As more and more companies develop intranets, the need to publish database reports as HTML pages becomes greater. Now you can do just that with the Web reporting add-on for the 32-bit version of Crystal Reports, Crystal Web Report Engine, from Crystal, a Seagate Software company. This add-on, which is still in beta testing, is currently available free on Seagate's Web site. You must have version 4.5 of Crystal Reports to use the Web report engine. Most of the Web Report components will be included in Crystal Reports 5.0, due in June.
The update is a 5.5Mb executable file, so it took me a while to download it. After I accomplished that feat, the installation was a snap.
Once I had the software loaded, it was really easy to generate a report and save the result as an HTML page. Three new options appear when you click Crystal's export report button, including HTML 3.0, Microsoft's Internet Explorer 2.0, or Netscape Communications' Navigator 2.0, allowing you to create Web pages in whichever flavour of HTML you prefer. The resulting output consists of one or many HTML files, depending on the complexity of the report. The Web report engine saves graphical objects as .GIF files.
Another new feature with this add-on is the capability of reporting on Web server logs that conform to the NCSA standard format. Most of the popular Web servers use this format, including those from Netscape and Microsoft. Standard reports include bytes per minute or hour; requests per second, minute, or hour; and top 40 files requested. The only hitch with the current release is that you can't run these reports on the fly. They must be generated using the Crystal Reports program and saved to the server. Seagate plans to offer a dynamic reporting capability in an update.
Seagate has another product called Crystal Info that offers scheduled reporting. The Web reporting engine also works with this product to periodically refresh data on a Web page with current data.
Seagate has recently released Crystal's 101 Reports for Back Office. This CD-ROM contains 101 different reports that show detailed information about the different Microsoft Back Office components, including the Internet Information Server. With these reports and the Crystal Info product, you could easily set up an HTML-based server monitoring system that could be viewed from any browser on your network.
If you're looking for a way to publish your data on a Web server and are already using Crystal Reports, the Web report engine may be just the thing you've been looking for.
The Bottom Line: Very Good
Crystal Reports adds HTML output to its list of capabilities and can even generate Web server usage reports.
Pros: Easy way to publish database reports as HTML pages.
Cons: No dynamic Web page creation; server usage reports not generated on the fly.
Price: Crystal Reports Professional $570 RRP, and $325 upgrade. Crystal Reports Standard $295 and $145.
Platform: Windows 95 or Windows NT.
Tel: 02) 436 1175ÊFax: (02) 436 1184