAP Crystal Server are available through the SAP Store?
SAP CR 2020 and SAP CR 2016 available on selected 3rd party marketplaces.
B. 2. SAP Store additional questions
B. 3. SAP Store Upgrades
B. 4. SAP Store Order Fulfillment
B. 5. End User license agreements (EULA)
C. 1. SAP Crystal Solutions Installation
C. 2. Lost license keys and registration numbers
C. 3. SAP Crystal Solutions How-to Guides
C. 4. SAP Crystal Solutions Videos and Tutorials
C. 5. SAP Crystal Solutions Guided Answers and KBAs
C. 6. SAP Crystal Solutions Third Party Training and Consulting
D. 1. SAP Crystal for Developers
D. 2. Retirement of the SAP Distribution Reselling and PartnerEdge Open Ecosystem
E. Error and Issues Handling
E. 1. SAP Crystal Solutions product tips and tricks
E. 2. Vulnerabilities
F. Other topics
F. 1. SAP Crystal Solutions Third Party Apps
F. 2. Ask your own question
F. 3. Recruitment with SAP Crystal skills
Some of the links in this FAQ, like the link to the knowledge base search, require an SAP “Universal ID” to get full access. These are free.
I have just updated my comparisons of server-based scheduling tools and desktop-based scheduling tools for 2022. I have changed the schedule to write about both of these groups every June. The desktop products are designed to be managed on a single PC, while the server based tools allow multiple people to manage schedules through a server. Both provide automated delivery by Email, FTP or directly to a network folder.
There are 11 products in each comparison. There are also a few feature updates and price changes for 2022. The pages provide a brief overview of each product. Each page also has a link to the feature matrix that compares dozens of 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.
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 Winter 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.
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 new functions and is now available in a 64-bit version for users of CR 2020.
If you need help deploying one of these functions in a project let me know.
Everyone has been talking about the new Java security vulnerability called Log4j. I have been talking to colleagues to determine if this affects Crystal Reports, Crystal Enterprise or anything else in the Crystal ecosystem. SAP put out a note that states that this vulnerability does not affect SAP Business Intelligence 4.2 or 4.3. It doesn’t mention earlier BI versions but these are no longer supported.
There was a support note about this topic, but nothing in the support note mentions Crystal Reports or the Crystal runtime engine used by third party applications. One of my colleagues said that since this is a Java vulnerability, it should not affect stand alone Crystal Reports, and I tend to agree. I also believe that if Crystal Reports were affected it would be mentioned in that support note. The same goes for the Crystal runtime files, but it would be nice if SAP responded specifically to these questions in the discussion above.
Last, thanks to Andrew Baines of Pursuit Technology and Danny Shahrabani of rePORTAL Software for helping me track down and make sense of the SAP support note. If anyone else has info to share on this topic, please let me know.
I recently helped a new user who wanted to purchase Crystal Reports, but wasn’t sure what product(s) to buy. He had read about a server component, a ‘developer’ component and a viewer, but wasn’t sure what the names were or which he needed. The SAP website didn’t clear things up for him.
“I saw an architecture diagram that broke it into tiers, but that did not help.”
This isn’t the first time I have had this type of question, and I thought my response might help other users.
There are three levels in the Crystal product line (four if you count the Business Objects Enterprise level) but most users only need one, SAP Crystal Reports. That is all I use. Here is the main product page. This is often called the Report Designer or the Developer, but the official name is SAP Crystal Reports. It is the only product that lets you create a Crystal Report.
You can currently buy 2 different editions:
If you get a free trial from the product page I think you will get 2020, but if you buy it you can choose either edition. I currently use 2016 because the 64-bit product is relatively new. I also use lots of third party tools that aren’t ready to jump to 64-bit and I don’t want to leave them behind.
The other products are Crystal Server and SAP Crystal Reports Viewer. Crystal server is a web portal that lets people run the reports from their browser. But, you still have to create them in Crystal Reports and then publish them to the portal. This product can get quite expensive.
The Crystal Reports Viewer is free but is pretty much useless in my opinion. It lets you open reports, but only those that are saved with data. You can’t refresh reports unless you are logged into CR Server. There are plenty of inexpensive third-party viewers out there so not many of my customers bother with the SAP Viewer. Here is a list of the ones I review each year.
If you have any questions about the Crystal Reports product line, let me know and I will try to help.
I create reports for several customers who use Raiser’s Edge donor management software. One of my customers shared this note from BlackBaud that went out today:
“On December 15, 2021, we will no longer support the ability to create or edit custom reports using Crystal Reports directly within any Blackbaud solution. Users will still be able to view historical reports and export file formats that work with Crystal Reports.”
Before the 15th it wasn’t clear if reports would still run in RE, but now it appears that they still do. The only noticeable change is that users don’t have a built-in copy of the Crystal Reports designer. To modify reports they will need to purchase their own license.
If you decide to buy a copy of Crystal Reports to work with your RE export (mdb) files, I recommend that you buy Crystal Reports 2016 instead of Crystal Reports 2020. That will give you something that works very much like what you have now. Crystal Reports 2020 can be made to work but it is 64-bit so it will use different drivers. You could modify reports but you won’t be able to run that same report both outside and within RE.
See this article for a link to the Crystal Reports product page and for clarity on what you do and don’t need to buy.
After releasing my course materials and my “Expert” series I realized that I had forgotten one item: My set of calendars. This three report set, with instructions, allows you to generate 3 different styles of calendar from your data (continuous, monthly and daily). The first two allow you to show multi-day events as boxes that stretch from the beginning to the end of the event.
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. These 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 couple of new features added to 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.