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Is it all about Crystal?

Is it all about Crystal?

When EMu reports are mentioned, it seems everybody always talks about Crystal reports. But what exactly are the advantages of Crystal over the other output formats?
Do most users use Crystal reports in your institution?

Thanks for your answers.
Marion

Edited by: - 01-Jan-70 09:00:00

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Re: Is it all about Crystal?

Hi Marion,

They are many advantages to using Crystal report. You can add images, you can create frequency reports on a large number of records, you can create fancy and quick report for the public and also you can share the reports with other users. Once you know how to use Crystal, you won't want to use Excel or Word report. It took me only 15 minutes to create a short report with images and adding the logo from our institution and this was for the managers. We haven't had any type of report requested by our users that we were not able to produce through Crystal.

Annie Laflamme
Canadian Museum of Civilization

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Re: Is it all about Crystal?

>When EMu reports are mentioned, it seems everybody always talks about Crystal reports. But what exactly are the advantages of Crystal over the other output formats?

At CMA, few users actually develop reports of any kind. Crystal is complicated, but the real difficulty, regardless of the output format, is that the users do not sufficiently understand the data structure in EMu. Even selecting the fields to include in the report can be a challenge that most users cannot overcome, even if they know how to work with Crystal.

I've somewhat solved the problem by creating reports that the user can tweak at the time they run the report. Using parameter fields in Crystal, the reports are set up to prompt the user to accept default fields included in the report, or select/deselect fields from the report. They can also type in report titles on the fly using this functionality. In some cases they can select how the report is sorted.

It takes quite a bit of time to develop these reports but it saves infinite amounts of time that I used to spend responding to requests like "I really like report xyz, but I don't want the location field included, and I want to add credit line, and could I have the medium before the measurements, and could it be sorted by number instead of by artist name?" [My fellow report developers must be smiling and nodding as they read this!]

Another distinct advantage to Crystal is being able to massage the data in various ways using formulas, applying conditional formatting to call attention to records meeting certain criteria, and perhaps most of all, grouping objects in as many levels as you want. When a Crystal Report has groups, the user will be able to navigate the report by groups, using the little group tree that is available in the Crystal Report Viewer. Once users discover this feature they wonder how they ever lived without it.

The biggest limitation of Crystal is when one needs to export the data to other formats. In particular, exporting to Word, you have to decide between using the Crystal 8 format (which exports to Word with all of the line spacing and indentation preserved but does not support certain functions such as using memo type fields for grouping, sorting, and formulas) or Crystal 9 and beyond format (which has the memo field functionality but exports to Word using an annoying frames format that makes it all but impossible to edit the document, unless you eliminate the frames and thus lose all of your line spacing and formatting).

I have developed a report that sort of gets around this--when the user runs the report, they get a parameter field prompt asking if the report is destined for Word export, if they say yes, the report inserts a pipe character at key locations in the report; when the user exports the report to Word, they run a macro that eliminates the hideous frames and replaces the pipes with line breaks to quickly restore the formatting. They end up with an easily editable Word document that retains the formatting of the original Crystal report. Perhaps there is an easier way to accomplish this--if you know one, please post it!

Regards,

Will Real
Carnegie Museum of Art

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