Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Crystal Reports for Eclipse Unveiled

At the Business Objects International User Conference today I had the opportunity to demonstrate the latest build of our Crystal Reports designer built on the Eclipse framework. For those of you who missed it I have included some screenshots below.

In developing the Crystal Reports embedded report designer we have taken advantage of as many existing Eclipse functionalities whenever possible. For example, we re-use the existing Database Explorer view currently included in the Eclipse Web Tools Platform Project as the UI for our database connectivity.

As well, we extend the Navigator, Outline and Properties views to ensure a familiar look and feel for Eclipse users.

Below is a screenshot depicting the Crystal Reports perspective and some of the associated views. Most existing Crystal Reports users will likely notice a lot of similarities to the current release of the Crystal Reports designer.


(Click on the picture to see a larger version)

However, existing users will also notice a few enhancements in comparison to the current Crystal Reports designer. For example, users can now compress and expand sections of the report with a click of the mouse. This functionality makes it a lot easier when dealing with reports containing a large number of sections.

Another enhancement is the Formula Pane. As seen in the image below, all of the formulas currently stored in the report can be accessed on a single pane within the editor. This includes custom formulas, conditional formatting formulas as well as record selection formulas. All of these formulas are easily identified by their descriptive headings and can be collapsed and expanded for easier readability and navigation. Of course, no formula editor would be complete without syntax checking. As you can see in the screenshot below, syntax errors are displayed just as they appear when coding other solutions in the Eclipse IDE. Finally, users can still easily add fields, parameters or other report elements to formulas by dragging and dropping the element from the Field Explorer view into the Formula Pane. This way the developer will never have the wrong syntax when referring to a specific report element.


(Click on the picture to see a larger version)

Finally, the last screenshot displays our Data Pane. This is the pane which report designers will use to create the field linking between the database tables residing in the report. Unlike a lot of other reporting solutions, Crystal Reports removes the complexity of hand-coding the SQL statement used in the report. Instead, the Crystal Reports engine will generate the required SQL based on the database joins established in the Data Pane and the database fields referenced in the report itself.


(Click on the picture to see a larger version)

I hope everyone is as excited as I am about this recent announcement. I encourage everyone to sign up to receive the preview release so that they can be informed as soon as the software is made available. As always, we encourage feedback and comments on all blogs we post.

Talk to you soon!

-Sean Johnson
Product Manager, Business Objects Corp.

News Reviews of the Crystal Reports for Eclipse Announcement

Business Objects issued a press release on Tuesday November 8th announcing that we have joined the Eclipse Foundation as an add-in provider. We also announced that we would be releasing a Crystal Reports for Eclipse preview version in the coming weeks.

Here are few good articles:

Search Open Source interview with Mike Milinkovich from Eclipse

Computer Business Review Online from Madan Sheina: Business Objects Beefs Up Developer Support

ZD NET Australia: Eclipse Gets Crystal Reports Support

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Welcome to Crystal Reports for Eclipse

Welcome to the Crystal Reports for Eclipse Blog. It is with great pleasure that we announced today our membership as an Add-on Member of the Eclipse Foundation. We also announced today Crystal Reports for Eclipse. We will be releasing for download a preview version of Crystal Reports for Eclipse in calendar Q4. We welcome you to register today and we will let you know when you can start to download Crystal Reports for Eclipse.

Crystal Reports has a long history with the Developer Community going back even before the 1st bundle of Crystal Reports for Visual Basic over 10 years ago. We have stayed committed to the Developer Community and as the market has moved we have worked to follow the changing needs of developers. Inclusion of Crystal Reports® for Visual Studio .NET, Crystal Reports for Borland JBuilder, Crystal Reports® for IBM® Rational® Application Developer for WebSphere® Software (RAD), Crystal Reports® for BEA Weblogic Workshop and now our 100% Java version of Crystal Reports® for Eclipse provides the broadest IDE coverage for Java / .NET / and web services developers.

Whether you have existing Crystal Reports you want to leverage in your applications or you are wanting to build new reports for your application you will have the flexibility to do this with Crystal Reports for Eclipse. You will be able to leverage the preview to be able to quickly build a variety of reports without having to leave the Eclipse IDE. Crystal Reports for Eclipse has a rich set of functionality for the developer that will enable you to drag and drop fields, text objects, formula fields, cross tabs, charts, picture, boarders, and sub reports on to the canvas of the report. Whether it is a column reports of a sophisticated output you have the power and the flexibility to do this.

Over the coming months you will see lots of news as we make Crystal Reports for Eclipse available in the preview and get feedback from the community. I personally look forward to getting your feedback on Crystal Reports for Eclipse, as well as your suggestions on what we can do at Business Objects to better support you in building your applications.

Regards,

Tim Lang
VP Developer Marketing
Business Objects
tim.lang@businessobjects.com

Crystal Reports for Eclipse Preview Announcement

Read the full press release here:

Pre-register for the preview release on the Business Objects Developer Zone Eclipse site at
www.businessobjects.com/eclipse