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Compiled Reports Substitutes Using the Crystal Reports 2008 Ecosystem

Compiled Reports was a feature back in the version 8.5 that allowed you to compile a report viewer and RPT files into an EXE that would install both the viewer and reports on a local desktop.

If the end user had their ODBC drivers setup properly, then they could refresh reports and view them without the designer.

Now with the release of Crystal Report Viewer 2008, and Crystal Reports Server 2008, we have an effective replacement for this use case.

So how does the Viewer 2008 and Server 2008 combine to replace this use case?

Option 1 – Manual Distribution

Products Used:

  • Crystal Reports 2008 ($495 per named user)
  • Crystal Reports Viewer 2008 (Free – supports either Windows or Mac)

Method:

1.  Design reports with Crystal Reports 2008

Be sure to leverage the following features:

  • Use the new parameter panel to make key parameters more visible to the report consumer.
  • Use the new Saved Data Selection Filter to enable these parameters to filter saved data without forcing a database refresh.
  • Use the new interactive sort controls to enable customers to sort the report data without forcing a database refresh

2.  The report designer can refresh the data in the report and manually email the RPT file with saved data to the report consumer.

3.  The report consumers use Crystal Reports Viewer 2008 to view the report with the saved data.  They can sort and filter the data using the new parameter panel and interactive sort controls.

If the report parameters use dynamic cascading prompts, then Crystal Reports Viewer 2008 will attempt to populate the List of Values from the saved data in the report.  This is a huge usability win for repoirt consumers using the Viewer as they continue to benefit from List of Values even when they don’t have access to the underlying data source.

Best For:

Data that is infrequently refreshed, where you want to share data with a small number of users inside or outside your organization.

Limitations:

The Crystal Reports Viewer 2008 cannot refresh reports that are saved outside of a server (Crystal Reports Server 2008, BOE Edge XI 3.0, BOE XI 3.0).  We call these types of reports ‘unmanaged’ reports as they are not managed by a server.

Option 2 – Automatic Distribution with Crystal Reports Server

Products Used:

  • Crystal Reports 2008 ($495 per named user)
  • Crystal Reports Viewer 2008 (Free – supports either Windows or Mac)
  • Crystal Reports Server 2008 ($2,495 for 5 named users)

Method:

1.  Design reports with Crystal Reports 2008 just as in Option 1.

2.  Publish the report to Crystal Reports Server 2008

3.  Use the scheduling and email capabilities of Crystal Reports Server 2008 to distribute reports to any number of report consumers using the scheduling capabilities of Crystal Reports Server 2008.  The schedule can be any frequency – hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or based on a custom business calendar.

4.  The report consumers receive their reports as email attachments, and open and read them locally using the Crystal Reports Viewer 2008.  Only one user needs an account on Crystal Reports Server 2008 to setup the report schedules.

Best For:

Data that is refreshed on a regular, but infrequent basis.

Limitations:

Since the report consumers do not have Crystal Reports Server accounts, they cannot refresh reports.

Option 3 – Using Crystal Reports Server to Refresh Reports

Products Used:

  • Crystal Reports 2008 ($495 per named user)
  • Crystal Reports Viewer 2008 (Free – supports either Windows or Mac)
  • Crystal Reports Server 2008 ($2,495 for 5 named users + maintenance)

Method:

1.  Design reports with Crystal Reports 2008 just as in Option 1.

2.  Publish the report to Crystal Reports Server 2008

3.  Report Consumers use the Infoview portal to login to Crystal Reports Server to view and refresh reports. Consumers can export these reports to RPT format to take them offline for consumption in the viewer.

4.  Alternatively, report consumers can use Crystal Reports Viewer 2008 to login to Crystal Reports Server and view scheduled report instances and on-demand report templates.

4.  Each report consumer has their own account on Crystal Reports Server 2008 (or Edge XI 3.0 or BOE XI 3.0) to enable them to refresh reports online through the Infoview Portal or within the Crystal Reports Viewer 2008.

Best For:

Report consumers that need to see data that is always current.

Crystal Reports Viewer 2008 is used for offline viewing.

Limitations:

Some limitations apply to refreshing Crystal Reports within the Viewer.  Certain types of reports cannot be opened in the viewer, such as reports based on Universes or Business Views.  See the Release Notes for more information.

Conclusions 

I hope you find this little solution cookbook helpful.  You can see how the Viewer, Designer, and Server combine to produce a very effective solution for report design, distribution, and consumption.

When compared to the old compiled Reports solution, you gain:

  • Improved usability in the Crystal Reports Viewer as its a tool specifically designed for report consumption.
  • Better platform support for report consumers as the Viewer supports both Mac and Windows
  • More interactivity within the Viewer with support for interactive parameters, sort controls, and embedded Flash
  • Easier setup for report consumers ODBC DSNs don’t have to be created for each user
  • Complements the Crystal Reports Server (and other servers like Edge XI 3.0 and BOE XI 3.0)
  • Crystal Reports Server and Crystal Reports Viewer combine to deliver an effective scheduling solution for distributing static reports to an unlimited number of report consumers.

How are you combining Crystal Reports 2008, Crystal Reports Viewer 2008, and Crystal Reports Server 2008?

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1 Comment

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  1. Charliy Nash
    None of the methods mentioned in the blog are anywhere close to the convenience of having executable reports.  Saved data? Are you kidding me? 

    Crystal 7 was a wonderful reporting product.
    Crystal 9 was a marketing device to sell Enterprise.

    (0) 

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