Archive for May, 2018

Server-based scheduler comparison (2018)

Monday 28 May 2018 @ 10:41 pm

I have just updated my comparison of server-based scheduling tools for 2018. 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 11 products on the list this year (one dropped and one new) and a few few feature updates and price changes. The blog page provides a brief overview of each product. It also has a link to the 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, this is a pretty good place to start.

Adding static and dynamic images to Crystal Reports.

Wednesday 23 May 2018 @ 11:30 pm

There are two ways to put images into reports.

1) A static image stored in the RPT.
2) A dynamic image read from a path [formula] at runtime.

If the report always uses the same image, like a company logo, then option 1 is the simplest. Use the menu options
“Insert > Picture ” and select any of the supported file types. Once the file is placed on the report, the image can be resized as needed.

If the image periodically changes then you need option 2. For example, if different users want to be able to assign a different logo image file to the report without changing the report.  Or if the image is based on a a file name name stored in the database like the image of a specific part.  This method was added over 10 years ago with the release of CR XI (v11) so it will be available in most modern versions of CR.

To use option 2 you start by insert any image as a placeholder in the appropriate spot. Then you use the menu options:
“Format > Graphic > [picture tab]” and click the formula button to the right of the word “Graphic”.  Here you can enter a file path or a URL to any of the Crystal supported image file types. The best part is that this path/URL can be a calculated string. This is how you can change the path or the file name based on values coming from the database.  For instance, if the you have a folder called “PartsPix” and each part has a JPG image named as the part number, your ‘graphic’ formula could be something like this:

“z:\partspix\” & {Parts.Partno} & “.jpg”

The path will be different on each record, and so the image shown will change accordingly. Note if the image files are different sizes then the images shown will also vary in size.

Listing all formula changes with Notepad++

Monday 14 May 2018 @ 12:09 pm

I have written several articles about the usefulness of Notepad++. I often use it to write or test complex formulas and SQL commands. I have also used it to see the affect of a logic change, by comparing the output (text) of the report before and after a change. I have even created a custom language interpreter so that Crystal formulas written in Notepad++ look better than they do in Crystal’s formula editor.

This week I found a new use that I should have seen before. A customer sent me two different versions of a complex report and we weren’t sure which one to use. We needed to see the differences between the formulas in the two reports. So I exported both reports to the format “Report Definition”.  This export creates a text file that lists all of the major settings of the report, lists the objects in each section, and includes the text of all the formula fields that are actively being used by the report.

Once I had the two Report Definitions, I opened them up in Notepad++ and used the “Compare” add-in. This took me straight to the handful of formula differences. It was easy to show these differences to the customer to see which version he wanted to use.

If you want to try out the Notepad++ with the Compare plug-in you will need to start by downloading Notepad++ version 7.4.2.  This is the latest version that includes the plug-in manager.  Once you have Notepadd++ installed you can use the plug-in manager to install the Compare plug-in.  After that you can update to the latest version of Notepad++.

Column headings for cross-tabs

Tuesday 8 May 2018 @ 9:23 pm

I recently shared a method for adding a Title to a Cross-tab that spill onto horizontal pages. One of my readers shared a similar method that he had written up for his team.  This method allows you to add column headings over the row grouping fields.  He even includes a description of how to have these headings repeat on horizontal pages.   The approach combines two separate section settings.

See this PDF for a detailed explanation of the steps.

And, thanks to Ralph Wahlert of Catholic Health Services in Long Island for sharing his approach.

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