Crystal Reports Sucks (can't navigate except for the VCR controls)

rcouret
rcouret used Ask the Experts™
on
Crystal reports is not working out.  I have been using Crystal Reports for Visual Studio.NET for the last year, and while it does make it easy to categorize, print and export to .pdf - it also seems to lack any innovation when it comes to navigation.  I know my users do not want to scroll through 100's of pages of reports using only the vcr controls.  The simplest built in kepboard shortcuts would make it so much easier to work with, but PAGE UP & PAGE DOWN does nothing, CTRL PAGE UP & CTRL PAGE DOWN does nothing and UP, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT does nothing (even after I deliberately set the Focus to the Crystal Report Viewer (using C#))

Anyway, I suppose if anyone has any idea how to make Crystal Reports do some kind of keyboard navigation (using Crystal Report Viewer in C#) that would be the easiest solution.  But since all the forums i read on the subject have been bad news - I guess the real question is, where do I go from here?  There has to be a better report generation tool out there, since Crystal Reports for Visual Studio.NET does not seem to be all that great.
Comment
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
MIKESoftware Solutions Consultant
Top Expert 2006

Commented:
Business Objects XI and Crystal Reports XI are the PREMIER business intelligence tools on the market today. Perhaps you may not have the experience or opportunity to delve deep into all of the data intelligence capabilities that this product offers.

What version of Crystal are you using and what are you wanting to do?

Navigating using a keyboard is not advanced and you could find a ad-hoc tool that may be able to help you out. MS EXCEL is one that comes to mind first.

But if you want to do some very advanced query and analysis (Business Intelligence) Nowhere else to go but Business Objects XI / Crystal Reports XI.

What say ye....?

MikeV
If you do a good job with your drill down, then you should never have to leaf through hundreds of pages.  Also you can use ctrl+f (find) to look for what you need.

Author

Commented:
I dont know what version it is, it came with Visual Studio.NET 2003, and in the Help About it says Crystal Reports for Visual Studio .NET

You say that navigating with a keyboard is not advanced, but there has not been one article with a solution on how to accomplish this that I have read.   I am not sure what you mean by using MS Excel - as I dont see a relation between crystal reports and Excel...  Unless you mean just make the report in excel - which is a good idea but it would not feel like it is part of the program I am developing.

I dont really need to do any more advanced query and analysis then I am already doing with Crystal Reports, and I am satisfied with how the report looks - I just cant stand that there is very little a programmer can do to modify its behavior especially when all I want to do is be able to use the keyboard to look at the report.

Amazon Web Services

Are you thinking about creating an Amazon Web Services account for your business? Not sure where to start? In this course you’ll get an overview of the history of AWS and take a tour of their user interface.

MIKESoftware Solutions Consultant
Top Expert 2006

Commented:


You are the one that controls HOW your final report looks. So if you want to have the ability to DRILL DOWN..or...display a PIE CHART whereby you CAN Click on the piece of pie and it drill down to another chart..or to detail..then you are in control of that as this is all based on how YOU create the report.

I'm not sure what you are asking, but if you have some specific report creation questions, I'm sure we could help out.

What kind of report do you have created and what are you wanting it to do.

I think your problem stems from the fact that you may be using a VIEWER and may be limited in what you can do once a report is created?

Need more info..

Thanks
MikeV
Kurt ReinhardtSr. Business Intelligence Consultant/Architect

Commented:
A high-level solution would be to generate the report in .pdf format...

~Kurt

Author

Commented:
Yes, exactly...   I have a form in my program with a CRViewer control in it - and the report is created dynamically using a single dataset that queries the most recent data,    Is that the wrong way to go about it?
Kurt ReinhardtSr. Business Intelligence Consultant/Architect

Commented:
frodoman or mlmcc can probably give more information on generating the report in .pdf format.  I'm not a programmer, but that's what I recommend you do to alleviate your issue.

~Kurt
Commented:
Hi rcouret,

I won't disagree with you about the navigation within the Crystal Viewer - it *is* a PITA to page forward and back but this sounds like a case where you can design an alternative that will work better.

First, consider if you really need a 1000 page report.  I hate to generalize, but is any user really going to be able to make any effective use of a report this size?  As a general consideration, what I would probably do is to build some parameters into your report to filter the data down to specifically what each user wants to see.  You can then build a page in your .net application that will present the parameters to the user (this could be a series of dropdowns and textboxes or maybe just a few radio buttons for common options, etc.).  Your application can then pass the parameters to Crystal and return a subset of your data that better matches what the user really needs.

Second, consider the information presented in the report.  Are you showing a lot of information that isn't always needed but you have it there just in case?  This is a prime candidate for on-demand subreports which allow you to hide details behind links to subreports.  You can often show a much more concise report with high level details and have the more granular data hidden in a subreport that will only execute when (if) the user clicks the link to indicate they want to see it.

Finally, after implementing one or both of these suggestions if you still have too large a report then exporting to another format may be a viable option.  I prefer PDF myself because of the consistent presentation and the excellent search capabilities of the latest version of Acrobat Reader.  When I need to deliver a long report I always export it to PDF for exactly this reason.

This is general information - if you need more specific help with any/all of these suggestions just let me know.

frodoman
Ido MilletProfessor of MIS at Penn State Erie and Owner, Millet Software

Commented:
This problem (and I agree it's a glaring problem in prior versions) is fixed in Version XI.  Both Crystal XI as well as viewer applications built with Crystal XI runtime components respond to Page-Up & Page-Down as expected.

- Ido

Author

Commented:
Awwww $315 upgrade to be able to use the keyboard - It will be difficult to convince my boss of that one.  

Is there a .pdf report generator that can integrate with .NET?  What is it called?  That sounds like a very viable option since we usually export the crystal reports to .pdf anyways for storing/printing purposes.
Ido MilletProfessor of MIS at Penn State Erie and Owner, Millet Software

Commented:
You can upgrade and even buy the full version for less than that.  See: http://kenhamady.com/cru/archives/37

I think there are a couple of other good reasons to stick to Crystal but it doesn't sound like you are in the mood.  

Best wishes.

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial