Crystal Reports 2008 Official Guide

Overview

CRYSTAL REPORTS® 2008

OFFICIAL GUIDE

Whether you’re a DBA, data warehousing or business intelligence professional,
reporting specialist, or developer, this book has the answers you need. Through
hands-on examples, you’ll systematically ...

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Overview

CRYSTAL REPORTS® 2008

OFFICIAL GUIDE

Whether you’re a DBA, data warehousing or business intelligence professional,
reporting specialist, or developer, this book has the answers you need. Through
hands-on examples, you’ll systematically master Crystal Reports and Xcelsius
2008’s most powerful features for creating, distributing, and delivering content.
One step at a time, long-time Crystal Reports insiders take you from the basics
through advanced content creation and delivery using Xcelsius, Crystal Reports
Server, crystalreports.com, and the offline Crystal Reports Viewer.

Every significant enhancement introduced in Crystal Reports 2008 is covered, including its new visualization options and more robust Web services capabilities. The book concludes by showing how to use Crystal Reports’ powerful .NET and Java SDKs to customize and extend enterprise reporting in virtually unlimited ways.

• Learn hands-on, through step-by-step examples and exercises–and discover tips and tricks proven in real-world enterprise environments

• Master new Crystal Reports 2008 features, including interactive report viewing, Xcelsius dashboarding, Flex, and Flash integration, Report Designer improvements, report bursting, and more

• Publish professional-quality reports against virtually any data source, including relational and OLAP databases, Universes, SAP, PeopleSoft, JavaBeans, .NET/COM objects, XML, and more

• Discover advanced visualization techniques using Xcelsius, charts, and maps

• Learn methods for distributing reports and integrating content into other applications

• Learn about the latest reporting addition to the Business Objects family–Xcelsius and begin creating dynamic and interactive dashboards

NEIL FITZGERALD has spent several years working at Business Objects and with one of Business Objects’ largest providers of custom BI and enterprise reporting solutions.

BOB COATES currently works as a Sales Consultant for Business Objects, an SAP company, where he has been employed for more than eleven years.

RYAN GOODMAN is the founder of Centigon Solutions, Inc., and remains one of the top Xcelsius experts and evangelists in the world.

MICHAEL VOLOSHKO is a senior presales consultant for the financial services team at Business Objects.

ON THE WEB

Find all this and more at informit.com/sams:

• Java and .NET sample reports and code samples for all examples in the book

• Bonus chapters, tips, tricks, and links to great reporting resources

CATEGORY: Database

COVERS: Crystal Reports 2008, Crystal Reports Server 2008,

Crystal Reports Viewer, crystalreports.com, Xcelsius 2008

USER LEVEL: Beginning–Intermediate

informit.com/sams

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780672329890
  • Publisher: Sams
  • Publication date: 10/16/2008
  • Series: Business Objects Press Series
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 553
  • Sales rank: 793,661
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Lead Author

Neil FitzGerald is an entrepreneur who has successfully started or contributed to multiple consulting companies in the IT consulting domain. Neil combined his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada and his MBA from the Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario with his more than 8 years of experience at Business Objects in a variety of senior roles to help provide information solutions to Fortune 500 companies across North America. He has spent more than 13 years in the information delivery domain and is available for onsite or remote consulting to companies large and small. Neil can be contacted at neil_fitzgerald@hotmail.com.

About the Contributing Authors

Bob Coates has worked for Business Objects, an SAP company (through the Crystal Decisions and Business Objects acquisitions), for more than 11 years. While there he worked in technical support, global services, and sales consulting. Presently Bob is a principal sales consultant working on the SAP Synergy Team–a branch of the Strategic Technology Group focused on the top 100 SAP customers. Bob would like to thank his wife Amanda for her infinite patience and support.

Ryan Goodman is the founder of Centigon Solutions Inc. As a previous technical evangelist and sales consultant at Infommersion and then Business Objects, Ryan has implemented hundreds of Xcelsius projects spanning more than 4 years. His interactive data visualization and design background coupled with his business insight and technical aptitude have made him one of the top Xcelsius experts in the world. Ryan continues to push the envelope and evangelize Xcelsius on his blog: www.ryangoodman.net/blog.

Michael Voloshko is a principal solutions architect for the financial services vertical at Business Objects, an SAP company.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Introduction to Information Delivery

Spectrum of Business Objects Product Usage

Custom Information Delivery Applications

Enterprise BI Initiatives

Spectrum of BI Tool Users

Content Creators (Information Designers)

Information Analysts

Information Consumers

The Product Family from Business Objects

What Is in This Book

Part I: Crystal Reports Design

Part II: Formatting Crystal Reports

Part III: Advanced Crystal Reports Design

Part IV: Report Distribution and Advanced Report Design with Crystal Xcelsius

Equipment Used for This Book

Web Resources

Intended Audience

Requirements for This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

I Crystal Report Design

1 Creating and Designing Basic Reports

Introducing the Crystal Reports Designer

Crystal Report Sections

Using Toolbars and Menus

Report Design Explorers

Locating and Using the Report Design Explorers

The Workbench and Dependency Checker

Understanding Data and Data Sources

Understanding Direct Access Drivers

Understanding Indirect Access Drivers

Introducing the Database Expert

Creating a New Connection

Using My Connections

Adding Database Objects to Your Report

Reporting on Tables

Reporting on Views

Reporting on Stored Procedures

Reporting on SQL Commands

Joining Database Objects

Understanding the Different Join Types

Using the Report Creation Wizards

Getting Started with the Report Wizards

Using the Standard Report Creation Wizard

Creating a Report Without Wizards

Troubleshooting

Crystal Reports in the Real World–HTML Preview

Crystal Reports in the Real World–SQL Commands

2 Selecting and Grouping Data

Introduction

Understanding Field Objects

Accessing Database Fields

Accessing Formula Fields

Accessing SQL Expression Fields

Accessing Parameter Fields

Implementing Running Total Fields

Using Group Name Fields

Special Fields

Working with Groups

Inserting Groups

Reordering Groups

Using the Group Expert

Grouping on Date/Time Fields

Hierarchical Grouping

Understanding Drill-Down Reports

Creating a Drill-Down Report

Hiding Details on a Drill-Down Report

Troubleshooting

Crystal Reports in the Real World–Group on a Formula

3 Filtering, Sorting, and Summarizing Data

Introduction

Filtering the Data in Your Report

Working with the Select Expert

The Record Selection Formula

Working with the Formula Editor

Learning to Sort Records

Working with the Sort Expert

Creating Effective Summaries

Creating Grand Totals

Creating Group Summaries

Using Group Selection and Sorting

Creating Running Totals

Troubleshooting

Crystal Reports in the Real World–Nesting Formulas

4 Understanding and Implementing Formulas

Introduction

Using the Formula Workshop

Navigating the Formula Workshop with the Workshop Tree

Using the Workshop Formula Editor

Arithmetic Formulas

Date and Time Formulas

String Formulas

Using Type Conversion in Formulas

Control Structures–Conditional and Looping Structures

Variables

Creating Formulas with the Formula Expert

Using the Formula Extractor to Create Custom Functions

The Multipass Reporting Process of the Crystal Reports Engine

Crystal Reports Processing Engine–Pre-Pass #1

Crystal Reports Processing Engine–Pass #1

Crystal Reports Processing Engine–Pre-Pass #2

Crystal Reports Processing Engine–Pass #2

Crystal Reports Processing Engine–Pass #3

Troubleshooting

Crystal Reports in the Real World–Custom Functions

5 Implementing Parameters for Dynamic Reporting

Introduction

Understanding the Value of Parameters

Creating and Implementing Parameters Fields

Reviewing Parameter Field Properties

Creating Parameter Fields

Setting Default Values for Parameter Fields

Implementing Parameter Fields

Using Parameters with Record Selections

Using Parameters with Top/Bottom N Group Selections

Creating and Implementing Dynamic and Cascading Parameters

Using the Parameter Panel in the Preview Tab

Troubleshooting

Crystal Reports in the Real World–Custom Filtering

II Formatting Crystal Reports

6 Fundamentals of Report Formatting

Introduction

Positioning and Sizing Report Objects

Modifying Object Properties for Formatting Purposes

Exploring the Format Editor Dialog Common Options

The Common Tab of the Format Editor

The Border Tab of the Format Editor

The Font Tab of the Format Editor

The Hyperlink Tab of the Format Editor

Other Format Editor Tabs

Combining and Layering Report Objects

Configuring Report Page and Margin Properties

Troubleshooting

Crystal Reports in the Real World–Exporting Options

Crystal Reports in the Real World–Referencing External Resources

7 Working with Report Sections

Introduction

Formatting Report Sections

Modifying Report Section Properties

The Section Expert Settings and Functionality

Using Multiple Report Sections

Resizing Report Sections

Inserting New Report Sections

Deleting Report Sections

Merging Report Sections

Troubleshooting

Crystal Reports in the Real World–Advanced Formatting

Crystal Reports in the Real World–Advanced Formatting on Drill-Down Reports

8 Visualizing Your Data with Charts and Maps

Introduction

Using the Chart Expert

Using the Chart Expert Type Tab

Using the Chart Expert Data Tab

Using the Chart Expert Axes Tab

Using the Chart Expert Options Tab

Using the Chart Expert Color Highlight Tab

Using the Chart Expert Text Tab

Using the Map Expert

Using the Map Expert Data Tab

Using the Map Expert Type Tab

Using the Map Expert Text Tab

Modifying Chart and Map Properties

Modifying Chart Properties

Format Chart Options

Using and Creating Chart Templates

Specifying Chart Size and Position

Modifying Chart Options

Specifying Series Options

Specifying X-Axis and Y-Axis Options

Specifying Selected Item Formatting Options

Specifying 3D Viewing Angle Options

Modifying Map Properties

Troubleshooting

Crystal Reports in the Real World–Complex Charts

9 Custom Formatting Techniques

Introduction

Making Presentation-Quality Reports

Common Formatting Features

Working with ToolTips

Lines and Boxes

Creating a Vertical Text Watermark

Conditional Formatting–Using Data to Drive the Look of a Report

Applying Formatting from Another Field

Report-to-Report Linking and the Hyperlink Wizard

Report-to-Report Linking

Hyperlink Wizard

Find in Field Explorer

Barcode Support

Convert to Barcode

Convert from Barcode

Crystal Reports in the Real World–Advanced Charting

III Advanced Crystal Report Design

10 Using Cross-Tabs for Summarized Reporting

Introduction to Cross-Tabs

Benefits of Cross-Tabs

Leveraging Experience with the Spreadsheet Format

Horizontal Expansion

Custom Formatting

Using the Cross-Tab Wizard

Using Top N with Cross-Tabs Reports

Using Advanced Cross-Tab Features

Setting Relative Position

Inserting a “Percentage of” Summary

Horizontal and Vertical Placement

Inserting Summary Labels

Adding a Display String

What’s New in Cross-Tabs

New Cross-Tab Functions Defined

Crystal Reports in the Real World–Advanced Cross-Tabs

11 Using Record Selections, Sort Controls, and Alerts for Interactive Reporting

Introduction

Creating Advanced Record Selection Formulas

Record Selection Review

Displaying Record Selections

Dealing with Dates

Working with Strings

Pushing Record Selections to the Database

An Introduction to SQL Expressions

Adding Alerting to Your Reports

Creating, Editing, and Using Alerts

Using Alerts in BusinessObjects Enterprise

Performance Monitoring and Tuning

Group By On Server

SQL Expressions in Record Selections

Use Indexes on Server for Speed

On-Demand or Reduced Number of Subreports

Performance Monitor

Dynamic Cascading Prompts

Sort Controls

Crystal Reports in the Real World–Web Report Alert Viewing

Troubleshooting

12 Using Subreports for Advanced Reports

Introduction to Subreports

Common Subreport Usage

Adding Subreports to Your Reports

Understanding Linked Versus Unlinked Subreports

Considering Subreport Execution Time and Performance

Using Variables to Pass Data Between Reports

Emulating Nested Subreports

Troubleshooting

Crystal Reports in the Real World–Multiple Subreports

13 Using Formulas and Custom Functions

Introduction

Choosing a Formula Language: Crystal Versus Basic Syntax

Understanding Syntax Differences

Why Basic Syntax Was Added

Selecting the Best Syntax for You

Using Brackets in Formulas

Using Characters in Formulas

Recent Improvements to Formulas
Manipulating Memo Fields in Formulas

Working with the Additional Financial Functions

Creating Custom Functions in Your Reports

Sharing Custom Functions with Others

Understanding Runtime Errors

Crystal Reports in the Real World–Custom Functions

14 Designing Effective Report Templates

Understanding the Importance of Reuse in Reporting

Understanding Report Templates

Using Report Templates

Using Existing Crystal Reports as Templates

Understanding How Templates Work

Creating Useful Report Templates

Using Custom Functions as Replacements for Data-Dependent Business Logic

Using the CurrentFieldValue Function

Using Template Field Objects

Using Report Templates to Reduce Report Creation Effort

Applying Multiple Templates

Exporting Capabilities in Crystal Reports

Crystal Reports in the Real World–Standardized Templates

Troubleshooting

15 Additional Data Sources in Crystal Reports

Understanding the Additional Crystal Reports Data Sources

Connecting to COM or .NET Data Sources

Leveraging Legacy Mainframe Data

Handling Complex Queries

Runtime Manipulation of Data

Review an .ADO.NET Data Provider

Connecting to an ADO.NET XML Recordset

Connecting to Java-Based Data Sources

JavaDir

JavaBeansClassPath

Connecting to XML Data Sources

Connect to a Local XML Data Source

Connect to an HTTP(S) Data Source

Connect to a Web Service Data Source

Introduction to the Integration Kits

Honor the Security

Access to All the Data

Sample Reports

Leverage the Metadata of the ERP Application

Provide Real-Time Access to Data

SAP Integration Kit

Reporting Off R3 Data

Reporting Off BW Data

Viewing the Reports

PeopleSoft Integration Kit

Reporting Off PeopleSoft Data

Viewing the Reports

Siebel Integration Kit

Troubleshooting

Crystal Reports in the Real World–Leveraging XML as a Data Source

16 Formatting Multidimensional Reporting Against OLAP Data

Introduction to OLAP

OLAP Concepts and OLAP Reporting

Recently Added or Changed OLAP Features in Crystal Reports

Using the OLAP Report Creation Wizard and OLAP Expert

Specifying an OLAP Data Source

Specifying OLAP Rows and Columns

Specifying OLAP Dimension Slices (Filters) and Pages

Adding Report Styles in the OLAP Report Creation Wizard

Adding Charts via the OLAP Report Creation Wizard

Customizing Styles in the OLAP Expert

Customizing Labels in the OLAP Expert

Advanced OLAP Reporting

Interacting with the OLAP Grid

Pivoting the OLAP Grid

Using the Cube View Functionality

Using Charts and Maps Based on OLAP Grids

Troubleshooting

Crystal Reports in the Real World–OLAP Summary Report with Drill-Down

IV Report Distribution and Advanced Report Design with Crystal Xcelcius

17 Introduction to Crystal Reports Server, Crystalreports.com, and the Crystal Reports Viewer

What Is Crystal Reports Server?

Crystal Reports Server Architecture

Client Tier

Application Tier

Intelligence Tier

Processing Tier

Data Tier

Crystal Reports Server Applications

Central Configuration Manager

Use the Central Management Console (CMC)

Launch InfoView

What Is Crystalreports.com?

Getting Started with Crystalreports.com

Adding Reports to Crystalreports.com

Sharing Reports on Crystalreports.com

Offline Viewing with the Crystal Reports Viewer

Troubleshooting

18 Crystal Reports Java Components

Overview of the Crystal Reports Java Reporting Component

Components Run on the Web Application Server

Components Are Generally Less Scalable

Components Are 100% Pure Java

Understanding the Java Reporting Components Architecture

Differences with the Java Reporting Engine

Supported File Formats

Support for User Function Libraries in Version XI of the Java Reporting Components

The Java Reporting Engine Uses JDBC

Configuring the Application Server

Delivering Reports in Web Applications

The setReportSource Method

The processHttpRequest Method

Customizing the Toolbar

Customizing the Group Tree

Using the Crystal Tag Libraries

Exporting Reports to Other File Formats

Exporting via the Toolbar Button

Exporting via Code

Printing Reports from the Browser

Common Programming Tasks

Passing Parameters

Setting Data Source Information

Developing with a Visual Development Environment

19 Crystal Reports Microsoft .NET Components

Understanding Microsoft’s .NET Platform

Understanding the Different Crystal .NET Components

An Overview of the Crystal Reports 2008 .NET Components

The Report Designer

Understanding the Report Designer’s User Interface Conventions

The Property Browser

The Report Engine Object Model

Opening Reports

Exporting Reports

Printing Reports

Delivering Reports with the Windows Forms Viewer

The ReportSource Property

Customizing the Windows Forms Viewer

Delivering Reports with the Web Forms Viewer

Customizing the Web Forms Viewer

Database Credentials

Setting Parameters

Understanding the Report Application Server Bridge

Creating a Crystal Reports Web Service

Troubleshooting

20 Basic Xcelsius Development

Introduction to Dashboards with Xcelsius

Xcelsius Development Paradigm

Xcelsius Integrated Development Environment

Components

Properties

Object Browser

Data Manager

Basic Component Categories

Single Value Components

Charts

Selectors

Containers

Alerts

Dashboard Design Enhancements

Color Schemes

Themes

Backgrounds

Label Text

Image Component

Publishing and Deployment

Adobe SWF

Adobe PDF Document

Microsoft PowerPoint

Microsoft Word

Business Objects Enterprise

HTML

Crystal Reports

Troubleshooting

21 Advanced Xcelsius Visualization and Connectivity

Advanced Global Features and Techniques

Dynamic Visibility

Chart Drill Down

Insert Filtered Rows

Map Components

Multilayer Dashboards

Advanced Functionality with Excel Logic

Conditional Formulas

Lookup Functions

Concatenating Values

Working with Dates

Advanced Connectivity and Integration

Data Manager Usage Tab

BusinessObjects Enterprise Integration

Live Office Connectivity

Universe Query with Query as a Web Service

Web Service Connection

Excel XML Maps

Using Flash Variables

Index

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Preface

Introduction

In this chapter

  • Introduction to Information Delivery

  • Spectrum of Business Objects Product Usage

  • Spectrum of BI Tool Users

  • The Product Family from Business Objects

  • What Is in This Book

  • Equipment Used for This Book

Introduction to Information Delivery

Organizations of all sizes today find themselves increasingly awash in data, yet hungering for information to help them meet their business objectives. These corporations, from Main Street and Wall Street alike, have spent large amounts of time and money over the past 10 or so years implementing systems to help collect data on and streamline their operations. From monolithic Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems (SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle Financials, and so on) through Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems (Siebel, Rightnow.com, Salesforce.com, and so on) to Custom Data Warehousing projects, these firms are now looking for ways to extract value from the collective body of data to help them run their businesses more productively and competitively. These firms are looking for a strategic information delivery or business intelligence solution to help them become more productive and ultimately compete more effectively. The products covered in this book are geared toward meeting that challenge.

The information delivery products and solutions presented in this book are often categorized under the Business Intelligence (BI) banner. BI is the industry of value-added information delivery based on structured data sources—essentially providing meaningful, business-driven value andinformation to business end users by connecting them to data with appropriate tools and products. Figure I.1 highlights the conceptual divide of information delivery solutions into the structured and unstructured world. Although evidence suggests an eventual blurring of the boundaries between these discrete industries over time, the Business Objects products covered in this book most aptly fit under the BI banner.

Figure I.1
The information delivery industry divides broadly into structured and unstructured information management.

Industry analysts in the information delivery area regularly highlight the impressive adoption rates of BI products in the past few years as testimony to their value. The dynamic double-digit percentage growth rates for industry leaders such as Business Objects are especially impressive when the difficult macroeconomic operating environment of recent years is taken into account. Ironically, many suggest, this same poor economic environment has largely driven the increased worldwide demand for BI functionality as firms work to increase their productivity and competitiveness by leveraging existing investments—and doing more with less. The next section covers the BI industry driver along with a few others.

Spectrum of Business Objects Product Usage

BI products such as those distributed by Business Objects (Crystal Reports, Crystal Reports Server, BusinessObjects Enterprise, Crystal Xcelsius, and Web Intelligence) are deployed and used in about as many different ways as there are product implementations—and there are millions. However, as you examine a broad swath of BI clients and their implementations, you can find definite themes to their deployments. Taking a step back, distinctive drivers to worldwide BI product adoption become evident. The following sections discuss a few of the most common.

Custom Information Delivery Applications

Despite the increasing functionality of turnkey software and web applications available today, corporations of all sizes still regularly look to custom-developed applications to provide them with unique competitive advantage and to meet their proprietary business requirements. These applications run the gamut in size from small business applications through large departmental applications to enterprise intranet and extranet applications. The key component of these custom projects is the integration of BI functionality, such as formatted reporting, ad hoc query, dashboarding, self-service web reporting, and/or analytic capabilities, within an internally developed application. Table I.1 highlights some typical examples of custom applications using the Business Objects suite of products to help deliver custom applications.

Table I.1 Sample Custom Information Delivery Applications

Application

Application Audience

Product Usage

Small retail chain's internal Java-based sales metrics application

Approximately 20 sales employees and managers

Using Crystal Reports Java Engine, the developer provides the sales team with Web access to on-demand metrics reports built into the intranet application.

Large portfolio

10,000+ high value customers of firm

Using Crystal Xcelsius and Crystal Reports Server, the management firm's developer provides access to the scalable client extranet application reporting infrastructure and facilitates those customers getting online web access to their portfolio reports.

Asset management firm's report batch of institution scheduling application

50,000+ clients

Using the Business Objects reporting server and scheduling engine, the developer's application dynamically creates tens of thousands of customized reports daily and automatically emails them to the appropriate clients in PDF and XLS formats.

A key strength of the Business Objects suite of products is that it lends itself readily to integration into custom applications. From the inclusion of basic formatted reports within Java/J2EE or.NET applications through the inclusion of rich ad hoc query and self-service reporting functionality in proprietary information product applications to provision of large-scale enterprise BI analytics, scheduling, and security functionality in a globally deployed application, the Business Objects suite of products can meet your requirements. Table I.2 provides a jump-point for those looking for each type of application integration covered in this book.

Table I.2 Custom Application Chapters Overview

Development Environment

Required Functionality

Part or Chapters

Java/J2EE

Prebuilt reports included in custom Java application

Part IV, Chapter 18

.NET

Prebuilt reports included in custom.NET application

Part IV, Chapter 19

Enterprise BI Initiatives

With the proliferation of BI tools and the acceleration of product adoption around the globe, there has been concurrent pressure for the involved companies to standardize on a single set of products and tools—effectively a BI infrastructure or platform. The main arguments for such standardization include the following:

  • Reduced total cost of product ownership

  • Creation of enterprise centers of excellence

  • Reduced vendor relationships

  • Movement toward a BI infrastructure/platform

As BI products have matured from different areas of historical strength and their marketplace acceptance has grown, end user organizations have found themselves with disparate and incompatible BI tools and products across or even within the same departments in their organization. To eliminate the costliness of managing such a broad set of tools, many firms are now moving to adopt a single BI platform such as BusinessObjects Enterprise (or Crystal Reports Server for smaller businesses).

The infrastructure of BusinessObjects Enterprise provides a single architecture to manage all the content and tools required to serve an organization's structured information delivery requirements. Figure I.2 shows an end user map of a typical organization. To be productive, each type of end user in a company requires different types of tools. There are clear organizational benefits to a common infrastructure or centrally managed center of excellence, such as BusinessObjects Enterprise, which can meet the various end user and IT requirements.

Figure I.2
Organizational end user requirements map from Business Objects.

Details of the breakdown of this book are included later in this Introduction, but to jumpstart your learning on this type of BI application, Table I.3 can point you to the sections and chapters of particular relevance.

Table I.3 Enterprise Business Intelligence Chapter Overview

Enterprise Business Intelligence Focus

Chapter

Out-of-the-box product using Crystal Reports Server for small- and medium-sized businesses

Part IV, Chapter 17

Using crystalreports.com to distribute reporting content

Part IV, Chapter 17

Spectrum of BI Tool Users

Across the usage profiles of the thousands of BI scenarios/implementations, there generally exists a consistency in the types of people who become involved. Figure I.3 provides a relatively high level yet accurate graphic that shows a typical distribution of the people involved in BI implementations.

Figure I.3
Average BI implementation user distribution.

Each of the three communities outlined in the pyramid plays a key role in the ongoing success and operation of any BI implementation. The content creators and system administrators play perhaps the most important role in ensuring the short- and long-term success of any deployment because their work sets up the system content and tools from which the other users derive benefit. The information analysts generally come from across an organization's typical functions and are highly demanding users who require rich and highly functional interactive tools to facilitate their jobs as analysts. The last group is by far the largest group and includes employees, partners, customers, and suppliers who rely on the BI implementation to provide timely, secure, and reliable information or corporate truths. This group tends to span the entire corporate ladder from foot soldiers right up to the executive suite—all of whom have the same requirement of simple information provision to enable them to complete their regular day-to-day assignments successfully.

Figure I.4 provides a schematic highlighting the distinction between the different content creation tools and the content delivery tools—BusinessObjects Enterprise, Crystal Reports Server, or Java/.NET reporting engines. This book breaks down into two sections covering these two themes: content creation (Chapters 1–16) and content delivery in all of its possible forms (Chapters 17–21) using some of the Business Objects suite of products.

Figure I.4
Content creation and content delivery schematic.

Content Creators (Information Designers)

Content creators provide the foundation to any BI implementation. This group uses content creation tools such as Crystal Reports, Crystal Xcelsius, Web Intelligence, Desktop Intelligence (formerly BusinessObjects), Excel, and so on. These users—primarily composed of IT folks but sometimes complemented with technically savvy business users—create the report content, dashboards, OLAP cubes, and reporting metadata that facilitates system usage and benefits derived from the other system users. Because these tasks are of paramount importance in an enterprise suite deployment, the entire first half of the book is dedicated to providing these folks with a comprehensive tutorial and reference on content creation using Crystal Reports and Crystal Xcelsius.

After content exists, it is ready for distribution through an infrastructure such as BusinessObjects Enterprise, the new Crystal Reports Server product, or a custom application. Finally, the content requires management. Another small but critical group of BI system users—the BI administrators—need to ensure that the system is deployed and tuned correctly to ensure optimal performance for the business end users.

Information Analysts

Although not the primary group in number, the information analysts in a BI deployment are those who are primarily responsible for the extraction of new business insights and actionable recommendations derived from the BI implementation. Using such analytic tools as Web Intelligence, Crystal Xcelsius, and Excel, these users spend their time interrogating, massaging, and slicing and dicing the data provided in the various back-end systems until they glean nuggets of business relevance. These users tend to come from a wide variety of functional areas in a company, including operations, finance, sales, HR, and marketing and all work with the provided BI tools to extract new information out of the existing corporate data set. Chapters 20 and 21 provide detailed information on using Crystal Xcelsius, and http://www.usingcrystal.com provides information on Web Intelligence and Microsoft Live Office plug-ins.

Information Consumers

This group of users composes the clear majority of those involved with a BI implementation. They are also the most diverse group and come from every rung on the corporate ladder. Executives who view corporate performance dashboards fit into this category, as would truck drivers who receive their daily mileage and shipping reports online through a wireless device. The common characteristic of members of this group is that their interactions with the BI system are not indicative of their primary jobs. Unlike the content creators and information analysts, information consumers have jobs outside of the BI implementation, and the key measure of success for them is that the BI system helps facilitate their variety of assignments. Chapter 17 provides an introduction to the out-of-the-box Crystal Reports Server interfaces.

The Product Family from Business Objects

As Figure I.4 showed, the product family distributed by Business Objects is broken into two major segments: content creation and content delivery. This book is roughly split in two, with each section covering one of the topics in great detail. The primary products in the family covered in these sections are Crystal Reports (first section) and Crystal Reports Server, the Crystal Reports SDKs, and Crystal Xcelsius (second section). The content creation section of the book introduces Crystal Reports version 2008—the world standard for professional formatted reporting across the largest spectrum of data sources. The Crystal Reports Application Designer benefits from more than 15 years of development and provides an unparalleled combination of powerful functionality and report-design flexibility.

The content delivery half of the book covers the following Crystal Products and SDKs:

  • Crystal Reports Server—New since version XI, Crystal Reports Server provides all the functionality of BusinessObjects Enterprise but is limited to a single multi-CPU server and is aggressively priced for small- and medium-sized businesses. This solution is a very attractive option for deploying BI and reporting solutions.

  • Crystal Xcelsius—Xcelsius 2008 is a dynamic and customizable data visualization tool that enables users of different skill levels to create insightful and engaging dashboards from any data source with point-and-click ease. Xcelsius 2008 offers a comprehensive set of new features and integrations with Crystal Reports 2008, making it easy to put the power of dashboards into the hands of business users.

  • Crystal Vision—New to version XI release 2, Crystal Vision provides a combination of the functionality of Crystal Reports Server with the newly acquired Crystal Xcelsius dashboarding functionality.

  • Crystal Reports Engine for.NET Applications—The only third-party tool distributed with Visual Studio.NET, this reporting component enables.NET developers to quickly embed limited but powerful reporting functionality into their.NET applications.

  • Crystal Reports Engine for Java Applications—Embedded in Borland's JBuilder and other Java IDEs, this reporting component enables Java developers to quickly embed limited but powerful reporting functionality into their Java applications.

What Is in This Book

This book is broken down into several sections to address the varied and evolving requirements of the different users in a BI deployment.

The entire first half of the book (Parts I through III) focuses exclusively on content creation with Crystal Reports. Through hands-on step-by-step examples and detailed descriptions of key product functionality, you learn to leverage the powerful report creation capabilities of Crystal Reports v2008. Some profiles of people who find these sections of particular relevance:

  • New and mature Crystal Reports designers

  • Professional Crystal Reports designers upgrading to 2008

  • Existing and new OLAP Intelligence, Web Intelligence, and Desktop Intelligence (formerly Business Objects) designers and analysts

  • Existing and new BusinessObjects Enterprise (formerly Crystal Enterprise) administrators

  • New Crystal Reports Server administrators

The second section of the book (Part IV) focuses on the distribution or delivery of the valuable content created in the first half and additional insights into advanced content creation with Crystal Xcelsius. An introduction to Crystal Reports Server, crystalreports.com, and the offline Crystal Reports Viewer complements a comprehensive introduction to Crystal Xcelsius. This extends with an introduction to the.NET and Java SDKs around Crystal Reports. Some profiles of people who find these sections of high value:

  • New Crystal Reports Server administrators

  • New or existing Crystal Reports Server users

  • .NET-based application developers

  • Java/J2EE-based application developers

  • Application developers looking to integrate report design or modification into their applications

Part I: Crystal Reports Design

Part I should familiarize you with the foundations of Crystal Reports and get you up and running as quickly as possible. It is critical for someone who is new to Crystal Reports and includes the fundamental report design concepts that even experienced users can use for the rest of their Crystal Reports–writing career. This section also provides powerful exercises and real-world usage tips and tricks with which even seasoned reporting experts can become more productive.

Part II: Formatting Crystal Reports

Part II focuses on some of the more subtle nuances of Crystal Report design: effective report formatting and data visualization through charting and mapping. Improper formatting and incorrect use of visualization techniques can make reports confusing and not user friendly. This section also provides powerful exercises and real-world usage tips and tricks, enabling mature reporting experts to become more productive.

Part III: Advanced Crystal Reports Design

Part III presents a host of advanced Crystal Reports design concepts that involve features such as subreports, cross-tabs, report templates, and alerts. This part also touches on advanced data access methods such as JavaBeans, XML objects, SAP, and PeopleSoft systems. The section also provides powerful exercises and real-world usage tips and tricks, enabling mature reporting experts to become more effective in their report design work.

Part IV: Report Distribution and Advanced Report Design with Crystal Xcelsius

Part IV focuses on the different methods of distribution of the Crystal Reports content created in the first three sections. These methods include Crystal Reports Server, crystalreports.com, the.NET and Java SDKs, and the offline Crystal Reports Viewer. This section provides a comprehensive introduction to advanced visualizations and dashboard creation with Crystal Xcelsius.

Equipment Used for This Book

You can find various supporting material that will assist you in the completion of the exercises in this book, as well as supplemental documentation on related topics. You should have access to a computer that has at least a 450MHz Pentium II or equivalent processor, 128MB of RAM, and Windows 2000, Windows 2003, or Windows XP Professional.

Web Resources

You can find all the source code and report samples for the examples in the book, as well as links to great external content, at http://www.usingcrystal.com. You'll find report samples to download and code for you to leverage in your report design and sharing efforts. Also, a great deal of additional product-related information on the Business Objects suite of products including Crystal Reports, Web Intelligence, OLAP Intelligence, Desktop Intelligence, Crystal Reports Server, and BusinessObjects Enterprise can be found at http://www.businessobjects.com.

Intended Audience

This book was written to appeal to the full range of Crystal Reports, Crystal Reports Server, and Crystal Xcelsius users. You'll find this book useful if you've never used the Business Objects suite of products before, if you are a mature Crystal Reports user looking for some new productivity tips, or if you want to explore some of the new features found in version 2008 and their related SDKs.

You don't have to be an expert, but you should have a basic understanding of the following concepts:

  • Database systems such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase, and Informix

  • Operating system functions in Windows 2003/XP/Vista

  • General Internet/intranet-based concepts such as HTML, DHTML, ActiveX, and Java

Parts I through III build on each other, so skipping around those parts isn't the best approach unless you have some familiarity with Crystal Reports 2008. Even if you are familiar with Crystal Reports, many new features have been introduced in recent versions, so you are encouraged to read the entire first three sections of the book so that you don't miss anything. Part IV focuses on the different methods of content delivery, so you can approach each part independently without loss of context.

Requirements for This Book

All reports are based on sample data available from the businessobjects.com website, so you have access to the same data used in this book. You'll need to install Crystal Reports to get the most out of the examples included in each chapter in the first half of the book.

Conventions Used in This Book

Several conventions are used within this book to help you get more out of the text. Look for special fonts or text styles and icons that emphasize special information.

  • Objects such as fields or formulas normally appear on separate lines from the rest of the text. However, there are special situations in which some formulas or fields appear directly in the paragraph for explanation purposes. These types of objects appear in a special font like this: Some Special Code. Formula examples appear on the Sams Publishing website as well.

  • In some cases, I might refer to your computer as a machine or server. This is always in reference to the physical computer on which you have installed Crystal Reports.

  • You'll always be able to recognize menu selections and command sequences because they're implemented like this:


  • Use the File, Open command.

  • New terms appear in italic when they are defined.

  • Text that you are asked to type appears in boldface.

  • URLs for websites are presented like this: http://www.businessobjects.com.

Note - Notes help you understand principles or provide amplifying information. In many cases, a Note emphasizes some piece of critical information that you need. All of us like to know special bits of information that make our job easier, more fun, or faster to perform.

Tip - Tips help you get the job done faster and more safely. In many cases, the information found in a Tip comes from experience rather than through experimentation or documentation.

Sidebar - Sidebars spend more time on a particular subject that could be considered a tangent but will help you be a better Business Objects product user as a result.

Real World sections provide some practical and productivity-enhancing usage insights derived from the author's real-world experience designing and deploying hundreds of Crystal Reports.

Troubleshooting sections provide some quick chapter summary notes and examples that are useful reminders on the product operations.


© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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