Archive for September, 2015

Updated comparison of Crystal Reports viewers (2015)

Tuesday 22 September 2015 @ 5:56 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. They are offered by a dozen different vendors.  Don’t get sidetracked by the “viewer” that is put out by SAP because that tool won’t refresh reports.  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. 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 since 2012.  Neither have their customers which is probably why the Better Business Bureau has them rated “F”.  The web site is still running but I am not sure it the purchases pages are working or not.

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.

Another useful free (or paid) application

Monday 14 September 2015 @ 11:36 pm

DocumentBurster is a PDF (or Excel) bursting engine.  It can take any multi-page PDF and burst it into separate files or folders, Email them out or deliver them via FTP.  It also has command line support so it can be scheduled or run from a shortcut.  DocumentBurster does not have an engine to run RPT files so the PDF has to be generated from Crystal, a Crystal viewer or the export tool mentioned in my previous post.  All you have to do is make sure that each page of the PDF has a specially formatted (invisible) field.  This field tells DocumentBurster which pages go together during the burst. Since the only input you need is a PDF you can use DocumentBurster to burst documents generated by any software package, not just Crystal Reports.

Version 6.2 has been released under the AGPL 3.0 license through SourceForge.  That means, among other things, that you can use it for free as long as you don’t expect to receive support from the developer.  Version 6.3.3 can be purchased from the vendor for $595 which entitles you to one year of support and updates.  The web site also lists a free trial option that is good for 25 downloads, but some will probably use the SourceForge edition for their trial.

I have not used it yet but would be very interested in hearing from someone who has. The complete User Guide is also online.

Potentially useful open source application

Sunday 13 September 2015 @ 3:55 pm

I just discovered an open source project on SourceForge that might be of interest to someone.

Crystal Report Exporter allows you to run a report and export it to several different formats, all without having Crystal Reports installed.  You write a short command line script which can be put into a batch file.  The batch file can be run from a scheduler or run as a shortcut.  If you want to try it you can download the file from SourceForge, but you will find instructions and examples on the developer’s website.

It is free so don’t expect any significant support.  I have not yet tried it yet so if anyone has tried it or is interested in trying it, please let me know what you think.  Note that the same thing can be done with several of the viewers or schedulers in my annual comparisons.  You can look at any of the ones that support command line input for similar capabilities.  But this one does come with source code and has no license restrictions at all so that might appeal to users in specific situations.

Missing dll for reading Windows folders

Tuesday 8 September 2015 @ 9:00 am

One of my customers received an upgrade from CR XI to CR 2011 when he upgraded to SAGE 100 software. He was surprised that the new version was missing the DB connector he used to report off of his file system for document management and version control. I have written about reports that read a Windows folder before. I suggested that he try a custom install to make sure that the option was checked and he reported that there was no option for this driver in his install.

So I had him run one of the existing reports that used this connection to see if it would run. CR gave an error that said he was missing the CRDB_FileSystem.dll. So I told him to move the CRDB_FileSystem.dll from the XI environment to the 2011 environment and then the report ran with no problems.

I am not sure if this dll was dropped from the SAGE distribution, or dropped from the 2011 upgrade but if you are using this type of connection and lose it on an upgrade, you should be able to get it back with the dll from your old environment.

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