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Hour 23. Distributing Crystal Reports > Reviewing Report Distribution Options

Reviewing Report Distribution Options

You might be wondering why an entire chapter would be devoted to report distribution. It seems logical that report files could simply be emailed or even printed and sent to whoever has a need for that particular information. This simplistic viewpoint however would overlook some important considerations when delivering reports to business users:

  • Static Data vs Live Data— As soon as a report is printed to paper or exported to an external format like Adobe Acrobat (PDF) or Microsoft Excel (XLS), it becomes static and potentially out of date. Depending on the nature of the data being used in the report, this might be an issue. Even for situations in which having live data isn't important(for example, reports based on historical data), interactive features such as drill-downs are lost when printing or exporting a report.

  • IT Maintenance— Because features such as drill-downs and hyperlinks are supported by the Crystal Reports Designer, it might seem logical to install the designer on each person's desktop who might need to view reports. This powerful, distributed report creation capability might be overwhelming to some end users and more importantly can grow into an IT maintenance headache when the audience for reports grows large.

  • Report Maintenance— Distributing out reports and their associated files to the desktops of business users makes it cumbersome to make updates and additions to those reports because of the need to manually update each user's machine and associated reports.

  • Security— Only certain business users should have access to certain reports, and even within this group of authorized business users, certain levels of restrictions should be in place. The average business user might be given the ability to change the data displayed in a report by entering parameter values, but should not be able to change core aspects of a report. This report design and modification capability should be reserved for a subset of the reporting user base.

  • Presentation to a Variety of Formats— Often, reports need to be presented in various formats, whether it is being previewed onscreen using one of the Crystal Reports viewers, embedded into a Web-based portal, or even displayed on a wireless device (for example, PDA, Mobile Phone, and so on).



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