Crystal Reports: A Best In Breed Reporting Tool
Updated November 04, 2014

Crystal Reports: A Best In Breed Reporting Tool

Stephanie Huber | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version

For Enterprise 4.1

Overall Satisfaction with Crystal Reports

Crystal Reports for Enterprise 4.1 is the tool of choice for pixel perfect, highly formatted reports. As of the release of Crystal Reports for Enterprise for 4.1, it supports SQL commands as a data source and it can connect to relational data sources, SAP BEx queries via the BICS connectivity as well as BusinessObjects UNX universes, which is the semantic layer that BusinessObjects offers to sit between the data source and the front end reporting tools. The difference between this tool and other reporting tools offered by SAP, such as WebIntelligence, is that Crystal is record and section oriented. It's designed to return a single dataset as opposed to blocks of data at different levels of aggregation. However, if you wan to include an additional dataset in the same report, a subreport can be imported into the main report. Subreports can be linked to the data in the main report or it can be unlinked and return an completely unrelated dataset. The linking is handled when importing the subreport into the main report. Crystal can also handle very large volumes of data very well as its processing engines are optimized to do so. Although Crystal is known to produce static reports, interactivity can easily be added with the use of parameters. Parameters are prompts to the end user which can be used to filter datasets, change the database field that report data is grouped on, modify a threshold used for conditional formatting, or conditionally show or suppress sections to produce entirely different layouts of the same report. Where Crystal really shines is in its capacity to produce truly pixel perfect reports that can adhere to the most rigorous of corporate formatting standards. I have yet to be on a project where I could not use Crystal to achieve end user reporting requirements. Albeit we may have gotten crafty with the solution as the requirement was not supported out of the box, but there is always a way. I am confident to recommend this tool to organizations that require highly formatted reports, make heavy use of BusinessObjects publications for report bursting to end users, and have a development team that understands basic relational database concepts. Also, SAP has Crystal Reports in their roadmap so support and R&D into this tool is not going away any time soon, giving me more confidence in this already powerful tool.
  • Formatting.
  • Ability to dynamically change the report layout via parameters.
  • Handle large volumes of data.
  • Provides the best connectivity with SAP datasource as well as relational datasource.
  • Good stability when used in BusinessObjects publications for report bursting to end users.
  • A report can connect to other BusinessObjects content via OpenDocument URLs.
  • You cannot freeze panes in the Crystal Reports viewer.
  • There is no lightweight web based version of the tool for development; it is a local installation application and all changes must be sent to the development team.
  • The version of Crystal must stay in sync with your version of BusinessObjects otherwise flakiness and product instability may occur.
WebIntelligence is a good reporting tool that offers good online interactivity. WebIntelligence also offers a web based design application so reports can be modified on the fly. BusinessObjects Explorer and SAP Lumira are the good tools for ad hoc analysis and slicing and dicing data. None of these products however are meant to produce true reports such as Income Statements, Purchase Orders, and other customer facing documents. Crystal also offers the largest variety of export options.
Crystal is a best in breed reporting tool. No other tool can compete in terms of produce highly formatted reports.
If you need free standing blocks of data at different levels of aggregation, Crystal is not your tool. If the end user want to slice and dice the data on the fly, Crystal is not your tool. If you want to produce beautiful looking reports that support limited online interactivity and can be bursted to large populations, Crystal is your tool.