Getting Started with Crystal Reports 9
Building on the discussion of Crystal Reports as a content creation application for designing interactive, actionable reports, it's now time to install and explore the Crystal Reports designer application. The installation of Crystal Reports is a very straightforward process, making installation simple for even novice users with limited technical experience. The Crystal Reports Installation Wizard presents various options throughout the installation process that will affect the function of the designer. This hour covers the planning considerations prior to the installation of Crystal Reports, options available during the install, and minimum systems requirements necessary to run Crystal Reports 9.0.
As an introduction to the Crystal Reports designer, this hour also provides a high-level review of the more important and immediately useful components within the Crystal Reports application. Although brief, this introduction to the Crystal Reports design environment will prepare you for the subsequent hours and activities you will complete throughout the book.
In this hour, we will cover the following topics:
Preparing for the installation of Crystal Reports
Installation and configuration of Crystal Reports
Introduction to standard report features such as report sections, toolbars, and menus
If you are unfamiliar with the Crystal Reports application, you will want to closely review the section in this hour covering report sections because this topic is central to understanding how to build and format Crystal Reports.
Preparing for the Installation
In general, there are two communities of Crystal Reports users within most organizations: report designers and report consumers. The report designer group is usually smaller in number. These individuals are focused on creating the actual report content, whereas the report consumer group consists of the end organizational audience viewing the reports. Thus, these are distinctively different roles, with the smaller group of designers supporting the greater group of viewers. Although this book is focused more on providing the report designers with the information and skills required to create reports, it is also very important to consider the needs of the report consumer group and how they will be using the end reports.
Depending on your situation, you might be one of a number of Crystal Report designers within a large organization or an individual report designer in a small company. In any case, Crystal Reports is a graphical report design application that needs to be installed locally on your workstation in order to create reports. If you're a member of a large organization, you might have a supporting Information Technology group who will perform the installation of Crystal Reports for you. Regardless, Crystal Reports can be installed on a local PC residing on a corporate network in very much the same manner as a home PC or workstation. In this aspect, installing Crystal Reports is much like installing other popular PC applications, such as Microsoft's Word and Excel, your preferred Web browser, and Adobe's Acrobat Reader.
The consumers of information and reports created by Crystal Reports includes a wide range of individuals and corporate professionals. For example, common users of Crystal Reports include corporate business personnel in departments such as finance, human resources, and sales for operational reporting purposes, organizational performance measurement, and sales analysis. In addition to the business community demands, IT groups often have specific development requirements to embed reporting capabilities into custom applications and corporate Web pages. Not only do corporate personnel use Crystal Reports, but it is also a highly used application for individuals who require an easy-to-use and intuitive tool for creating attractive and meaningful reports.
I assume that you will need to perform the installation of Crystal Reports yourself, so you will be guided through the installation process in this hour.
During the report design phase, it is common for reports to be processed on the report designer's local workstation, which in turn requires resources on the local workstation. Before installing Crystal Reports on your local PC, you should verify and properly configure certain system settings, such as
At least 64MB of RAM is installed. You can locate your system RAM amount on the General tab within the Windows System Properties dialog (located at Start, Settings, Control Panel, System).
At least 300MB of hard disk space is available. To locate your available disk space, open Windows Explorer, right-click on the appropriate drive letter (for example, C:), and select Properties from the pop-up window.
Windows system virtual memory should equal the amount of physical RAM on the local PC, plus 11MB. For example, reports that perform substantial aggregation, grouping, or calculating of data will use more operating system resources. This is simply a general recommendation that helps ensure that your personal workstation will have adequate resources available.
Virtual memory is the amount of space, in kilobytes, committed to memory for any process running on the workstation. Crystal Reports requires the use of such operating system resources, and it's important that enough virtual memory is available to support the processing of reports that are run locally on the report designer's workstation.
Confirm that the Temp variable and directory is set up on your Windows systemthe Temp variable is a system environment variable that specifies the location where programs place temporary files. The Temp variable can be configured within the System Properties dialog (located at Start, Settings, Control Panel, System) and by selecting the Environment Variables button on the Advanced tab, as shown in Figure 2.1.
Before installing Crystal Reports, it is important to consider which data sources you will need to access. Based on what data sources you will need to access during the report creation process, you might then want to install various components from the available database connectivity options that are packaged within the Crystal Reports installation. For more details on these database connectivity options, see Hour 3, "Accessing Your Data."
Figure 2.1 The Windows 2000 system settings.
Reviewing the System Requirements for Crystal Reports 9
As with previous releases, multiple editions of the Crystal Reports 9 application are available from Crystal Decisions. Specifically, there are four distinct editions of Crystal Reports 9:
The Advanced Edition is new to the version 9 release of Crystal Reports. This edition primarily includes additional server software licensing. The only feature difference in addition to what the Developer Edition provides is that the COM and Java data connectivity drivers are only available in the Advanced edition. The Advanced Edition provides components for embedding dynamic content from custom, legacy, and enterprise data sources into wireless and Web applications for zero-client, end-user report interaction.
Nearly all of the exercises in this book can be completed using any of these editions. However, the developer-focused exercises covered in the later hours might require either the Developer or Advanced Editionsthough these topics can still be reviewed and include valuable information on advanced report design concepts. The edition that best serves your needs is dependent on your specific reporting and technical requirements. For example, for users who only need to access data sources to create simple reports via the Crystal Reports designer, the Standard or Professional editions will most likely meet their requirements. However, report designers or application developers who require the added ability to embed reporting functionality within custom applications (such as applications created with the Visual Basic, .NET, and Java programming languages) will require either the Developer or Advanced Editions of Crystal Reports.
The Developer and Advanced Editions of Crystal Reports include additional components to assist application developers with embedding reporting capabilities into custom applications. For example, developers who create custom Java applications can benefit from the Java Software Developer Kit (SDK), which will aid them with embedding reporting functionality directly within their applications. Separate SDKs are provided to specifically support the three most common development environmentsJava, .NET, and COM.
The key minimum system requirements are necessary to ensure that the Crystal Reports application has sufficient local resources available on the report designer's workstation. Regardless of which edition of Crystal Reports 9 you will be installing, the minimum system requirements for a local workstation installation (from CD-ROM) are as follows:
Microsoft Windows 98 (Second Edition), ME, NT 4.0, 2000 and XP. (Note: Windows 95 is no longer supported for the version 9 release of Crystal Reports.)
Minimum of 32MB RAM (64MB required for Windows NT). 64MB RAM is recommended for all operating systems.
Minimum 60MB of hard drive space. Approximately 200MB maximum for English and up to 400MB for other languages.
An additional 100 MB of free disk space is also recommended on your C: drive for use by Windows during the installation.
Pentium or higher system processor required.
If you plan to perform a network installation of Crystal Reports 9, the preceding minimum requirements should be adjusted as follows:
Typical hard drive space required on a network server: 217MB
Typical hard drive space required on a workstation: 105MB
The Crystal Reports 9 design application does not support the Macintosh operating system. Viewing shared reports through a Web browser is possible on multiple platforms, including Windows, Unix, and Macintosh.
The ReleaseNotes.doc file, located in the root directory of the Crystal Reports 9 CD, includes a listing of all known issues and other important notes that users should be aware of before installing Crystal Reports 9. It is recommended that users read this document before installing Crystal Reports 9.