SAP Crystal Reports is a Business Intelligence (BI) program for Windows suitable for small to medium-sized businesses across multiple industries. The system offers the ability to write customize reports from any data source, as well as visualize the data in dashboards and scorecards, showcasing KPIs and other metrics relating to project or departmental performance. Additionally, it offers multi-language support in English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Russian, and Simplified Chinese.
SAP Crystal Reports is priced per user, with mobile apps available for Android and iOS. This vendor also offers 24/7 toll-free support.
Gwen from The University of Texas at Tyler
Employees number: 501-1,000 employees
I've used Crystal Reports for years now. It is a great product that allows me to create customized reports from my database. However, it is not something that is easy to do unless an individual has some previous knowledge of query operators. It takes some thought, especially when doing more advanced functions, to get the report setup correctly. Formatting options are also a bit limited.
I can create customized reports that I am not able to do in my database.
It is not easy to use and requires some previous query knowledge or training.
I do recommend this product, but it will require some training for those not familiar with doing queries. It is a great product, but I'd like to see it streamlined some so it is easier to use.
Carl from Day & Zimmermann
Specialty: Energy & Utilities
Employees number: 5,001-10,000 employees
Having been a user of Crystal Reports 2008 through 2011, I am a big fan of Crystal Reports. We have now migrated to Crystal Enterprise version and there are some big gains and a few misses with this version. The ease of use for beginners is much greater in the Enterprise version. If you are just starting out, the Enterprise version is a nice package. It features drag and drop capability, easy navigation, and plenty of customization for your visualization. There are still some nagging spots that have not been cleaned up, primarily in the formatting areas. Small things like drawing borders or creating grids are more hassle than they are worth. And if you make a small change in the report it could easily throw off your formatting and you will need to touch all those pieces again.
However, the power of Crystal Reports makes it well worth the minor annoyances. It delivers a powerful tool for delivering standard visualizations. It packs plenty of power that can satisfy almost any requirement.
1) Ease of use.
2) Clean and standard reporting.
3) Multitude of ways to deliver your reports. Email, ftp, on demand, etc.
1) Minor annoyances that can crop up out of nowhere; typically involving formatting.
2) For as mature as the product is, it still tends to crash more often than I would like.
Do your research once you get this program. There are plenty of tricks and best practices and you can find most of them on the web. Join in discussion groups, take advantage of users with experience. Don't get frustrated trying to work things out yourself all the time.
Bradley from Glidewell Specialties Foundry Co, Inc.
Crystal has allowed us to pull data from our system in a much more meaningful way than with our old methods. It also allows us to customize what individuals see on reports, to tailor them to their liking. With our old processes we had a report we would send to a salesman that required around 6 different reports molded in to one within an excel file. This whole process was eliminated and we were able to produce the same results using Crystal.
Crystal is pretty intuitive but for the average person it will take some learning to be able to use the software to its full potential. I would say it has a medium to high learning curve. There are also a few annoyances where some windows force attention and will not let you click anything else until you finish that window.
First, make sure any software you want to integrate with Crystal is compatible. It can tap in to a lot of things but not everything.
lyne from CRA
Its's easy to navigate and simple easy to understand
updates can cause delays and can have impact on delivert of progduct.
none as it's all good when you have been using same product overf the years
Jeffrey from Day and Zimmermann
Specialty: Construction / Contracting
Allow user to bring data in from many different types of data sources. SQL / HANA / Excel / Access / Universe etc.
Very easy to use, all user need to do drag and drop fields on report.
Some of the graphs have their limitation. Some functions still need improvement. The graphs and charts are somewhat customizable, but functions like changing the size of the markers on line chart or number formatting on different axis are not working properly.
When you first start using it, it is better to bring in a small sets of data in to try out different functionalities, grouping, sorting, running totals and many others functions to ensure that you have a fairly good understanding on how each function acts and reacts on different type of data.
Luca from Intralot
Specialty: Software / Technology
I used this software during my previous work experience.
Among the different reporstica tool I used I believe that Crystal Reports is one of the best in terms of usability.
The things I appreciate most of this software is the dynamic division of sections into groups and subgroups, the ability to easily modify the report output even from the view in the preview tab, and editable grid.
Incorporating some reports in web pages I had some problems like misalignment etc.
The designer should be a bit 'improved in terms of appearance and functionality, also the graphs should be more attractive.
There are various reporting solutions on the market, some even integrated (i.e. reporting on sqlserver), if you want to buy crystal report also evaluated depending on your needs and your budget, the entire solution business objects that also includes Excelsius for dashboards, universes for data warehousing, the management console etc ..
Tony from Prominence Health
There's a lot to like about Crystal Reports, I don't think anything else out there has the flexibility and versatility in terms of data display and formatting. Its strength is paper formatting, it's like desktop publishing software for databases.
There are some weaknesses, export to Excel has never been perfect (although it can get pretty close if you use vertical guides to identify where columns should go). It is so paper-oriented that if you need to make a large layout you have to find a matching paper size -- challenging if you don't have a large-format printer. And the expense of course, not for the Crystal software, but the enterprise server so that others may view and run the reports. Very spendy.
Think about how important it is to have beautifully formatted reports vs. just dumping data into Excel for the user to manipulate and format themselves. So many users just want the latter, particularly folks in Finance who are usually pretty strong spreadsheet users. For those folks Crystal might not be the best query tool just to pull data out of the database. But if you want reports that are presentation ready, then CR is the best.
Carl from Day & Zimmermann
Specialty: Energy & Utilities
Crystal Reports allows for standardized reporting across our company. It leverages multiple data sources and allows us to provide consistent reporting to all of our external clients and internal stakeholders.
There are some small nagging issues with Crystal Reports that I wish they would enhance. The graphing leaves a lot to be desired and at times there are small formatting issues that can be dealt with but our an annoyance.
Have patience. It can be a little rough when just starting out, but it is rewarding in the end.
David from Tyler Technologies
Specialty: Software / Technology
Learning Crystal Reports is only part of the educational process for learning Business Intelligence Reporting. You need to have the fundamental ability to become familiar with how a business operates, how it uses information. You need to be able to translate a company's requirements for managing and and acting on information to the technical organization and structure of its data systems. To be a successful report developer you need to be able to speak both languages. There are some great resources out there for Crystal Reports professionals, such my own Crystal Reports group on LinkedIn, where developers meet and share ideas as well as where employers and recruiters come to find them. There is also the Crystal Reports Users Group Crystal Users group, both hosted by Yahoo Groups, which have been serving and supporting Crystal Reports professionals for over a decade. Plus many web sites, online tutorials, video tutorials, skills training and more. Just don't forget that there are two sides to Business Intelligence Reporting - and Crystal Reports is only one of them.
Crystal Reports is a highly featured and flexible business intelligence tool that has been around for over 2 decades. It is database independent, meaning you can develop reports against just about any database or structured file format, from Microsoft SQL and Oracle, to flat file to text file to spreadsheets to anything for which you can access via ODBC, DAO, XML, OLE DB, JDBC and many more protocols. Crystal Reports integrates seamlessly into SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise products as well as other SAP data management products. Reports can link tables internally within the design template, or developers can build their own external SQL Queries, views, stored procedures or universes and build their reports off those data sources. Crystal also allows developers to script their custom own SQL-based query in the Database Editor. And if your data source changes, Crystal provides tools for mapping your existing report over to the new similarly structured data source. Record selection formulas can help filter out unwanted data to improve the efficiency of report performance.
Crystal Reports has a highly flexible report design editor that features multi-pass linear data processing, allowing analysis to be performed while reading records as while printing records. Data may be grouped or sorted based on raw data or on formulas that can analyze and manipulate record data for customized processing. Crystal Reports allows developers to create virtually any kind of data-based report, from tabular column listings to data-driven letters to charts, cross-tabs, free-form and (pre-printed) form-fitting solutions. Extensive summary functions, running totals, and a rich formula programming language (Crystal also supports Basic syntax) provide unlimited opportunity to manage and manipulate raw data for analysis and presentation to the customer, be it a management report, operations report or customer-facing report. With sub-reports, it is possible to link together tangentially Connected Data sources, expanding the opportunities of publishing relevant information onto a single page or report. Individually formattable multi-section detail, page and group headers and footer sections allow the developer to play with suppression, paging and other formatting options and formulas.
Crystal Reports is a WSIWYG design tool, allowing you to see what you are doing as you do it. Whether you use the the grid or guidelines with the Design Tool, or the size and alignment tools with the Preview Tool, Crystal lets you create the report as you want to see it. You can integrate external images, files, or even BI products, such as Crystal Dashboards (Xelcius). Through the use of parameters, reports can be designed to include user input in the record selection, formatting and operation of the report. Reports can be generated for printing, export to Adobe Acrobat, to Microsoft Excel or many other formats. Crystal can also be easily linked into 3rd party applications through XML, Java, Visual Studio or other APIs. Crystal Reports can also be easily delivered through the Crystal Reports Server or the Business Objects Enterprise Server, providing a hosting platform for both scheduled automation and on-demand report generation.
For someone experienced in business intelligence, databases or programming, Crystal Reports is relatively intuitive, though it will take time and experience to learn how to fully leverage every feature. There are included tutorials that teach the basics, but real world situations often defy the simplicity of the provided solutions. There are plenty of third-party resources from Yahoo and LinkedIn groups to user support web sites and video, instructional and printed training materials. Crystal is not something that the home user can jump into. The license is relatively expensive and does not include a database server, database or other data source. Licensing for enterprise environments can get pricey quickly. While many employers hire report developers directly, there is a large community of professional report developers who work contracts, either independently or through contract employment agencies. In most cases, the employer provides the licensed Crystal Reports tool, but if a company has only infrequent report development needs, they may expect the consultant to provide their own copy of the software. SAP is really not set up for supporting the individual, however, preferring to engage the company in business-licensed products.
Crystal Reports has incredible flexibility but their are limitations, mostly in formatting. Working with lines and boxes is not as flexible as, say, Microsoft Word. Charts and graphs have many features and options but they can be difficult to try and force your data to conform to the usage requirements. Graphics cannot be edited in-template, and some image formats are not supported (though you can easily convert an image to a supported format). The design tool can have issues with orphaned text at the bottom or the top of a page. While you can include comments in formulas, there is no ability to provide comments to the actual data, static, calculated value or other objects within the report design. Rules applied to the selection and manipulation of data can have unexpected results, leading to manual troubleshooting of report design and database queries. Like any piece of template design software, there are bound to be situations where you want to do something a certain way that is not supported by Crystal Reports, which can lead to frustration. But there are usually ways to think outside of the box to accomplish what you want.
Crystal Reports is getting a little long in the tooth. While still one of the worlds' most popular reporting tools, It hasn't received a major update in many years, while Microsoft's SQL Server Reporting Services as well as open-source and other business intelligence competition products have grown in popularity, and it shows. The user interface and feature set hasn't significantly changed in quite a while. Of course, it was already pretty rich and complete, but it lacks the feel and finish of many current generation software products. There is also no version available for the Apple Mac, which means no support for iOS devices. Some feel that SAP doesn't see the Crystal product line as the best place for its R&D investments, pushing more data analytic based products such as Web Intelligence. I think there is room and demand for both and wish SAP would wow me with an upgrade that would transform Crystal Reports into a new generation of business intelligence reporting that sets the bar for everyone else.
I have made my career off Crystal Reports. Business Intelligence is a niche area of Information Technology that combines technical knowledge and an understanding of how a company uses information. Crystal Reports is the most solid, flexible and reliable business intelligence tool I have worked with, allowing me to work on projects in a variety of markets and industries, from the financial to educational, to telecommunications to governmental. Understanding how to use Crystal Reports as part of a Business Intelligence career gives you the tools you need to better connect businesses to their data, deliver quality and productive solutions, and allow you the report developer to build the experience and skills to build a reputable career in the high demand world of Business Intelligence Reporting.