Linking Your Report and Data

In this article we finally get to open Crystal Reports!  But first, some housekeeping and things to keep in mind:

  • I’m working with Crystal Reports XI (11).  As a Raiser’s Edge user you probably have Crystal Reports XI or 8.5 installed and you know how to open it. I don’t know the differences between the two versions but I imagine you should be able to do all of the same things.
  • I’ll skip the tour usually found in software manuals (i.e. “…here is the Open button. Click here to open a report.” Snore.). I learn by doing and that’s also how I teach. I’ll use detailed steps and try to make it as straightforward as possible.
  • Similar to Microsoft products, there are multiple ways to do things in Crystal Reports. I will be using what I normally use. Sure, there might be better or easier ways but I’m old and am stuck in my ways.
  • If I miss something, confuse the heck out of you or if you have a question then please leave a comment and I’ll clarify and edit the article. (This is important to me. I’ve been using Crystal Reports a long time and sometimes run on autopilot, so I won’t be surprised if I leave something out. So again, please get in touch.)

Here we go…

Open Crystal Reports. Here you might see the Start Page. You don’t need it now, but if you don’t see the Start Page and want to, then click the Help menu (up top), then select “Show Start Page.” The only thing I use this page for is the links to recently opened reports and the “Blank Report” link.

Click the File menu (upper left) -> New -> Blank Report… Screenshot (4)This opens the Database Expert window. (Yes, you could use the Standard Report Creation Wizard but you’ll learn more using the Blank Report option.) Database ExpertThe Database Expert window is where you tell Crystal Reports which data file to use. I’ll be using the data file (.mdb) that we exported from Raiser’s Edge in the last article.

Click the plus sign to the left of (or double-click) “Create New Connection”,
then double-click “Database Files.” This opens a window for you to select the data file (the mdb file that was exported from RE). Find and select the data file, then click the Open button. I keep all data files in the same folder on our network, along with all the Crystal Reports “.rpt” files (more on “.rpt” files soon). This way I know exactly where to find all the files I need when working on reports, no matter which type of report or department uses the report. I also name the mdb and rpt files the same. Click/highlight the file path and name (the one that ends with “.mdb”) in the Available Data Sources (left) window, then click the double-arrow button.Screenshot (7)

On the top of the current window, click the Links tab. This shows you the tables that are in the data file and their links. If it’s not already maximized, maximize the window so you can see all of your tables. Screenshot (8)Double-click on any of the lines that connect the tables and the Link Options window opens. Screenshot (10)Change the Join Type to Left Outer Join. Do this for all remaining links, then click the OK button on the bottom of the window.  (see Table Links – An Explanation for additional information about table links and join types)

This will bring you to the Design view of your new report. Screenshot (14)Click File -> Save and save the report. Notice that it saves the report with a file extension of .rpt. Keep in mind that this is a separate file from the .mdb file.

Congratulations, you have just created your first report! Press F5 on your keyboard and behold the awesomeness that is your report.

Okay, so there’s nothing there… yet! In the next article we’ll add fields to the report and make it pretty and stuff.

Read the next article in the Crystal Reports track: Adding Fields to Your Report or view the track listing here

4 thoughts on “Linking Your Report and Data

  1. There is a major difference between Crystal Reports XI and Crystal Reports 8.5 and that is in the Table Joins. CR 8.5 uses a right inner join and CR 11 uses a left outer join. The difference is major.

  2. I have been following all the articles on Crystal report thus far and it is great. Will be great to hear on “parameters” and how to use it and also “Table Links”. It has been a source of frustration for me as some times data displays and some times it doesn’t ! Almost a guessing game inner join or outer join 🙂

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