phone: (540)338-0194
email: ken@kenhamady.com


Report Miner tools to provide documentation on your Crystal Reports

The Crystal Reports Underground News - Volume 2003.04 (April 2003)
an independent source for Crystal Reports Information by Ken Hamady

Contents for April, 2003:
** Crystal Broadcast License now $100,000
** Crystal Broadcast scenarios
** Finally, Credit Cards without PayPa1
** Expert Training in Leesburg, Philadelphia and now Frederick, MD
** Preventing Unwanted Drill-Down
** Section Background Color that fades gradually.
** Expert On-site Training and Consulting
** Third Party Product Updates
** The Expert's Guide to Crystal Reports Formulas
** A New 3rd Party Report Distribution System
** My Quick Reference to Crystal Reports in Visual Basic
** Read back issues at http://www.kenhamady.com/news.html

Crystal Broadcast License now costs $100,000:

The Crystal Broadcast License (CBL) is starting to remind me of a buried landmine.  The road looks clear, but... 

I just found out this past month that the CBL price went from $35,000 to $100,000.  If you would rather pay an annual license fee the cost is "only" $25,000 per year.

With prices this high, you might expect clear criteria for invoking this license.  But the wording of the v8.5 license, when taken literally, covers a broad area of fairly common activities.  The wording is so broad that Crystal has had to post a clarification on their site.  Without this clarification, exporting a weekly report to a web site requires a CBL, and therefore a fee of $100,000.  I explained this to Crystal Decisions 2 years ago, and received several clarifications. You can read this dialogue at:

   http://www.kenhamady.com/license.html

So when v9 was released last year, I expected clearer wording.  To my surprise the scope is now boader.  I wrote an article to highlight the problem - quoting the license and highlighting what it actually said.  I took the words literally, which is how you should approach a legal document.  In response, the management at CD contacted me to say they were "disappointed" in my article and hinted that it included "incorrect or unclear information".  They suggested a conference call to clarify the CBL.  I agreed on the condition that the clarification would be sent to me in writing, so that I could confidently publish the clarification. 

During our call Crystal Management told me that the license was "not as clear as it could be".  I was also told that CD intended only fully automated "processes" to require a CBL.  I asked them to clarify that this "process" included both the "generation and distribution" of the report.

After the call, as promised, one of the managers at CD sent me a clear written response which summarized the call.  I used the wording from that response to explain the CBL in my newsletter and on my web site.  I was told that CD would post a similar clarification on the CD web-site.  I thought the issue was settled.

In March 2003, I asked the same manager to compare a specific user's distribution method to the wording she sent me after our call.  Within a few days, this same manager informed me that I should no longer use the wording she had used, because it was not correct.  Maybe I am old fashioned, but I think customers have a right to rely on written statements provided by the management of Crystal Decisions.  This is especially important when a customer makes a business decision based on that information.  To back up my position, I have posted all of the relevant correspondence on this topic since September 2002:

   http://www.kenhamady.com/cbl9.html

Let me know if you share my concern, or if you have another opinion.  I am currently working on a dozen or so distribution scenarios that I plan to submit to CD for their review.  I want to see exactly how they intend to (re)define compliance with the CBL.  I will let you know if I think the line is being moved significantly.


Crystal Broadcast scenarios:

I recently was asked by a user to review a report distribution scenario.  A CD Representative had told him he would need a CBL, but it didn't look that way to me.  So, I sent it to the Product Manager who had clarified the CBL for me.  She initially agreed that it didn't look like a CBL case, but she did some follow-up.  I don't know the internal process, but eventually the CD legal team ruled it to be a CBL scenario, which called into question the written clarification that I had received.  If you are curious, you can read a description of the actual scenario in my Email dialogue:

   http://www.kenhamady.com/cbl9.html

This was exactly what I have been trying to avoid - someone making a significant investment and THEN they are told that they need a CBL.  So, I am putting together some hypothetical distribution scenarios for CD to review.  My goal is to define specific criteria for CBL violation.  If you have a scenario that you would like to share with me (actual, potential or theoretical) I will consider including it in the list.  Email or call if you have questions.


Finally, Credit Cards without PayPa1:

I finally took the plunge and setup a merchant account.  So, if you need to pay for a class or buy some consulting time, you can now pay by Credit Card without the extra steps required for PayPa1.  You can use Visa, MasterCard or Discover today.  I add AMEX in about a week.

I have also updated my site to allow for Credit Card payments via secure server.  I learned some nifty little PERL script in the process.  So, if anyone wants a crash course in the basics of PERL scripting or setting up merchant accounts - call me soon.  I will probably forget it all in a few weeks.


New Classroom Location in Frederick, MD:

I am going to try an experiment and hold my Baltimore classes in Frederick, MD.   The locations are now:
   Leesburg, VA
   Frederick, MD
   Philadelphia, PA

Each 2-day class is $675 per student, and includes email and phone support after the class.  Dates, course outlines and registration info are on my website at:

   http://www.kenhamady.com/public.html

Or, call for more information at (540) 338-0194.


Preventing unwanted Drill-Downs:

Drill-Down is a wonderful feature, but it can confuse those who don't expect it.  Even with suppressed sections, users can drill-down to an empty screen and not realize what they have done.  Or they will accidentally drill down when the details are not hidden, launching an unwanted window. 

When this came up in Tek-Tips, Brian Reed from ICTI shared a great solution.  Take each field in the Group Header or Group Footer, and drop it into an empty text object.  Crystal won't allow drill-down from a text object, even if there are fields embedded in the text. 


Background Color that fades Gradually:

The formulas below were inspired by Naith, another Tek-Tips member, who posted a technique for getting the background color of a section to fade slowly as you go down the page.  I have modified it so that each group fades at a different rate, depending on how many details there are in the group. 

1) Add a summary field that counts the records in the group. 
2) Place the following formula in the background color property for the details section:

WhilePrintingRecords;
NumberVar Counter;
NumberVar Inc := Truncate (255 / Count ( {Field} , {GroupField} ) ) ;  // Your summary field goes in this line
   If Counter + Inc >= 255
   Then Counter := 255
   Else Counter := Counter + Inc;
Color( Counter, 255, Counter )

3) Put the following formula in the Group header:

WhilePrintingRecords;
NumberVar Counter:= 0 

What you will see is a green background that starts darker, and then fades evenly to the end of the group.  Longer groups will fade slower than shorter groups.  If you prefer other colors you can use

        Color( 255, counter, counter )      for Red
        Color( 255,  255, counter )         for Yellow
        Color( counter, counter, 255 )      for Blue

With some experimenting, other colors are possible.


Expert On-Site Training or Consulting:

I have personally taught 1500 satisfied students in more than 30 states.  Training with your data is my specialty, and I charge about half of the "List Price" for Crystal Training. 

Do I know my stuff?  Check out the Crystal Reports Forum at Tek-Tips.com and you will find me listed as the top Crystal Reports expert out of over 23,000 members:

http://www.tek-tips.com/gthreadminder.cfm/lev2/4/lev3/100/pid/149

Can I teach?  Many students have said that my classes are among the best technical classes they have taken.  Ask to speak to a recent customer as a reference.  Call for more information at (540) 338-0194.


Third Party Product Updates:

One of my readers, Thomas Biernat, pointed me to the new version of the ChristionSteven application. This report manager is now called Crystal Reports Distributor 3.0, and allows you to schedule a batch or "package" of reports to run at once.  They have also added fax distribution capabilities.

Another reader, John Kirkman, pointed out that rptViewer has been released in beta for Version 9.  You can download the beta version for free with no time limits.

The Data Link Viewer has also been recently updated to make it easier to do fax distribution.


The Expert's Guide to Crystal Reports Formulas:

Learn to write and understand formulas like a Pro, with "The Expert's Guide to Crystal Reports Formulas".  I take you from the basics all the way through variables, arrays and looping logic.  I explain HOW, WHY and WHEN to use these techniques and provide tips and tricks that are rarely taught in classes.

The guide includes 28 annotated reports and 45 no-nonsense pages of detailed explanations.  The cost is only $36 and you can download it immediately with most Credit Cards.  For more details, visit my website at:

   http://www.kenhamady.com/form00.html


A Brand New Report Manager Application:


Ariel Corporation has released an application called Ariel Alerts.  This is an enterprise level viewing/distribution system that can launch reports based on scheduled times or system events, like the end of a database update.  It can also monitor the reports that are run, and generate alerts to user or to a designated Email address whenever conditions in the report meet predetermined criteria.  It is compatible with both v8.5 and v9 and costs $5,500.  Check out the on-line demo on their web site.


VB Quick Reference Guide, updated for v9:

If you use Crystal Reports in VB applications, you should get my Quick Reference Guide.  It gives an overview of the different integration methods, syntax examples for the most common commands and troubleshooting tips.  It also comes with source code examples including a simple report viewer.  It is only $16 and you can usually have it within an hour.  Follow the link below for more details:   

    http://www.kenhamady.com/vbref.html

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Contact Information

Ken Hamady, MS
525K East Market St.  PMB 299
Leesburg, VA 20176
(540) 338-0194
ken@kenhamady.com
http://www.kenhamady.com

Copyright 2003 by Ken Hamady
All rights reserved - Republishing this material requires written permission