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


Report Miner tools to provide documentation on your Crystal Reports

The Crystal Reports Underground News - Volume 2005.06 (June 2005)
an independent source for Crystal Reports Information by Ken Hamady

Contents for June, 2005:

** BO attempts to restrict user group speakers
** The "Don't Pay Twice" campaign to educate Crystal and Enterprise users
** Business Objects Enterprise XI configurations and prices
** My on-site training classes
** Crystal Reports Server vs building your own application
** Crystal Wizard official download
** My Library of Crystal Reports materials:
** New XI features added to the Expert's Guide to Subreports, Parameters and Alerts
** Eliminating extra rows and columns in Excel exports
** Copying and pasting cross-tabs to Excel
** Read back issues at http://www.kenhamady.com/news.html

BO attempts to restrict user group speakers:

This month BO is trying a new approach to stifling independent voices.  They just notified all of the BO user groups that they should use "Authorized Partners" as speakers.  They are threatening to withhold catering support (GASP!) from user groups that invite speakers who are not 'endorsed' by BO.  Here is part of the message sent to user group board members:

"...From time to time, I see training consultants on user group agendas that are not on our Authorized Education Partner list.  If this consultant is not endorsed by our local sales team, we will not support your meeting with catering funding or marketing support."

The UG board members I have spoken to are livid about this.  Some groups are seriously weighing disassociation.  Make sure you let your local user group's board know how you feel about this.  They represent you the users.


The "Don't Pay Twice" campaign to educate Crystal and Enterprise users:

Thanks to all of you who sent in feedback to BO last month.  Don't let them sidetrack you with important sounding legal jargon.  The simple truth is that they are trying to make independent training more expensive and limit your choices.  This is bad for all users and bad for their product line.  Do you really think BO should approve/control all course books that are produced for you?  Do you want to attend a public class where the instructor can only say nice things about Crystal Reports and Business Objects? 

I have started a campaign to let every single user know what BO is doing and encourage them to share their thoughts with the company.   Here are some highlights:

1) I have spoken with Board members from several of the largest user groups.  They are notifying their colleagues in all of the other groups nationwide.  They are discussing the best way to get the word out to their members. 

2) I have confirmed that at least 2 publishers of Crystal materials are going to simply ignore BO's new policy.  They will continue to publish their books without paying for BO's "permission" to use screenshots.  I am confident that BO would lose a lawsuit on this.

3) I have been told by several authoritative sources that support for these changes within Business Objects is far from unanimous.  It seems that the old Crystal Decisions people have a better appreciation of the contributions made by "independents" than the new BO team does.

4) I have begun communicating with editors of some BI and training publications.  A few are now following the story.  Hopefully we can get this story picked up by the mainstream press.

Things you can do:

    1) Share your concerns with your BO Sales Representative, if you have one.
    2) Share your concerns with
Business Objects Management, Board and Investors  (listed on the link above).
    3) Bring this up at your User Group meeting or with your User Group board members.
    4) Send an EMail to the Editor of any BI or Training publications you receive.
    5) Let me know if you get any interesting responses and I will post them on the page above.


Business Objects Enterprise XI configurations:

If you are considering purchasing BO Enterprise, you really need to arm yourself to deal with the Enterprise sales team.  Getting details from them takes effort, so here are some details that will help you speed up the process.

There are now only two configurations of Enterprise - Professional and Premium.  The old "Standard" product is now called Crystal Reports Server and is no longer considered an Enterprise level product.  Here is what you get with each level of Enterprise:

BOE Professional:
   Access to one content type (Crystal Reports /Web Intelligence/OLAP Intelligence)
   Report Scheduling
   Sending reports to email, file server, or to other Enterprise users
   User & group level security
   Universe and Business Views creation
   Web Services, Java, and .NET SDKs

BOE Premium:
   Everything described above under BOE Professional
   Access to all three content types
   Crystal Reports Explorer (report modification within Enterprise)
       Add calculations, charts, add/remove fields, change grouping, etc.
       Save modified reports back to the Enterprise environment
   Auditor - Allows detailed analysis of user, object and system activity

The most important point to remember is that BO Enterprise is no longer sold in concurrent access licenses or CALs.  CALS are only available if you switch (downgrade) to Crystal Reports Server.  In the Enterprise environment you must either buy a named user license or NUL for for every person, or you can buy a processor license with unlimited users.  Here are the approximate prices for the two configuration levels:

Professional:
   Starter Pack (5 named Users) $16,000
   Each additional named users $650
   Processor License $60,000
   (support and maintenance are extra)   
  
Premium:
   Starter Pack (5 named Users) $20,000
   Each additional named users $950
   Processor License $82,000
   (support and maintenance are extra)


Expert On-site Training:

My specialty is teaching Crystal Reports at your office, with your data.  And I charge by day, not by student.  So, if you have 4 or more students you may find the cost of an on-site class less than the cost of sending the same students to a public class.  Even if you have fewer students you might find the benefits of working with your own data worth the extra cost.    

Do I teach a good class?  I have personally taught over 2000 satisfied students, including students at the National Institutes of Health, the Library of Congress and the Executive Office of the President.  I am also the all-time, top ranked Crystal Reports expert at Tek-Tips.com.  For more information you can call me at (540) 338-0194.


Crystal Reports Server vs building your own application:

If you decide that Crystal Enterprise is too expensive, there are 2 other methods for running your reports on the web.  You could use Crystal Reports Server which is a ready made web application.  Or, you could create your own web application with a copy of Crystal Reports Developer Edition. 

Using Crystal Reports Server is more expensive but doesn't require any programming.  You even get a sample copy of CR Server for free when you buy the Developer Edition of Crystal Reports.  This copy includes 5 named users which allows 5 specific people (no sharing) to run reports through the server.  To expand beyond this sample deployment you must spend $7,500 which adds 5 Concurrent users to your 5 named users.  The 5 named users can now access the reports at any time regardless of system activity.  Other users can also run reports, but only 5 of them can be on the system at any one time.  You can expand further by purchasing blocks of 5 concurrent users for $7,500, up to a maximum of 20 CALs.  Your named users are always separate.  Note that buying more copies of Developer will not allow you to add more named users.  You are limited to 5 named users per deployment.

If you decide to create your own web application you can purchase a copy of Crystal Reports Developer Edition and write an application using one of several supported languages.  You can deploy these applications however you want within your organization, but note that throughput is limited.  There are no Named Users or CALs, but instead there are "threads".  Each processor is given 3 threads which means that it can support up to 3 active processes at one time.  For example a user reading a page in their browser is not using a thread until they refresh or change pages, so you might have more than 3 users in your application despite the 3-thread limit.  You can expand this throughput as much as you want by adding additional processors.  Each processor you add to the cluster will automatically make 3 more threads available.  There are no additional license fees for adding processors, however BO considers this model more appropriate for small scale operations.


CrystalWizard official download:

I described last month how the CrystalWizard was being released as a sample application.  There is now a link on my LINKS page to the official download of these files. Note that this code uses the "Report Creation API" Calls.  This puts some resale restrictions on your application.


My complete Library of Crystal Reports Materials:

Expert's Guide to Formulas  ($36)
Expert's Guide to Subreports, Parameters and Alerts ($28)
Expert Techniques Vol. I  ($19)
Expert Techniques Vol. II ($19)
Quick Reference to Crystal Reports in Visual Basic ($16)
Quick Reference to Crystal Reports in .NET ($14)

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


New XI features added to the Expert's Guide to Subreports, Parameters and Alerts:

I have updated the Expert's Guide to Subreports, Parameters and Alerts to explain the new parameter features of Crystal Reports XI.  Before now the list of values that the user can pick from has been a static list saved with the report.  In XI this list of values can be dynamic so that new values are include in the list automatically.  You can even add a SQL statements to generate this list which allows you to filter the list or create descriptions as expressions. 

Parameters in XI can even be made to 'cascade', which means the choice you make in one parameter controls the choices you are offered in the next parameter.  The guide describes all of these features, walks you through exercises for each, and provides example reports.  See my LIBRARY page for more information.


Eliminating extra rows and columns in Excel exports.

When you export to Excel in newer versions of Crystal, you may find that the spreadsheet has extra rows and columns.  I have found that these can be eliminated if you take the following steps:

Extra columns: 
To eliminate the very skinny columns that appear between data columns you must eliminate the space between objects on your report.  The easiest way is to place a vertical guideline between the columns (if there isn't one there already) and snap both objects to the guideline between them, eliminating the space.  Each object ends up being attached on both the left and the right sides.

Sometimes a single object in the report will appear stored in several columns in Excel.  This usually means that you used the default option during exporting that says "Column width based on objects in the Whole Report".  This makes an object appear in multiple columns whenever there is a shorter object above them in the same column. 

The primary solution is to select a specific section (like the details) instead of using "Whole Report" for the column width.  You should also make sure that all of the objects that are above one another are the exact same width.  The easy way to do this is to put 2 guidelines on the report, one on either side of these objects.   Then you can snap both ends of each object to the guidelines.  A common example of this is to have the print date align to the left with the first column but have it be narrower than the other objects below it on the same guideline.  If you then use "Whole Report" for column width Crystal will create 2 columns in the spreadsheet.  The first column will be the width of the date.  The wider objects will start in this column and spill over into a second column.

Extra rows:
If you are getting extra rows without vertical merge cells it usually means that your row of objects is not against the top edge of the section.  Any space above the objects will be reflected in the spreadsheet by having the data on every other row.  

If you have extra rows with vertical merge cells it usually means that your fields are not all the same height, or they are not aligned horizontally. 
If the objects have different heights you can select all of the objects and then use the menu options "Format > Size > Same Height" to correct this. If the objects are not aligned you can then select all the objects and use "Format > Align > Baseline"

Small one-line subreports are sometimes used display values as if they were a field in a row.  These can be particularly difficult to align for exporting.  First follow the steps mentioned above to get the subreport fields to be the same size and aligned.  Then set the subreport object itself to have the same height as the fields in the main report using the "Object size and position" feature.  Then you should be able to snap the subreport into place on the line with the other fields.  Make sure that the subreport objects are at the top of their sections and that they are aligned.


Cross-tabs copied to Excel:

If you are trying to get cross-tab data into a spreadsheet there is a short cut.  You can simply copy and paste the cross-tab into Excel.  Right click in the upper left (empty) cell of the cross-tab and select "copy".  Then switch to the spreadsheet and right click in a cell and select "paste".   The cross-tab appears in Excel.

Watch out if you have a tall cross-tab that has more rows than will fit on one page.  Crystal can only copy the rows on the current page.  (Surprisingly, Crystal DOES copy the virtual pages created for very wide cross-tabs.)  For tall cross-tabs you can to install a printer driver for a very large plotter printer.  I use the driver for the HP DesignJet 3500CP even though I do not own the printer.  Using this driver allows me to select a paper size that is 54 x 76 inches, enough to get even very large cross-tabs on one page.


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 2005 by Ken Hamady
All rights reserved - Republishing this material requires written permission