An alternative to create PDFs with SAP Crystal Reports: Highly customizable export from SAP Design Studio applications
A lot of big enterprises use SAP’s Crystal Reports when it comes to generate and send PDF documents. There are two reasons for this:
- There is no decent PDF export built in the standard reporting tools.
- Crystal Reports offers several features to generate a pixel-perfect design for printouts
However, from our experience, the usage of SAP Crystal Reports in addition to a dashboard frontend such as SAP Design Studio also has some downsides:
- You have twice the effort for the same content: First build the dashboard for online usage, then build the Crystal report for the printout.
- You need an additional consultant with SAP Crystal Reports know-how.
- Visualizations have to be built and set up twice.
- Some custom visualizations that you employ in the dashboard tool may even not be available in Crystal Reports, they might look different or have to be custom built.
Now wouldn’t it be great to have a built-in PDF export feature for SAP Design Studio that:
- Reuses the content of the dashboard
- Reuses the setup of tables, charts and other components
- Supports detailed customization of PDF documents and pixel-perfect layouts
All in all, such a feature would minimize efforts to create PDF documents immensely. SAP Crystal Reports would have to be used for the really special reporting cases!
Now let me tell you that the use of the subjunctive is wrong here. Cause there is already an add-on to SAP Design Studio that offers this feature: Our biExport for SAP Design Studio!
Let’s say we have the following Design Studio dashboard:
Not only does biExport allow you to reuse the content of the dashboard or – if necessary – multiple dashboards at once. It also allows you to rearrange content for the print out. To create fully individual headers and footers for the PDF document.
The most stunning feature is the usage of Word documents as templates for the PDF export!
The simple idea behind this: Why introduce a new proprietary tool to define title pages, headers and footers, table of contents, to include headings, images and texts. Why not reuse what is already there and known to almost everyone: Microsoft Word.
To layout a PDF document for SAP Business Intelligence has never been so easy:
- Open Word and load your corporate Word master document
- Edit the title and add static contents like texts, images, chapters
- Where content of the dashboard shall be included, define a placeholder
- Customize the arrangement of the placeholders if needed (e.g. by using tables)
Placeholders consist of the name of the component you want to export, surrounded by “%” as you can see in the following example.
To export a chart, for example, you write %CHART_1%.
To export a table, you write %CROSSTAB_1%. If you want to include it as a native Word table, you write %CROSSTAB_1%:TEXT.
And you are already done! Simply specify the new document as a Template for PDF Export, and you will receive a beautiful document as the following – perfect for external reporting, supplier fact sheets or customer fact sheets!
Your reporting users will love you for these beautiful PDF exports – though your effort was reduced to a minimum!
Now I am curious about your feedback! We are looking forward to demo this feature to you in a live session!