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Posts Tagged ‘Crystal Reports’

SAP Runs Crystal Reports

December 15th, 2011 8 comments

Say it loud, Say it proud

With the latest development of SAP Business Suite Enhancement Pak 5, SAP users can now enjoy the rich, flexible formatting functionality right from within the application.

ALVs Get An Upgrade

For many years, users have been limited in their ability to provide formatted reporting from an SAP ALV (ABAP List Viewer).  Users could do basic sorting, grouping and filter, but that was about it.  Now the output from an ALV can be pushed directly into a Crystal Report using the new Crystal Reports ALV Adapter.

This solution is currently available for ALV Grid (SAP GUI ALV) and for Web Dynpro ABAP ALV.  ALV List and ALV Classic are not supported.  In my case, I will be running an SAP GUI ALV.

Using the Crystal Reports ALV Adapter

Before installing the adapter you need to be running Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 or above.  In addition, because I will be running ALVs run directly within the SAP GUI, I must have also installed SAP GUI 7.10 or above.

Downloading the Adapter

One of the hardest things about installing the adapter is finding in the Service Marketplace. Here is a screenshot of the location

Personally, I recommend searching for it.  Here is how I found it:

From the search screen, search for CR ADD-ON

Software Search Screen

Search for CR ADD-ON

You should see CR ADD-ON FOR BS APPS 1.0 come back in the search results.  This is what you want.

Search Results

Once you select CR ADD-ON FOR BS APPS 1.0, you will be able to download the ZIP archive file.

Service Marketplace Software Download

After extracting the application you will see the xSAPCRVAdpt.exe, which is what we will be installing.

Installing the Adapter

Begin the installation by double-clicking on the install file, xSAPCRVAdpt.exe.

Here we will see the Crystal Reports ALV Adapter ready to be installed.

After choosing Next, the installation will begin:

After a few minutes you should see the following message, which indicates the installation was successful.

Configuring the Adapter

The final step after installing the adapter is telling Business Suite to allow Crystal Reports to be used with ALVs.

We need to use tcode, SALV_GUI_CUST

Here we want to make sure we Allow Crystal Reports to be an option.

Next we need to use tcode, SALV_WD_CUST to go into the Web Dynpro Settings

Here we want to make sure we Allow Crystal Reports to be an option.

Testing the Adapter

You can use any ALV Grid (SAP GUI ALV) or Web Dynpro ABAP ALV for testing.  In my case, I’m going to use the t-code KSB1, Display Actual Cost Line Items for Cost Centers.

Note that at the end of the input screen, I select the layout for this report.  This is important because with Enhancement Pak 5, you can save Layouts that leverage Crystal Reports.

Here are the default results in an ALV Grid:

Pretty boring, eh?

Choose the Change Layout Icon

Under the View tab you can change the Preferred View to Crystal Reports.  This will cause the data to be sent to a Crystal Report using the SAP_GenericTemplate.rpt.

Now you can see the output in a Crystal Report.

Modifying the Crystal Report

We first need to get a copy of the report, so we will chose the option “Export Report”.

Export to Crystal Report

By selecting this option, I will be presented with a dialog box which will allow me to Save the Report to my hard drive.  At first, I found this button confusing because I expected it to work like it does in standard Crystal Reports and ask me if I wanted to export the report in PDF.  It left me wondering how I would go about exporting the results to PDF if I wanted to.  Hmm.

NOTE:  Once the report is exported, you can make changes to it using
Crystal Reports 2011, since at the time of this writing Crystal Reports
for Enterprise does not support direct data connectivity.  Also this template
was created in the pre-Crystal Reports 9 format; therefore you could modify
these reports with older versions of Crystal Reports.

When you open the report to modify it, you will see that the data is being pushed into the report via an ADO.NET (XML) database connector.  This means that this report cannot be refreshed from within Crystal Reports during the report modification process.

Rather than showing you the details about how to modify a Crystal Report, I will simply assume that after exporting the report, you have been able to make a number of changes to suit your needs and are ready to load those changes into the SAP List Viewer.

Select your update report from the dialog box:

After after being imported successfully:

… the new report layout will appear on the screen

Saving the Layout for Future Use

Now that we’ve got the new report loaded, we would like choose this view or layout.  SAP accommodates this.  All you need to do is save the layout under a new name by following the prompts in the Save Layout dialog:

In my case I named my new report layout /ZCRKSB1

After the layout has been saved, users can reference it from the Setting section of the original SAP List Viewer prompt screen.  Under the last section, Settings the user can change the default layout by selecting the layout of their choice.

Summary

For many years now, we’ve been talking to customers and partners about the value of embedded analytics.  Now we are finally beginning to see they rolled out in earnest.  Not only is Crystal Reports now embedded directly into SAP Business Suite, but SAP Dashboards (aka Xcelsius) are being provided out of the box for HR, Finance and other key areas.

The only drawback of embedded analytics today is the lack of built-in intelligence about how to navigate the data.  In the SAP List Viewer today, if you click on a column, the List Viewer is intelligent enough to drill to the associated supporting document.  But even with this limitation, there is still real value in better reporting from SAP Business Suite.

«Good BI»

Welcome To Crystal Reports for Enterprise

August 30th, 2011 17 comments

So has everyone see the new interface for Crystal Reports?  If not, you’re missing out.  SAP BusinessObjects v4.0 includes a brand new version of Crystal Reports called, Crystal Reports for Enterprise.  This version of Crystal is new in BusinessObjects v4.0 introduces the new tabbed user interface which has been rolled out to all the client tools.

Crystal Reports 2011 and Crystal Reports for Enterprise are both available in BusinessObjects v4.0.

You may be asking:  What is the difference between Crystal Reports 2011 and Crystal Reports for Enterprise?  That’s a great question.

In short, Crystal Reports 2011 is the legacy Crystal Reports 2008 with a few new features.  Crystal Reports for Enterprise is the future of Crystal Reports… and here’ s why it makes sense to have two versions.

The Crystal Reports development team wanted to make sure there was absolutely zero disruption to the use of existing Crystal Reports.   Customers are always #1.  It’s all about allowing customers customers and partners to continue to leverage their Crystal Reports investments, while at the same time laying out a future direction for the product.   Those 1B+ Crystal Reports need to keep running.

The new, future direction means delivering the best possible connectivity to the new semantic layer in SAP BusinessObjects v4.0, together will a new charting engine and much, much more.  As a result, they also released the distinct, next generation version of Crystal Reports called, Crystal Reports for Enterprise.

Version Comparison

Crystal Reports 2011 – All legacy Crystal reports 2008 functionality with read-only report format (.rptr), export to Excel workbook data only (.xlsx), integration with Visual Studio 2010 and integration for WPF apps.

Crystal Reports for Enterprise – Next generation Crystal Reports Designer with streamlined user interface, new charting engine, updated report design, connectivity to the new semantic layer (unx), platform driven alerts and 64-bit processing on the server (although the designer is still native 32-bit).

NOTE:  For all new features please see the
release notes.

Result – This gives customers the best of both worlds.  Both versions of Crystal Reports can run side-by-side on the same desktop client.  The associated processing servers and job servers can also run side-by-side on the same server.  Zero disruptions – tons of new capabilities.

Configuring Crystal Report for Enterprise

The biggest challenge I ran into when first using Crystal Reports for Enterprise was getting connected to my CMS.  I had no idea how to configure my server connections.

1.  When you start Crystal Reports for Enterprise you will see this:

2.  Next you will need to connect to your BusinessObjects Enterprise repository (to access the semantic layer).  Choose File -> Log On to SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise

3.  You can save connections to multiple repositories.  Lets configure the first server connection by clicking on the box to the right of the Server Connections field.

4.  Enter in the following fields.  Note that the Server Context must be entered as /dswsbobje.  After entering the fields, make sure you can test the connection.

If you have a proxy server in play, make sure that this is configured correctly in Internet Explorer.  Crystal Reports for Enterprise will leverage this configuration when attempting to talk to the server.

5.  After entering the fields you should see an entry similar to the following screen:

Click to see a full size view

6.  You should now be able to connect to your repository and begin building content off any of the new UNX semantic layer definitions you have created.  Make sure and play with the new charting engine and report layout controls.  See how much easier it is to drag, drop and align fields onto the workspace.

Future of Two Crystal Reports Versions

More good news.  Within a relatively short time frame, the Crystal Reports teams plans to bring all the capabilities on the classic Crystal Reports 2008/2011 version into Crystal Reports for Enterprise.  So I don’t expect we will have two versions of Crystal Reports for very long.  Here are a list of some of the things that are NOT in the initial release of Crystal Reports for Enterprise v4.0:

  • No direct data support (ODBC/JDBC, etc)
  • No direct OLAP support (other than BEx Queries)
  • No Live Office support
  • No Enterprise Search
  • API/SDK Gaps

These are all the major things that will need to be added before Crystal Reports for Enterprise becoming the only version of Crystal Reports in the BusinessObjects Suite.

P.S.  I love the new abbreviation for Crystal Reports for Enterprise, it’s cr4e.   Very Cute.

«Good BI»

SAP BusinessObjects Demos on YouTube…

September 15th, 2009 No comments

I’m amazed at how easy it is to find information these days.  Today I decided to do a follow-up post based on my most recent WebIntelligence demo post.  After a little searching around and I found a number of demos that had been posted by David Collins Dixon onto Youtube.  David has written a number of books about the SAP Business Information Warehouse (or BW for short).

SAP Integration Demos

Here are the list of demos:
http://www.youtube.com/user/davidcollinsdixon

Crystal Reports Demo leveraging SAP Hierarchies (No AUDIO)

David does an especially nice job with the Crystal Reports demo and shows you how to use the Hierarchy Node so Crystal Reports can properly leverage your SAP Hierarchy definition.

Xcelsius Demos

There are also a couple of demos from the guys at Everything Xcelsius:
http://www.youtube.com/user/XcelsiusGurus

If you find any SAP BusinessObjects videos that you think others would benefit from, just add links to them in a posted comment.

«Good BI»

Embedding Web Controls into your Crystal Reports

March 28th, 2009 6 comments

Bringing Together HTML Controls and Crystal Reports

Every once in a while I get a chance to present in a forum or user group and show some new amazing capabilities in the product suite. Last year I had the chance to demonstrate WebElements. WebElements is a collection of Crystal functions which generate HTML.

An easy to use library of functions for Crystal Reports designers who are also using the BusinessObjects platform:

  • Designed by a report designer for report designers
  • Embed different kinds of controls for report consumers
  • Easily distributed as an .rpt file to other report designers
  • Small in size, less than 60k unzipped
  • Automated installation
  • Expandable and customizable and code can be shared

Since Microsoft Reporting Services provides easy to use drop-down parameters, more and more customers are asking for the ability to embed web controls into their Crystal Reports. Now with Webelements we can add radio buttons, list boxes, drop-down selectors, action buttons, etc. In fact, Jamie Wiseman, the original creator of WebElements has a lot of great samples you can download from the Business Objects Diamond Developer website.  You can also search and find information about WebElements off the SDN website here.

Watch a 60 minute webinar on webelements now!

WebElements Webinar

Get started now by downloading the WebElements Custom Function Library here.

Next time I’ll discuss mashups and the new viewer JavaScript SDK in BusinessObjects XI 3.0.

BusinessObjects XI 3.1 Features

October 22nd, 2008 38 comments

I haven’t seen a lot of information available that talks about what’s new in the release of the latest version, BusinessObjects XI 3.1, so I thought I would point out some of the highlights I’ve come across.  You may also want read the complete What’s New in BusinessObjects XI 3.1 guide from the website.

Release Highlights

BusinessObjects XI 3.1 is a release that is focused on bringing parity to our platform support for both Java and .NET.  In BusinessObjects XI 3.0 we did not provide a .NET version of our standard BI portal, InfoView.  In BusinessObjects XI 3.1 we have released a native .NET portal which has near parity with the Java version.  I say near parity, because there are a few things missing, namely:

  • Encyclopedia
  • Dashboard Builder
  • Voyager
  • BI Mobile
  • Polestar

For companies who find comfort in an all Microsoft World, this release will be welcomed.  BusinessObjects XI 3.1 has added support for Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Sharepoint Portal Server 2007.  (There is also Microsoft Active Directory Forest Support as well!)  If you are using the SAP Integration Kit, this is also now available on the .NET platform.

Web Application Container Service

One of the way in which BusinessObjects has been able to balance both rich feature sets and cross platform compatibility is through the introduction of a new server to the BusinessObjects Platform.  This service is called the WACS, Web Application Container Service, and is a java container.  What this allows BusinessObjects to do is to run existing java applications through the BusinessObjects framework.

Let me explain how this will work in practice.  The BusinessObjects Administration Console, the CMC, is written in Java.  Instead of rewritting this application in .NET, BusinessObjects simply added the WACS to the BusinessObjects service bus and will execute application via this service.  The beauty of this solution is that the .NET administrator never has to worry about it.  BusinessObjects manages everything.

What other Applications can use the WACS?

Besides the CMC, there are a number of other applications that could within the WACS.  This includes:

  • Interactive DHTML Viewer for WebIntelligence
  • Query as a Web Service (for supporting Xcelsius)
  • LiveOffice

There is an important document that covers what is supported and what is not supported within the WACS framework.  In theory all native java-based aspects of the BusinessObjects application suite could be run through the WACS but the question is whether or not it is officially supported.  This document is called:  Web Application Container Server (WACS): Supported and Unsupported Features for BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1and it explains the details.  You can download it here.

Additional Platform Enhancements

BusinessObjects XI 3.1 supports IPv6 100% across the product suite (except for Desktop Intelligence).  They have also added their first native 64-bit architecture.  Since BusinessObjects XIr2 SP3, the platform has been able to run on 64-bit operating systems however the platform still runs as a 32-bit application.  The first native 64-bit release is an the HP-UX IA-64 Itanium hardware.

Life Cycle Manager

Life Cycle Manager, LCM for short, s a web-based utility that allows the administrator to:

  • Promote BI content from one system to another (without affecting the dependencies of the content)
  • Manage dependencies of BI content
  • Manage different versions of BI content
  • Roll back (yahoo!) promoted BI content

This tool does not install with the platform, but is a separate install.

“So isn’t that what the Import Wizard is for?”, you may be asking?  Well, certainly the import wizard has been used to provide this type of functionality in the past – especially with the introduction of BIAR files in BusinessObjects XI; however I think you’ll see from the list of features in LCM, it is better to have a specialized tool for the LCM process.

Life Cycle Manager provides a number of features over the Import Wizard (besides rollback) including:

  • Granular control over the objects selected (yes, we trust you)
  • Scheduling Promotions Jobs (a job is a collection of BI content or InfoObjects to be precise)
  • Integrated Version Control (via Subversion)
  • Database connection overrides and mapping (Tired of changing database connection strings?)
  • Auditing
  • The ability to “preview” to changes before committing them
  • Rollback, Did I mention rollback?

There is a new LCM Job server which has been added to the platform to manage the promotion process.

Have you ever created a BIAR file and realized you missed a file?  Now with LCM you can save your Promotion job and use it to generate a BIAR file.  If you find that something is missing, you can simply open up the promotion job , select the missing objects and regenerate the BIAR file.

BIAR ≠ BIAR

When is a BIAR file not a BIAR file?  Well, with the LCM tool, the BIAR files which are generated by the LCM tool are LCMBIAR files.  As the name indicates, the LCMBIAR files are NOT compatible with the BIAR files used with the Import Wizard.  Bummer.

Voyager

Voyager was the other biggie.  A lot of work was put into providing interface enhancements and increased performance.  This is probably the last release before the eagerly anticipated release of “Pioneer” in 2009, which will combine Voyager’s intuitive user interface with the powerful OLAP capabilities of the BEx OLAP tools.

Voyager now has a number of new visualizations including Box-Plot, Scatter, Bubble and Radar charts.    There are also a number of features that were in OLAP Intelligence, which were missing in earlier versions of Voyager, namely, Exception highlighting, URL Linking to other BI Content and Favorite Groups.

Have you ever made a mistake when building a Voyager workspace?  Well, now you have full undo/redo capabilities.  After being so used to the undo/redo capabilities in WebIntelligence, I always found the missing feature extremely annoying and I’m sure other did to.

Fly Over Of Additional Features

Rather than talk about additional features in detail, I thought I would briefly mention some of them here and perhaps in the future I can blog about them in detail if there is interest.

Semantic Layer -Support for BEGIN_SQL, Prompt support for codes AND descriptions.

Crystal Reports – Dual Monitor support, flash printing to PDF.

WebIntelligence -Support for Extension Points, Auto-Save, RelativeValue(), Multi-Pass Bursting

SAP Integration – SNC for BusinessObjects Universes (Prior to XI 3.1, this was only available for Crystal Reports), Improve Prompt Support for Hierarchy and Hierarchy Node dependencies.

Dashboard Builder – Printing, Interportlet Communication

Summary

There are some good things that have come out in this latest release.  This release is also the latest ‘reset point’ for BusinessObjects XI 3.X maintenance, so you can expect fix packs for XI 3.0 to no longer be released.

Hope you found this information useful.  I’ve tried to keep it short and sweet.

«Good BI»