One of my projects is to maintain application which creates export files off the Crystal Reports reports. There is a little post about my experience migrating to CR 2008.
Just a little background
I am using Crystal Reports since 1997. As you can see it has been a long time. It was and is the primary platform for me to create and maintain reports. Just to be fair, it is not the only platform I am using. Over the years as a developer (Delphi/C#/ASP) I have tried many different reporting solutions: PRT, text, Crystal Reports 6 through 2008, ReportBuilder, RAVE, MS Reporting Services, ad-hoc reports using Windows canvas, HTML, etc. It is always fun.
But for some time I am advocating use of CR in regular development.
To start with, CR is a industry standardized product and can be utilized in many different environments (Visual Studio, Delphi IDE, COM, HTML, etc) and evolution of the product has gone a long way – you can find a lot of information about the product, about how to use and deploy it.
What always struck me was that even though a product is widely used, there is always some small details which you need to know when it comes to use, integration or deployment. One would think that everything should be smooth, but things are still happening with every new version.
As I mentioned earlier, I am maintaining the project which was written in C# (VS 2003) and was utilizing Crystal Reports 8.5 (yes, that old).
I have finally got “go for it” to move everything to VS 2008 and CR 2008.
Now brace yourself…
Dos, and don’ts
As you can see, we have to install a new software (ideally removing old versions first and cleaning up “dead wood” after). Then…
First of all, prepare to spend some time and figure out why initial installation does not work. It just doesn’t (see below).
If you’ve got a new media with CR 2008, make sure that you have CR 2008 with SP0 (yes, it is a SP”zero”).
If you don’t, then do not even bother to install it. Instead, get an updated version.
Visual Studio 2008 comes with CR 2008 Basic edition which comes with v.10 assemblies for CR support. After installing regular CR 2008 on top of it you would most likely have a problem since version you would want to use is actually version 12 (and it is available for you), but even though it would be there it would not work properly in VS (read more here).
This is where you need CR 2008 with SP0 – when installed, it will actually clean up the mess and resolve issue with versions and will leave you with proper one only – version 12.
If you did not get media with SP0 or you do not have time to wait for it to arrive, there is a place to download it. It is not trivial to find on the SAP’s web-site (BusinessObjects are now part of SAP), Julie Lerman’s blog post would be of big help to you – read it, follow the steps, or just download proper version from SAP web-site.
To advertise a little bit more, Julie has some other articles available at ASPAlliance:
You could also obtain SP0 via auto-update CR feature, but I have had experienced some strange problems with ti where setup would stop in the middle and not finish properly. Plus, you do not have to install a product just to find out that you have to reinstall it (suggested update is a full setup). And after all you may need to uninstall everything after you download an update.
Ready, set, go
OK, now you have a proper version to work with. But before you install it, please make sure you have installed support for CR 2008 in VS 2008 (remember a famous Basic edition?). You need VS templates from it. CR 2008 would have installed/replaced some of them but not all of them come with CR 2008.
Now everything would work nicely in VS 2008 for you.
This is a first post in this category and I am going to post more about other useful things on use of CR 2008 in your applications. Stay tuned.