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Business Objects:Crystal Enterprise FAQ

Crystal Enterprise

What are the different editions of Crystal 9 Enterprise software? by caimoss
Posted: 23 Jul 04 (Edited 23 Jul 04)

The main concept this FAQ tries to address is this: Careful use of specific terminology in talking about Crystal Enterprise is the most important first step in understanding the differences in editions.

One of the most common problems my company's Crystal experts face is that many users and project managers toss around the phrase "Crystal Reports" when talking about any one of the many Crystal 9 products. In some cases, yes, it is a bad and lazy habit on their part, but Business Objects (formerly Crystal Decisions) also adds to the confusion themselves. Those of us responsible for tying our enterprise together have found that a lot of the information available from Business Objects can be confusing or misleading, especially when talking about the Crystal Enterprise products. If you dig deep enough and ask enough of the right questions you can figure it all out, but having gone through this before this is an attempt to break things down so that you can use consistent and distinct terminology discussing the Crystal 9 product line. I do not have any similar knowledge about any prior versions or Crystal 10 yet--sorry! I hope this helps when dealing with your own users or to help you ask Business Objects more pointed questions. Most of this information has come from various calls and emails to Crystal's support team and various OEM reps. Sometimes I got different answers on the same question, so there may be errors here, but we've tried to eliminate the wrong answers through actual product use and testing. I do not, and have never, worked for Business Objects or Crystal Decisions, so feel free to go to the company themselves to make sure you've got the right information--if they can keep up with you!

Some terminology I'll use here:
Edition -- Refers to the moniker of "Advanced", "Professional", "Developer", "Standard", etc. on a product.
Version -- Refers to things like "v9", "v8.5", etc.
Design -- The process of creating and editing a report.
Distribution -- Any method of getting an executed report to an end user in any format.
BO -- Abbreviation for Business Objects
RCAPI -- Report Creation API
Explorer Add-in -- This used to be called "Smart Reporting". Sometimes it is still a good idea to call it Smart Reporting to avoid confusion with things like Internet Explorer or Windows Explorer, but BO (especially the marketing folks) often use the term "Explorer" when referring to it along with CE. The technical folks at BO use "Smart Reporting" and "Explorer" pretty interchangeably.
Standalone RAS -- Any of the following editions (see below): CE-RAS-A, CE-RAS-D, CE-RAS-P
CE -- Any of the following editions (see below): CE-Std, CE-Pro, CE-ProEx
CPL -- Concurrent Process "License"
CAL -- Concurrent Access License

First, an example list of Crystal products described in the way that many users and managers might say (I have heard all of these used):
  • "Crystal Reports"
  • "Crystal Advanced"
  • "Crystal Reports Developer"
  • "Crystal Reports Professional"
  • "Crystal Reports Standard"
  • "Crystal Enterprise 9 Standard"
  • "Crystal 9 Professional"
  • "RAS"
  • "Crystal Reports RAS"
In reality, when someone brings up a question to me, one of the first things I have to ask is for them to specify what product they are really talking about. Here is that same list above, but broken down into distinct terminology that represent the differences in functionality actually available in the different editions. It also eliminates what I consider to be an erroneous "Crystal Reports RAS" reference. I'm also going to include a unique abbreviation I use for each item since the names can get bulky:
  • Crystal Reports 9 Advanced Edition (CR-A)
  • Crystal Reports 9 Developer Edition (CR-D)
  • Crystal Reports 9 Professional Edition (CR-P)
  • Crystal Reports 9 Standard Edition (CR-S)
  • Crystal Enterprise Standard (CE-Std)
  • Crystal Enterprise Professional (CE-Pro)
  • Crystal Enterprise Professional w/Explorer (CE-ProEx)
  • Crystal Enterprise RAS Advanced Edition (CE-RAS-A)
  • Crystal Enterprise RAS Developer Edition (CE-RAS-D)
  • Crystal Enterprise RAS Professional Edition (CE-RAS-P)
Most users have a good handle on report design, which is handled primarily by CR. The most frequent problems, questions, and licensing issues we fix deal with report distribution, which is the focus of this FAQ. Even more specifically, distribution in terms of using ASP or Java with the CE or RAS SDK to generate and then serve up reports from a server. Once you start getting your users to talk about CE in the specific terms described in the second list, you have a lot better chance at figuring out a solution if the problem relates to what edition of CE or Standalone RAS you have in place.

Situations/Examples to illustrate differences:

1a. When comparing Standalone RAS to CE, at a basic level you can think of RAS being a subset of CE. If you can do it in RAS, you can migrate your report and ASP pages to CE and they should work unchanged, with some exceptions (see #4 below). If you take this idea of migration in the other direction, there are a limited subset of things you can do in CE using the SDKs that will successfully port to Standalone RAS.

1b. On a slightly more technical level, CE contains a number of core services which make up the "Crystal Enterprise". One of these services is the Report Application Server, or "RAS". A "Standalone RAS installation" is just that particular service, "RAS". When you break it down even further as to the functions provided by these services, you have to look at #4 below. Yes, all CE servers have a RAS server running within them, but the different editions of CE have a different equivalent RAS server.

2. Learn to use the License Manager tool for version 9 products! (http://support.businessobjects.com/communityCS/FilesAndUpdates/cr9_licensemanager.zip.asp). If you just look at the products it can identify, you'll see right off the bat why it is dangerous to just say "RAS" without further qualifying that. This is a great way to start troubleshooting a server or developer's PC that is having problems with a report running through any of the CE editions. An example of the confusion your users may have: The tool will identify CE-RAS-A as simply "Crystal Enterprise Report Application Server". It identifies CE-Std, CE-Pro, and CE-ProEx as "Report Application Server for Crystal Enterprise". Read those two phrases carefully, and you'll see that it's easy to get them mixed up, but they identify two very different types of products.

3. When you hear that someone installed the "RAS" CD that came with their Crystal Reports package, you need to know what package the physical "RAS" CD came from. If you notice in the CD sleeves and on some of BO's documentation that it will say the RAS "Feature Set Varies by Edition". One of the most important differences is in the use of the RCAPI. Let's say you have a report in which the original sort order is modified on the fly by your ASP page (this requires a function call from the RCAPI). A common problem is that the report runs on one "RAS Server" as a user will call it, but on another one they'll get a "You are not licensed to use the Report Creation API" on another "RAS Server". "But I have RAS installed on both servers!!" they'll say. The working one is likely running CE-RAS-A, and the other one is either CE-RAS-D or CE-RAS-P. CE-RAS-A is RCAPI enabled by default. The others are not, but I believe BO can provide keycodes (perhaps for a price) to enable the RCAPI on the other versions. For the Business Objects explanation of this, try http://support.businessobjects.com/library/kbase/articles/c2015419.asp

4. If you write a report which requires CE-RAS-A to run (or another RCAPI enabled edition of RAS) and you intend to migrate to one of the CE editions, you're going to have to go to CE-ProEx. Why?
    --RCAPI is to CE-RAS as "Smart Reporting" is to the other CE editions.
    --CE Std does not contain Smart Reporting, and you can not add Smart Reporting to CE-Std via any keycode (not sure if this is a technical limitation or BO's business decision)
    --If you already have CE-Pro, then you can add Smart Reporting to your server via a keycode by purchasing one from BO.

5. Beware the hotfix! Here's a real-life example. A developer has CE-RAS-D on his workstation and attempts to run a report through his web-based application. When he attempts to render a report, he receives the "You are not licensed to use the Report Creation API" message. At this point the developer realizes this is a correct behavior, because his license for CE-RAS-D does not include access to the RCAPI. His company obtains a keycode from BO to unlock the RCAPI on his CE-RAS-D workstation, which essentially gives him the capabilities of CE-RAS-A (see #3 above). The application is working once again.
    Now the developer applies the monthly hotfix for what BO calls "Standalone RAS" (see terminology list above). After doing this, the application now has an error on a line of ASP code which had been previously working. This particular line of code makes a call to the COM RAS SDK.
    Another developer tries to apply the same hotfix on their workstation, but this person had CE-RAS-A installed (and thus already had the RCAPI). After applying the hotfix, the application still works.

    What this amounted to was that "CE-RAS-A + Hotfix" does NOT equal "CE-RAS-D + Hotfix + RCAPI keycode". If at all possible, have a test machine which you fully control the software installation on so that you can validate a hotfix won't break anything before you install it.

6a. "I have installed CE-RAS-A on one server and CE-RAS-D on another. The CE-RAS-D server occasionally rejects user requests for reports. Why?" This is because CE-RAS-A comes with queueing and caching. Any requests which exceed the concurrent CE RAS process limits on that server are queued until a process is available. On the CE-RAS-D server, they are simply denied. CE-RAS-A is the only standalone RAS version that has the queueing and caching functions.

6b. "Okay, what are the limits on that CE-RAS-A server then?" By default (out of the box), CE-RAS-A has 3 "CPL"s (Concurrent Process "Licenses") built into it. They aren't actually licenses, though, and according to BO there is no way to measure how many "processes" are in use. You can purchase a CPU "license" for Standalone RAS which will uncap the 3 CPL limit and let the CPU handle as much as it can. By comparison, the various editions of CE (see terminology above) are all based on some type of "license" as you'd traditionally think of them (Named User, CAL, or CPU). Those can be measured as to how many are in use, and you have a myriad of license options you can purchase from BO or another reseller.

Hope this helps. It's my first FAQ and I find it very hard to crunch all of this Crystal information into a tiny little FAQ without leaving important holes unplugged. If there is a way to update the FAQ's here, I'll update this one if we discover any more important nuggets of info as time goes on. Good luck in your Crystal Enterprise endeavors!

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