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coy.yonce

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I recently presented on the topic of what's coming in the BI 4.1 release for Crystal Reports. During that session, there were quite a few questions that I was unable to get to during the call. As such, I've listed those questions below along with answers. If you are interested in reviewing the presentation, you can download a copy from Scribd. The recording from the session should be up soon on the ASUG website.

From this point forward, I will be referring to Crystal Reports for Enterprise as CR4e and Crystal Reports 2011 as CR2011.

On to the questions…

Will stored procedures and command objects work in BI 4.0? If not, when will they be available?

CR4e will supported stored procedures with the release of BI 4.1. Command Objects are tentatively planned for support in BI 4.2.

 

What is the future for Business View Manager in CR4e?

CR4e does not support Business Views as a semantic layer and, as such, will not support Business View Manager. The plan is to determine the specific features that are used frequently in Business Views and then work with the Common Semantic Layer team to have those implemented within Universes. In the meantime, you can continue using Business Views with CR2011.

 

What file extension will CR for Enterprise adopt?

The file extension used by CR4e is the same as all other versions of CR - RPT.

 

How does Crystal Reports for Enterprise handle repository objects?

CR4e does not currently support repository objects. This is a current gap in the product and we do have it in our plans to address it in a later release.

 

What about dynamic cascading prompts created through Business Views?

CR4e does not support Business Views; however, Dynamic Cascading Prompts can be created via the Common Semantic Layer.

 

What is the future of Business Views?

Business Views will continue to be supported by the CR2011 designer. There are no plans to support Business Views with CR4e.

 

For whatever replaces Business View Manager in future releases, will there be a structured migration tool for customers who have thousands of RPTs that use Business Views for dynamic parameters?

There is a not a specific delivery vehicle or date planned for a migration tool; however, it is something that is being discussed internally. I will share more details as they are available.

 

Will the new API features also be added to the .NET SDK or is this a Java only enhancement for application developers?

The new features implemented in the REST and JavaScript APIs are specific to those new APIs that are being delivered in BI 4.1. Those features will not be made available in the existing .NET or Java SDKs.

 

Will Crystal Reports for Enterprise be included in the BI Edge package?

Yes, CR4e is included in the SAP BusinessObjects Edge and SAP Crystal Server packages.

 

Is the new web repository of report templates available to CR 2011 as well?

No, this is only available in CR4e. 

 

Will there be a method for converting CR 2008 / 2011 reports to CR for Enterprise?

There are no plans for creating a batch migration tool; however, it is currently possible to convert a CR2008/CR2011 report into a CR4e report by opening that report in CR4e.

 

Are you familiar with APOS's View Time Security? Will this continue to be supported?

I am minimally familiar with APOS's implementation of View Time Security; however, it would be best to speak with APOS about whether they will support this with CR4e.

 

WIll CR for Enterprise have direct access to BW data or this only for CR 2011?

CR4e has direct access to data coming from SAP BW and BEx Queries in the BI 4.0 release. This is made available via the proprietary BICS connector offered by SAP.

 

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any further questions. If you have ideas for enhancements that you would like to see in the product, please submit them to Idea Place. If you want to review the currently identified differences between CR 2011 and CR4e, please see this wiki page.

As mentioned in Innovations in 4.0: Alerting, there is a new feature coming in BI 4 focused on improving the alerting mechanism for BI content. The idea with alerting is to eliminate information overload by distributing information when something changes or some sort of catalyst occurs. For example, if the total time taken for issue resolution hits a maximum threshold, then you could be identified as such via a report being sent to you. You could then drill into why this is occurring, sort out who needs to do further research, who to give action items, and move on with your day.

 

SAP Crystal Reports for Enterprise takes advantage of this new platform feature. In the past, report creators would implement alerts directly within an individual report. With the enhancement to the alerting feature, a report creator can now publish a report to the BI platform and users can subscribe to the alerts from that report that are interesting for them within their day-to-day context.

 

Let’s dive right into an example of how this feature can be used. For our fictional, but relevant, example, we have a report that lists all of our brokerage accounts and their associated balances.  We will create an alert in the report that tells us when customer balances reach a negative amount and then save this report to the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform where users can subscribe to the alert.

 

The first step, as indicated above, is to create the report and the necessary alert. As you can see in Figure 1, I have a report and it already has negative values in the balances column.

 

Figure 1 - Initial Report

 

To create the alert, you need to go to the Data menu and click on the Alerts command. This will bring up the Alerts dialogue where you can click on New to add a new alert. Figure 2 shows my alert and the associated condition for the alert.

 

Figure 2 - Creating the Alert

 

You insert the condition for the alert by clicking the Condition Formula (fx) button beside the word Condition. The formula that I used for my alert condition is {TPCE.Customer_Account]Ca Bal}<0. This will determine if my customer’s balance is less than 0. If so, then my alert is triggered when the report is refreshed via a scheduled instance.

 

The next step is to save this report to the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform. This is done by going to File and then Save As. If you are not logged into the platform, then you will need to login and then choose the folder where you want the report saved.

 

Once the report is saved, you can use the BI LaunchPad to locate the report and you will see a little orange circle icon with an exclamation mark shown within it. You can see an example of this in Figure 3.

 

Figure 3 - BI LaunchPad

 

As a user who has access to view the report, you can right-click on the report and choose the Subscribe option. This will bring up the Subscribe window for the report where you can select the alert to which you want to subscribe in the Alerts tab as shown in Figure 4.

 

Figure 4 - Available Alerts

 

You can then navigate to the Destinations tab to determine where you want the report to be delivered. As shown in Figure 5, you can choose “My Alerts” or “Email”.

 

Figure 5 - Available Destinations

 

If you choose “My Alerts”, then the alert will be sent to your Inbox in the BI platform. Email, obviously, sends it to your email address as configured in the system. You can click on Save & Close to save the alert and exit the Subscribe dialogue.

 

At this point, anytime the alert is triggered via a scheduled instance you will receive a notification via your chosen destination. If you chose to have your alerts delivered to your BI platform inbox, then you can see them all in the My Alerts folder from the My Documents area of the BI LaunchPad. If you want to manage all of your subscriptions, then you can do so from the Subscribed Alerts folder in the same location. Both are shown in Figure 6.

 

Figure 6 - View and Manage Alerts

 

That’s pretty much all for the basics. Anything else that you need or want to know? Feel free to ask me questions either on Twitter on via the comments in this post.

 

Thanks for reading.

Coy

The SAP Crystal Reports team is conducting a Usability Study to improve some features of the SAP Crystal Reports in BI 4.0.  We are looking for participants working as (but not limited to) Business Analysts, Business Professionals, Line of Business Professionals or Professional Report Creators and who:

 

  • Use or have used SAP Crystal Reports to create reports for a minimum of 1 year at your current job.
  • Create and format reports for your own use or as requested by others in your organization.
  • Work with the data to make it relevant.
  • Gather and assemble data from multiple sources into the report.
  • Need to ensure that the information that is shared is accurate and up-to-date.
  • Share and distribute these reports within your organization.
       

 

The sessions will take place between Monday  June 6 to Thursday June 9, 2011 either at the SAP Labs in Vancouver, BC, Canada or remotely for participants who are not located in the Vancouver area.  Each session will be approximately 2 hours long. 

 

If you are interested in volunteering for this usability study, please complete the following survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CRforEnterpriseand we will contact you very soon.  

I've been working with Microsoft and a few partners lately for questions related to connection SAP Crystal Reports to Microsoft SQL Azure. If you are not aware, SQL Azure is part of the Microsoft Azure family of products which also offers the Windows OS in the cloud (i.e., Windows Azure) and the ability to securely connect an off premise application to data behind a firewall (i.e., Azure AppFabric). The total Azure framework allows application developers and organizations who are already using Microsoft technologies the opportunity to easily migrate parts of their deployments into the cloud.

 

During the aforementioned discussions, there are two immediate information needs identified: connecting to data in SQL Azure and hosting the SAP Crystal Reports runtime on Windows Azure. This post will focus on the first of these two.

 

Step One: Create your SQL Azure Instance

The first step is to create your instance of SQL Azure and configure your database. I won't walk through the details of how to login to Azure and configure your database. This is straightforward once you sign into Azure. I was able to complete the process in about 10 minutes.

 

 

As you can see from the above screenshot, you first create a subscription (e.g., SAP CR Testing). Then you create an instance of Azure (e.g., fuvcjhuha7). This appears to be a randomly assigned identifier. Once the instance is created, you will see that you have the common 'master' database, but you can also create a new database.  For the purposes of this post, I will just use the 'master' database.

 

After creating your instance and deciding the database that you want to use for reporting, you will need to create a connection to the database from the desktop where the reports will be created.  This can be done by either creating a pre-configured DSN or by creating a direct connection in SAP Crystal Reports.  Both methods are demonstrated below.

 

Before moving on to creating the connections, you should make a note of the connection details for your SQL Azure database.  You can click on "View" button under the Connection String properties while you have your database selected in the Azure Management Console.

 

 

Step Two (Option 1): Preconfigured ODBC Connection via User DSN

The second step is comprised of two options: create a User DSN for your ODBC connection or directly create your connection in SAP Crystal Reports. Either way, this connection allows you to create reports that includes data from SQL Azure. The process for creating a DSN is described below.

 

 

During the DSN creation process, you will need to define the location of the server to which you want to connect.  As you can see from the screenshot above, you need define the 'tcp:' keyword in front of the servername to denote the protocol used to connect. SQL Azure only supports TCP-based connections.

 

 

Then, you will need to define the user details for the connection.  SQL Azure requires that the server name be included as part of the login ID.  If you do not include it, then your connection will not be successful.

 

 

As mentioned before, I'm connecting to the 'master' database for the purposes of this post; however, set your database as part of this screen.  Skip the options on the next screen as they are not relevant for a basic connection. Be sure to test your connection before moving on to creating your reports.

 

 

Once you've defined your ODBC DSN, you can now move on to using the connection SAP Crystal Reports.

 

 

Once in SAP Crystal Reports you want to create a new connection via the Data Source Selection wizard.  You will see that your User DSN is in the list of Data Source Names.  Choose your DSN.

 

 

On the next screen, you will input all of your user credentials.  Again, be sure to include the server name as part of the user ID.  Click Finish and your connection has been created.

 

Step Two (Option 2): Define ODBC Connection via Connection String in SAP Crystal Reports

 

A more efficient alternative is to just use the connection strings provided in the SQL Azure Management Console and create a connection directly from SAP Crystal Reports without first creating the DSN.

 

Again, create your connection using the Data Source Selection wizard, but this time choose the 'Enter Connection String' option.

 

 

For the 'Connection String', I simply copied and pasted the ODBC connection string provided in the SQL Azure Management Console. Click 'Next'.

 

 

In the next screen, you need to define the user credentials for your connection. Remember to include the server name after the user ID as shown in the screenshot above.

 

Step Three: Create the Report

Now that you have your connection defined, you can create your report in SAP Crystal Reports just like normal. 

 

When creating your reports or custom applications that take advantage of SQL Azure, ensure that you reference the following page that discusses General Guidelines and Limitations of the SQL Azure Database.

 

In closing, I'd like to hear about your experiences with creating reports using SQL Azure.  If you run into any issues either with these steps or otherwise, feel free to email me (coy.yonce@sap.com), let me know on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/coyyonce), or comment on this post.

 

In the coming weeks, I'll also post about how to get the SAP Crystal Reports runtime working on Windows Azure, whether its possible to connect to SQL Azure via the Common Semantic Layer, and details about connecting to other cloud databases.

 

The SAP Crystal Reports team is also planning a session for SAP TechEd 2011 discussing how to leverage SAP Crystal Reports and Microsoft Azure to deliver reporting as a service.

 

Thanks for reading, Coy.

As we are busy working on the launch of SAP BusinesObjects BI 4.0 and the associated Crystal Reports versions, the Crystal Reports product team is also busy working away on the first minor release of SAP Crystal Reports for enterprise. This minor release will not only provide incremental feature updates, but will also introduce some feature innovation in how our customers and partners build and embed our content.

 

The objective of this post is to provide details around some of the new updates and features that are planned for Crystal Reports as part of the BI 4.1 release. Please keep in mind that things can change as we get closer to the release date. In addition, all of these features are planned to be delivered on top of the Crystal Reports for enterprise product, which is our new report design tool.

 

New APIs

The existing release of SAP Crystal Reports for enterprise 4.0 does not have any APIs associated with the content. As such, we knew going into 4.1 that one of the first things to deliver was an API. This not only allows our customers and partners to embed our content into their applications, but also allows some of our own internal development teams to expose the content within their parts of the BI platform.

 

We plan to deliver two APIs with 4.1.

 

The first is a REST API. This will allow for the delivery of content from the underlying BI repository. For the 4.1 release, the REST API will be able to deliver content from the SAP BusinessObjects repository (i.e., in the form of SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise, SAP BusinessObjects Edge, and SAP Crystal Server). This means that the API will not be usable for those customers and partners that need to embed content without some form of the underyling SAP BusinessObjects BI platform. We do have plans for making this API available for non-platform users, but not with the 4.1 release.

 

This new API will allow for Crystal Reports content to be consumed and embedded in mobile and web-enabled applications. You can retrieve the report content in either XML or JSON format and then manipulate the report using the API and associated OData services. One of the major benefits of this new API is that you can now embed reports into your application regardless of the development language that you choose.

 

The REST API allows you to:

 

The second API that we plan to deliver is an AJAX API that allows for the display of the report retrieved via the REST API. The default viewer used for displaying reports is a DHTML viewer. Aside from merely displaying the report, the AJAX API will allow for removing features from the default UI, adding new features to the default UI (i.e., buttons, toolbars, frames, etc...), and adding in custom javascript to create and capture your own custom events.

 

As with the REST API, the AJAX API will only be usable with the platform as it depends upon the REST API. As mentioned above, we have plans for introducing the REST API and AJAX API to non-platform customers, but not with the 4.1 release.

 

Visualizations

The three most common complaints with regards to the charting in the current editions of Crystal Reports are: out of date looking charts, charts which look different from SAP’s other BI clients (i.e., Web Intelligence), and limitations in the customizations of our available charts. These three things are at the top of our priority list when it comes to charting.

 

We have already completed some foundational work for usingthe same chart engine that is used by our other BI clients like Web Intelligence, Explorer, and Advanced Analysis. With this foundational work out of the way, we are now focused on which types of charts we should be delivering from this new charting engine.  With the release of 4.1, we will have included tag clouds, treemap, and boxplot visualizations into Crystal Reports. These will sit alongside the charts that already exist in Crystal Reports (i.e., Crystal Reports 2008). This is required for the moment due to migration concerns for existing customers. 

 

While focusing on updating the look and feel of our charts and ensuring that charts in Crystal Reports look like charts from other SAP BI clients, we also understand the feedback regarding the lack of customization. As such, we are scouring our emails, customer presentations, forums, and IdeaPlace for ideas on how we can improve our customization features.  In addition, we are ensuring that, as we go forward, the new charting engine and associated visualizations can support the existing customization scenarios.  

 

While our overall intention is to move to the new charting engine and associated visualization library for all of our visualization needs, we know that this will be long process due to migration concerns and our need to close gaps between the existing engine and the new one.

 

Data Connectivity

As some of you may know, the initial release of our new SAP Crystal Reports for enterprise client does not include the ability to connect to unmodelled data directly - the data connectivity for this release is handled through the Common Semantic Layer.  In our move towards using this new release as the foundation for every release going forward, we are working to introduce direct-to-data connectivity. The technology that we will be using is the same connection technology used by the Common Semantic Layer – known as the Connection Server. By leveraging this technology, the Crystal Reports product will be setup to share connections with the rest of the SAP BusinessObjects BI platform and will benefit by being able to adopt data connections that we did not previously support.

 

For the 4.1 release, we will not be supporting all data sources that supported by existing versions of Crystal Reports. Our plan is to support those data sources that used most commonly by our Large Enterprise and SME customers. The reason for this focused delivery of data sources is for two reasons:

 

  • We are not able to provide all of the functionality required to move all existing customers (i.e., Large Enterprise, SME, Developer, and Indirect) to the new Crystal Reports for enterprise designer.  Rather than fail at supporting all of these channels, we decided to focus our efforts on the LE and SME channels. 
  • We have larger plans for an Indirect and Developer channel focused release after the delivery of 4.1. 

 

In the coming weeks, I will put together further posts and videos to provide more information about each of these topics.

 

We also have some other features that we are working on; however, we not ready just yet to share information about those.

 

Please let us know what you think about these features and submit your ideas for new features and improvements to Idea Place.

 

Thanks for reading.

Coy

As most of you are probably aware, we will be releasing updated versions of SAP Crystal Reports in the coming months. Yes, that's correct versions ... with an "s". While, at the surface, it may seem that we have done this merely to confuse our customers, I assure you that we do not have any sort of underhanded, nefarious reason behind our decision. This was done purely out of a need to innovate and provide something that is more efficient for our community of report creators and application developers.

 

The two versions under discussion are SAP Crystal Reports 2011 and SAP Crystal Reports for enterprise. The objective for this post is differentiate between these two versions and provide guidance for which types of deployments should make use of them upon initial release.

 

The first version, SAP Crystal Reports 2011, is simply an updated version of the current one that is in the market today; namely Crystal Reports 2008. The interface looks the same and it provides the same functionality as the current version. Also, we have not removed any functionality. The only change is that we have added two new features and support for new platforms.  To learn more about the new features added in SAP Crystal Reports 2011, SAP Crystal Reports 2011 Overview

 

The second version, SAP Crystal Reports for enterprise, is where we have invested the majority of our efforts for this release. This new designer has been built from the beginning so that it will streamline the report creation and modification process. We designed the interface and features SAP Crystal Reports for enterprise Initial Design Research

 

In addition to designing for the purpose of more efficient report design and modification, the initial release of this new designer is targeted at those deployments that want to provide business semantics on top of their data, leverage multiple BI clients from the SAP BI 4.0 Suite, or that need to access data from SAP BW cubes or SAP BEx queries. 

 

For information on all of the new features that are included in the SAP Crystal Reports for enterprise release, check out this video from the Enterprise Reporting Solution Manager, Henry Kam.

 

For more information on SAP Crystal Reports for enterprise data access via the new Common Semantic Layer, pleasee the following:

 

For more information on the other BI clients in the SAP BI 4.0 Suite, please see the following landing pages for learning content:

 

In addition, it would be helpful to review the following what's new video and associated PDF.

 

For more information on leveraging SAP Crystal Reports for enterprise against SAP BW and SAP BEx queries, please see the excellent posts and videos by SAP Mentor Ingo Hilgefort

 

While the initial scope for this release may seem narrow, the plan going forward is that this new designer becomes the foundation for all Crystal Reports releases post BI 4.0. As such, the majority of our feature innovation will go into this new designer and its associated APIs and engines.

 

Of course, there are some feature gaps when comparing the new designer to SAP Crystal Reports 2011 and prior (a link to this document will be added when it's available). So, in addition to adding new features and innovations, we will also focus on closing those gaps; ensuring that we focus on the most critical first.

 

I want to close this post by saying that we know that adoption of this new designer will take some time. As you read, the initial scope for the first release is limited. We knew that we could not make the new designer do everything that the current designer can do while also providing innovation and a solid release at the same time. As such, we intentionally limited the scope to ensure that we could provide a stable report designer that can execute its intended tasks very well. With this comes some additional work for SAP. Not only will we need to give our customers compelling reasons to think about moving to the new version, but we also need to ensure that customers that decide not to move are able to continue using the current designer for its supported lifecycle. This means that, while we do not intend to add new features to the SAP Crystal Reports 2011 code line, we do intend to stay current on supported platforms.

 

I hope that this post, and the posts to which it linked, have provided a good overview of the differences between the SAP Crystal Reports 2011 designer and the new SAP Crystal Reports for enterprise designer. If you have any questions, please post them in the comments or on our forums. In addition, if you have suggestions for improvements to the SAP Crystal Reports for enterprise designer, please post them on Idea Place. We are listening and we do take your feedback very seriously as we decide what features to improve or add to the product.

 

Thanks for reading.

Coy

SAP Crystal Reports for enterprise is the new report design tool that is being introduced with the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 release. With this new release, the designer has been created "from the ground up" with the goal of streamlining the creation and modification of reports.

 

During the development phase of the new designer, the Crystal Reports development and user experience teams worked with an external research company to help us objectively monitor the behavior of a group of report creators during their normal tasks of creating and modifying reports. The report creators chosen had varying degrees of experience with existing versions of the Crystal Reports designer; however, none of them had ever worked with the new designer on which they were being monitored.

 

There were five areas that we wanted to focus on as part of the streamlining process:

  1. Data Connections
  2. Layout Related Features
  3. Object Formatting
  4. Groups, Sorts, and Totals
  5. Charts

 

I have provided a small sampling of the findings below to give you an idea of the feedback that went into the creation of the new designer.

Layout Related Features

The first usable version of the new Smart Guidelines feature (link to Madison's video) was included in the research study. As you can see from the screenshot below, it looked very different in its first incarnation.

 

The feedback from the users was that, while the smart guidelines feature provided a great means of repositioning fields and ensuring that fields were placed well relative to each other, there was no means of determining where exactly on the page a field should go. For example, the existing Crystal Reports designer has both rulers and gridlines available for positioning fields.

 

Based on the feedback, we introduced rulers back into the design canvas of Crystal Reports for enterprise.

 

The rulers can be turned on and off via the Edit > Preferences dialogue under the "Design Canvas" options.  In addition, the unit of measurement for the rulers can be modified.

 

Object Formatting

The initial right-click menu for objects (a.k.a., fields) in the design canvas looked like the screenshot below. There are two possible options when a report creator wanted to format a field. The first was accessed via the "Show Properties" menu item. This presented a dialogue that allowed report creators to change basic properties for the field. The second option was accessed via the "Formatting Expert" menu item, which led to formatting options based on conditions (a.k.a., conditional formatting).

 

The behaviour of the users in the study was to completely overlook the "Show Properties" menu item and jump straight to the menu item that had the word "Format" in the title expecting that this option would drop them into the the formatting options for the field. They were, instead, dropped into the conditional formatting dialogue.

 

In the existing version of Crystal Reports, we only have a single formatting option upon right-clicking a field: Format Field. This presents a contextual dialogue based on the type of field and also contains buttons that lead to the conditional formatting dialogue.

 

Based on the feedback, we changed the text for the menu items in the Crystal Reports for enterprise right-click menu.

 

Groups, Sorts, and Totals

I'll use the group and sort experts as the final example.

 

When creating the management dialogue for groups and sorts the development and user experience team knew that they wanted to keep them together as they found that report creators wanted to manage them both from the same location. The initial entry point for the group and sort management dialogue was via the insert group button accessed from the Insert tab of the design canvas.

 

The behaviour of the users was that they were unable to locate where to manage the groups and sorts. They were used to how the current Crystal Reports designer allows for this via two separate dialogues: one for managing groups and another for managing sorts.

 

The suggestion was to add direct to access to the group and sort management dialogue from both the top level Insert > Group and Insert > Sort buttons. In addition, users wanted to see the ability to add a sort by right-clicking on a group.

 

Based on the feedback, we changed how we allowed users to enter the group and sort management dialogue. We made it available via multiple locations:

  • Insert > Group > Edit Groups
  • Insert > Sort > Edit Sorts
  • Data > Groups
  • Data > Sorts

 

All of these access methods open the same dialogue that allows for modifying the existing groups and sorts for the report.

 

In addition, we added access to sort on a group directly via the right-click menu.

  • Select Group > Righ-Click > Sort Group by Name

These are just three examples of how we modified the user interface for the SAP Crystal Reports for enterprise release based on the results of the user research study.  In total, we had twenty three different areas of feedback across the five categories mentioned earlier.  Most of them we addressed via changes in the user interface.

 

Thanks for reading.

Coy

SAP Crystal Reports 2011 is one of the new versions of Crystal Reports that is releasing in the next couple of months. The objective for this short post is to introduce the two new features that were added to this release. For more information on the other, more feature rich version of Crystal Reports that is releasing at the same time, please read SAP Crystal Reports in BI 4.0 and check out this video.

The first new feature that was added to SAP Crystal Reports 2011 is the ability to export your reports to a read-only report format. This allows report creators to protect the intellectual property that is contained within their reports. For example, if you are a software developer that has embedded Crystal Reports content in order to provide a piece of core functionality, you would potentially have the need to protect that content if you have leveraged advanced logic in the report that would expose the structure of your application or data. In addition, if you have created reports that have beautiful and complex formatting applied, you may want to prevent your competitors from simply opening those reports and quickly modifying them as their own. The new read-only report format ensures that your reports cannot be opened inside the SAP Crystal Reports designer.

 

It is possible to export a report (.rpt) to a read-only report (.rptr) from the designer. The SAP Crystal Reports for Visual Studio 2010 and SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0 viewers can only export to RPTR if the user is already viewing an RPTR. The SAP Crystal Reports for Eclipse viewers do not allow for exporting to RPTR.

 

In order to export to RPTR from the designer, you will need to use the Export dialogue: File > Export > Export Report.  From the Export dialogue, you can choose the second option in the list to export to RPTR.

 

Once the RPTR has been saved, you will notice that the filel can no longer be opened in the Designer.  It can only be opened via one of the Crystal Reports Viewers.

 

The second new feature that was added is the support of Office 2007 Excel format (XLSX). It is now possible to both export a report to XLSX format and create a report based on an XLSX spreadsheet.

 

In order to export from the designer you must select the "Microsoft Excel Workbook Data-only" export option.

 

 

After clicking on the "OK" button, you will be able to choose whether you want to preserve your formatting options or not. 

 

You can even choose to leverage some custom formatting options when performing the export by clicking on the "Options" button.

 

As mentioned above, it is also possible to create reports based on an XLSX spreadsheet as a data source.  This is done by choosing "OLE DB (ADO)" as your data connection type and then selecting the "Microsoft Office 12.0 Access Database Engine OLE DB Provider."

 

After choosing the provider, click on "Next" so that you can choose your XLSX file to use as your data source.

 

From here, you can choose your XLSX file and set your Office Database Type to Excel.  Upon clicking on "Finish", you will be taken to the Database Expert to choose which worksheets and fields you want to include in your report.

 

In addition to the two new features that we have added, we are supporting new platforms. You can find details in the new Product Availability Matrix for SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.0

 

More information about SAP Crystal Reports 2011 can be found in either the user guide or by watching one of the numerous videos available on SDN.

 

Thanks for reading.

Coy

With the release of SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 4.0 comes the release of a new SAP Crystal Reports designer – SAP Crystal Reports for enterprise.  While this designer has a brand new UI and many new features, the point of this short blog is to introduce you to the new Smart Guidelines feature.

 

The goal of this feature is to make it easier to create and maintain reports by allowing report designers to easily move fields around as if they are built as columns in the report. 

 

A quick example…

 

In this short video, you can see the Smart Guidelines feature exposed as the blue lines and bars along the top of the report canvas.   As you can see in the video, I am able to move multiple fields around at once as if they were a single column – while not losing my flexibility of having a canvas which allows for free-form layout of fields.

 

 

 

In addition to moving columns around on the canvas, I can delete columns.  This will cause all columns around the deleted column to shift – without requiring significant rework on the report layout.

 

Another quick example…

 

As you can see in this video, I select the column of fields and then right-click on the column header to access the delete command.

 

 

Similarly, it is possible to easily add a new field into the layout.

 

Final example…

 

I am able to quickly add a new field to the report by dragging the field into the report canvas and then selecting one side of an existing column.  This inserts the new field on that side of the selected column.

 

 

As you can see from the short videos, the Smart Guidelines feature is quite powerful when it comes to reducing the amount of time required to create and edit reports.  I’m definitely interested in hearing your feedback on this feature, its uses, and how we can improve it even further.  Let me know…

Are you interested in providing feedback on how well we have implemented the embedding of SAP Crystal Dashboard content into SAP Crystal Reports? If so, please take a few minutes to answer this short survey.  It will be used to help drive future integrations between dashboards and reports.

Thanks!

Coy - Area Product Owner for SAP Crystal Reports

Are you curious about which SAP Crystal Dashboard events will be auditable in SAP BusinessObjects XI 4.0? The list below provides a quick reference.  More details are forthcoming once I find a document which explains auditing for dashboards in more detail.  In the meantime, enjoy the brief, but informative list.

 

View and Refresh Dashboard

  1. View standalone dashboard
    - Standalone dashboard with QaaWS connection and parameter
    - Standalone dashboard with Live Office Crystal Reports connection and parameter
  2. View dashboard deployed to SAP BusinessObjects BI Launch Pad
    - Dashboard with Live Office Crystal Reports connection and no parameter
    - Dashboard with Live Office Web Intelligence connection and no parameter
    - Dashboard with QaaWS connection and no parameter
    - Dashboard with QaaWS connection and parameter
    - Dashboard with Common Semantic Layer connection and no parameter
    - Dashboard with Common Semantic Layer connection and parameter
  3. View dashboard deployed under CMC
    - Dashboard with QaaWS connection and no parameter
    - Dashboard with QaaWS connection and parameter

Save dashbaord to SAP BusinessObjects

  1. Save a new dashboard to CMS
  2. Resave a dashbaord to CMS

One of the common challenges with customers who are leveraging SAP Crystal Reports Server as their reporting platform is that they must wait for a Service Pack to be delivered before attaining a bug fix.  In some cases, this can cause up to a 6 month delay in resolving a bug that could be critical to their deployment moving forward.  In the cases where they cannot await bug fixes, they will either use messy workarounds or choose to solve the problem with another less than ideal solution. Based on feedback from these customers, we have decided to provide FixPacks for the SAP Crystal Reports Server releases. The first of these FixPacks is now available – FixPack 3.1 for SAP Crystal Reports Server 2008 SP3.  This FixPack release corresponds to all bug fixes up to FixPack 3.3 from SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1 SP3.

 

You can find this FixPack on Service Marketplace via the following links:

SAP Crystal Reports Server 2008 V1 SP3 FP3 for Windows Server Components

SAP Crystal Reports Server 2008 V1 SP3 FP3 for iPoint

SAP Crystal Reports Server 2008 V1 SP3 for Client Components

SAP Crystal Reports Server 2008 V1 SP3 for Linux Server Components

 

A few notes:

  • The naming of the FixPacks in the future will coincide with the names of the SAP BusinessObjecst Enterprise FixPacks. For example, SAP Crystal Reports Server 2008 SP4 FP 4.1 will be the same as SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1 SP4 FP 4.1. The same as true for 4.2, 4.3, etc…
  • The FixPacks for SAP Crystal Reports Server will lag the FixPacks for SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise by only one week.
  • FixPack 3.1 will be the only FixPack released on SAP Crystal Reports Server 2008 SP3; however, SAP Crystal Reports Server will have the same cycle of FixPacks as SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise starting with Service Pack 4.

 

I look forward to hearing your feedback on these new FixPacks.

Coy

Hello all!

The Crystal Reports product team is happy to announce the production release of SAP Crystal Reports for Visual Studio 2010.

 

You can download the release packages from the following locations:

 

After downloading the appropriate package(s), you can also review the What's New guide, details about Crystal Reports for Visual Studio 2010 Licensing, and the Supported Platforms guide.

 

In addition, we have made a few videos available. You can access those via the following links:

 

Crystal Reports in Visual Studio 2010 explains what has changed in this release of SAP Crystal Reports for Visual Studio.

 

We look forward to hearing about your experience with SAP Crystal Reports for Visual Studio 2010.  For support, please visit the SAP Crystal Reports, version for Visual Studio.

Updated February 24th, 2011 with clarifying information around supported licenses.

Due to a few questions which have come up regarding licensing errors while consuming web services created by the WSDT, I was compelled to install the tool and try to work through some of the issues that people are seeing.  This blog documents my experience with installing the WSDT, creating a web service, and then utilizing that web service via Xcelsius.

One of the main takeaways from this exercise is that the Web Service Design Tool only accepts licenses from Xcelsius Engage Server and Crystal Reports Server.  This is important for those of you that are receiving the CAL license error when trying to invoke your web services created with the tool.  Ensure that you are using either an Xcelsius Engage Server or Crystal Reports Server license key.

The WSDT will accept keys in two ways:

  • A manually entered Xcelsius Engage Server keycode.  In this case, the number of simultaneous connections is equal to the number of CAL in the keycode.
  • When used with a platform (BOE, Edge, or CRS), then the number of simultaneous connections is equal to the sum of CAL and NUL licenses in the platform.

Both of these methods can be used at the same time, in which case the total number of simultaneous connections is the sum of both amounts.

First, I ensured that I met the pre-requisites to install the tool.  These are:

  • Administrator privileges

  • Either IIS 6 or IIS 7 and the IIS Metabase compatibility component installed

  • .NET Framework 3.5 SP1

  • Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable

  • Windows Server 2003 or 2008

After installing the tool, my first step was to create an ODBC connection to the sample eFashion Access database.  I then created a query against this connection, which returned all of the rows from the Article_lookup table.  I executed the query to ensure that everything was working fine.

Execute Query in WSDT

I created a web service against the query and left all of the default options for the deployment of the web service to IIS.  Remember that you cannot include spaces in the name of the web service.

 

The first problem that I ran into after deploying the web service, was that IIS kept giving me an HTTP 404 error when trying to load the ASMX page.  This was fixed by following the steps below:

  1. Open IIS Manager

  2. Right-click on Web Service Extensions

  3. Type in the name of the extension as “ASP.NET 2.0”

  4. Type in the path to the appropriate DLL for .NET Framework 2.0.  This is C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\aspnet_isapi.dll

  5. Set the extension status to “Allowed”

  6. Windows Explorer, navigate to C:\Windows\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727

  7. Right-click on “Temporary ASP.NET Files”

  8. Select “Sharing and Security”

  9. Add “Network Service” to the list of allowed accounts and set to “Full” access

  10. Restart IIS

This got me to the point where I could load the ASMX page:

ASMX Page

 

I ran into another problem when I tried to invoke the web service.  This presented me with the following error:

Invoke Error

I was able to get around this problem by adding the Network Service account to the list of allowed accounts for accessing C:\WINDOWS\Temp.  The appropriate rights are “List Folder”, “Read Data”, and “Delete”.

Now, being able to invoke the web service, I finally get to the error which many of you are seeing:

WSDT License Error

So, I checked to see which licenses were recognized in the WSDT:

WSDT Options Page

As you can see, the total number of available licenses is 0.  I tried deleting the license key and re-adding it.  When I did so, I received an error that the license key was invalid.  I then tried adding a new Xcelsius Enterprise and Xcelsius Present key – neither were recognized as valid keys. I then tried connecting to a Crystal Reports Server installation via the “Server URL”, “User Name”, and “Password” fields in the WSDT Options panel. This retrieved 10 available licenses from my Crystal Reports Server installed keys. I was then able to invoke my web service.

Working Web Service

The problem seemed to be that the WSDT did not recognize standalone keys from Xcelsius. However, based upon further research, it was determined that the WSDT only recognizes CAL-based keys from Xcelsius standalone installations. Specifically, it only accepts Xcelsius Engage and Crystal Reports Server keys.

Another problem which I found during this process of troubleshooting involved the web service still working correctly even if there were no licenses configured in the WSDT.  I saw this after removing all licenses from the CMS and all licenses for standalone products from my system.  I was still able to invoke the web service.  To correct this, I had to restart the SAPLicenseService which is installed by the WSDT.

After getting through all of these issues, I then wanted to create an Xcelsius model against one of my test web services.  First, I configured my web service in Xcelsius.  You can see a screenshot of this configuration below.

Web Service Config in Xcelsius

I defined the Resort record under the PropertiesRow to insert a cell into my spreadsheet by selecting the “Resort” record and then clicking the box with the red arrow.  This allowed me to set my destination cells.  As I knew there are only five resorts, I selected a range of five rows in my spreadsheet.

I then inserted a table into the canvas and set the Display Data as the five rows where my resorts will be inserted from the web service.

Table Creation in Xcelsius

Finally, I inserted a Connection Refresh Button into the canvas and set it to refresh the Property List Connection.  I then previewed my Xcelsius model and, if my resort values were to change, I could dynamically update them via the “Refresh” button.

Working Xcelsius Model

Many existing customers and partners utilize the Flynet utility that comes free with Crystal Reports Server so that they can easily develop web services against relational data sources.  With the release of Crystal Reports Server 2008 SP2, we have also released a new utility that will replace the current Flynet solution, but will allow our customers and partners to achieve the same objective.  The SAP Web Service Design Tool is now available and can be downloaded from here.

The new SAP Web Service Design is very straight forward; however, I have provided a few screenshots below to give you an idea of what the tool looks like. 

If you are interested in or have the requirement to quickly deploy web services on top of your relational data, please take a moment to download the tool and give it a try.  We are very interested in hearing your feedback. So, let us know what you think.

Brief Walkthrough

Upon launching the tool, you will be presented with the following screen:

 

 

In order to start creating your first web service, you will click on the “New Connection” button.  This will bring up a wizard that will walk you through connecting to the myriad of supported data sources.  In my example, I’m connecting to the standard eFashion database.

 

On the next screen, I choose my DSN and click on “Test Connection” to ensure that the connection works okay.

 

The next screen simply provides a summary of my connection details. I click on Finish and am taken to the main screen of the application. From here, you can see that my connection, called eFashion, has been defined and is listed under the Connections portion of the application window.

 

My next step towards creating a web service is to define the query that will provide the data for my web service.  To do this, click on the “New SQL Query” button.  This will bring up a wizard which will walk you through the process of creating your query against your defined connection.

On the first screen of the wizard, you define the name of your query, what type of query you want to define (i.e., Select, Insert, Update, etc…) and the connection that you want to utilize.

 

On the next screen, you can select the table that you want to use to define your query.

After clicking on “Next”, you will be able to choose your fields that you want to include in your query.

 

 

 

The screen after this one allows you to define any filters that you want for the query and the final screen provides options for further editing the query in either Visual Mode or Expert Mode.  Visual Mode allows you to insert a new table for the query and continue refining your query in others ways by using GUI buttons and commands.  Expert Mode allows you to build the SQL Command by typing out SQL syntax.  Once you are done, you can save the query and then execute it to ensure that it returns the proper results.

 

You’ll notice that even though I have saved my query, it is not displayed under the Queries portion of the application.  You can only see queries that have been created against specific connections. So, I will only be able to see this new query I have created after selecting my “eFashion” connection first.

 

Now that I have my query created, I can proceed with creating my web service.  To get started, click on “New Web Service”.  Again, this will bring up a wizard to walk you through the process of creating your web service.

 

After defining my web service name, the query I want to use for creating the web service, and the path where I want to deploy the web service, I click on “Next”.  The final screen shows a summary of my selections and allows me to deploy the web service now or choose to do so later.

At this point your web service has been deployed and you can begin consuming it through whatever application you like – whether it’s Xcelsius or some other tool.

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