Archive for January, 2015

Is Crystal Reports in decline?

Monday 26 January 2015 @ 11:01 pm

Crystal Reports has been around a long time. I have worked with it for 20 years and it was around before that. That is an incredible run for a piece of software. Recently I have received questions that are variations on the same theme: How strong is CR’s presence in the market. Here are the main variations:

  • Is it still worthwhile to invest time in learning Crystal?
  • What are the job prospects for full-time CR developers?
  • Can I make money as a CR consultant?
  • I am working on a software project, should I consider an alternative for reporting?
  • What does SAP have planned for Crystal Reports.

Crystal Reports is still widely used, and I am still busy, but the user base seems to have stopped growing. I have seen the curve sloping down in three areas:

1) Newsletter subscriptions
2) Sales of my e-books
3) On-site and public class requests

Based on my data, Crystal Reports hit a peak around Continue Reading »
Is Crystal Reports in decline?

Web based deployment options compared (2015)

Monday 19 January 2015 @ 10:58 pm

There are many ways to deploy Crystal Reports to users. I normally lean toward the simpler and less expensive options, like locally installed viewers, or scheduled delivery of PDF output. But there are environments where a web based option is necessary. The “official” options from SAP are Crystal (Reports) Server and BO Enterprise. But there are other, less expensive products out there that many users never see. These are third party products that allow your users to view reports from a browser. You can also centrally manage your report deployment from a browser.

I have created a page on my blog that lists and compares these products, and I update it every January. This year the list includes 9 products, including CR Server, itself:

Crystal Reports Server – a traditional Web portal
Report Runner Web Portal – a traditional Web portal
CSS Portal with CRD – a traditional Web portal
Visual Access Report Server – a traditional Web portal
Ripplestone– a traditional Web portal
RVweb – a traditional Web portal
rePORTAL – a traditional Web portal
RV for Windows Pro – a server-based viewer
Report Launch – a bridge between BO server products and server based applications

The blog page mentioned above contains a brief rundown on what each product does and provides links to all of the product web sites. I have also posted a feature matrix (xls) that shows some of the specifics for comparison, including prices. If you have any feedback to share on these tools I would be happy to hear form you.

You should activate the AutoSave feature

Friday 16 January 2015 @ 10:09 pm

One of my favorite sayings:

Good judgement comes from experience.
And experience comes from bad judgement.

I was reminded of the value of AutoSave this week when one of my reports froze up on me before I had a chance to save a large number of changes. I waited for it to come back and even went to lunch. But an hour later the report was still frozen. Normally I am pretty good about saving my work often, but I had been concentrating on a problem and lost track of time.

The machine I was working on did not have the CR AutoSave feature activated. But somehow the report that froze did not freeze the rest of  Crystal. I was able to use the menu and save my other reports, but I could not save the report I had been working on.

Since the menu was still working I took a long shot and activated the AutoSave feature. After a few minutes I noticed a new RPT file in the temp directory and it had all of my most recent changes. So even though it would not let me save the “frozen” report, CR was able to AutoSave it for me.

And as if that wasn’t a strong enough message, I had three client workstations crash on me this past week. None of them had AutoSave activated. So allow me to make a public service announcement:  Read my prior post on how to use the AutoSave feature and then activate it in your environment.

Eliminate zero bars in a bar chart

Thursday 8 January 2015 @ 11:02 pm

What if you have a bar chart and some of the bars are at zero? Maybe that information is useful but sometimes you may want those zero bars to be skipped. One method is to exclude the zero records, but what if they are needed by other parts of the report? I just found a relatively easy way to exclude zero bars from a chart, without eliminating the zero records from the report.

For example, say you are doing an “advanced” chart (not a group chart). You want one bar per customer so the Customer field is the “On change of” field.  The field {@FedEx Counter} is the “show values” field and it is set to sum.  You preview and you see several customers have no fedex orders so their name shows an empty slot where their bar should be. Here are the steps to eliminate those:

1) Go into the Chart Expert and select the Data Tab.
2) Add the {@FedEx Counter} to the ‘on change of’ box as a second field.
3) Click the “order” button right below {@FedEx Counter}.
4) Change “in ascending order” to be “in Specified Order”.
5) On the specified order tab click “New” and type ‘zero’ as the group name.
6) Below {@FedEx Counter} select “is greater than” 0.
7) Click on the “Others” tab and select “Discard all others”.
8) Click OK > OK to get back out.

You should see all the zero bars disappear.

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