Crystal Reports - Best Practices in Designing Reports

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This presentation will be delivered at both SAP TechEd 2011 and SAP BusinessObjects User Conference 2011. In addition, the authors of the presentation will be starting a report design group within SAP to talk about the proliferation of report design best practices.



Best Practices in Designing Effective ReportsCoy Yonce & Jaclyn Churcher August 2011

DisclaimerThis presentation outlines our general product direction and should not be relied on in making a purchase decision. This presentation is not subject to your license agreement or any other agreement with SAP. SAP has no obligation to pursue any course of business outlined in this presentation or to develop or release any functionality mentioned in this presentation. This presentation and SAP's strategy and possible future developments are subject to change and may be changed by SAP at any time for any reason without notice. This document is provided without a warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability, tness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement. SAP assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in this document, except if such damages were caused by SAP intentionally or grossly negligent.

2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved.


FoundationsIntroductory Concepts

Cognitive Analysis Aided by SoftwareThe power of visualization comes from the fact that it is possible to have a far more complex concept structure represented externally in a visual display than can be held in visual and verbal working memories. People with cognitive tools are far more effective thinkers than people without cognitive tools and computer-based tools with visual interfaces may be the most powerful and exible cognitive systems. Combining a computer-based information system with exible human cognitive capabilities, such as pattern nding, and using a visualization as the interface between the two is far more powerful than an unaided human cognitive process.

SAP Crystal Reports is one tool that should be leveraged in the pursuit of analyzing information and making informed decisions. Designing effective reports means understanding who will be using them and how that information consumer will be analyzing information.4

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Directed Analysis versus Exploratory AnalysisDirected Analysis starts with a specic question as a context for information review and arrive at an answer Exploratory Analysis allows for the exploration of available data which generates a question to be used as the context for information review and arrival at an answerStephen Few, Now You See It (Page 83)

SAP Crystal Reports is tool which delivers information via the implementation of directed analysis. It is not a data exploration tool. Any analysis capabilities built into reports are pre-dened by the report creator.

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Directed Analysis: Overview Pinpoint DetailsOverview rst, zoom and lter, then details-on-demand

SAP Crystal Reports provides many directed analysis features to information consumers (e.g., interactive parameters, ltering, sorting, etc) As a general rule, it is good to start with an overview of the data that an information consumer may require, allow them to pinpoint specic information from the overview, and then drill into more details as they require them. In the context of SAP Crystal Reports, this means starting with an information view that you think satises the general information needs of a group of users. An individual can then lter or sort the information. Finally, they can request more details via drilling into a group or subreport.

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Aesthetics: An Integral Part of Information Design

Dr. Rolf Hichert,

More about the psychological response to sensory stimulus, than the actual trigger. Stephen Anderson, Eye Candy is a Critical Business Requirement

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Aesthetics Creates Trust

Which one do you trust?Stephen Anderson, Eye Candy is a Critical Business Requirement 2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved.

Stephen Anderson, Eye Candy is a Critical Business Requirement


Types of Reports

Operationaldirectly support detail oriented processes line item detail and lots of displayed data groups and sorts to provide for easier navigation data displayed via a traditional table or crosstab group or grand total summaries

Tacticalsupport short term activities fewer numbers of pages compared to operational reports focus on showing short-term summary data combination of tables, crosstabs, and charts drill from summary data to detail where necessary

Strategicprojects further into the future and showing trends deeper into the past direct impact on long-term planning mainly represented visually with textual annotations

Formprovide a mechanism for end users to input data

directly support operational processes

highly interactive

designed specically for printing or web-based interaction

mimic the look and feel of a dashboard

personalized content for the intended recipient

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1 2

SAP Crystal Reports for Enterprise Designer Features

Page Setup

Report Sections Alerts



Format Options


Information Comparisons

Depth of Understanding

Interference Effects

Color and Type

Organizational Strategies

Sampling of Best Practice Topics

Flexibility versus Usability

Form Follows Function



Guttenberg Diagram

Hicks Law

Working Memory

Pre-Attentive Attributes


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SAP Crystal Reports for Enterprise Features and Options

Page Setup

Selecting Paper Size automatically changes the width, height, and margins of either the blank canvas or an open report Leverage Portrait Orientation for longer report and Landscape for tting more visual information on a single page Appropriate Margins allow for tting more on a page and for ensuring that information is not cluttered

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Report Sections

Report Header" Any information to be displayed once at the top of the report Page Header" Any information to be repeated at the top of each page Body" For basic reports, this is the section that provides the most detailed information Report Footer" Any information to be displayed at the end of the report Page Footer" Any information to be repeated at the bottom of each page13

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Allows the report creator to insert ad hoc hierarchies in a report Provides the information consumer with the ability to go from summary to detailed information as needed Operational, or listing, reports usually require large amounts of data. Leverage multiple groups to provide a gradual drill down to the require level of detail Tactical and Strategic reports can leverage groups to provide a quick way to get a specic region, month, quarter, or any other context

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Rulers at the top of the design canvas allow the report creator to properly measure the width of elds The new Smart Guidelines feature allows for quickly modify the width and layout of elds in the design canvas Format > Make Same Size command allows for setting multiple selected elds to the same width and/or height

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Format Options

Quickly accessible eld formatting options allow for setting the typeface, alignment, borders, background colors, currency, percentage, and decimals Conditional formatting options available that allow for changing eld formatting when a condition arises Available eld formatting options for conditional formats are line styles, border, and background color Leverage eld formatting for drawing attention to specic elds or areas of report that need attention based on changes in the data

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Alerts allow for triggers to be used as the means for notifying information consumers that an event has occurred These alerts are stored in the report and, when the report is published to the BI Platform, users can subscribe to them Use alerts to reduce the amount of information that your users need to consume by only sending out an alert when something needs attention

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Insert > Subreport command used to quickly insert a subreport into the main report Create a new report against a the current or a new data source OR use an existing report Full subreport, that is either linked to data in the main report or not, can be visible or displayed on demand Subreports are a means of creating hierarchies within a report and for creating visual information displays that require data from multiple, unrelated sources When using subreports for the purpose of creating hierarchies of information it is best to use on demand subreports rather than in place ones

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DemoSAP Crystal Reports for Enterprise Features and Options

Sampling of Best Practice Topics in Action

Information ComparisonsControlling the way the information consumers realize relationships and patterns

Information that is meant to be compared should be presented using a common measure

Information that is meant to be compared amongst many different contexts should be presented on a single display

Information that is being compared against a certain phenomena or past events should be accompanied by benchmark data21

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Depth of UnderstandingForcing information consumers to analyze information at increasingly deeper levels ensures that they understand and retain information

Shallow Levels of Information

Deep Levels of Information

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Interference EffectsBy presenting elements in your reports that are beyond the expected norms for your audience, you slow down their processing of the information and can impact the effectiveness of their analysis









ORRed Black Pink Green Orange Purple Yellow Gray23

Orange Purple Yellow Gray 2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved.

Color and TypeEffectively using contrasting foreground and background along with an appropriately chosen and styled typeface not only improves readability for information consumers that have disabilities for your entire audiencevs.


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Organizational StrategiesOrganizing information based on a dimension allows information consumers to quickly understand patterns and relationships. For example, you can categorize information the way that I did earlier on the slide where I showed the Types of Reports.






For reference or nonlinear lookup

Comparing chronological events

Geographical relevance

Sorted information

Clustering based on similarities

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Flexibility versus UsabilityUsability

If your information consumers can anticipate their needs, then a usable report is more important than one that is exible in its design and available information.

Flexibility 2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 26

Form Follows FunctionThe design of your information, or report, becomes beautiful as its usability becomes denite and there is an absence of ornamentation.

Beauty in design results from purity of function 2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved. 27

ContinuationBy arranging informational points in your reports along a continuous line or curve, your information consumers will perceive those elements informational points as a group.


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De-ClutteringRemoval of the junk, or unnecessary elements, within your reports will make them easier to consume and will, in turn, make it easier for information consumers to make decisions with those reports.

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Gutenberg DiagramThe Gutenberg diagram denes a pattern for how individuals will read evenly distributed, homogeneous information on a printed page (e.g., book) or in a digital format (e.g., web page). For Western readers, they naturally start at the top right and then move across and down.

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Hicks LawThe time required to make a decision increases with the number of available options. For example, an increase in the number of road signs that need to be read by a driver causes in increase in the amount of time taken to decide which route to use.

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Working MemoryWorking memory (i.e., short term memory) denes the ability to actively hold information in the mind needed to do complex tasks such as reasoning, comprehension, and learning. Humans are only capable of remembering those things to which we explicitly pay attention. Even then, we are only capable of retaining a specic amount of information in short term memory.

Highlighting 2011 SAP AG. All rights reserved.



Pre-Attentive AttributesWe perceive several basic attributes of visual images pre-attentively, that is, prior to and without the need for conscious awareness. Stephen Few, Now You See It (Page 38)

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ChunkingChunking refers to how information can be grouped together so that it is easier for information consumers to remember. First presented by George Armitage Miller in The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information.

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Group information into smaller groups

Locate a pattern in the information

Categorize information based on a context or its meaning34

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Further InformationSAP Public Web:SAP Developer Network (SDN): SAP BusinessObjects Community (BOC): Idea Place:

Related SAP Education and Certication Opportunities

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Further InformationExternal Sources:Stephen Few: Rolf Hichert: Edward Tufte: Ben Shneiderman: William S. Cleveland: Colin Ware: Stephen P. Anderson: Jacques Bertin: John Maeda: Leo Babauta:

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FeedbackPlease complete your session evaluation. Be courteous deposit your trash, " and do not take the handouts for the following session.

Thank You!Contact information: Jaclyn Chur...