We'll put our cards on the table right away - we really like Crystal. It is one of the packages in which we have most experience. We first used it to extract information out of SunSystems Version 4.1.5 in 1996 (an Aged Debt report that was a lot faster than the report supplied with Sun, and enabled drill down too).
At that stage we used Version 4 of Crystal. Seagate are now up to Version 9. Along the way Crystal has become web-enabled and users are able to use Crystal Enterprise (and formerly Seagate Info) to schedule reports and publish them to the web or intranets.
Unfortunately to compensate for this, users lost the ability (after version 7) to compile and install executables on client pcs which didn't have a copy of Crystal installed.
One feature that remains and that we have always liked is the ability to save the data with a generated report. This makes the file much bigger, but enables the user to easily distribute information to other users who aren't connected to the database. This is less useful now that reports can be viewed over the web, but it also enables some report development to take place without connecting to the sever.
An indication of its dominance in the world of report writers, is the fact that it is bundled with Visual Basic and can be easily embedded within a VB programme.
Also included in the Seagate stable is Seagate Analysis. Like Cognos's Powerplay, this is an OLAP (OnLine Analytical Processing) programme that enables users to manipulate data to discover trends and relationships between business dimensions
"Making things as easy as"
Attwood Business Consultancy Ltd