Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category
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.
For those of you who have a large amount of data to analyze, Millet Software may have something worth trying. They have added an integrated data visualization tool into the DataLink Viewer. This allows you to explore the data by creating advanced charts – going beyond what Crystal normally provides. The tool will automatically read through your detail report data (including formulas) and loads each column into an appropriate category. It extracts the numbers as “measures’, the dates as a possible grouping hierarchy and all other columns as potential analysis attributes. From there you can drag and drop the fields to see where patterns emerge.
Because it is easier to show these features than to describe them, Ido has published a video demo showing just what this tool can do. Try it out and let me know what you think.
I have just updated my comparison of server-based scheduling tools for 2012. 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 8 products on the list again this year with a few feature updates and price changes since last year. The article provides a brief overview of each product. It also links to a 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, you have come to the right place.
I have quite a few customers who use PeachTree Accounting and PeachTree comes with Crystal Reports. So I have developed a bit of a specialty creating custom reports for people who use PeachTree. In January I saw something new. PeachTree eliminated a field in their database that has been there for ages. The field is called QtyOrdered and it shows the Quantity of each item on an order. But starting with the new 2012 product this field doesn’t exist and you have to use another Quantity field in its place. The challenge was that there are a handful of different “quantity” fields to pick from so it took some experimenting to find the right one (JrnlRow.Quantity).
This means that any custom reports that use the original field will generate an error. To run the report you have to edit all formulas and features that use QtyOrdered, and replace it with the new field. If you need help with this change, or with creating custom reports from PeachTree, please give me a call.
It is always a good sign when vendors respond quickly to user requests. Earlier this month the developers of Find it EZ received a request from a potential customer. He needed to search for table and field names within his SQL commands and SQL expressions. The next day this user was using a new version of Find it EZ, including this new feature. The user was surprised that he didn’t even need to fill in the report parameters before the SQL was searched – something required by his old software.
This support for embedded SQL searches is now included in the current release of Find it EZ. It also added a search of Crystal Dashboards (Xcelsius) files and even the embedded Excel models. See this article for more info on Find it EZ and special pricing through the end of this month.
It has been one year since I did my first comparison of formula function libraries, so it is time for an update. If you aren’t familiar with the term, User Function Libraries (or UFLs) 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, or from one report to another.
2) Append lines to an external text file.
3) Automatically copy a value to the clipboard.
4) Check the user name of the user running the report.
5) See if a file or folder exists – either on your network or on the internet (http).
6) Rename/copy/delete a file on your hard drive or network drive.
7) Launch an application or run a batch file.
8) Execute a SQL statement (Select/Insert/Delete).
9) Send an Email using information in the report.
10) Create a table of contents or an index for your report.
11) Calculate distances between zip codes or long./lat. coordinates.
If this sounds interesting you can read my complete comparison including a list of all the functions provided by each DLL. The four primary sources are:
Bjarke Viksoe (U2lwin32)
Millet Software (CUT Light)
Chelsea Tech (File Mgt, Text, Share and others)
CrystalKiwi (Export, Table of Contents)