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Export crystal report to PDF with bookmarks without refreshing data

Posted on 2014-03-13
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Last Modified: 2014-03-15
I use an ERP system that uses Crystal Reports. It will not create bookmarks when exporting to PDF but it will export a RPT file with the data saved. Using the full version of Crystal Reports, I can export the file to PDF with bookmarks being created. I'm trying to create a way for our internal users to do the same thing with a free program.

I've tried SAP's viewer but it won't create bookmarks when exporting to PDF.
I've tried several C# and asp.net solutions using the Crystal Reports interface. However, everything I find in c# performs a refresh on the report before exporting. This doesn't work as the report uses temp tables that are cleared immediately after the report is run.

Is there any way to export without refreshing the report first?

Any other ideas other than buying full versions of Crystal Reports for each of my users that need this functionality?
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Question by:HunterIT
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by:Lee Ingalls
Lee Ingalls earned 167 total points
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I use EasyView for viewing Crystal Reports. Multiple export formats, automatic report scheduler, saveable parameters, etc. Very inexpensive and functional.

http://www.easystreetsoftware.net/Products/EasyView_Main.php
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by:mlmcc
mlmcc earned 166 total points
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Exporting runs the report again so I don't believe there is any way around that problem.

Visual Cut from Millet Software can be used to add bookmarks to PDF files
http://www.milletsoftware.com/Visual_CUT.htm

mlmcc
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by:Ido Millet
ID: 39927877
Visual CUT also has an option to export the report but use saved data...  :o)
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vasto earned 167 total points
ID: 39927905
R-Tag (http://www.r-tag.com/Pages/default.aspx) is able to run report and export it to a PDF with bookmarks without refreshing it . You can use either the scheduler or the viewer to do this. If  the report has saved data, paying for a scheduler doesn't make any sense so the cheaper viewer will be a better solution.

Oh , and they were offering one free viewer per company . Don't know if this offer is still valid.
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by:HunterIT
ID: 39928059
Thanks for the comments everyone. Will try some of these suggestions and update once I find one that meets the requirements I listed.
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by:HunterIT
ID: 39930677
Found a great, low cost report viewer at http://www.thereportviewer.com.

Thanks for all the help.
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by:vasto
ID: 39930753
Are you kidding ?

I read again my post and it sounds like R-Tag is not able to refresh reports. Of course it can, but is able also to export them without refreshing ( this was one of your requirements).

Knowing the 4 products mentioned in this thread I am a little bit surprised by your choice. Did you find something that "The Report Viewer" provides , which was not available in R-Tag and VisualCut  ? Just curious.
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by:HunterIT
ID: 39930779
EasyView would not export without a refresh but is a very good tool and I like the simplicity of the scheduler.

VisualCut would probably have worked but the cost is higher (over half of the full version of Crystal Reports) than I'd like when I just need the viewer capabilities.

I could not get R-Tag to work as it kept giving me an error. Might have been something simple to resolve but the whole interface is very different that the standard Crystal viewer and I think would confuse our users.

The Report Viewer is a very simple tool but it does everything we need while largely mimicking the standard Crystal interface. And the license is only $25/user.

I found each of your posts helpful in me getting what I needed and I may use the tools that were suggested for future needs.
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by:mlmcc
ID: 39930872
How many users do you have?

mlmcc
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by:HunterIT
ID: 39930877
Just 2 right now but that could grow to several dozen. Might implement a scheduler instead though.
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by:Ido Millet
ID: 39931305
Visual CUT is indeed an overkill for your scenario.  It would be justified only if you need more advanced pdf bookmark features such as using Crystal formulas to control the text/color/style and to generate bookmarks for subreport navigation.  

For your scenario, a viewer is indeed good enough.  There are several 3rd-party viewers listed at http://kenhamady.com/bookmarks.html.  My DataLink Viewer does generate the default (Group Tree) bookmarks in pdf exports and can be set to either refresh or use saved data during interactive or scheduled mode.

Some of those 3rd-party viewers are free and any modern viewer should be able to generate bookmarks in pdf exports (it's taken care of by the Crystal runtime).
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by:vasto
ID: 39931508
This is the first time I hear for issues installing R-Tag ( I was part of the team for almost 4 years). Would you like to contact the company and explain what is the error ?  I am sure this will be appreciated. You can contact them here http://www.r-tag.com/Pages/contactus.aspx

I was under the impression that you need one license and that is why I suggested you to use their "one free license per company" . If you have a big number of users a scheduler might be cheaper. Another advantage will be that you will deliver the report so there will be one less task for the user to do. VisualCut price is $300, R-Tag Scheduler for Crystal reports is the same price. You can check Ken Hamady's website for schedulers comparison:http://kenhamady.com/desktopschedulers.pdf

Comparison for viewers is available too: http://kenhamady.com/viewerfeaturematrix.pdf
BTW the price for the viewer you mentioned is shown as $50. I checked also their website and the best price I found is $2125 for 50 licenses, which is $42.5 per license. 50 licenses for R-Tag Crystal viewer could be purchased on CrystalKeen for $749 (http://www.crystalkeen.com/tools/viewers-r-tag.html) , 50 licenses for DataLink are $600.

About R-Tag interface: This software provides a lot of features but at the same time is easy to configure and restrict the features when necessary. You can see some screenshots for the users with permissions just to run reports here: http://www.r-tag.com/Pages/Screenshots.aspx

As far as I can see the interface is pretty simple: just 2 buttons - Run and Refresh, you have also an option to select the export type. As I mentioned the interface depends on the permissions. For more advanced users you can allow more features.

About your project: Setting 1 user and 50 users are 2 totally different projects. With 1 user the risk is pretty low because you can replace the viewer at any time without big impact and for a low price. With 50 users you will have more reports and different usage scenarios per user. If in a month you find that your viewer does not support few of the scenarios it will be too expensive to switch to another one. It will cost you time to install and configure the new viewer and money to purchase new licenses. I will suggest you to run some tests before to make a decision. There are some typical problems for multiuser viewers:  
-      Missing support for multiple databases. Most of your reports probably use one database . But there might be few , which use for example a database and an excel file. If you have this issue find a solution before the implementation. If it is 1 user you will just replace the viewer with 50 users you might need to start supporting a new viewer for some users , which obviously will be a problem

-      Cost of the maintenance? If the viewer does not support network configuration and you need to add the report for each user make the calculation how much this will cost. If adding a report for a user takes 3 minutes, for 50 users you will need 2.5 hours. This will be the price to pay each time you want to add or modify a report. Even more important, check if you will have reports, which should be available for some users and NOT available for others. For example the set of reports for HR and for Finance are usually different. Even worse Finance should not be able to see HR reports. How this will be handled ?

-      Multitasking. This is usually underestimated until somebody make the calculation how much time is lost on company level the users to wait one report to finish and to start another one. 5 minutes waiting per day * 50 users * 250 days per year = 1000 hours. This means that each year you are paying half of the yearly salary of one employee to support the viewer. As I said , this is usually underestimated until you find how much is the cost.
 
This post is getting too long. Bottom line is you are making a decision based on the usage of one report and 1 user and your case might be very different in the future. Take your time to make some tests.
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by:Ido Millet
ID: 39931620
Just to set the record straight, 50 licenses for DataLink Viewer are $500.  That includes 1 year of free updates and licenses that never expire, but no tech support.  
The $600 price mentioned by vasto includes 2 years of tech support and free updates.
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by:vasto
ID: 39931652
Sorry Ido, I should have put a note the asker to check the price.
Same for R-Tag. I saw that the link on CrystalKeen.com  is still available and as far as I know this is a price with technical support and updates, but check the numbers by yourself.

One more feature I forgot to mention is "Logging". This is another thing that will be a problem even for 1 user , but will be much noticeable with multiple users. You should be able to go back and check how the report was started, what were the parameters, which other reports were running at the same etc. You may find helpful to be able to check which reports were mostly used, taking most time per year or the performance dropped significantly. Logging is not considered as a critical issue , but saves a lot of time and keeps your system in a good shape.  Why to not use it if you are paying anyway.
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