Archive for September, 2020



Updated comparison of Crystal Reports viewers (2020)

Saturday 26 September 2020 @ 10:34 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 ten different vendors.  Don’t get sidetracked by the official SAP “viewer” because that tool won’t refresh reports.  Every viewer in my list allows you to refresh reports.

Every September I update the features of these viewers. The comparison page provides a brief introduction to each product including what sets it apart. There is also a detailed feature matrix (xls) 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. There are a handful of new features in this year’s matrix which are marked in blue.

There are 10 active products in this year’s review and 4 “ghost” products that are mentioned as warnings.  A ghost product has a web site but it hasn’t changed in years and no one responds to requests for information.

The active vendors are:

Crystal Corral by Groff Automation
rptView by Pursuit Technology
CR Dispatch by APB Reports
cView by Chelsea Technologies
ViewerFX by Origin Software
CrystalKiwi Viewer by CrystalKiwi
Logicity Pro by SaberLogic
Report Runner Viewer by Jeff-Net
RTag Report Viewer by RTag
DataLink Viewer by Millet SW

If you have feedback to provide on any of these products, I would love to know what you think.




Fields that change format when moved to a different environment

Monday 21 September 2020 @ 8:52 pm

I recently had complaint from a customer that a numeric field was changing format when moved from one PC to another. The format was fine when run on the developers PC but on the user’s PCs the format would change. I have seen this happen with both numeric and date fields.

The source of the problem is the format option at the top of the list called “System Default”.  If you leave a field formatted with this choice the report will use whatever format is set in the regional setting of the PC where the report is being run. Of course this means that a report might look different when run on another PC. If you don’t want the format to change from one PC to another then you should identify the specific format you want for numeric, currency, date and datetime fields.

Using a specific format should solve this 99% of the time. I have only seen a few instances where a report moved to another environment would have formatting changes despite the format being specified in the report. In those cases the final workaround is to write a formula to display the value. You can use Totext() to convert the field into text that is formatted the way you want. You use the text version for display purposes while using the original field for other functions like sorting and totaling.

Here are some examples:
Totext ({Date.Field}, 'yyyy-MM-dd') //converts a date into a string like 2020-09-21
Totext ({Number.field}, 0,"") // converts a number into a string with no decimals or commas




rePORTAL v6.5 released

Monday 14 September 2020 @ 7:46 pm

rePORTAL is one of the products in my list of tools that run Crystal Reports on the web. The developers at rePORTAL recently released rePORTAL v6.5. Some of the new features include the ability to share output to Slack, Dropbox and Google Drive. It also now supports Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) using SMS, Email and Google Authenticator.

If you are looking to run Crystal Reports on the web, my annual review of tools in this class should help you understand your options.




Get distinct count subtotals to add up to the grand total

Tuesday 8 September 2020 @ 11:36 pm

I just had a customer ask me about their distinct count grand total and why it didn’t match the sum of the subtotals. This is common. When you add up distinct counts at the group level they often won’t add up to the grand total. This is because of what a distinct count is designed to do.

A distinct count summary will count how many different values there are in a column. So if I group patient visits by doctor and then want CR to tell me how many different patients each doctor saw in that period, I would use a distinct count at the doctor group level. And if I also wanted to know how many different patients were seen across ALL doctors I could create another distinct count of the patients and put it in the report footer. But it is very likely that this grand total is not going to match the sum of the doctor subtotals. This is because any patient who saw more than one doctor in the period will show up once in each doctor’s group, but then will only be counted only once in the grand total.

But there are special cases where the grand total needs to be the sum of the subtotals. If you find yourself with this requirement the solution is simple. You create a formula that concatenates the group value with the field used in the distinct count. (In the example above you would combine the doctor with the patient.) Then you do a distinct count of that formula. This will give you the same values at the group level, but it will prevent the grand total from combining values from different groups.

This technique is article #25 in my Expert Techniques volume 1.




Jeff-Net

Recrystallize Pro

Crystal Reports Server