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This week we learned more about what is coming in Crystal Reports for Enterprise.  This is a summary of this week’s ASUG webcast, “What’s new in Crystal 4.1” included some roadmap updates.  Henry Kam and Mike Seblani of SAP were the presenters.  Henry is the Solution Manager for Crystal Reports and BI Platform. Mike is the area product owner for Crystal Reports

Planned BI4.1 ramp-up is May time frame, subject to change.

The usual legal disclaimer applies that what is presented is subject to change.  These are my notes.

Agenda:

  • Crystal Reports Overview
  • Crystal Reports for Enterprise BI4 SP05
  • Planned BI4.1 Crystal Reports for Enterprise
  • Question & Answer

Crystal Reports Overview

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Figure 1: Source: SAP

Figure 1 describes Crystal Reports.  It is great for operational and external facing reporting and “pixel perfect reports”.

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Figure 2: Source: SAP

On the right of Figure 5 describes key capabilities

When you connect to semantic layer; you can model your data

It uses the Microsoft Office paradigm; “wysiwyg”, what you see is what you get

You can publish on the BI platform and can schedule reports

It uses several SDK’s; next generation includes RESTful web services – programming language agnostic to help you embed it with business applications

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Figure 3: Source: SAP

Figure 3 shows that BI4 comes with two Crystal “flavors”.

Crystal Enterprise is focused on enterprises using the BI Platform; this is where SAP is placing the innovation effort

Crystal Reports 2011 is for stand-alone customers, same functionality, no regression

On the right 4.1 for Crystal Reports 2011 offers more platform support; as an example if use Linux as backend for BI server, CR 2011 with BI4 didn’t support Red Hat 6.  SAP plans to address this in BI 4.1.

Crystal Reports Today

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Figure 4: Source: SAP

In 4.1, Crystal Reports 2011 is going through a rebranding exercise and will be named Crystal Reports 2013 in 4.1 timeframe

Figure 4 shows features today (BI4 SP05) on the left, focusing on report design, data sources, mobile, development and platform features.

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Figure 5: Source: SAP

Figure 5 shows what is available in today’s version of Crystal for Enterprise, BI4 SP05

Smart Guidelines is very popular

Online library of report templates allow for easier report design and not starting with a blank canvas.

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Figure 6: Source: SAP

In BI4 you can consume new semantic layer to have a consistent story to connect

SAP added the query panel to build query similar to Web Intelligence.

It uses BICS layer to access BW, with SAP access to Hana and ECC.

Some customers do not want to go through the authored universe so SAP offers “Direct to data” such as – JDBC or ODBC connection (not through the Universe) to help transition from Crystal 2011 to Crystal Enterprise.

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Figure 7: Source: SAP

BI4 SP05 can consume Crystal content via Mobile BI, interact with the content

HTML viewer allows for continuous scrolling, bread crumb navigation, and a new search panel

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Figure 8: Source: SAP

Figure 8 shows the Insight to Action Report to Report Interface is what SAP customers requested.  You can link Crystal to application – invoke action from

Crystal content from HTML view – target doesn’t have to be Crystal – can be any SAP application that supports RRI.

Planned Innovations

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Figure 9: Source: SAP

Planned Innovations mean planned features for 4.1, subject to change. 

Figure 9 shows with BI 4.1 you can use Freehand SQL commands while building Crystal Reports; this is important for report developers to optimize the SQL; this offers parity features with Crystal Reports 2011.

You can verify structure of report to data source change; you can verify the content and the metadata once the data source changes.

Modeled data means an authored universe, BEx query, MSAS OLAP connection – models that have been created; the new feature is the ability to create subreports based on modeled/unmodeled data.  Mike said you may run into performance issues depending on the modeling and the joins.

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Figure 10: Source: SAP

For data sources, for 4.1, SAP wanted to focus on the performance and quality of solution for BW data sources. Mike said some customers struggled with performance of solution; functionally it gave more than Crystal 2011.

BI 4.1 contains cumulative fixes for Service Packs over 4.0 and added to 4.1

Figure 10 shows in the query panel you can define the relative depth of the hierarchy at report design time.

SAP ECC data sources offer optional parameters now via the universe.

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Figure 11: Source: SAP

Figure 11 shows access to HANA; BI4 SP5 only had JDBC/ODBC support. 

Now with BI4.1 has access to OLAP with analytic and calculated views (hierarchy, currency conversions). Figure 11 on the right shows the query panel looks like accessing a Hana analytic view.  JDBC and ODBC can also use freehand SQL.  BI4 had SSO with Kerberos and now with BI4.1 SSO with SAML.

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Figure 12: Source: SAP

Figure 12 shows an enhancement with OpenDoc  support with Mobile BI – open doc targets stay within Mobile BI

For the BI Launchpad, customers wanted different behavior in the Launchpad – today it views the latest instance.  BI4.1 administrator defines default action – refresh data source or latest instance.

For the developer, supports Opendoc POST requests to get around long URL requests.

Related product roadmaps can be found at service.sap.com/roadmap

Question & Answer:

Q:  Will there be any future enhancements to CR 2011 ?

  A:  Mainly new Platform support.

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Q:  Have there been any performance issues reported in relation to using Crystal reports against the ECC datasource. I hear that as a big concern from my Basis team.

  A:  CR 2011 can connect to ECC directly.  CR for Enterprise connects to ECC through a modelled UNX universe.  Do you know what version they are conceren about?

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Q:  Are processing extensions still supported?  We use View Time Security by APOS in BOE 3.1 with CR2008.

  A:  I believe so, but it would only be for CR 2011.  But it is best to double check with APOS that their solution is supported in 4.0.

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Q:  How easy is it to convert a 2011 report to CR Enterprise? If there is a Freehand SQL query in 2011, will it convert to CR Enterprise?

  A:  You would open up the report on CR Enterprise and then repoint the report’s data source to a relational connection object.  That’s all that is required.  A relational connection object is the new method to connect to data directly.

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Q:  From a performance point of view, isn’t it good to have most of the things configured at Bex level rather than at CR4E ?

  A:  It is always a best practice to connect to a BEx query in BI4

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Q:  I’m confused about the numbering… CR2011 – is that CR4.0 and the upgrade is then to CR4.1?

  A:  There are 2 versions: Use Crystal for Enterprise with BI4 and Crystal 2011 can be used without BI4.

  A:  In the BI4.1 timeframe SAP is rebranding CR2011 to CR 2013 (standalone)

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Q:  Do you have ability to persist last selected parameter values in CR enetrprise and Crystal reports on a per user basis, similar to SAP Personalization.

  A:  Not yet.

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Q:  Can CR2011 be used in BI4?

  A:  Yes; you can publish CR2011 to BI4

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Q:  Can we connect to HANA using CR 2011 ?

  A:  Yes, via ODBC and JDBC.

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Q:  Is there a published list of crystal reports version differences?

  A:  There is a nice wiki on SCN comparing BI4 Crystal Enterprise and CR 2011.  Will try to find the link.

  A: http://wiki.sdn.sap.com/wiki/display/BOBJ/From+Crystal+Reports+2008+to+SAP+Crystal+Reports+2011+or+SAP+Crystal+Reports+for+Enterprise 

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Q:  Is direct connectivity to ECC planned for CR4E ? Or it should be through universe only

  A:  BI4 SP5 can talk to the ECC via the Universe via InfoSets/ABAP functions today

   A:  Via the CR4E

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Q:  What is the current status for dynamic cascading prompts?

  A:  no changes – LOV – do chunking; not greatly altered in 4.0

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Q:  In RRI, when we open SAP Transaction from a crystal report, does the transaction data come up in Crystal format or does it just open SAP transaction with original look and feel(SAP GUI/Web GUI format)?

  A:  I think that depends on how you set up the RRI on the backend via RSBB transaction

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Q:  Will SAP continue to support both CR 2011 and CR4E in future ?

  A:  Yes!

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Q:  any planned innovations for changing the semantic layer which is automatically created when you click on bex query as the data source

  A:  Please join the Semantic Layer 4.1 webcast on 3/12

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Q:  dynamic parameter still work in CR2011 or CR2013? using Business View Manager as well?

  A:  Yes, it continues to work as is

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Q:  What is the long-term migration plan for Business Views and Dynamic Parameters…? Will all of that functionality be moved to UNX at some point…?

  A:  In the plans; common semantic layer team is aware of this

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Q:  Crystal Report for enterprise 4.1 still require Universe or can directly to Oracle/sybase database as CR2011?

  A:  Universe or Direct to Data can be used

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Q:  Will 2008 CR run on BI 4.0 or do we have to ask report writers to upgrade to 2011?

A:  CR content created in CR2008 and published to XI3.x should seamlessly work in BI 4.0 once it is migrated.  However the designer should be upgraded to CR2011.

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Q:  Can we use sub-query in MDX, do you mean sub report as sub query . we wanted to filter a mdx query on another mdx query

A: The question is not very clear.  If this is referring to the Command object in Crystal Reports for Enterprise, then the answer is no.  The Command object is intended for SQL and not MDX.  Freehand SQL can be used to query the main report and the sub report in Crystal Reports.

My thanks to Henry Kam (who gave 3 ASUG webcasts just this past week) and Mike Seblani for supporting ASUG.

You can get hands-on experience with BI4.1 including Crystal Reports for Enterprise at ASUG Annual Conference Pre-conference session in May.  Register here.

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