Monday, February 2, 2015

Crystal Reports : How hard should Crystal work?

If you're stuck with a report, if you can't seem to claim that last inch towards the finish line, you might be working Crystal Too Hard. This happened a lot to me when I was first learning Crystal. I had a strong programming background and all I wanted to do was get to where I wrote the IF THEN statements. But if you find yourself writing too many, chances are there is an easier way.

Let us consider a bunch of Customer Type Codes;

C - Client
P - Prospect
V - Vendor
R - Personal
O - Other

So, the idea is to convert these to text in Crystal. Here is the formula;

IF {TABLE.FIELDNAME} = "O" THEN "Other" ELSE "Unknown"

That would work, but suppose your list of IF THEN tests needed to be, say, 50 elements large? Maybe you need to convert a numerical code into a State Name. Or convert a Product Code. The last place you want to be is evaluating hundreds of IF THEN statements.

A very powerful option is to create what I call a "Helper Table". Instead of using IF THENs, create a table that holds the values. The table needs two columns, one for the Code and the other for Description.

Table CustType
Code     Description
C           Client
P            Prospect
V           Vendor
R           Personal
O           Other

Now add that table to the Crystal Report. JOIN your source data to CustType via CODE. Now, just call CUSTTYPE.DESCRIPTION within your report surface to automatically render the plaintext description.

Not only is this faster, but it's a much easier way to manage lists of transformations. It also leaves more "room" in Crystal to do what it does best (i.e. Summaries, Grouping).


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