Crystal 10 now includes more native driver support, and better integration with ADO.NET. Now, if you have created a dataset in your project, in your connection information you can point to the class. You can either point to the dataset file or the class to be consumed as your data source.
There are a ton of native drivers as well. Drivers like ACT!, Exchange Folder, Java Beans, NT Event Logs, IIS Log Files, give lots of flexibility in the types of data sources you can access. And since these use native drivers, it seems to be something that would work well in the Enterprise. I was surprised that the SQLClient .NET class was not included, but that’s probably something that won’t be included until the .NET framework is ubiquitous on the desktop.
Along with the scalability gains and gains in report designer functionality, Crystal will be included with the next release of Visual Studio. That release (2005), will include a .NET version based on the Crystal Reports 10 engine. It will still be scaled down, and only useable with Visual Studio, but using Crystal 10 now continues the upgrade path.
One thing that I didn’t see was an update of the report object model. I would like to see logging onto different subreports a little easier, at least in the beginning. I also would love to see automated report generation made a little easier. Microsofts Reporting Services outputs the actual report format in xml. I really like that approach, and would love to see that.
Hopefully this article gives you an idea of the new features of Crystal Reports. Keep in mind that Crystal also has other products that might be useful for your organization. Products like Report Analysis, and Crystal Enterprise might make sense for organizations with large reporting needs. I did not really touch on the reusability that has been included in this starting from Crystal 9.
I like the Crystal Designer interface, for report programmers and power users. I’ve found it powerful, but useable. Many of the other reporting options do not include this as an option. I think for a lot of organizations this along with familiarity of the Crystal product is a good reason to use it. If that sounds like your organization, you might want to look into the Crystal 10 upgrade for the reasons I’ve mentioned and more. It has a lot to offer the Enterprise. Keep on coding!