Crystal Reports Writer: 5 Tips for the Rookie User

Crystal Report WriterCrystal Reports Writer is a report writing program I’m very familiar with. It’s easy to use, and the savvy report writer has a lot of tools at their disposal while the rookie Crystal Report writer can write simple reports in a matter of minutes.

Good report writing adds value to the success of a company. If data isn’t extracted and presented in an easy-to-read manner, it’s not worth any more than the data itself.

As a report writer, you have to know who your audience will be, exactly what data needs to be displayed, where is it stored and how much data and detail to present to the user.

I have been writing and troubleshooting reports written by IQMS ERP users for many years and I’d like to take this opportunity to save the rookie writer some time and headaches.

5 Crystal Reports Writer Tips

Here a few Crystal Report Writer tips to keep in mind as you begin writing reports (the last one is for IQMS ERP users only and it’s my current favorite):

#1. Use correct tables and views

If you are writing a report against a single database (for example, if you use IQMS ERP, a fully integrated manufacturing ERP software), then set up your data explorer to only use tables and views owned by the database you are querying. If you are an IQMS ERP user, for example, then set the ‘Owner LIKE’ field to IQMS. That way you won’t have to sort through all of the other data sources that aren’t relevant.

#2. Turn off ‘Save data with report

The report will look correct when you write it and run it, but if you forget to turn off this option, you will hear about it later from the user when they don’t receive “new” data each time they run the report.

#3. Plagiarize from other reports

In this case, it’s OK to plagiarize. IQMS offers thousands of reports in its report catalog. If you are an IQMS ERP user, run a few reports in the software. If you see a report that appears to display similar data or in the same format that you are thinking about, then open the report and dissect it. Everybody who writes reports will tell you they have done this before.

#4. Join and link datasets correctly

How you join or link datasets (tables or views) can make or break your report. Always use a left outer join to ensure you aren’t inadvertently excluding data from a report.

For example, if you are writing a report against the IQMS ERP database about a Corrective Action Request (CAR), you would start with the CAR table. If you then want to list the elements of each CAR, you would bring in and join the CAR_Element table to the right of the CAR table.

Even if one of the CARs doesn’t currently have elements attached and you would still like to view those CARs, if you use an equal join, you are limiting the data to just CARs with elements listed.

Instead, use a left outer join and set up a parameter to let the user decide if they want to view all CARs or not. Otherwise, you will be troubleshooting this report later.

#5. Save time with IQMS ERP

Every once in awhile, a software feature that seems so simple makes your life so much easier that you won’t know how you worked without it. IQMS offers direct access to reports from the ERP software.

Open any reports menu, click on Report Editor and (if you have Crystal Report installed) the report opens in Crystal Reports, ready for editing. Brilliant, right?! No more figuring out the filename, opening Crystal Reports and waiting to select the file. It saves a lot of time!

Are there any other report writing tips for the rookie writer that I didn’t mention? I would be interested to hear what other tricks you know of that make daily report writing easier.

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Tina Jolicoeur, IQMS Director of Quality Assurance, previously worked for 15 years in the telecommunications field. Tina is responsible for growing and cultivating IQMS' quality assurance department.