Embedded Crystal Reports Designer
Crystal Reports for Visual Studio comes with an embedded version of the Crystal Reports Designer application that you can run from within Visual Studio. The embedded Crystal Reports Designer is a GUI application. Using a collection of wizards and experts, complex report files can be built quickly and easily.
Traditionally, the Crystal Reports Designer is a stand-alone application that you launch from your Start menu under the name "Crystal Reports." But in Crystal Reports for Visual Studio, the Crystal Reports Designer is embedded within the application. Report templates are viewed like an ASPX page or .NET class file, within the central window of Visual Studio.
As a result, the embedded Crystal Reports Designer does not run independently. Instead, it is loaded within Visual Studio when a report file in Solution Explorer has been double-clicked.
The major difference between the stand-alone application and the embedded Crystal Reports designer is that the menus and toolbars of the embedded Crystal Reports Designer within Visual Studio are limited, compared to the menus and toolbars that are available in the stand-alone version.
Features of the Crystal Reports Designer
If you are new to the Crystal Reports Designer, here is an overview of the features provided in both the embedded and stand-alone versions of the Crystal Reports Designer.
Using the Crystal Reports Experts, you can quickly create reports that are based on your development needs:
- Choose from many report layout options, which range from standard reports to form letters, or build your own report from scratch.
- Display charts that users can drill down on and view detailed report data.
- Calculate summaries, subtotals, and percentages on grouped data.
- Show TopN or BottomN results of data.
- Conditionally format text and rotate text objects.
To load these experts, you click on their respective icons in the toolbar of the designer.
The Crystal Reports Designer uses a drag-and-drop approach to design that is similar to Visual Studio — you drag a report control onto the designer (such as a database field or text area) from the Field Explorer window, and then use the Properties window or the contextual menu to format the object.
Some report controls that you can add to your report and format according to your needs include the following:
- Database fields
- Formula fields
- Parameter fields
- Group Name fields
- Running Total fields
- Summary fields
The Crystal Reports Designer is divided into report sections, such as section headers, footers, and details. You drag report controls onto a report section.
The data that appears in the finished report depends on your design choices. In particular, report data varies depending on the sections into which you choose to insert particular report objects. For example, if you insert a chart object in the Report Header section, the chart will appear only once at the beginning of the report and will summarize the data contained in the report. Alternatively, if a chart object is added to the Group Header section, a separate chart will appear at the beginning of each group of data and will summarize the data relating only to that group.