Crystal Reports Tutorial

If you have been looking forward to finding an ideal Crystal Reports tutorial, you have come down to the right place. This post covers every basic aspect of Crystal Reports, including its meaning, usage, history, features, advantages, and disadvantages. Along with that, you also get a brief comparison between crystal reports vs Cognos.

Crystal Reports is specifically designed to work with databases to help you evaluate as well as interpret essential information. By understanding this Crystal Reports Tutorial, you get to understand how to use this software better for product reports from virtually any type of data source, such as Microsoft Excel, XML Data Source, MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, and more. 

Furthermore, Crystal Reports is easy to use and can allow you to create anything, right from simple to complex reports. To help you out understand this software thoroughly, this post covers the basics of crystal reports.

Crystal Reports - Table of Contents

What are SAP Crystal Reports?

It is a BI tool that is used for generating analytical reports from both SAP as well as non-SAP sources of data, such as Microsoft Excel, XML Data Source, MySQL, SQL Server, Oracle, and more. The tool’s knowledge assists businesses to create advanced level reports and taking precisely as well as profitable business decisions on the basis of these reports.

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Why Do We Use Crystal Reports?

The primary purpose of using Crystal Reports is to let users pull the preferred data from a data source, be it an MS SQL Server database, Oracle, or any other database supported by this software. And then, users get to present the data in an organized and repeatable way.

History of Crystal Reports

Back in 1991, the Crystal Reports software was created by Terry Cunningham and his peers. However, later it was acquired by Seagate Technology in 1994. And then, in 2003, Crystal Decisions software was again taken over by BusinessObjects. 

Its 11th version was released in the year 2004. Later, on October 8, 2007, SAP acquired BusinessObjects. In the last few years, versions 14.0, 14.1, and 14.2 were released in 2011, 2013, and 2016 respectively.

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Crystal reports vs Cognos

Companies have a variety of choices regarding how they wish to pursue developing business intelligence resources. There is an extensive consensus that a variety of businesses can’t ignore this factor any longer. So, while Crystal Reports is in the limelight, Cognos is another alternative that is developed by IBM and is being used by several companies are using. Let’s have a brief comparison between Crystal Reports vs Cognos.


Crystal Reports


Data VisualizationWith Crystal Reports, you can find rich formatting tools that offer detailed customization options. It can use complex and simple data sources to sort, evaluate and showcase reporting in an effective format for a certain recipient. If your organization relies heavily on generating customized reports with complex data correlation, this one would be an ideal choice.This is ideal for smarter self-service and promotes the ability to allow users to personalize results as well as create modern dashboards from almost anywhere, over the cloud. Along with standard visualization-building features, it also takes report creation one step ahead with recommendations.
Analytics Crystal Reports is an enterprise reporting system instead of a basic business intelligence tool. However, its streamlined functionality doesn’t compromise its analytics abilities at any cost. The program offers insights forward through organizational, filtering tools as well as search systemsCognos provides a solution for data comparison, benchmarking, trend forecasting, predictive analytics, mapping functionalities, and social media analytics. This one is an AI machine learning tool that concentrates on uncovering unseen insights and trends.
Online Analytical Processing (OLAP)This software features powerful reporting tools along with drill-down capabilities that reveal primary business insights in OLAP cube reports. You can also connect to OLAP sources through software, allowing you to explore data layers thoroughly.It places information in an OLAP space where you can get into the data to explore its layers, and uncover the problems as well as possible solutions. Cognos offers additional data exploration features and time series analysis as well.
Document ManagementWith this software, the information can be made available both online and offline in several formats. You can share your reports through mobile, email, and web.You can convert your reports into Microsoft Excel files, CSV, PDF, XML, and HTML. There are extensions that offer version control ability as well.

Components of Crystal Reports

To begin with, the Report Design Canvas assists you in designing the report’s structure. You can include a variety of elements in it, such as data objects, tests, charts, and more. Let’s find out some of the common but significant components of crystal reports:


This specific option showcases a rule above the report canvas. However, the tool lets you change the measurement unit by changing the unit option on the design canvas tab.

Structure Mode & Page Mode

The structure and page mode assists you in defining the reports’ layout. Every object in the structure mode is signified by a frame. Some of the important components are mentioned below:

Name of the ComponentDetails
Report HeaderIt is specifically used for adding the Report title or any other information at the top of the report.
Page HeaderThis one is used to display information at the top of every page. This section basically comprises chapter names, document heading, and more.
Page FooterThe page footer is used to display page numbers or other information at the end of every page.
BodyThis specific section is meant to show the report’s body. All of the report’s data should be included in this specific section.
Page ModePage mode is to represent the actual data when the report will be published and printed.
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Data Sources

With crystal reports, you can effortlessly connect to several data sources, such as:

  • HANA view
  • Excel spreadsheets
  • Relational connection
  • SAP BEx Query

If you wish to connect to the data sources, follow these steps:

  • From Data Source, visit the File section
  • Click New

Connect to data sources

To choose a data source, make sure you have connected to the SAP Business Objects platform server. For that, follow these steps: 

  • Go to File and click New
  • Choose From Data Source and select a data source connection
  • A dialogue box will appear on your screen
  • Now, click on Browse Repository
  • Choose Data Source Type List
  • Choose a data source that you wish to connect and click Next.

Features of Crystal Reports

Here are some of the features of SAP Crystal Reports that you must know:

  • Lets you interact with a variety of data sources
  • ROLAP (SQL-layer querying)
  • Can avoid the intervention of middle layers
  • OLAP (Pre-processed cube representation)
  • Seamless interaction with SAP HANA
  • Multi-data source reporting
  • Significant report design
  • Live connection to external data
  • Tracks information
  • Keeps data organized
  • Flexible development of application
  • Effortless navigation system
  • Report management and delivery
  • Administration through a web interface

Uses of Crystal Report

The SAP crystal reports are usually used to extract customized analytical reports from a variety of data sources. These reports also assist businesses in developing a database reporting environment to access, format, and view the data along with integrating the reports with a variety of applications to make them available for everybody in the organization.

Crystal Reports – GUI Navigation

For enterprises, crystal reports provide an interface that allows you to create, format, and publish efficient reports. The menu bar offers an extensive range of features as shown below:

Crystal Reports for Enterprises

  • With the insert tab, you can insert an object in the reports, such as lines, text, groups, boxes, pictures, sections, and charts.
  • The format tab, lets you use functions for formatting the chosen files, such as changing the font, size, background colour, alignment, and more.
  • With crystal reports, you can conditionally format the reports, such as highlighting value, etc.

Advantages of SAP Crystal Reports

Jotted down below are some advantages of SAP Crystal Reports:

  • Lets you create pixel-perfect reports through effective workflows and a seamless design interface
  • Assists you in creating a customized reporting view for the business
  • Helps you develop personalized reports in the preferred format and language
  • Lets you navigate to the lowest data level without any hassles
  • Allows you to connect to information sources directly, including web services, OLAP, JDBC connectivity to relational DB, ODBC OLE DB, native data, and more.
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Disadvantages of SAP Crystal Reports

Here are some disadvantages of SAP Crystal Reports:

  • Not a user-friendly tool for learning because it is tiring to decrypt errors and is hard to figure out
  • No free trial plan
  • Using sub-reports makes the process slower than usual
  • Can’t function without a stable internet connection
  • Security could be a major concern


Now that you have understood that the crystal reports are helpful for business leaders when it comes to developing advanced reporting to take accurate decisions, it is the time you integrate them into your business. Apart from this crystal reports tutorial, you can move ahead and explore this software more to understand its hidden factors and create personalized reports in no time.

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Crystal Reports TrainingJun 25 to Jul 10View Details
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Last updated: 03 Apr 2023
About Author

Vinod M is a Big data expert writer at Mindmajix and contributes in-depth articles on various Big Data Technologies. He also has experience in writing for Docker, Hadoop, Microservices, Commvault, and few BI tools. You can be in touch with him via LinkedIn and Twitter.

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