Introducing the Crystal Reports Visual Studio 2010 WPF viewer
 
Published: 28 Sep 2010
Abstract
SAP/Crystal Reports is introducing the new free WPF viewer to use Crystal reports with Visual Studio. In this article, Eric tells us what's new with this new tool. After a short introduction, he examines the new features of the API and the installation process. He also provides a detailed coverage of the creation of a new Reporting Application with the WPF viewer with the help of relevant screenshots.
by Eric Landes
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Introduction

Crystal reports (CR), a long-time Visual Studio add-in staple, is not included out of the box with VS 2010 this time.  Traditionally CR has been the reporting tool of choice included with VS.  While the Crystal Report engine is not included with VS 2010, there is still a CR template included.  This template stubs your project as a Crystal Reports project.  You can then obtain the new CR for VS 2010 report engine by downloading it free of charge from the SAP website. Currently that link is here

This download includes a new WPF viewer for Windows Forms, which has some nifty new features.  There are also some performance gains when using this. 

Roadmap

This new viewer has not been released to the manufacturer yet. However, it is currently in Beta, and the plan is to release it sometime in November. Currently the viewer is in Beta 2, which is what this article is based on. According to presentations from SAP, the footprint for Beta 2 is larger than what it will be in the final release.  However, Beta 2 is feature complete.  The intention right now is for this to be the last beta before release in November.

New API features

According to information from SAP's Crystal folks, the following are some new features you can find in the new API.  Keep in mind this is Beta information and is subject to change.

New Formatting events (report cannot be modified during formatting event)

·         ReportDocument.BeforeFormatPage event

·         ReportDocument.AfterFormatPage event

·         ReportDocument.FieldMapping event

·         ReportDocument.NoData event

Check Report Processing Status

·         ReportDocument.ReportRequestStatus.NumberOfPages

·         ReportDocument.ReportRequestStatus.NumberOfRecordsRead

·         ReportDocument.ReportRequestStatus.NumberOfRecordsSelected

Check number of times a field is used with Field.UseCount

Process records at runtime with ReportDocument.ReadRecords

Installing the Latest Bits

To get the latest version of Crystal for Visual Studio 2010, you need to download this from the SAP site.  Keep in mind that now Crystal does not come directly bundled with VS 2010, but requires a download.

Visual Studio 2010 comes with a template for Crystal.  You are prompted to download Crystal Reports for Visual Studio 2010 from the SAP website.  Here is the link

If you are installing beta 2 over a beta 1 installation, remember to uninstall beta 1.  This is accomplished by deleting the folder where beta 1 was installed.  While there currently is not a plan for a Beta 3, remember to uninstall previous versions before installing a newer one.

Currently Beta 2 includes the bits for installation with VS 2010, the runtime for 32 bit and the runtime for 64 bit.  These runtimes are large files, but Crystal is promising to reduce the footprint in time for release in November.

Creating a New Reporting Application with the WPF Viewer

The new WPF viewer control to use in your windows applications is a slick new control.  It looks better and has some newer features, as revealed in the API section above.  As of Beta 2, binding a report to the viewer is done most easily programmatically. 

If you want to allow the end user some control of what report to view, enable the property ShowOpenFileButton to allow the user to select a report.  Eventually there will be a property to set this, but you can set the report to an embedded resource using code.  For instance, in example 1, the code shows how to bind an embedded resource to the report viewer. 

CrystalReport1 is a report created in a project.  To bind this report to the new WPF viewer, use the property ViewerCore.ReportSource and set it to the instance of the embedded report.  Code Sample 1 shows the code.

Listing 1

InitializeComponent();
reportViewer.Owner = this;
CrystalReport1 newCR = new CrystalReport1();
reportViewer.ViewerCore.ReportSource = newCR;

Figure 1: Sample of viewer

 

The new control does have better graphics.  Besides better graphics the viewer also has built in performance benefits.  When filtering, if the data is not changed, the data does not get refreshed. 

 

For instance, if you use a parameter to hide or show an object on your report, the data would not be affected.  In the report shown in Figure 1, there is a print date that shows at the top of the report.  An object like this would be perfect to demonstrate the new refreshing strategy.

 

First, edit the report.  Add a parameter, named ShowPrintDate.  Make that parameter Boolean and set the default value to True.  Select the object containg print date, and open the format properties dialog box.  On the common tab, select the formula button beside the suppress checkbox.  In that formula box, enter the formula shown in code sample 2.

 

Listing 2

IIF ({?ShowPrintDate},False ,true )

That formula will allow you to toggle visibility of the print object on the report.  When you select and change that parameter, the report will not go back to the data store to refresh the data.  If you utilize these types of dynamic parameters in your reports, you should see some performance gains from this.

Creating Reports

With this new control it is the little things that make the new control worthwhile.  For instance when paging through the report, there are nice animated transitions.  This makes the paging experience elegant for users. 

When the user of the report drills down, a tab opens within the viewer.  This way the report is open at the same time as the drill down.  It is extremely simple to get back to the original report this way.  See Figure 2 for an example of this.

Figure 2

For the end user exporting, the addition of XLSX allows exporting to a Microsoft Excel Workbook.  Limited testing proved that this export put the data in correct columns.  That looks like a clean export experience.

For the report designer the experience includes the ability to preview the report while designing in Visual Studio.  You can upgrade to Crystal 2008 if you want the ability to edit on the preview page.

Download and Summary

[Download Sample]

The new WPF viewer for Crystal reports is a nice addition to your reporting aresenal. There have been nice incremental improvements, including creating this as a WPF component. Keep in mind this is Beta 2. The final release will be more stable and will have a smaller footprint.

Keep coding, and keep on creating great reports.



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