Archive for the 'Products' Category



Web based deployment options compared (2022)

Monday 28 March 2022 @ 9:43 pm

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.




Comparison of Crystal Reports UFLs (2021)

Tuesday 21 December 2021 @ 11:42 pm

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.




The Log4j vulnerability and Crystal Reports

Sunday 12 December 2021 @ 9:38 pm

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.




What Crystal Reports product(s) do you need?

Saturday 27 November 2021 @ 8:43 pm

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:

2016 (32-bit)
2020 (64-bit)

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.




Blackbaud no longer supports Crystal Reports within Raiser’s Edge

Wednesday 17 November 2021 @ 8:23 pm

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.




Releasing my Calendar reports

Monday 18 October 2021 @ 8:28 pm

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.

The reports are designed so that you can swap in your fields instead of the sample data fields. You can read more about them in my original blog post, or download the set and try them out.




Comparison of Crystal Reports Viewers (2021)

Tuesday 28 September 2021 @ 8:01 am

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.




“Column mode” in the Crystal formula editor

Sunday 5 September 2021 @ 11:31 pm

I have written several articles about using Notepadd++ for writing long formulas or SQL statements. I just found out that one of the features I use in Notepad++ has been (partially) available in Crystal Reports forever.  I never noticed. The feature is called “column mode” and allows you to select text in a column without selecting the entire row.

Lets say you start a formula with DateTime variables like this:

WhilePrintingRecords;
DateTimeVar DateA;
DateTimeVar DateB;
DateTimeVar DateC;
DateTimeVar DateD;
DateTimeVar DateE;

Then you realize that you want them to be Date instead of DateTime. You can highlight a “column” made up of the word “Time” on all 5 rows at once, and then hit delete. To select a column you hold down the ALT key and then click the mouse in the upper left corner of rectangle and drag to the lower right corner. In this case you would start just before the “T” in Time in the first row, and drag down and across until your cursor was just after the “e” in Time in the last row. By using the ALT key you will highlight a rectangle of 4 characters across and 5 rows down. Then you hit delete and just those 20 characters are deleted.

You can also copy and paste a rectangle. Say you have to write a formula that is something like this:

If month({Trans.Date}) = 01 then {Balance.Pd01} else
If month({Trans.Date}) = 02 then {Balance.Pd02} else
If month({Trans.Date}) = 03 then {Balance.Pd03} else
If month({Trans.Date}) = 04 then {Balance.Pd04} else
If month({Trans.Date}) = 05 then {Balance.Pd05} else
If month({Trans.Date}) = 06 then {Balance.Pd06} else
If month({Trans.Date}) = 07 then {Balance.Pd07} else
If month({Trans.Date}) = 08 then {Balance.Pd08} else
If month({Trans.Date}) = 09 then {Balance.Pd09} else
If month({Trans.Date}) = 10 then {Balance.Pd10} else
If month({Trans.Date}) = 11 then {Balance.Pd11} else
If month({Trans.Date}) = 12 then {Balance.Pd12}

Normally I would start by typing the first row and then copy it 11 more times. Then I would change each row to use a different number from 1 to 12.  Once I have changed the column of values after the ‘=’ sign I could copy that 2-digit column and past it over the values in the other 2-digit column in one step.

To do this you select the 2 digit column as a rectangle using the ALT key. You can right clock in the column to copy (or use Ctrl-C). Then you select the other 2-digit column and right-click to paste (or use Ctrl-V).

Note, in Crystal you should select these rectangles starting in the upper left corner, especially if you plan to copy and paste.  You can get inconsistent results if you start in one of the other corners.

NotePad++ has a much more sophisticated column mode, allowing you to:

  1. Paste a single word or character value into multiple rows at once.
  2. Select a column and start typing. The new text is added to ALL the rows at the same time.
  3. Use Shift-Alt to mark the column using arrow keys , instead of the mouse.
  4. Select the column of text starting in any corner.

Unfortunately, these don’t work in Crystal.




My Crystal Reports Expert Series released as free downloads

Tuesday 24 August 2021 @ 10:05 pm

Last month I released my Intro and Advanced course books as free downloads. Tonight I released the entire Expert’s Series of guides as free downloads. All of these are all on the “Library” page of my site. You are free to use them and share them for free as long as they are not modified or sold.




RPT management utilities for 2021

Friday 30 July 2021 @ 9:39 pm

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




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