Archive for September, 2014

Highlighting individual rows and columns in a cross-tab

Friday 26 September 2014 @ 10:02 pm

I was reviewing a report for a customer that was based on a cross-tab. The cross-tab had several rows that had a different color font and background. Yet when I went into the formatting properties of the cells, I couldn’t see where the color logic was entered. I searched the formatting formulas and all the places I could think of where you could change the colors and couldn’t find it. Then I started right-clicking different areas to see if there was something I had forgotten and found the answer in the ‘Highlighting Expert’.

Currently, I never use the Highlighting Expert. That is because when it was first introduced it was only good for numeric fields, and you could only write conditions based on the current field’s value. So I continued using the conditional formatting formulas, which are give you more control over the condition logic.

But it seems that the Highlighting Expert has become Continue Reading »
Highlighting individual rows and columns in a cross-tab

Updated comparison of Crystal Reports viewers (2014)

Sunday 21 September 2014 @ 10:28 pm

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. I am amazed at how many Crystal Reports users are still unaware of these, since they are offered by a dozen different vendors. Some users get sidetracked by the “viewer” that is put out by SAP because it won’t refresh reports. Don’t let that fool you because every viewer in my list allows you to refresh reports.

Every September I compare the features of these viewers and post the results. The comparison page provides a brief introduction to each product including what sets it apart. There is also a detailed feature matrix (PDF) that shows some of the specifics for comparison like prices and the install base. I have even included a glossary of features in case you aren’t familiar with the terminology.

This year there are 11 vendors in the review but one of them is MIA** – the vendor for EasyView (EasyStreet Software). I have Emailed and called and have not received a response for 2 years now.  They are also not responding to customers or the Better Business Bureau, at least as of September 2014, although the web site is still running. 

The current vendors are:

Crystal Corral by Groff Automation
cView by Chelsea Technologies
ViewerFX by Origin Software
Crystal Kiwi Viewer by Crystal Kiwi
Report Viewer Pro by Report Viewer Limited
RV by Climate 27
Logicity Pro by SaberLogic
Report Runner Viewer by Jeff-Net
Easy View by Easy Street Software (**see warning above)
RTag Report Viewer by RTag
DataLink Viewer by Millet SW

If you have already tried one of these products, or are currently using one, I would love to know what you think.

Reporting on ‘multi-value’ fields

Sunday 14 September 2014 @ 11:47 am

There were recently two different threads in LinkedIn that discussed reporting on ‘multi-select’ or ‘multi-value’ fields. A multi-value field allows the user to enter more than one value, or a list, in a single field. But these discussions are usually a muddle because the term only describes how the data is entered or how it appears on the screen. But, to plan a report using multi-value fields you have to know how the data is stored which determines how it appears in a report. I know of four different methods for storing multi-value fields, so the first step is making sure you know how the data is stored.

A true multi-value field violates proper database design rules. When you need to store a list of items related to the same row the correct approach is to use another table that provides a one-to-many relationship. Some applications will do this and make it appear on the screen as a single, multi-value list, but others take Continue Reading »
Reporting on ‘multi-value’ fields

Finding fields in use outside of formulas

Sunday 7 September 2014 @ 11:24 pm

SAP created a suggestion box called the “Idea Place” in 2010. This month idea D661 from October 2010 was accepted by the developers at SAP. It is scheduled for release later this year. The idea is to make it easier to find where fields are in use in a report. Currently you can search all formulas, but some fields are used in non-formula properties. For instance fields are used as sorts, as groups, or as links to a subreport. So SAP plans to add 3 new search options that cover these situations. The bad news is that after 4 years it will only be implemented in CR for Enterprise.

So the rest of us will have to continue to use the old way of finding where fields are used outside of formulas. Just export the report to “report definition” and open the resulting text file. Then search for that field name within the text. You will find fields used as sorts or as groups. You will also find a field when it is used by a summary field or a field that is just sitting on a section of the report. These last two don’t seem to be covered even after the upcoming improvements. The only fields you will not find listed in a report definition export are fields used as a link to a subreport. The subreport definition is there within the main report definition, but any main report fields used as links to the subreport parameters are not identified in the definition.  If a field is in use and doesn’t show up in the “report definition” then you will have to check the subreport links manually.

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