It seems like every month SAP is unleashing new functionality for its Mobile BI app. Explorer, Web Intelligence and recently Dashboards have all made their way into the BI app and seem to work better, look nicer and perform faster then on the desktop! The mobile versions are not only slick and easy to use, they are also very easy to deploy to. For webi, all it takes to turn the report to mobile ready is assignment to a category (as is the case for Dashboards and Crystal), Explorer is there by default, and Dashboard can be saved as Mobile when exported to the repository. It’s that simple. Well, almost… While the product does allow developers to deploy content to the BI app very easily, the challenges of the design are still there, with a twist. Data issues, business logic complexities, real estate constraints, functionality gaps, all of the same challenges that make BI content development difficult for any device are applicable, with the additional challenge of new constraints related to mobile device usage and functionality that is “ramping up”. And while Webi, Explorer and Dashboards are “sexy”, dashing and elegant tools, I set out to try the capabilities of good old Crystal Reports on the BI App, and as always when it comes to Crystal, I was not disappointed!
While Crystal on the iPad lacks some of the Explorer and Webi “swooshiness” and feels a bit “boxy”, it certainly provides much more flexibility in design, navigation and layout capabilities. And since images can be used to enhance its look and feel, Crystal can be made to look as modern as any. Unlike in Webi on the mobile BI app where the report design is limited to simplistic blocks that get converted automagically to the stunning iPad design, Crystal reports will render EXACTLY the way you design them on the desktop. So you can layout the screen any which way you like, which can be very important for some design situations. Crystal unlimited data connectivity also makes it a great choice for directly connecting to any data source with ease. So your crystal report on the iPad will connect to anything you need to, from Universes to any RDBMS, web service, and beyond. The group tree functionality is also enables on the iPad and provides slick and easy way to navigate large hierarchies on the iPad, prompts, work as well and drill downs are all there in their interactive glory. You can paginate using the page number icons, or simply swipe left to move to the next page. Nice.
The image I posted is from a Crystal Report I created with sales data and hierarchy, and I hope it provides a good example of what Crystal actually looks like on the iPad.
So, all in all, Crystal can be an important companion for your mobile BI content deployment, and after more than two decades of reign over the enterprise reporting realm can still help address use cases and reporting scenarios that other more modern tools cannot.