Crystal Reports® 2008 For Dummies


by Allen G. Taylor




About the Author

Allen G. Taylor is a 30-year veteran of the computer industry and the author of over 20 books, including SQL All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies, SQL For Dummies, Access 2003 Power Programming with VBA, Database Development For Dummies, and SQL Weekend Crash Course. He lectures nationally on databases, innovation, and entrepreneurship. He also teaches database development internationally through a leading online education provider and teaches microprocessor architecture locally at Portland State University. You can contact Allen at



This book is dedicated to my daughter, Jenny Taylor Warren, who has given me much excellent advice, as well as two outstanding grandsons.


Author’s Acknowledgments

Many people have contributed to the quality and content of this book. I would particularly like to recognize my Acquisitions Editor, Kyle Looper, for his overall management of the project and for keeping me honest, and my Project Editor, Rebecca Senninger, for the day-to-day coordination of the project.

I also appreciate the continued support of my family and the interest of my friends and colleagues. It would not have been possible to complete a project of this magnitude without the support of those close to me.


Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions and Editorial

Project Editor: Rebecca Senninger

Acquisitions Editor: Kyle Looper

Senior Copy Editor: Teresa Artman

Technical Editor: Howard Hammerman

Editorial Manager: Leah Cameron

Editorial Assistant: Amanda Foxworth

Senior Editorial Assistant: Cherie Case

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Lynsey Stanford

Layout and Graphics: Reuben W. Davis, Alissa D. Ellet, Melissa K. Jester, Christine Williams

Proofreaders: Susan Moritz, Toni Settle

Indexer: Infodex Indexing Services Inc.

Publishing and Editorial for Technology Dummies

Richard Swadley, Vice President and Executive Group Publisher

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher

Mary Bednarek, Executive Acquisitions Director

Mary C. Corder, Editorial Director

Publishing for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher

Joyce Pepple, Acquisitions Director

Composition Services

Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services




About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

What You’re Not to Read

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I : Reporting Basics

Chapter 1: Transforming Raw Data into Meaningful Information

Major Features of Crystal Reports 2008

The Lone Edition of Crystal Reports 2008

Viewing a Report

Chapter 2: Create a Simple Report Right Now!

First Things First: Finding the Sample Database

Starting Crystal Reports 2008

Creating a Report with the Blank Report Option

Printing a Report

Where to Go from Here

Chapter 3: Report Design Guidelines

Defining an Effective Report Design

Defining Your Audience

Defining the Report’s Purpose

Choosing Content for Your Report

Choosing the Report Appearance

Chapter 4: Starting Your Report

Using the Report Creation Wizard

Starting with a Blank Report

Connecting Your Report to Its Data Source

Part II : Moving Up to Professional-Quality Reports

Chapter 5: Pulling Specific Data from a Database

Get Data Quickly with Select Expert

Using Formulas to Retrieve Data

Using Parameter Fields to Retrieve Data at Runtime

Troubleshooting Tips When Retrieving Data

Chapter 6: Sorting, Grouping, and Totaling Report Data

Sorting Report Data

Adding Sort Controls to a Report

Grouping Related Items

Calculating Percentages

Drilling Down for Detail

Keeping Track of Things with Running Totals

Troubleshooting Sorting, Grouping, and Totaling Problems

Chapter 7: Mastering Report Sections

Changing the Size of a Section

Formatting with the Section Formatting Menu

Using Section Expert for Easy Section Formatting

Placing Groups Where You Want Them

Hiding Details with Summary and Drill-Down Reports

Generating Barcodes

Creating Mailing Labels

Saving Money on Postage with a ZIP Sort

Chapter 8: Enhancing Your Report’s Appearance

Absolute Formatting

Conditional Formatting Using the Format Editor

Creating Emphasis with Highlighting Expert

Adding Pictures to Your Report

Aligning Preprinted Forms

Adding Text from a File

Formatting Options

Special Fields Contain Report Metadata

Raising a Red Flag with Report Alerts

Using Report Templates to Save Time and Effort

Part III : Advanced Report Types and Features

Chapter 9: Displaying Your Top Ten (Or Top N) with Group Sort

Sorting Groups Based on Performance

Going with the Percentages

A Choice of Group Sorts

Troubleshooting Group Sort Problems

Chapter 10: Adding Formulas to Reports

Formula Overview and Syntax

Lessening the Workload with Functions

Creating a Custom Function in Formula Workshop

Changing and Deleting Formulas

Data Types

Variables in Formulas

Control Structures

Chapter 11: Creating Reports within a Report

Combining Unrelated Reports

Linking a Subreport to a Primary Report

On-Demand Subreports Boost Efficiency

Passing Data between Reports

Troubleshooting Subreport Problems

Chapter 12: Combining Report Elements with OLE

Overview of OLE

Static OLE Objects

Embedded OLE Objects

Linked OLE Objects

Embedding or Linking an Object Taken from a File

Integrating Shockwave Flash Objects into Your Reports

Chapter 13: Creating and Updating OLAP Reports

What’s OLAP, and Why Might You Need It?

OLAP Reporting with Crystal Reports

Updating an OLAP Report

Formatting Data in an OLAP Report

Changing Data Appearance in an OLAP Report

Chapter 14: Using Cross-Tab Reports to Mine Your Data

Creating a Cross-Tab Object to Summarize All Report Data

Summarizing the Contents of a Group with a Cross-Tab

Making Calculations within a Cross-Tab Row or Column

Enhancing the Appearance and Readability of a Cross-Tab Object

Chapter 15: Enhancing Reports with Charts

Using Chart Expert

Creating a Chart

Choosing the Best Chart Type for Your Data

Different Chart Layouts for Different Data Types

Seeing How Chart Placement Affects the Data It Represents

Troubleshooting Chart Problems

Chapter 16: Adding Geographic Detail with Maps

Choosing the Right Crystal Reports Map

Creating a Map Step by Step

Troubleshooting Map Problems

Chapter 17: Interactivity Features

Crystal Xcelsius Overview

Adding Xcelsius Capability to a Report

Enhancing a Report with the Tasteful Use of Flash

Part IV : Crystal Reports in the Enterprise

Chapter 18: Crystal Reports Server

Connecting to Data Sources

Formatting Reports with Crystal Reports Developer

Providing Platform Services

Useful Management Tools

Application Services

Web Services

Viewing and Interacting with Reports

Chapter 19: BusinessObjects Enterprise Repository

Adding Folders to Your Repository

Storing Your Valuables in BusinessObjects Enterprise Repository

Using Repository Objects in a Report

Modifying a Repository Object

Deciding Whether to Update Reports Automatically

Deleting Objects from the Repository

Chapter 20: Navigating with Report Parts

Understanding Report Parts Navigation

Using Report Parts to Navigate a Report

Part V : Publishing Your Reports

Chapter 21: Sending Your Reports Out into the World

Printing Your Report

Faxing a Report

Exporting a Report

Troubleshooting Output Problems

Chapter 22: Displaying Reports Online

Exporting to a Static HTML Page

Adding a Hyperlink to a Report

Distributing Reports via

Integrating with

Publishing to with Crystal Reports Desktop Publisher

Interactive Report Viewing with Crystal Reports Viewer

Chapter 23: SQL Expression Fields

Creating an SQL Statement

Modifying an SQL Statement

Part VI : The Part of Tens

Chapter 24: Ten Things to Do Before You Create a Report

Identify the Users

Interview the Users

Get Agreement on the Report’s Appearance

Arbitrate Conflicting Demands

Nail Down the Project Scope

Nail Down the Project Schedule

Verify That the Necessary Data Is in the Database

Determine How the Report Will Be Viewed

Determine the Best Report Type for the Users’ Needs

Decide Whether to Include Charts or Maps

Chapter 25: Ten Ways to Give Your Reports More Pizzazz

Use the Correct Fonts

Use Color Tastefully

Enclose Text in Boxes

Emphasize Boxes with Drop Shadows

Produce a Consistent Appearance with Templates

Add an Image

Add a Chart

Add a Map

Combine Two Objects with an Underlay

Separate the Summary from the Details with Drill Down


Crystal Reports 2008 is the latest in a long and celebrated series of report writers for personal computers. Crystal Reports is by far the bestselling report writer package in the world, even though you might not know it by name. (It’s been bundled with many of the most popular applications without being acknowledged by name. For example, a version of Crystal Reports is currently bundled into Microsoft’s Visual Studio .NET.) However, Crystal Reports 2008 is available as a standalone product. And if you want to produce a high-quality report quickly, Crystal Reports is the top choice to do the job.

About This Book

Crystal Reports 2008 For Dummies is a book that gets you using Crystal Reports quickly and effectively. This book covers all the major capabilities of Crystal Reports but doesn’t bog you down in intricate detail. The objective is to give you the information you need to produce the types of reports that most people need most of the time. I also get into some out-of-the-ordinary report types that you might be called upon to generate on occasion.

Use this book as a handy reference guide. Each chapter deals with an individual feature that you might need at one time or another. Pull out the book, read the chapter, and then do what you need to do. In many cases, step-by-step procedures walk you through commonly needed operations. You might find it worthwhile to put the book beside your computer and perform the operations while you read about them.

Anyone who might be called upon to produce a report based on database data can profit from the information contained in this book. It’s also valuable for managers who might never produce a report but who oversee people who do. This book tells you what’s possible, what you can do easily, and what takes a little more effort to accomplish. This knowledge can help you estimate how long it should take to produce reports of various types.

Conventions Used in This Book

When an instruction in the book refers to a command path — for instance, “Choose File⇒Save” — that simply means to click your mouse button on File on the main menu, and then choose Save from the submenu that drops down from it.

Anything you see that is printed in a monospaced font is code, or something you’ll run across in the course of programming a database. This is a monospaced font. Crystal Reports executes code that you enter as formulas or SQL statements.

What You’re Not to Read

You can certainly choose to read this book from cover to cover, working through the examples, although you don’t have to. Regardless of whether you read it all the way through in order, think of this book as a handy quick reference by your side when you want to perform a particular operation you haven’t used in a while (or ever).

An upcoming section of this introduction explains the icons you’ll normally run across, and there is a good reason for paying attention to each of them. However, consider yourself exempted from the requirement to read anything that appears by a Technical Stuff icon.

Material placed next to one of these icons might be interesting to techies like me (and like some of you out there) but generally isn’t necessary for a full understanding of how to use Crystal Reports.

Foolish Assumptions

I’ve never met you, but I have to make a few assumptions about you and what you know. For example, I assume that you know how to use a personal computer and that you’re somewhat familiar with Microsoft Word. If you know how to navigate Microsoft Word, you already know almost all there is to know about navigating Crystal Reports. The user interfaces of the two products are similar.

I assume that you’ve seen directory trees before, such as those extensively used in Microsoft Windows. You know that if you see a plus sign (+) to the left of a node that shows a folder (or other) icon, it means that you can click the plus sign to expand that node to see what the node contains. Crystal Reports treats directory trees in a similar way.

I assume you know how to perform a drag-and-drop operation with your mouse. In Crystal Reports, when you click an object and start dragging it, your progress is shown by a rectangular placement frame. When you release the mouse button to drop the item, the placement frame is replaced by a duplicate of the item that you dragged.

How This Book Is Organized

This book contains six major parts. Each part contains several chapters.

Part I: Reporting Basics

Part I introduces you to Crystal Reports and the art of report creation. You find out what a report should accomplish and what it should look like. Then you fire up Crystal Reports and use it to create a simple report based on data held in a database.

Part II: Moving Up to Professional-Quality Reports

You can do many things beyond the basics to make reports more focused, more readable, and easier on the eye. This part gives you the information you need to do all those things.

Part III: Advanced Report Types and Features

Part III gets into serious report creation. With the information in this part, you can zero in on exactly the data you want and display it in the most understandable way. You’ll be able to nest one report within another, pull report elements from multiple non-database sources, present multidimensional data in OLAP cubes, illustrate points with charts and maps, and create stunning visuals with Xcelsius and Flash. With these tools, you can produce reports fit for the eyes of the organization’s CEO.

Part IV: Crystal Reports in the Enterprise

BusinesObjects Enterprise is a companion product to Crystal Reports that controls and secures the distribution of reports. With it, you can make your reports accessible to people on your local area network (LAN), or on the World Wide Web. BusinessObjects Enterprise is also the home of the Repository, which is a great place to store formulas or custom functions so they can be used again.

Part V: Publishing Your Reports

After you create a report, you’ll want to make it available to the people who need it. Crystal Reports makes it easy for you to distribute your report for viewing, whether to colleagues in your organization or to Internet users around the world. In addition, you can publish your reports using traditional methods. You can print it; export it to a file, or fax it to people far away. After you complete report development, distribution is easy.

Although Crystal Reports does a great job when used all by itself, you can also incorporate it into applications written in a computer language. The Crystal Reports SQL Expression Fields facility gives you direct control over the data in a report’s underlying database. Because a version of Crystal Reports is included as an integral part of the Microsoft .NET application development environment, you can incorporate the power of Crystal Reports into applications you write in Visual Basic, Visual C++, Visual C#, or any language compatible with the .NET framework. This gives the applications you write the sophistication of the world’s leading report writer.

Part VI: The Part of Tens

It’s always good to remember short lists of best practices. That’s what The Part of Tens is all about. Listed here are pointers that help you produce outstanding reports with minimum effort, in the shortest possible time.

Icons Used in This Book

Tips save you a lot of time and keep you out of trouble.

Pay attention to the information marked by this icon because you might need it.

As I mention earlier, Technical Stuff icons denote detail that I find interesting (and you might, too). However, if you don’t, no big deal. These nuggets aren’t essential to gain an understanding of the topic being discussed. Skip them if you like.

Heeding the advice that this icon points to can save you from major grief. Ignore it at your peril.

Where to Go from Here

Now you’re ready to start finding out about using Crystal Reports 2008 to create professional-quality reports based on data stored in your databases. After all, Crystal Reports 2008 is the latest version of the most-popular report writer in the world. You can use it to quickly whip out simple reports, or you can take a little longer and generate a world-class executive report.

Part I

Reporting Basics

In this part . . .

There’s data in them thar databases, where it’s not doing anyone any good by itself. And your manager wants a coherent report, based on that data, on her desk by the close of business today. What should you do? Panic? Consider joining the Foreign Legion?

You don’t need to do anything that drastic. The chapters in this part tell you how to quickly crank out the report your boss so desperately needs. This part offers you just what you need to know to put the needed information on the boss’ desk before the lights go out tonight. And you’ll start to build your reputation as a person who can deliver the goods when the pressure is on.