Getting started with Crystal Reports 2008

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.

Starting point

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.

Reason?

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.

Where?

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.

Future writing

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.

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4 thoughts on “Getting started with Crystal Reports 2008”

  1. julie lerman says:

    Hi Serge – you too huh? I think you may have been using Crystal for a year longer than me! 🙂

    If it’s any help, I wrote two short articles for ASPAlliance about this also.

    Here’s most the recent one. http://aspalliance.com/articleviewer.aspx?aId=1744

    LIke I always say about Crystal – can’t live iwth it, can’t live without it!

    julie

  2. Hi, Julie
    Thank you for the link. I have glanced through the article. Good reference.
    Going over “Avoiding the mess…” part, I can compare my expereince in last two days – 2 uninstalls to clean up after CR XI and then after CR 2008 and 3 installs to finally have 2008 working. This does not include Visual Studio… 🙂

  3. dat says:

    Hi Serge,
    this may be out dated but I will try anyway.
    I am new to CR2008, our company just purchase it for a project that we will be using with FoxPro 9.  Our application is written in FoxPro 9,  I need to launch CR2008 using FoxPro to print reports that are setup in CR2008.  I am trying to find the CR2008 print commands (similar to DOS commands) so I can use it with FoxPro but cannot find it anywhere.  Or I may be asking the wrong question.   Any suggestions is greatly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance

    dat

  4. Hi dat,
    it is a question of integration and most likely you may not want to deploy whole CR to all the clients machines, but rather worry only about printing part.
    I do not recall native support of command line parameters by CR IDE, but I could be wrong.
    There are however programs around which are doing just that: View/Print.
    There is now a free CR Viewer 2008 available (release notes). I think it does support print command. I have not used it myself for that purpose, since we are managing homegrown solution over the years based of Visual Studio .Net CR (2008) SDK, but it may worth to check. Also there are small tools around which were developed for this purpose. You can try Bing for it.

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    From being a junior developer all the way to Development Manager position, I was always interested in new technologies. Passionate speaker, IT junky, developer, architect, team lead, and development manager - many hats, one goal - making software better and closer to people’s needs. For the most part I am using my blog as a scratch pad, writing small articles on things which I came across, was asked about more then once, and which would otherwise require additional research again and again.

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