You know what I hate? Do you? I’ll tell you.
Yes, I hate clicking. I hate having to open up a report in the BI launchpad everyday. I guess I could define a schedule that sends me an email. But I equally hate having to open up a PDF every day. It requires clicking. Click Click Click. Half the time there isn’t any actionable data in the report, anyways.
Well, today I found a better way.
If you’ve been around crystal reports for a while, you might be saying ‘Ryan, alerts have existed in crystal reports for a long time.’ and you’d be right. But the previous implementation of alerts had a limitation. You had to open the report to see if there was an alert.
I opened you and now you tell me?
While very useful to bring immediate attention to exceptions within the report, this functionality is clearly in violation of my ‘less clicking’ rule. So, what’s the new functionality?
In BI 4.X, the alerts plug into the server’s framework. This allows you to front end the alerts within your BI Launchpad, or have the alerts emailed. So, you can see report level alerts without having to open the report, or without having to log into the platform.
The new alerts in the BI Launchpad
The first thing you need to know is that this functionality only works when you create the report in Crystal Reports for Enterprise. That’s right. If you follow these exact steps in Crystal Reports 20XX, you’ll get the old alerts. I won’t wax poetic on why that is, because as Oscar Gamble once said; ” They don’t think it be like it is, but it do.”
So, I’ll assume you’ve now created a report in CR4E, and that report needs an alert.
- Go to Data > Alerts
2. Create an alert. The ‘Name’ Field is what you’ll see when you get an alert. The ‘message’ is the descriptive text you’ll get when you open that alert, which acts as a preview, before actually opening the report.
3. You’ll need to define a condition, which is a formula that defines the reason for the alert.
Now you can save that report to your BI system.
Subscribing is the final piece of this. Now that your report is inside the BI system, your users can pick and choose which reports and which alerts they care about. Log onto the platform and find the report you just created. Right click it, and you’ll have some additional options
- Subscribe / Unsubscribe allows you, as an end user, to subscribe to the report’s alerts
- Modify subscription allows you to change your current subscription.
- Manage subscribers is more administrative. It allows you to subscribe other users to your alerts.
- Manage Alerting settings sets up the destination of the alerts (emails/BI inbox)
I’m careful here to specify that we’re subscribing to the ‘report’s alerts‘ rather than the report itself. That’s because a report can have multiple alerts and you can subscribe to them individually. You don’t subscribe to a report, you subscribe only to the alerts you want.
These alerts will show up in your default login dashboard, or emailed out.
The platform also includes a management interface for all the alerts you will no doubt be soon subscribed to. It’s under ‘My Documents’
- My Alerts is an inbox for alerts. You can see alerts you’ve dismissed and mark them as read/unread
- Subscribed alerts shows all the individual alerts you are subscribed to across the platform. It’s useful for finding that one report that has been spamming you.
Finally, when you click on the alert, it takes you to the report that generated it. It is also smart enough to filter the report to show only the data that caused the alert. With this, you should be able to pare down the information you’re getting. When you get an email from the system, you can be sure that it will be actionable. Happy clicking!