Archive for the 'Products' Category
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.
If you have installed the new Crystal Reports 2020 you may have noticed a new menu option and toolbar for SAP BW.
Gordon Portanier of ReCrystalize decided to do some experimenting to see if he could get CR to run without those options appearing. He found that when he renamed these 4 dll files, both the menu option and the toolbar didn’t appear :
He found the dlls in this folder:
C:\Program Files (x86)\SAP BusinessObjects\SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 4.0\win64_x64
The program seemed to run normally without these dll files. So if you decide to upgrade and don’t have a use for the extra menu options, this is something you can try.
I have just updated my comparison of RPT management utilities for 2020. 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
One of the things that makes CR such a powerful and flexible tool is the ‘ecosystem’ of third party tools that has grown up around Crystal Reports. I was reminded of this last week as I worked on a project using the Cut Light UFL by Millet Software. The Cut Light UFL allows your formulas to do more than simply add columns to a report. It includes 130 additional functions that let you interact with the operating system, other applications and even SQL databases (among other things).
In this case I was helping a customer create a report that reads data from one database, does some complex calculations and then writes the results of the calculations to a table in a data warehouse. The function we were using lets our formula launch a SQL INSERT statement to add a row to the table. We had done this before with smaller tables, but this time the INSERT involved a table with dozens of fields, and we ran into a limitation on the size of the query that Cut Light could process. I asked Millet software about the limitation and within 2 hours we had an updated UFL that could handle a SQL statement up to 250K characters.
If you want to learn more about giving superpowers to your formulas, you can see my annual review of User Function Libraries (UFLs). If you want to get an overview of ALL of the third party products available for Crystal Reports, you can see my product LINKS page.
I have written before about Crystal Dispatch, a client based viewer put out by APB Reports. It is a simple no frills viewer that covers all the basics and lets you run reports with one click. You can read more about how it works in my previous article, and even watch a video of how it works.
But what is new this year is the price. APB Reports is now offering an unlimited site license to a company for $5 (yes, five US dollars). Adam Butt, the owner of APB Reports, said, “I want as many companies as possible to start using Crystal Reports, so hopefully this is a move in the right direction”.
So if you are thinking about deploying a locally installed viewer program in your company, this is one very low cost option to consider. For other options you can check out my annual comparison of client based viewers.