Crystal Reports 2020

Crystal Reports 2020 goes 64 bit – what you need to know.

It’s finally arrived, but how does the move to a 64 bit report designer change how you work?

I’ve installed 2020, where’s Crystal Reports 2016 gone?

That side by side install you were hoping for? Sorry, despite the move to 64 bit, you’ll find that your existing 32 bit version of Crystal Reports 2016/13/11 has disappeared. It’s an upgrade. I’ve not tested with anything older yet, though I’d expect 2008 or earlier to remain.

If you’re planning to install an evaluation copy, try and use a separate PC or Virtual Machine or you’ll find you can’t design reports when the evaluation expires.

ODBC

All your old reports using ODBC will stop working! DON’T PANIC! On 64 bit Windows, you have two separate configurations for ODBC. You’ll see two shortcuts looking something like this in Windows 10:

The important thing to remember is that they mix like oil and water. 32 bit applications can only use 32 bit ODBC, 64 bit applications can only use 64 bit. The reasons all the reports stop working is that only 32 bit ODBC connections (DSNs) have been configured.

No prizes for guessing the solution! You just need to configure 64 bit ODBC connections. Use the same name as you used in for 32 bit and all will work perfectly. One slight gotcha is that you can’t have the 32 bit and 64 bit ODBC managers open at the same time. I have no idea why as it seems like such an obvious requirement. I guess only Microsoft know.

If you’re using Microsoft SQL Server, you’ll have no problems at all as the drivers are probably already installed. If you’re using MySQL or PostgreSQL you’ll just need to download the latest ODBC drivers. No big deal. If you’re using Oracle, you’ll need to install the 64 bit drivers and configure the settings all over again. Access users may need to download the latest drivers from Microsoft, or view this is a good time to upgrade to a server based database.

DAO & xBase

They’re no longer supported. If you’re stuck with an ancient database and still need to use them, you’ll need to switch to using an ODBC connection.

This will also affect you if you’re using Microsoft Access databases with a native connection rather than ODBC. Just switch to a recent ODBC driver.

OLE DB

OLE DB is Microsoft’s answer to the Hokey-Cokey. When it was first released, Microsoft planned for it to replace ODBC. It has the advantage of not needing any client configuration, so this sort of made sense. Downside was that in products like Crystal Reports, it’s more complex to use as you can’t have an administrator to the setup in advance. Then they changed their mind and announced that OLE DB would be discontinued with SQL Server 2012 being the last product to include support. Then in 2017, they changed their mind again.

What’s this got to do with 64 bit? You’ll need the 64 bit OLE DB driver to be installed. To make it slightly confusing, it will need to be the same ‘provider’. I have five different ‘providers’ installed for MS SQL. I have no idea of the advantages/disadvantages of any of them. I just know that whatever I used for 32 bit will need to be available for the report to work in 64 bit. If it’s not there, it’s a cases of just changing the database location.

This is going to be a major reason for reports published to Crystal Server & SAP BI failing to run. Did I mention how good ODBC is?

User Function Libraries (UFLs)

UFLs are a way to extend the Crystal Reports formula language. Typically, they’re now written in C# or Visual Basic.Net. They used to be used a lot for bar codes. More complex UFLs write files, log events and send emails. There’s no real limitation.

In the 64 bit release, your old UFLs will stop working. You’ll need to have new 64 bit UFLs. I’ve not recompiled any of mine yet, but I’m not expecting too much trouble. If you’ve bought a UFL, you’ll need to contact the provider for an update.

XYZ is missing

Spot the difference:

The one on the left is from 2016. The one on the right 2020. You’ll notice that Map & Flash are both missing.

Dropping Flash in to be expected. Adobe are dropping support at the end of the year. Sadly, it means you can’t embed Crystal Dashboards any more, but that was always talked about more than done. Oddly, the Xcelsius specific functions are still available in the formula editor.

Dropping Maps is more of a surprise. It was a 3rd party component added to Crystal Reports some time ago. Personally, I never used them. The maps that came with Crystal were too basic. Buying better maps too expensive.

What else is new?

Moving on from 64 bit, what are the other goodies?

Most of the really interesting new features come with Crystal Server and you’ll have to wait for another article for that.

A few things I have noticed though:

  • New XLSX export. This means that you’re no longer limited to ‘just’ 65,536 rows and 256 columns.
  • There’s a new option in ‘Report Options’ to ‘Draw Line And Box On Top’. Seems like a strange idea, but I guess someone must have asked for it.
  • Reports that are saved from Crystal Reports 2020 can be opened in 2016 without any version warning.

Finally – should you upgrade?

It’s currently at Service Pack 0 and not available as a packaged product. If you have a live maintenance contract, it’s available.

Personally, I’d be happy to upgrade Crystal Reports, but I won’t be recommending Crystal Server 2020 until the first service pack is available.

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