Archive for the 'Products' Category
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 proces. 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.
I have just updated my comparison of server-based scheduling tools for 2020. 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.
Last month I wrote about a difficult time I had installing Crystal Reports. One of my complaints was that if the install fails, you have to start over – including waiting 5-7 minutes while the setup ‘unpacks’ all the files. It seems like there should be a way to keep the files unpacked when an install has to be repeated.
Well SAP doesn’t provide an official way to do that but one of my readers (who apparently does lots of CR installs) shared his method. Here are his steps:
1. Run the install .exe.
2. Wait until everything has been unpacked. If you aren’t sure, wait until it asks for the license key. Then go to this folder, substituting your user name in the path:
Look for a folder in Temp that starts with “RARSFX”.
NOTE: AppData is a hidden folder, so you’ll have to set Explorer to view hidden items.
3. If there’s more than one “RARSFX” folder, delete all of them except the most recent one. These are failed installs that didn’t get deleted correctly.
4. Copy the remaining folder somewhere else. You cannot cut and paste because the installer has those files open. You might want to give the folder copy a more meaningful name.
5. For subsequent installs, go to this new folder and run setup.exe.
So if you are troubleshooting a balky install, or if you have to install CR on several different workstations, the steps above will speed up the iterations. And, thanks to Dell Stinnett-Christy, a senior manager at Protiviti, for sharing this method.
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 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 worked with a frustrated customer last Friday. He was having trouble installing Crystal Reports 2016 on a new PC. He wanted me to give it a try.
The first challenge was the error messages, which give no help. The main two are:
Failed to update setup engine executables
Failed to update cache for execution
After some web searching we found we could check the install log. These errors happened when Crystal tried to move or rename a folder. We found lots of people asking about these same errors going back several years. We even found SAP’s official response. The solutions that worked for some people were:
1) Turning off all firewalls and AV programs **
2) Running the install as an Administrator
3) Changing the permissions on several folders to allow full control.
We tried all of these things and a few others which leads to the second challenge. The download from the SAP web site is an EXE. Before it can do the actual install it has to unpack all the files. This takes about 5-7 minutes which isn’t in itself a problem. But when the install fails you can’t just run setup again because most of the unpacked files are deleted after the failure. Your only option is to run the EXE again and let it unpack all the files … again … every time. This makes troubleshooting very time consuming***.
I never got to see the last hurdle. My customer said that one time he got further but hit an error that mentioned a blocked port. Another search turned up that Crystal 2016 needs to communicate on a specific port to complete the installation. If this port is blocked you slide down the chute back to square one. We never got that far.
I had to punt and give him a link to buy a tech support incident from SAP. He will have to pay to get the product installed. Maybe SAP will be embarrassed enough to refund the incident charge.
I appreciate that installs are complex and that PCs can have infinite variations – but these errors have been around for years. By now they should have made it into the prerequisite test that runs before the install starts. If CR needs port X to be open then the routine should check to make sure that port is open before starting. If you need admin privileges or folder permissions, then it should check to see if it has them.
**Update 3/17: The customer checked with his IT department and found a layer of AV/Firewall protection that was still active. Once that was disabled the install went smoothly. I still think the install routine could be improved, but I can’t blame the mess above on SAP.
***Update 4/26: See this post for a way to get around the need to unpack each time you repeat an install.