Archive for the 'Uncategorized' 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. 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 Known Keep
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.
Some of you may have noticed that the Chelsea Technologies website is “under construction”. If you are interested in any of their products you can Email them directly using this Email (put in the @ symbol):
Three D Graphics is a software developer that specializes in data-driven graphic software (charts and graphs). They are the vendor that created the charting DLL used in every version of Crystal Reports (and several of Crystal’s competitors as well). They also sell an enhanced DLL called CRChart. It upgrades the standard DLL that comes with Crystal Reports, adding special capabilities and new chart types.
Now that the 64-bit Crystal Reports 2020 is out, a 64-bit version of CRChart has been released. You can still purchase the original (32-bit) version of CRChart if you are using an older version of Crystal. So, if you want your reports to generate waterfall charts, Gannt charts or transparent overlapping area charts you might want to look at the capabilities of CRChart.
Eric Hittinger discovered that the French call their pie charts camembert (as in a wheel of cheese) and decided to see what these charts are called in other languages. He has taken the results and presented them in (what else) a camembert. The twitter thread is getting lots of feedback and he is making updates.
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.
This week I worked with two different customers, helping them locate data buried in a large system with hundreds of tables. In both cases I had to use the table filter method to help me find the correct tables. For instance, when we needed to find the vendors table we looked first in the V section of the table list. However, in the system we were using all of the tables names had a 2 character prefixes for a dozen or more different modules. It wasn’t clear which module might contain this table. So I added a filter to the list of table names shown in the Database Expert. This way only table names that contain VEND somewhere in the name would be displayed. It made it easy to spot the correct table.
To add a filter to the table list you need to go into File > Options > (Database Tab).
In the middle section you will see two boxes on the right, and the top one is for table filters. It is labeled [Table Name LIKE:]
In this box you enter the characters you are looking for with a percent sign before the characters and/or after the characters. This percent sign is a wild card symbol. So since we only wanted to see tables that contained VEND anywhere in the name we put in a filter like this:
If I wanted all tables that have TMP on the end I could enter a filter with only one wildcard, like this:
The only downside I have seen when using these filters, is that it is easy to forget about the filters. It then takes a bit to figure out why the table list is missing or incomplete. So don’t forget to take the filter out when you are done.
Reportal Software has just released rePORTAL 6.1, a new version of their web portal for Crystal Reports. They are offering a 10% discount on all server license fees through April 15, 2017. I don’t see the server price on their web site but the price was $3,000 per server in January when I did my latest annual review. That link is also a great place for more information on rePORTAL and the other third party web portals.
ReCrystalize has just released a simple web portal called ReCrystalize Server. It allows you to make your Crystal Reports available on an IIS server. Users can browse the reports which are stored in folders. They can then open and refresh the reports through their browser. ReCrystalize Server will prompt the users for any necessary parameters, or you can set up links to run reports with fixed parameters embedded within the URL.
The cost is $995 per server with an optional $500 per year for support and maintenance. For more information you can read about ReCrystalize Server on the ReCrystalize website. There is even a live demo to show you how it works.
RptView by Pursuit Technology was originally for sale. Then it was free with ads. Now it has now been released as a free viewer without ads. All that is required is that you register with the vendor. To see what it can and can’t do you should read my annual comparison of viewer applications which I updated this week to include this new information.
If you don’t have CR installed you can view any report simply by double-clicking the rpt file. Alternatively, you can launch RptView and then identify the folder that contains your reports. Keep in mind that RptView is no longer being actively maintained. If you do need support, you can hire the vendor to fix any problems you find.
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.
I discovered and added one new tool this year, bringing the pool of reviewed tools up to ten. The article provides a brief introduction to each product and describes what sets that product apart. Then there is a detailed feature matrix that shows the key specifics for comparison, including prices and the install base. To clarify the matrix terms 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.