Tuesday, 8 April 2014

My Guide to SAP Crystal Reports for Beginners


Mervin came to DSCallards with a problem, he found himself on a Monday morning trawling through hundreds of databases to write reports, although he did write the same report last week!! But because the data has changed he had to go back and do it all again, and again, and again (Groundhog Day!!).

So we came along and took away that pain for him with SAP Crystal Reports and instead of re-writing his reports each day and each week all he needed to do was create the reports once with the SAP Crystal Reports writer, then each time he ran that report it would update with the latest data. Simples! (We also helped Mervin with Crystal training) Now Mondays are fun, he can send the report via email in PDF format; he can print it or share the report with a flash file.

Due to the reports being so useful in the business the team was asking Mervin to create more and more reports every day or they needed updated versions of the reports already created so Mervin came to us to see if we could help again and we helped Mervin with a SAP Crystal Platform.

This opened the door for the business to securely open, view, interact with and share reports and dashboards over the Web. It enabled the business to intuitively explore and visualize data! Mervin could also setup security to control access to specific folders and reports. He could also specify the rights for users or groups, to schedule or export reports. 

Mervin could not believe how this revolutionized the whole reporting system. His team was able to pull their own reports at any time of the day and even change the built in parameters to tailor the reports for their department! Mervin even set up a burst if certain criteria wasn’t being met a report was sent out to highlight that in real time. 

The reports were now easy to read, with one true single form of data, Information came to life!!! 

The reports were now critical to the running of the business and as more and more colleagues wanted to analyze their own data Mervin was inundated for requests to write bespoke reports.  So he came to us and asked if there was anything that Crystal could do to help him with this and of course we came to the rescue and created a Universe.

We got to work on this right away; we created a virtual platform called a universe where you could ask the universe for a certain bit of information and the universe will talk to the databases and pull that information into a report that can be saved to the Crystal Platform. What was amazing is that this was so easy for everyone to do they didn’t need any technical background and they didn’t need to ask Mervin to do it for them.

Mervin was very happy, got a raise and lived happily ever after!

There are two types of businesses. The first have a BI system in place the other doesn’t. Who would your customers rather work with?

Written by Donna Hornickel, Sales Executive, DSCallards (and Mervin’s wife)

For more information, visit www.crystalreports.co.uk.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Sql Server Data Tools Issues


So, there I was beavering away on a Monday morning scoping some changes for some new work for a client. I have recently had a new super quick desktop built for me with Windows 8 (bygones) and all of the usual development tools installed. Visual Studio 2012 is currently our tool of choice twinned with in this instance Sql Server 2012.
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In the midst of my scoping I came across some database stored procedures being referenced that I felt unclear about exactly how they achieved their goal. I decided to investigate further by examining the SQL scripts that we keep within our project solution as a matter of course. So I double clicked to open the files as you do and…

Hmm, not what I was expecting to see.

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As I previously stated I have recently had a new machine built for me, Visual Studio 2012 and SQL Server 2012 already pre-installed  and I was not expecting such a broken installation. I tried again and did a few more investigations like trying to creating a database project, nope all broken. So I resorted to my most excellent friend, Google, and after a little research here  found that I needed to ensure that my SSDT was up to date. The article spoke about a ‘Check For Updates’ menu item being available from my SQL menu. OK, this was the first clue as I had no SQL menu! I thus downloaded the latest SSDT installation and ran the installation program.

What do you know, it now all works!

I hope this helps.

Written by Conrad Rowlands, Senior Systems Architect and Developer, DSCallards

Monday, 24 February 2014

Wireframing with WireframeSketcher



design-520x245The importance of wireframing an application to allow free and frank discussions with a potential client, cannot I think, be overstated. To this end we use WireframeSketcher. Potential clients generally dont care about the technology behind an application, indeed they dont really care about the controls you use. They just want to know how they will interact with it.
Read full blog here.

Written by Conrad Rowlands, Senior Systems Architect and Developer, DSCallards

Warm Fuzzy Feeling

Software matters, this much we have ascertained from an earlier blog on ‘that car!’. I think it may be fair to draw a comparison in some ways between something else that really does matter, relationships.  Like any relationship we should be in it for the long haul,  ultimately everybody gets much more out of the software if its not a quick ‘get it done and boot it out of the door’ thing. There’s no feelings of guilt about having done a half job nor the shame of being in it for the one thing, money. In addition there is no awkward history to catch up with you when you least expect it and no sense of the whole relationship being just another logo on your ‘customers’ page .

Read full blog here.

Written by Conrad Rowlands, Senior Systems Architect and Developer, DSCallards

Ascertaining Geographic Data within an SSIS Import

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So, You probably had it before… A client asks you to plot their addressing data on a map of some sort. Its not an issue you tell them, make sure that within the the data you have the appropriate latitude/longitude data for the address and we will do the rest.. And thats where the awkward silence starts, they haven’t got this data, they NEVER have and data costs!

There are of course ways around this with Google maps of course being top of the list of possible non paying solutions. I thought I’d share my experiences of this with you…. We needed to implement an address look up on an initial import of data using our ETL tool (SSIS). Whilst not being major surgery this is slightly more than ten minutes work …..

Read full blog here.

Written by Conrad Rowlands, Senior Systems Architect and Developer, DSCallards

Monday, 13 January 2014

Say What?


So, We have an inherited VB website that we just bought under our own processes and controls. We like to keep things tidy and as a result of this decided to place the website under a Visual Studio solution within it’s own ‘website project’ (not application). There are several other projects associated with the application and as such it makes sense to store them all within one solution, this way anyone who elects to come ‘caped like’ to the rescue does not have to search disparate areas within the whole organisation for the source. All good.

I was then tasked with plugging the solution into our internal build processes (we use CCNet) and after a little scratting around to find how you build a web site the I was hopeful that my work was nearly at end. Upon kicking the automated build off all seemed to go without issue until I got  the following rather spurious error whist trying to ‘Publish’ the website :-

Read full blog here.

Written by:  Conrad Rowlands, Senior Systems Architect and Developer, DSCallards

For more information, visit www.developer-solutions.co.uk

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Gandalf Gives a ‘Bit’ of Inspiration

So there I was in Camden High Street (which was weird because I live in Devon) posting a letter and minding my own business when a unicorn came along carrying Gandalf the Grey (who was actually my mum in a beard, bygones….) and he spake unto me.

“Young Wizard, have you never thought of using a bit field to represent related data within a database?”

The question threw me, In part because I really like the look of the giant sized marshmallow that Gandalf was now devouring, in part because I wasn’t aware that Gandalf had any interest in RDBS techniques but mainly because I hadn’t ever considered it

Read full blog here.

Written by:  Conrad Rowlands, Senior Systems Architect and Developer, DSCallards

For more information, visit www.developer-solutions.co.uk