Archive for August, 2021

Chelsea Technologies website

Friday 27 August 2021 @ 10:11 am

Some of you may have noticed that the Chelsea Technologies website is “under construction”.   If you are interested in any of their products you can Email them directly using this Email (put in the @ symbol):


My Crystal Reports Expert Series released as free downloads

Tuesday 24 August 2021 @ 10:05 pm

Last month I released my Intro and Advanced course books as free downloads. Tonight I released the entire Expert’s Series of guides as free downloads. All of these are all on the “Library” page of my site. You are free to use them and share them for free as long as they are not modified or sold.

Matching colors in your reports

Wednesday 11 August 2021 @ 6:19 pm

I had a project this week where I had to replicate the look of a very colorful spreadsheet. It featured 4 different shades of green. Matching an existing color in a Crystal Report usually involves a fair amount of trial and error, but I can usually get close.  This time I was having a hard time matching a light green and it dawned on me that there might be a web site to identify colors.  I had just gone to the paint store with a chip of drywall and came home with a gallon of paint that exactly matched a faded wall color, so I figured the odds were good.

I did a quick search and found many free sites where you can upload an image file and click on a color to get the RGB / HEX / CMYK codes for that color.  I took screenshots of several spreadsheet cells, uploaded them and got instant matches. The customer was impressed and I didn’t have to do any guess work.

You can find a page full of sites with a search on “image color picker”.  I like these two in particular because you can put in a URL for an online image file as well as uploading an image. Not all the sites had that part working well.

UPDATE 8/11/2021:

I just heard from Adam Butt of APB reports, who pointed out that there is a color picker tool in most image editing programs, including the classic MS Paint, and Paint 3D. I have been using classic MS Paint forever and never paid attention to the eye dropper icon:

color picker icon

This lets you click anywhere in the image and gives you the color codes at that spot.

Using reserved characters in formula names

Monday 9 August 2021 @ 8:03 pm

I recently heard from Gordon Portanier (from the Crystalize consulting group in Canada). He was doing something I have seen several customer do over the years. He would start certain formula names with a symbol so those formulas would sort to the top of the field explorer list. Gordon happened to use the @ symbol.

When he upgraded to CR 2020 these reports ran fine, but he found that he could not create a new formula that had an @ symbol in the name. A message told him that four characters [ @ { } ? ] were now considered reserved characters and could no longer be used anywhere within the name of a formula field.

Existing formulas, however, are not affected unless you try to rename them. So Gordon found another report that had the formula names he needed and copied them to the current report. The formulas work fine.

Up through CRv12(CR 2008) a formula name could include ANY character in any position. But when I tested this in CRv14.2 (CR 2016) I got the same warning as Gordon. My guess is that this restriction started with CRv14 (CR 2011) and so it would also affect CRv14.1 (CR 2103) and all later versions.  If any of you are using CRv14 (CR 2011) or CRv14.1 (CR 2103) you can confirm this by trying to add a formula with an @ in the name.  Let me know what happens.

An interesting point. This rule only applies to formula names. It does not affect the names of SQL expressions, parameters or running totals.

Another interesting point is that the @ (which represents formulas) and the ? ( which represents parameters) are reserved. But you can still use the % symbol (which represents SQL Expressions) and also the # (which represents running totals).

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