Crystal Decisions this week announced Crystal Enterprise 9 -- the latest version of its report-creating software that boasts a cornucopia of new functionalities.
"One of the biggest new capabilities is the ability to actually reuse pieces of new reports to develop new ones," said Marc Borbas, product manager for Crystal Enterprise 9 at Crystal Decisions. "So I may create a very complex formula to calculate my sales forecast at the end of the month, and [if] I wanted to use that across multiple reports, I could put that in a single repository and use it across a bunch of reports."
Borbas added there are a number of new tools to help users analyze reports in greater detail and highlighted the advanced report viewer feature. It provides the ability to perform more complex or Boolean searches as opposed to simple keyword searches.
Other additions include system management enhancements such as the ability to migrate reports from test environments to production environments. According to Borbas, a lot of users first run a report in a test environment to ensure the report's effectiveness.
"It used to be a much more mechanical and manual process, so we've now provided an automated way to do that," he said.
Crystal Enterprise 9 also provides tighter Web application integration capabilities for embedding business-driven report content into Java, .Net and component object model (COM) applications. An example of this is providing greater front-end portal support.
In a couple of months, Crystal Decisions will add include ad-hoc reporting to Crystal Enterprise 9, which is the ability for users to create reports "on-the-fly."
Users will be able to upgrade this function into their software.
Right now there are three editions of Crystal Enterprise: the Report Application Server Edition, the Standard Edition and the Professional Edition. Prices range from US$2,000 to US$75,000. In the first half of this year, Crystal Decisions plans to unveil another version of Crystal Enterprise -- the Premium Edition.
Crystal Enterprise 9 is currently available only for Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 and NT platforms. However, other versions are available for the Unix platforms.
It was also announced Tuesday that Crystal Enterprise 9 has been integrated into Microsoft's Business Solutions Customer Relationship Management (CRM). It will provide the reporting, analysis, and information delivery capabilities within that solution.
A version of Crystal Enterprise called Crystal Enterprise for Microsoft CRM will be automatically included with Microsoft CRM; Microsoft Business Solutions will resell Crystal Reports for Microsoft CRM license and other offerings from Crystal Decisions.