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.
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.
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.
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!
Product Manager, Business Objects Corp.