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Introduction

Introduction

If you've picked up this book, undoubtedly you have heard of or are interested in Crystal Reports—the world's most popular reporting product from Crystal Decisions. If you are looking for a comprehensive guide to all the major features that Crystal Reports has to offer, and you don't have time for a one week course, this is the perfect book for you.

The reason Crystal Reports is so popular is because today's organizations are looking for fast, efficient ways to make sense of their data. Crystal Reports can be found everywhere, bundled in products from ERP solutions, such as SAP and PeopleSoft, to developer products such as Visual Basic and Visual Studio.NET. Crystal Reports is used to solve almost any type of reporting or information access problem imaginable, from creating sales reports for field-based account reps, to summary reports for organizational executives.

You might not know this, but some of the bills you get in the mail every month, as well as your online 401(k) statement accessible via the Web are often Crystal Reports. Crystal Reports has been in the market for 15 years, which has contributed significantly to its position as the market standard for enterprise reporting.

Over the past 15 years, Crystal Reports has evolved from providing presentation quality, paper-based reports to the current, highly interactive Web reporting solution we know today. This evolution, primarily driven by the Internet, has reshaped what most people perceive Crystal Reports to be. The Internet has given organizations a new medium by which to track and capture data about almost everything we do online, which has resulted in a massive increase in the amount of data available to the average organization. Accessing this data, and more importantly, turning it in to meaningful information is what Crystal Reports does best.

Sams Teach Yourself Crystal Reports 9 in 24 Hours was written to help you get the most out of Crystal Reports in the shortest amount of time. This book contains 24 lessons, each lasting about an hour if you complete all the reading and exercises available. After each lesson, a short quiz is provided to help you retain some of the key concepts you'll learn.

We've included two appendices as well, which will help you use some of the additional tools related to Crystal Reports that will enrich your reporting experience. Although Crystal Reports has an endless stream of business problems that it can solve, we've kept the book focused on some of the following topics:

  • An overview of Crystal Reports, how to install it, and some of the reporting issues you can address by using it.

  • Discussions on how to understand your corporate data because we think this is as much of a challenge as reporting itself.

  • Hours that cover the fundamentals of reporting from a Crystal Reports developer perspective.

  • Detailed sections on how to create aesthetically pleasing reports that provide valuable information for business users and managers.

  • Information on how to share and distribute your reports with others.

All the preceding topics are based on the real-world experiences of the authors of this book, so it's not only informational, but also realistic.

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