Review: Crystal Reports
Crystal Reports V10 Advanced Developer Edition
San Jose, California
Probably most developers have used Crystal Reports in one incarnation or
another by now. As one of the oldest banded report writers around, and
one that's packaged with Visual Studio and Visual Studio .NET, it's got
plenty of market penetration. This significant upgrade is the first
version since Business Objects bought Crystal Decisions as a way to
round out their business reporting platform (for some interesting
reading, check out their Product Roadmap white paper which discusses their plans to combine the two product lines; I wish
more companies would be this diligent about publicizing their
In addition to integrating with VS .NET or running standalone, Crystal
provides for a variety of runtime deployment scenarios, from a reporting
engine that you can bundle with desktop applications, through Web
reports that run directly on your Web server, to a separate reporting
server that communicates with the other tiers of your application
through Web services. Of course you'll find connectivity with a wide
variety of data sources, grouping, sorting, crosstabs, OLAP reports, and
other standard and high-end reporting features here.
Version 10 introduces some significant new developer capabilities. Java
developers will have a much improved experience, thanks to a 100% Java
version of the reporting engine, as well as integration with JBuilder
and BEA WebLogic Workshop. There's also a new custom JSP tag library to
make it easy to integrate reporting with Java applications.
On the .NET side of things, there are a batch of new data sources,
improved and simplified merge modules to ease the pain of deploying
Crystal with your .NET applications, and more export formats. There are
also a bunch of little fit and finish improvements that make working
with the designer easier. For instance, I found the default size for new
fields to be much more reasonable with Crystal 10 than it was with
Crystal 9. The WebForm viewer has been enhanced with extra
With either the Java or .NET solutions, the upgrade to the standalone
reporting server has been streamlined and simplified to a single line of
code (and writing the appropriate check, of course).
Crystal 10 has also paid some attention to making it easier to maintain
a library of reports and quickly develop new reports in your enterprise.
Business Views abstract domain-specific information from a variety of
data sources, and are designed to let your DBA provide an abstraction
layer between the reports and the raw data sources. The Repository,
introduced in version 9, has also been upgraded and made more flexible;
you can store text objects, images, SQL commands, and custom functions
for use across different reports.
Overall, it's nice to see a full release coming so soon after the
Crystal acquisition, as well as clear messaging about the future of the
product. It looks like Crystal Reports will continue to be a viable
player in the enterprise reporting field for a long time to come.
Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.