Archive for July, 2020
I have just updated my comparison of RPT management utilities for 2020. These are tools that allow you to scan, document, compare and in some cases batch update RPT files. The list includes 9 tools:
Report Runner Documentor by Jeff-Net
R-Tag Documentation and Search by R-Tag
CR Data Source Updater by R-Tag
Visual CUT and DataLink Viewer by Millet Software
Report Miner by the Retsel Group
Code Search Professional by Find it EZ Software Corp.
Dev Surge 365 by Find it EZ Software Corp.
.rpt Inspector 3 Professional Suite by Software Forces, LLC
.rpt Inspector Online by Software Forces, LLC
I like to highlight key objects in my reports. For instance I highlight small subreports that might be confused with regular fields, or that might not be noticed at all. I also highlight formulas that involve variables as a reminder that they shouldn’t be deleted or moved. (Usually a specific location is required for variables to work correctly.) I will sometimes highlight several formulas with the same color so that I can quickly see which formulas work together. This is simple when the formulas are suppressed or when they are in a suppressed section, but sometimes the object is visible. In that case the object highlighting should only be visible in design mode and not in preview mode. Here’s how you do that.
Most Crystal formatting properties have a formula condition button [x+2] to the right of the normal controls (check mark, drop down, etc). This allows you control that property based on parameter values or data values. When you use a condition formula there is no need to set that same property using the normal controls. If you set a formatting property both ways the normal control setting will apply to design view while the formula will apply to preview.
So say I would like a field to have an aqua background in design view but no color in preview. I would first format that field by selecting aqua from the drop down. Then I would go into the condition formula and type: CrNoColor
The field will have an aqua background color in design view but no background color in preview.
One of the things that makes CR such a powerful and flexible tool is the ‘ecosystem’ of third party tools that has grown up around Crystal Reports. I was reminded of this last week as I worked on a project using the Cut Light UFL by Millet Software. The Cut Light UFL allows your formulas to do more than simply add columns to a report. It includes 130 additional functions that let you interact with the operating system, other applications and even SQL databases (among other things).
In this case I was helping a customer create a report that reads data from one database, does some complex calculations and then writes the results of the calculations to a table in a data warehouse. The function we were using lets our formula launch a SQL INSERT statement to add a row to the table. We had done this before with smaller tables, but this time the INSERT involved a table with dozens of fields, and we ran into a limitation on the size of the query that Cut Light could proces. I asked Millet software about the limitation and within 2 hours we had an updated UFL that could handle a SQL statement up to 250K characters.
If you want to learn more about giving superpowers to your formulas, you can see my annual review of User Function Libraries (UFLs). If you want to get an overview of ALL of the third party products available for Crystal Reports, you can see my product LINKS page.
I just got a note from Bruce Ferguson, the developer of the Crystal Kiwi line of viewers and schedulers. He sent me a chapter from his Crystal Reports course materials dealing with the the “new” grid functions availabe for cross-tabs. He said I could share it with my readers.
Bruce and I have been corresponding for nearly 20 years and we were both working with Crystal Reports for several years before that. So to us, a feature that has been around only 12 years or so counts as a new feature.
So, if you want to learn how to do Cross-tab calculations that reference other cells in the cross-tab, you can download the 8-page PDF and give the lessons and excerises a try.
And thanks, Bruce.