Seagate Software has released Version 8 of its Crystal Reports product for Web report creation and distribution. The enhanced product offers greater scalability and can be hosted on either an intranet or Internet/extranet site for business reporting. Whereas earlier versions of Crystal Reports were more suitable for smaller organizations, Version 8 is targeted at enterprise-size organizations such as financial services institutions.
The principal function of Crystal Reports is to generate information out of corporate databases and then provide a convenient and easy way of sharing that information with other people, either inside or outside of the organization, says Barry Parshall, product manager of Seagates Crystal Reports. The latest version can connect to over 30 different OLAP, SQL and PC databases. Parshall describes reports produced by Crystal Reports as very useful to fund managers or analysts, who may be looking at a portfolio containing a large number of instruments such as stocks and bonds. This information is stored in a database, which can then be tapped into by Crystal Reports for users to access, compile and analyze the data. Financial services organizations can create Internet or extranet sites for their qualified users which contain reports on anything from portfolio balances to current stock quotes, says Parshall.
Users can create reports with Microsoft Excel and Access data without having to leave Microsoft Office and reports can be stored, updated and saved directly to the Web. Its very easy for users to create a report directly from an Excel spreadsheet or an Access query or table. All you would have to do is click a button on the toolbar which brings up a Crystal Reports wizard and you can click and point your way through the building of the report and its generated directly off of that spreadsheet data, says Parshall.
Weve made the report itself behave much more like a Web document, explains Parshall. You can embed hyperlinks, you can do drill downs and really interact with the report the same way you can interact with any other Web page on your site. He adds that Version 8 is also considerably easier for Web professionals and Web application developers to integrate the technology through enhanced wizards, which guide users through the process faster and more easily.
Version 8 has been enhanced to perform up to 10 times faster than the previous version and has been benchmarked to handle more than 50 concurrent users accessing the reporting server and hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals accessing the reports. Parshall says that just about nearly any financial services organization would use Crystal Reports and probably are today in one or more capacities, and that once the reports have been created for the organization, Crystal Reports Version 8 can be up and running in an hour or less. Over 5 million copies of Crystal Reports have been shipped since its debut in the early 90s.