Crystal Reports Underground News - September 2002 an independent source
for Crystal Reports Information
by Ken Hamady, MS
Contents for September:
9 New Features (Good and Bad)
** Important License Changes in version 9
** Expert on-site training or consulting
** Other small improvements in version 9
** Recommended improvements NOT made in version
** Features removed or made worse in version 9
** Public classes in Leesburg, Baltimore and Philadelphia
** Washington DC Area User Group Meeting
** Does your User Group Board Represent You?
** Dallas-Fort Worth User Group Meeting
** My Quick Reference to Crystal Reports in Visual Basic
** Read back issues at http://www.kenhamady.com/news.html
Crystal Reports Version 9: I have spent a week testing the
v9. Like any new thing it has both good and bad features and
some getting used to. I will not attempt to list every new
Instead I will describe my favorite features, highlight the license
and mention a few of the negative features.
My favorite new features: 1. SQL Commands as a data source
This feature allows you to base a report on any SQL statement that is
supported by your database. Crystal calls them 'commands'.
We can now
write our own UNION statements and we can put parameter fields directly
into the WHERE clause. No more experimenting with selection
to see which translates best. Existing QRY files created with the
SQL designer can still be used, but are no longer needed. The QRY
can be copied into a new command.
2. Custom Functions
With v8.5 developer, you could create custom functions, but you would
have to write and compile them as a DLL. Now anyone that can
write a CR
Formula can create a custom function. If you write lots of
with the same calculations, this is very helpful. I was impressed
how quickly the function "Extractor" could take an existing formula and
it into a generic function.
3. The Repository
This allows you to store and reuse SQL commands, custom functions and
report templates. Everything is stored in a special database,
which can be secured with a password if desired. CRv9 comes with
a sample repository with a few sample commands and functions.
4. Formula Workshop
The Formula Workshop allows you a central place to access and modify
all of the formulas in the report. You can now transfer
expressions from formula fields to formatting conditions, or to a
selection formula, without closing one window and opening
another. It also allows you to quickly identify which formatting
attributes have conditional formulas.
5. 254-Character Limits Removed for Formulas
Crystal v9 has removed 2 significant limitations to formulas.
Memo fields and VarChars over 254 characters can now be processed in
formulas. A formula can also output more than 254
characters. The output limit has jumped to 64,000
characters. This means, for example, that the
special field for "Record Selection Formula" can now print the entire
formula, even if it is very long. It can even be used in String
like any other string value.
6. DrillDownLevel() Function
There are many new functions, but this one is noteworthy. This
function returns a number that changes when you drill down to different
levels. This allows you to conditionally change the format or
visibility of fields and sections as you pass through different levels
of drill down.
Important License changes in v9 Here are some changes that you
not find highlighted in the Crystal marketing material. They are
changes. These are only my opinions, since I am not a
I certainly don't speak for Crystal Decisions. So, read the
for yourself and contact Crystal Decisions if you have the
You can download the full licenses for the professional, developer and
editions from my "Links" Page:
Even though I am not a lawyer, I can read English pretty well. I
have also spoken to several Crystal decisions representatives for
guidance. Here are my initial observations about the v9 license:
1. The Broadcast License is no longer an annual subscription (update on 10/5/2002).
The CRv9 Broadcast License (CRBL) now costs $35,000 regardless of volumeas opposed to the $10,000 or
per year with v8.x. The Broadcast License was introduced with
of Crystal Reports. After an Email dialogue and a conference call
can report that only FULLY automated process are considered
even though the wording of both licenses don't make this clear.
can read more details in the next newsletter at:
Crystal Decisions should be posting a clarification on their web site
2. Client applications must now include Crystal's EULA wording.
Crystal Decisions has plugged a potential loophole in their
license. When programmers distribute the runtime files with their
applications, they have always had to agree to the Crystal EULA (End
User License Agreement). But a user who buys the application has
never been required to agree to
Crystal's EULA. The user agrees to the application's EULA, but
Crystal's. If that user only owns the runtime, and doesn't
Crystal Reports to create any reports, then they have never agreed to
This loophole has been closed in CRv9, clause 4.4.8. A developer
distributing an application with v9 runtime files is now required to
7 paragraphs of text in his application's EULA, and get the user to
3. CE Standard replaced with CE RAS:
CRv8.5 (Pro and Dev Editions) came with a free copy of Crystal
Enterprise Standard. This allowed you to deploy Crystal Reports
on a web server, with 5 concurrent users. It had several web
based deployment methods, including several front-end applications like
CR v9 does not come with Crystal Enterprise Standard. Instead you
get a new 'entry level' product called Crystal Enterprise v9 RAS
Edition. This comes with one front-end application called
If you want to upgrade this to CEv9 Standard or Professional, you have
wait until later in the year.
I have read everything that I can find on RAS, including 2 different
versions of the RAS whitepaper (both have the same file name). I
also talked to several Crystal sales reps. I was told that the
RAS has 3 concurrent "threads" which is at least 3 concurrent
users. This is not written in the documentation anywhere.
Apparently a 4th user gets 'denied'
if the threads are all "doing something", but again there is nothing
written that describes what "doing something" means, like when exactly
this starts or stops.
If you upgrade to the Crystal Reports Advanced Edition, you get the
same 3 RAS threads, but with an added queuing feature. This means
instead of a request getting 'denied' you are put into the queue until
thread becomes available. I was told that the new 'threads' are
to release faster than the older CALs (concurrent access licenses),
a CAL is locked as long as the user is logged in to the
Again, this is not written anywhere so I am not sure how precise this
There is also a processor license available, which allows unlimited
but what this means in terms of the 'threads' is unclear. There
more clarification in the next newsletter at:
There is also one piece of confusion I can clear up. The PDF says
"The Report Application Server
Edition provided in Crystal Reports Professional and
Developer editions is intended
for developing and testing applications.
To deploy your web application,
you may upgrade to the
Advanced Edition for
queuing.....and caching capabilities."
This seems to say that if you go beyond testing to "deploy" even a
small intranet site, you must upgrade to the advanced edition.
reading the wording carefully, reading the license, reading the
Guide and confirming with 2 different Crystal Decisions sales
I am convinced that this is not the correct interpretation. I
the Advanced edition must give you the exact same deployment rights as
Developer edition because both products have the EXACT SAME
The license for both products is contained in a single file called:
"CR 9 Adv and Dev License.pdf"
The license does not make a distinction for deployment between the two
products. The Advanced edition adds queuing, caching and more API
calls. It will be needed in active environments. But, it
not seem to be needed for every deployment. Let me know if you
differently. You can download the RAS whitepaper from the
page on my web site:
Expert On-Site Training or
Consulting: I have personally taught over
satisfied students in more than 30 states. Training on location
my specialty, and I charge about half of the "List Price" for Crystal
Do I know my stuff? Check out the Crystal Reports Forum at
Tek-Tips.com and you will find me listed as the top Crystal Reports
expert out of over
Can I teach? Many students have said that my classes are among
the best technical classes they have taken. Ask to speak to a
recent customer as a reference. Call for more information at
Small improvements in v9: 1. Crystal has finally dropped
confusing distinction between "Subtotal" and "Summary". Now
is a Summary and they are all created in one place. The new
window is much more intuitive.
2. Grouping features (Add, Delete, Change) have always been scattered
in 3 different menu columns. Now they are in one intuitive Group
3. The Visual Linking cursor was always one field below the highlighted
field. If the field was at the top of the table you could easily
your link. The linking cursor is now aligned
4. The menu options for adding and removing tables have been named
poorly, forever. Table management is now all in one central
5. The Export option is now in the File menu column instead of being
hidden under the Print submenu.
6. You can now edit the name of a subreport after it has been inserted.
7. The ProperCase() function has been added as a standard function,
rather than as a downloaded UFL.
8. They fixed the microscopic scroll arrows that you see when you are
trying to link to an existing subreport parameter.
9. The 'additional' functions are now grouped by their Source DLL.
Recommended improvements NOT
in v9: 1. The bug that grew into a
"Field clipping". I have yet to meet one user who ever wanted
feature, and yet it is still the default. If you don't know what
does, see the "bugs and design flaws" page on my web site.
2. They still hide the cross-tab "TopN" feature under the regular TopN
menu item (now called the Group Sort Expert). This should be on
Cross-tab design screen, just like it is for Advanced Charts.
3. "Repeat Group Header" is still a group property, and it should be a
Group Header property in the section expert.
4. In the formula editor, summary functions are listed with an optional
'CondField' argument. People think this means a logical
it really means a group field. Why not call it GroupField?
5. If you use the "Reimport Subreport" feature with a linked subreport,
Crystal will create it's own link and parameter when it
will be in addition to the link and parameter you had in the subreport.
Features removed or made worse
v9: 1. In v8 or v85 you could save an
as a v7 RPT. With v9 you can't save as ANY prior version.
makes CRv9 incompatible with any current release of Crystal Enterprise
2. In all older versions you could shut off 'smart linking'. You
can't any more.
3. We have lost the ability to Convert DateTime fields to Dates as a
global or report option.
4. In non-ODBC reports, you can no longer use the option:
"Link All of one/All of the other"
5. For those who like the report Experts (like me) you can no longer go
back through the Report Expert once you click "Finish".
6. You also can't see all of the steps in the Report Expert at
once. So you can't skip from 'fields' to 'select' or skip back to
an earlier step. You can only go through the steps in
Don't just take a class, learn
a Crystal Expert: Click the "Public Classes" link
Each class is $675 per student.
Or, call for more information at (540) 338-0194.
Washington DC Area Users Group
Meeting: The user group for Washington, DC
have a meeting on 9/24 at the FAA downtown office. If you would
to attend you can sign up on the new user group web site:
This new site allows you to sign up for meetings and also features the
User Group charter and the minutes of the board meetings.
Does your User Board Represent
You? As you can see, the goal of my
is to provide an independent perspective on the Crystal product
I try to highlight the most important positive and negative features
you. However, a recent experience with the DC User Board makes me
if this perspective is out of place at User Group meetings.
According to the charter, printed materials can only be handed out at
meetings if they are approved by the board. So, I submitted a
handout to the board for distribution at the September meeting.
The handout included selected articles from several of my recent
newsletters. I intentionally removed all references to my
consulting and training services. You
can see the original submission (3 pages) at the links below:
My submission was rejected. I was told that to be approved I
1. Rewrite or remove the Certification article (hl2)
2. Rewrite or remove the Broadcast License article (hl3)
3. Remove my Email address and Web site from all pages
My Email address (for subscribing) and my web site link (to back
issues) were considered "selling". I consider that a very strict
interpretation. But, it was the reason given for rejecting the
articles that surprised me. I was told that the articles could:
'be interpreted as disparaging to Crystal Decisions
which violates the "spirit" of the User
So, I removed all 3 items and received the board's approval. And,
I appreciate the time the board spent considering my submission, since
that this is a subjective area. But, the threshold they have set
to leave very little room for an independent perspective or even for
If you are part of any User Group and have an opinion on this I would
appreciate hearing from you. I would also like to encourage you
to become active in your user group. There are three ways for you
to get involved in the DC Area Group:
1. Meet and communicate with your board members.
2. Submit amendments to the charter if you feel they are
3. Run in the first board election to be held in about 9
If you send me a proposed amendment, or a nomination for the board, I
will consider posting it in my newsletter to share with other
Dallas User's Group Meeting: The Dallas-Fort Worth user group
also having a meeting this month on September 17th. It will be at
Boeing plant in Irving. They are featuring a presentation by
Peck, a well known Crystal expert and author. Their web
I like the approach of the DFW group. Their web site includes
links to independent Crystal resource sites, like Tek-Tips.com.
They also link to independent consultants like myself. The DFW
group recently allowed an Independent Crystal Consultant (one of my
students from long
ago) to present 3rd Party utilities at their meeting. Visit their
site if you are interested in attending.
VB Quick Reference Guide: If you need to incorporate
Reports into a VB application, you should get my Quick Reference
It gives an overview of the integration methods, with syntax examples
the most important commands. It comes with source code examples,
a sample report viewer. It is only $16 and can be Emailed to you
24 hours. Follow the link below for more details:
http://www.kenhamady.com/vbref.html Contact Information Ken Hamady, MS
525K East Market St. PMB 299
Leesburg, VA 20176
Copyright 2002 by Ken Hamady
All rights reserved - Republishing this material requires written