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Note: This blog is assigned into the ABAP category as well, because my background is ABAP and I expect other SAP/ ABAP people to get interested in Crystal Reports and other BO stuff.

There are many people very curious about the "new" toys in the SAP world (well, Crystal Reports are not very new, but they are for the people working with SAP/ ABAP like me. We didn´t care before SAP acquired BusinessObjects). Or there are people who use the spare time to widen the skills. These people typically don´t have access to any support in their companies and they explore the place "where no one has gone before" to prove the new things, that can be (maybe one day) beneficial for their companies (and of course for them in their career perspectives). I am one of those guys.

I wanted to try Crystal Reports (CRs) integration with SAP ERP and didn´t have any support, any relevant (BO) experience or background. But I wanted to make this work - satisfy my curiosity. I write this blog to share the experience with the other cowboys exploring the Wild West and maybe I will inspire somebody to write some similar dummy-friendly blog about some other interesting topic.

What we gonna need

Goal: Use Crystal Reports trial together with SAP NetWeaver (ERP) (trial), create (or just run, you will see) a CR based on the SAP (table) data.

What will you need to re-build the "solution" of mine?

All this software is available for free download as a trial version. As far as I can tell you don´t have to pay a cent to re-create my demo landscape.

Note: Probably this blog states facts, which are already well known and maybe even copies some other resources about the CRs. I didn´t know any of the resources when trying to run the whole scenario and don´t know any of them at the time I write this blog. The target audience for this blog is anybody who has absolutely NO experience with BO and has at least some experience with SAP ERP/ ABAP and this kind of stuff (we, SAP people, start to explore the BO portfolio).

How to make this work

Ok, let´s do this. Follow the instructions:

  • Install the virtualization software (Virtualbox in my case)
  • Convert the OS media to the format acceptable by the virtualization software as a disk image (I used Virtual Box, I had to convert the OS images to ISO format), change the boot media to the DVD/ disk image (where disk 1 of OS install is loaded)
  • Install the OS (as I mentioned above, I have installed Server 2003)
  • Install the guest additions for your virtualization software (it helps a lot!)
  • setup the shared folder between the host and the guest machine (in the virtual machine you can access the folder through the Network)
  • Install the CR viewer, Install the Adobe Reader (helps a lot to read the documentation)
  • Register on the provided SAP BO page, get the CR trial link, download the software
  • Install the software with the code form your email (you get the email, didn´t you?)
  • Install the integration kit for SAP, provide the code from the download page (oh, yes, you can get the code without the registration here, read the page!!)
  • Run the Crystal Reports (Designer). Read the first page. You will understand what various sources of information you can use. Note that you can download the demo CRs to get a running solution with minimum effort.
  • I have downloaded the samples for the SAP NetWeaver integration and one of the files was a CR with data source: EKKO, EKPO, LFA1. I hope you start to like the CRs when you can see something familiar.
  • The last problem to have your own data in the CR is the connection. The samples use some sample/ testing connection which you would probably like to change to you system. To be able to use your SAP connection, you must have SAP GUI installed and the system, you would like to access from the CR, configured in the SAP GUI systems list.
  • In the CR designer, with the sample (which connects t the ERP system) opened, open the Database Expert. Check the list: My connections, New connection. Under the new connection there are some SAP relevant items to check.
  • Here you may wish to install your SAP NetWeaver trial if you don´t have access to any SAP NetWeaver sandbox system to play with.
  • Create a new SAP connection (the one where you can use DB tables):  first pick a SAP system from the list. If you cannot see any SAP system in the list, you didn't configure one in your SAP GUI. Next provide the access information. Of course keep the security in mind. If you have to access the VPN or something to "see" your NetWeaver system, jump into the VPN first. Now you can replace the sample´s connection with your own.
  • You should be able to see your own SAP data in the demo Crystal Report.

I hope the whole scenario works for you now. I am sorry if some parts of the "TODO" list are not described in the greater detail or maybe even an action is missing. It took me few weeks to create a working demo myself and it is possible I didn´t mention all the necessary steps here.

In that case Google can help or I will try to help (in this order, Google first, friends) everybody to make the scenario work and will update the list if anybody will find any error or a missing action.

Useful sources of information:

I hope this how-to blog will help few people to start playing around with the Crystal Reports (and of course help SAP get some new CR customers). If you would like to add or correct anything regarding thisblog, please contact me, we will work on it. Regards Otto