Please share with the community what you think needs improvement with SAP Crystal Reports.
What are its weaknesses? What would you like to see changed in a future version?
This was a good platform when it first came out but right now, it has become a complicated behemoth. These days, things are a little more dynamic and you really need a platform where you can change fast, and Crystal Reports is not it. This is an enterprise solution and there is no innovation there. The only innovation comes through a company that develops reports, such as us. A real improvement would be a simpler system that allows users to play with the visualization without needing specialized skills and code. You shouldn't need a specialized developer just to code a Crystal Report. Ideally, a general-purpose or front-end developer, which is more cost-effective, should be able to do it. A lot of times, what happens is that developers reuse or repurpose their domain model to use that to pull the data from a database. I think the main model that they use for the web application, the database model, and then use that to run the reports because they don't want to rewrite the code. This means that those entity models they have are too normalized for the crystal reports. Then, it becomes a bit of a mismatch where they have to change those entities and create new ones. Reporting is different than something like getting data from a web application and we really care about the transactions, which means that you always have to denormalize the data. What I've seen a lot of times is that developers kind of get stuck in this mismatch and they have to recode something. Or, they just drop what they did and do it from scratch, remapping the tables or creating new entities. This is a problem because if you promise somebody a report, only to later realize that it needs to be re-coded, it takes additional time. It becomes even more complicated when you need to re-create the business logic. Because the users can export data to Excel or a PDF, it sometimes leads to data leakage and can create privacy issues.
There could be improvements made to the analytics capabilities. Crystal Reports could be more graphical. Management wants to be able to see everything on one page.