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


Report Miner tools to provide documentation on your Crystal Reports

The Crystal Reports Underground News - Volume 2006.01 (Jan 2006)
an independent source for Crystal Reports Information by Ken Hamady

Contents for January, 2006:

** DC Area User Group Meeting
** Crystal Reports for Eclipse preview release
** Expert Crystal Reports Training
** BO Leasing Software
** Crystal Excelsius
** My Library of Crystal Reports Guides
** CUT and CUT Light now prompt for comments after the report is run
** Crystal Translator 3.01 (save $100)
** Conditional Drill-Down
** Cross-tab percentages simplified
** Read back issues at http://www.kenhamady.com/news.html


Upcoming Presentation for the DC Area Users Group:

The Board of the DC Area Users Group has invited me to speak at their February meeting.  I have been asked to present a session on Tips and Tricks as well as to participate in the technical panel to answer user questions.  The meeting is scheduled for February 15th and will be held at the Arlington County Board Room, 2100 Clarendon Blvd, 3rd Floor in Arlington.  This is across from the Courthouse stop on the Metro Orange Line.  The meeting is free but you must register to attend.  Drop me a line if you would like to register for the meeting and I will send you the information.


Crystal Reports for Eclipse preview release:

I have written several articles about Crystal Reports participation in the Eclipse development environment.  Just this week they notified me that the "Preview Release" of Crystal Reports for Eclipse is ready for download.  See the LIBRARY page of my website for a link to the download instructions.


Business Objects "Leasing" their software:

One of my readers (thanks James!) pointed me to an article about a new Business Objects program.  It offers access to BO's web portal software for a "leased" price of about $2 per day per user.  This is geared to small and medium sized businesses and is only available currently in France.  See the LIBRARY page of my web site for a link to the article.


Expert Public and 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 worthwhile.    

And if you can't afford your own private class, come to my public classes in Frederick, MD.  These are very small classes and people come from all over to attend.  Last week I taught a small class of 4 students.  One student came from New Jersey and another came all the way from California.  Here are some comments from that class:

"Great class, very helpful..."
"...could translate and communicate very effectively"

For more information you can call me at (540) 338-0194.


Crystal Excelsius:

Business Objects just released their Excel dashboard analysis tool called Excelsius.  It was created by Infommersion a few years ago and already has thousands of users, but BO recently purchased it and just released the updated and branded version.

So what does it do?  You take ranges of numbers in a spreadsheet and connect them to Excelsius objects like buttons, dials, levers, gauges and charts.  Then the users can interact with the data by clicking on buttons, sliding levers and turning dials.  They see the impact of their choices in real time.  Go to http://www.xcelsius.com/ for some interesting examples.

Best of all, when you publish the dashboard it is converted into a Flash file which can be run on just about any type of computer that supports Flash.  There is no additional licensing for distribution of static dashboards.  The spreadsheet data is packed into the dashboard at the time it is published.  If you upgrade to Professional you can use drill-down charts, one-click export to PDF and future features like maps and skins.  If you upgrade to the WorkGroup version you can use a dynamic XML data sources but at this level you have to purchase viewer licenses for each person using the dashboard.  Prices are:

    Standard $195
    Professional $495
    WorkGroup $7,500 for 1 designer, 25 viewers

You can try the software for free at the Xcelsius Web site and download lots of documentation.  But there is some bad news.  All of the licensing restrictions that BO has been experimenting with have been added to the EULA for this product.  So it is a violation of the license to:

    1) Sell a dashboard to someone else
    2) Provide Excelsius training
    3) Provide Excelsius consulting
    4) Provide any other commercial service related to Excelsius
    5) Develop training materials for Excelsius

I guess they are trying to avoid the "mistake" made with Crystal Reports, namely giving independent consultants and trainers a foothold.  Of course that "mistake" is probably why Crystal Reports is the market leader today. 


My complete Library of Crystal Reports Materials:

Let a master teacher help you understand these Crystal Topics.  Each guide comes with clear explanations and sample files to illustrate each concept.

Expert's Guide to Formulas  ($36)
Expert's Guide to Subreports, Parameters and Alerts ($28)
Expert's Guide to Totals ($24)
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


CUT and CUT Light now prompt for comments after the report is run:

The CUT utility is a UFL developed by Millet software.  It is an inexpensive method for doing Exporting, Bursting, Emailing and several other useful tasks.  Ido has just  added a new feature to CUT, that allows you to prompt the user for comments.  These are added to the report *after* the data has been generated but before the pages are printed to the screen.  The prompts can be triggered by exception conditions in the data and each instance of the exception can have a different comment.  This is the only way I know of to add comments to the report before printing or exporting it.

CUT costs $75 and CUT Light costs $50.  The difference is that CUT Light does not include group bursting on export.  See the LINKS page of my site for more information on CUT, or contact me if you would like to request a free copy for evaluation purposes.    


Crystal Translator 3.01:

If you have to maintain the same report in several languages then check out Crystal Translator by Softlang (UK).  It makes the job easier by extracting all translatable objects (text objects as well as literal text inside formulas, parameters, alerts, etc.).  It then allows you to enter translations for each object and stores them in a database.  If you later modify the original report and want to translate it again, the database will remember the translations of the original objects and apply them automatically.  You only need to translate newly added text.  You can then apply these translated items to new reports wherever the text is the same. Crystal Translator also allows you to localize the formats for dates, times, numbers and currencies.

With the release of 3.01 you now get:
    A spell checker that can handle 30 languages
    Page size localization (ie US letter to A4)
    Font replacement
    Layout mirroring for right to left languages
    Truncated text detection

The tool can be purchased in several ways:
    Freelancer - $299
    Professional - $699
    Pay-per-use packs (10 'uses' for $89)

See the LINKS page of my site for a link to the Crystal Translator web site.


Conditional Drill-Down:

Starting with v9 there is a new function that calculates the drill-down level of the current window.  This allows you to have objects format differently at specific levels of drill-down.  This also allows you to solve one of the dilemmas of report design.

Those of you who have taken my advanced class know how to have a report be either a detailed report or a summary report, based on a user's choice.  You accomplish this with a parameter that is used in the section's suppress property formula.  You can't use the "hide" property's formula because hide doesn't have a condition formula button.  So if you use this method you lose the ability to drill-down on the summary version of the report. 

The new function, called "DrillDownGroupLevel", allows you to get around this.  It gives you a numeric value that tells you what level you are on in any window.  Zero is the level of normal preview, while 1 is the first drill-down, 2 is the second, and so on.  By using the following as your suppress formula you can have the parameter to choose summary or detail, and still have drill-down available on the summary version:

{?Parameter} = "Summary" and
DrillDownGroupLevel <> 1


Cross-tab percentages simplified:

And finally, thanks to Shawn Thomas, a software developer in AZ.  He pointed out 2 corrections to an article I wrote last summer.  The article was about putting percentages in cross-tabs and his corrections simplify the process quite a bit. You can read more about this on the following page:

newsletter/news0407.html


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 2006 by Ken Hamady
All rights reserved - Republishing this material requires written permission