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Crystal Reports

Comparison of Crystal and Basic Formula Syntax

Overview
Crystal Reports version 8 and higher offers two different syntaxes for writing
formulas: the Crystal syntax and the Basic syntax.

This paper describes some of the differences between the two syntaxes and
provides general information on the control structures that are available for the
syntaxes.

Contents
INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................ 3
FORMULA COMMENTS ................................................................................. 3
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................... 3
Basic syntax....................................................................................................... 3
THE RESULT OF A FORMULA........................................................................ 4
Formula Variable ........................................................................................4
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................... 4
Basic syntax....................................................................................................... 4
Output of the Formula .................................................................................4
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................... 4
Basic syntax....................................................................................................... 4
ASSIGNMENT OPERATOR ............................................................................. 5
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................... 5
Basic syntax....................................................................................................... 5
STATEMENTS .............................................................................................. 5
Separating Statements..................................................................................5
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................... 5
Basic syntax....................................................................................................... 5
Continuing Statements .................................................................................6
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................... 6
Basic syntax....................................................................................................... 6
USING DATE, TIME, OR DATETIME VALUES .................................................. 6
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................... 6
Basic syntax....................................................................................................... 7
EXTRACTING ELEMENTS FROM A STRING ..................................................... 7
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................... 7
Basic syntax....................................................................................................... 7
ARRAYS ..................................................................................................... 7

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Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

Declaring an Array......................................................................................8
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................... 8
Basic syntax....................................................................................................... 8
Referencing Elements within an Array ........................................................8
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................... 8
Basic syntax....................................................................................................... 8
Assigning values to an array........................................................................8
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................... 8
Basic syntax....................................................................................................... 8
VARIABLES ................................................................................................. 8
Variable Scopes ...........................................................................................9
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................... 9
Basic syntax....................................................................................................... 9
Variable Types ...........................................................................................10
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................. 10
Basic syntax..................................................................................................... 10
Variable Names..........................................................................................11
Declaring Multiple Variables in One Statement ........................................11
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................. 11
Basic syntax..................................................................................................... 11
IF-THEN-ELSE CONTROL STRUCTURES ...................................................... 11
Else If versus ElseIf....................................................................................12
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................. 12
Basic syntax..................................................................................................... 12
Single-Line IF Statements ..........................................................................12
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................. 12
Basic syntax..................................................................................................... 13
Multi-Line IF Statements ...........................................................................13
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................. 13
Basic syntax..................................................................................................... 13
SELECT OR CASE STATEMENTS ................................................................. 14
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................. 14
Basic syntax..................................................................................................... 14
LOOPING .................................................................................................. 14
For/Next Loops ..........................................................................................15
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................. 15
Basic syntax..................................................................................................... 15
Exiting a For/Next loop .............................................................................16
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................. 16
Basic syntax..................................................................................................... 16
Do Loops....................................................................................................16
Do … While..................................................................................................... 17
Crystal syntax only .......................................................................................... 17
Do While … Loop and Do Until … Loop ....................................................... 17
Basic syntax only............................................................................................. 17
Do … Loop While and Do … Loop Until ....................................................... 18
Basic syntax only............................................................................................. 18
While Loops ...............................................................................................18
Crystal syntax .................................................................................................. 19
Basic syntax..................................................................................................... 19

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basic_vs_crystal_syntax.pdf
Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

Introduction
Most formulas in Crystal Reports can be written in either Crystal or Basic
syntax. However, Record Selection and Group Selection formulas must be
written in Crystal syntax.

Crystal syntax is similar to formula writing in C++ while Basic syntax is similar
to formula writing in Microsoft Visual Basic.

Formula Comments
Formula comments are notes included with a formula to explain its design and
operation. Comments do not print and they do not affect the formula; they
appear only in the Formula Workshop. Use comments to explain the purpose of
a formula or explain the steps involved in writing it.

Crystal syntax uses two forward slashes (//) to denote a comment. Comments
can begin on a new line or on the same line as the rest of the code.

Comments begin with Rem or an apostrophe (‘). A comment beginning with


Rem is a separate statement and must begin on a new line or must be separated
from the rest of the line by a colon.

A comment beginning with an apostrophe can begin on the same line as the rest
of the code without needing to be separated by a colon.

Crystal syntax

// This is a comment in Crystal syntax


"Hello World"
<OR>

"Hello World" // This is a comment in Crystal syntax

Basic syntax

Rem This is a comment in Basic syntax


formula = "Hello World" : Rem This is a comment in Basic
_ syntax
<OR>

' This is a comment in Basic syntax


formula = "Hello World" ' This is a comment in Basic syntax

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basic_vs_crystal_syntax.pdf
Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

The Result of a Formula


There are two main differences between Crystal and Basic syntax when
returning the result of a formula:

• Basic syntax uses a special variable called formula whereas Crystal syntax
does not.
• Basic syntax returns the value assigned to the formula variable whereas
Crystal syntax returns the last line within the formula.

Formula Variable
Basic syntax requires a special variable called formula to return the value of the
formula whereas Crystal syntax does not.

Crystal syntax
// This formula will output "Hello World"
"Hello World"

Basic syntax
' This formula will output "Hello World"
Formula = "Hello World"

Output of the Formula


Crystal syntax returns the last line within the formula while Basic syntax returns
the value after the special variable called “formula”. This means that in Basic
syntax there can be other statements below the variable but the formula will not
output these values.

Crystal syntax
// This formula will output the number 5
Numbervar x;
"Hello World";
x :=5

Basic syntax
' This formula will output "Hello World"
Dim x as number
Formula = “Hello World”
x = 5

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Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

Assignment Operator
The assignment operator is the colon equal sign (:=) in Crystal syntax as
opposed to the equal sign (=) in Basic syntax.

Crystal syntax
Numbervar x;
x := 5; // Notice the colon equal sign versus the equal
// sign
x;

Basic syntax
dim x as number
x = 5 ' Notice the equal sign versus the colon equal sign
formula = x

Statements
All formulas exist as a sequence of statements. For a formula to evaluate
correctly, these statements must be separated and continued correctly.

Separating Statements
In Crystal syntax a semicolon must separate each statement (;). In Basic syntax,
either a new line or a colon must separate statements (:).

Crystal syntax
// A semicolon separates the statements
Numbervar ID;
if {Customer.Last Year's Sales} > 10000 then ID :=
{Customer.Customer ID};

Basic syntax
' A line break separates the statements
dim ID as number
if {Customer.Last Year's Sales} > 10000 then ID =
{Customer.Customer ID}
formula = ID

<OR>

' A colon separates the statements


dim ID as number : if {Customer.Last Year's Sales} > 10000
then ID = {Customer.Customer ID} : formula = ID

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basic_vs_crystal_syntax.pdf
Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

Continuing Statements
In Crystal syntax you can continue a statement onto the next line by simply
starting the text on the next line. In Basic syntax you must use the line
continuation character, a space followed by an underscore ( _).

Crystal syntax
// Statement is continued by using a line break
if {Customer.Last Year's Sales} > 10000
and {Customer.Country} = "USA"
then "Good sales"

Basic syntax
' Statement is continued using the underscore
if {Customer.Last Year's Sales} > 10000 _
and {Customer.Country} = "USA" then
formula = "Good sales"
end if

Using Date, Time, or DateTime values


When using date, time, or date time values, the Date, Time, and DateTime
functions cannot be used in a formula written in Basic syntax. This is because
these are all data type names in Basic syntax.

Crystal syntax
Date(2000,01,01); // Crystal syntax only
Time(13,30,50); // Crystal syntax only
DateTime(2000,01,01,13,30,50); // Crystal syntax only
CDate(2000,01,01);
CTime(13,30,50);
CDateTime(2000,01,01,13,30,50);
DateValue(2000,01,01);
TimeValue(13,30,50);
DateTimeValue(2000,01,01,13,30,50);

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Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

Basic syntax
Formula = CDate(2000,01,01)
Formula = CTime(13,30,50)
Formula = CDateTime(2000,01,01,13,30,50)
Formula = DateValue(2000,01,01)
Formula = TimeValue(13,30,50)
Formula = DateTimeValue(2000,01,01,13,30,50)

Extracting Elements from a String


You can extract individual elements from a string by specifying the character
position or a range of character positions.

In Crystal syntax this is done using square brackets [ ] while Basic syntax uses
parentheses ( ). Negative values specify a position starting from the end of the
string.

Crystal syntax
"HELLO" [5] // Returns "O"
"HELLO" [-3] // Returns "L"
"HELLO" [3 to 4] // Returns "LL"
"HELLO" [-3 to 2] // Returns "EL"

Basic syntax
formula = "HELLO" (5) ' Returns "O"
formula = "HELLO" (-3) ' Returns "L"
formula = "HELLO" (3 to 4) ' Returns "LL"
formula = "HELLO" (-3 to 2) ' Returns "EL"

Arrays
When using arrays, the main differences between the two syntax types are:

• Declaring an array
• Referencing elements within an array
• Assigning values to an array
In both syntaxes the result of a formula cannot be an array. The formulas shown
in the “Declaring an array” and “Assigning values to an array” sections require
additional syntax to ensure the result is a single value and not an array,
otherwise the formula will return an error.

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basic_vs_crystal_syntax.pdf
Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

Declaring an Array
Crystal syntax uses the Array function to declare an array while Basic syntax
uses parenthesis instead.

Crystal syntax
StringVar Array MyArray; // Notice the Array function

Basic syntax
Dim MyArray() as String ' Notice the parenthesis

Referencing Elements within an Array


Crystal syntax uses square brackets [ ] to reference an element within an array
whereas Basic syntax uses parenthesis ( )

Crystal syntax
MyArray[3] // Notice the square bracket

Basic syntax
formula = MyArray(3) ' Notice the parenthesis

Assigning Values to an Array


Crystal syntax does not require use of the Array function when assigning values
to an array but Basic syntax does use the Array function.

Crystal syntax
MyArray := ["a", "b", "c"] // Notice no Array function

Basic syntax
MyArrray = Array("a", "b", "c") ' Notice the Array function

Variables
A variable represents a specific data item or value, and acts as a placeholder for
that value. When a formula encounters a variable, the formula searches for the
value of the variable and uses it in the formula. Unlike a constant value, which is
fixed and unchanging, a variable can be repeatedly assigned different values.

When you assign a value to a variable, the variable maintains the value until you
later assign a new value. Because of this flexibility, it is necessary for you to
declare variables before you use them so that Crystal Reports is aware of them
and understands how you intend to use them. There are three elements involved
when declaring variables:

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basic_vs_crystal_syntax.pdf
Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

• Scope
• Type
• Name

Variable Scopes
There are three types of variable scopes:

• Local
• Global
• Shared
You can use these three types of variable scopes for both Crystal and Basic
syntax. However, Crystal syntax does not contain the Dim local scope whereas
Basic syntax does.

If no scope is specified, the variable will default to a global scope regardless of


the formula syntax being used.

• Dim or Local – Dim (Basic syntax only) or Local variables are only
recognized within the formula in which they are declared.
• Global – Global variables use the same memory block to store a value for
access throughout a single report object, whether that is the main report or a
subreport.
• Shared – Shared variables are recognized in all report objects within a
single Crystal Reports file. Shared variables are frequently used to pass
data from subreports to the main report.
Crystal syntax
// Variable scope is declared first, then variable type,
// then variable name
Local CurrencyVar C;
Global NumberVar N;
Shared StringVar S;

Basic syntax
' Variable scope is declared first, then variable name,
_ then variable type
Dim B as Boolean
Local C as Currency
Global N as Number
Shared S as String

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basic_vs_crystal_syntax.pdf
Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

Variable Types
Variable types can be declared in multiple ways:

Seven simple types

Number Boolean

Currency Date

String Time

DateTime

Six range types

Number Range DateTime Range

Currency Range Date Range

String Range Time Range

Crystal syntax requires that the variable type be specified when declaring the
variable. In Basic syntax if the type is not declared then it will be set when the
variable is first used.

Crystal syntax
// Note that the type is declared before the variable is
// used
Global StringVar s;
s := “Hello”;
s;

Basic syntax
' Note that the type is not declared until the variable is
_ used
Global S
S = “Hello”
formula = S

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basic_vs_crystal_syntax.pdf
Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

Variable Names
When you declare a variable, you also specify its name. A variable cannot have
the same name as any function, operator or other keyword that is valid for the
syntax used in the formula.

In the Formula Workshop the names of the built-in functions, operators and
other keywords are displayed in a different color so it is easy to see if the
variable name conflicts.

Declaring Multiple Variables in One Statement


In Crystal syntax you must declare variables in separate statements. In Basic
syntax you can declare more than one variable in a single statement.

Crystal syntax

// Note that X, Y, and Z are declared in separate


// statements
Local NumberVar X;
Local StringVar Y;
Local BooleanVar Z;
X := 5;
Y := "hello";
Z := True;
X;

Basic syntax
' Note that X, Y, and Z are declared in a single statement
Local X, Y, Z
X = 5
Y = "hello"
Z = True
formula = X

If-Then-Else Control Structures


In an IF statement, there are three main differences between Crystal and Basic
syntax:

• Else If versus ElseIf


• Single-Line IF statements
• Multi-Line IF statements

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basic_vs_crystal_syntax.pdf
Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

Else If versus ElseIf


In Crystal syntax this command is two words; in Basic syntax it is one word.

Crystal syntax
If {Customer.Last Year's Sales} < 100 Then
"Under $100"
Else If {Customer.Last Year's Sales} in 100 to 200 Then
"Between $100 and $200"

Basic syntax
If {Customer.Last Year's Sales} < 100 Then
formula = "Under $100"
ElseIf {Customer.Last Year's Sales} in 100 to 200 Then
formula = "Between $100 and $200"
End If

Single-Line IF Statements
In Basic syntax, a single-line IF statement does not start a new line after the first
THEN statement.

Line continuation characters such as the underscore (_) can be used to stretch a
single-line IF statement over multiple lines. Starting a new line after the first
THEN makes an IF statement into a multi-line IF statement.

Crystal syntax
// One line
StringVar x
If {Customer.Customer ID} = 1 then x := "One";
x;

<OR>

// Two lines without line continuation character


StringVar x;
If {Customer.Customer ID} = 1 then
x := "One";
x;

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basic_vs_crystal_syntax.pdf
Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

Basic syntax
' One line
Dim x as string
If {Customer.Customer ID} = 1 then x = "One"
Formula = x

<OR>

' Two lines with underscore line continuation character


Dim x as string
If {Customer.Customer ID} = 1 then _
x = "One"
Formula = x

Multi-Line IF Statements
More than one statement can be executed as the result of a condition being met.
However, in Crystal syntax the two results are enclosed within parentheses
whereas Basic syntax encloses the results within the condition using the ElseIf,
Else, or End If statements.

Crystal syntax
NumberVar x;
NumberVar y;
If {Customer.Customer ID} = 1 then
(
x := 1;
y := 2
); // Notice the parentheses as opposed to End If
x;

Basic syntax
shared x as number
If {Customer.Customer ID} = 1 then
x = {Customer.Customer ID}
formula = "One"
End If ' Notice the End If as opposed to parenthesis

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basic_vs_crystal_syntax.pdf
Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

Select or Case Statements


The Select or Case statement is similar to an If-Then-Else statement. However,
you can write formulas that are clearer and less repetitive using a Select
statement. The major differences between Crystal and Basic syntax are:

• Crystal syntax uses Select while Basic syntax Select Case


• Crystal syntax uses a colon to separate the result from the output whereas
Basic syntax uses a line break
• Crystal syntax uses Default and Basic syntax uses Case Else
• Crystal syntax uses two semi colons to end the statement but Basic syntax
uses End Select

Crystal syntax
Select {Customer.Customer ID} // Notice the Select versus
// Select Case
Case 1 : "One" // Notice the colon versus line break
Case 2 : "Two"
Default : "Other" // Notice Default versus Case Else
;; // Notice the two semicolons versus the End Select

Basic syntax
Select Case {Customer.Customer ID} ' Notice the Select Case
_ versus Select
Case 1 ' Notice the line break versus colon
formula = "One"
Case 2
formula = "Two"
Case Else ' Notice the Case Else versus Default
formula = "Other"
End Select ' Notice the End Select versus two semicolons

Looping
Loops enable you to evaluate a sequence of statements multiple times.

Any one evaluation of a formula can have at most 29,999 loop condition
evaluations. Therefore, if a loop structure performs a loop 30,000 or more
times, the following error message appears:

“A loop was evaluated more than the maximum number of times allowed”.

This applies to both Crystal and Basic syntax.

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basic_vs_crystal_syntax.pdf
Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

For/Next Loops
For loops require a For Counter variable to count the number of iterations
through the loop. If you add a Step statement to the For loop you can control the
increment that the For Counter uses. It can be a negative step number if you
wish to have the loop go from a large number to a small number.

For loops will support an Exit statement. The main differences between Crystal
and Basic syntax are:

• Crystal syntax uses the Do statement to begin the contents of the For loop
whereas Basic syntax does not.
• Crystal syntax uses parenthesis around the contents of the For loop while
Basic syntax encloses the contents of the For loop by ending it with the
Next <Counter variable> statement.

Crystal syntax
// The following formula will return “abc”
Numbervar x;
StringVar Array MyArray := ["a","b","c"];
StringVar Concatenate;
For x := 1 To count(MyArray) Do // Notice the Do statement
(
Concatenate := Concatenate + MyArray[x]
); // Notice the parenthesis versus the Next statement

Basic syntax
' The following formula will return “abc”
dim x as number
dim MyArray() as string
MyArray = Array("a","b","c")
dim Concatenate as string
For x = 1 To count(MyArray) Step 1 ' Notice there is no Do
_ statement
Concatenate = Concatenate + MyArray(x)
Next x ' Notice the Next statement
Formula = Concatenate

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basic_vs_crystal_syntax.pdf
Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

Exiting a For/Next loop


You can exit from a For loop by using the Exit For statement.

The following example searches the Global array names for the name "Fred". If
it finds the name, it returns the index of the name in the array and exits out of
the For loop. Even though the For Counter variable is set to loop four times, the
formula only loops three times due to the Exit For statement.

Crystal syntax
stringvar array names;
names := ["Frank", "Helen", "Fred", "Linda"];
numbervar i;
numbervar output;

For i := 1 to 4 Do
( If names [i] = "Fred" Then
( output := i;
Exit For // Exit the loop once Fred is found
);
);
output

Basic syntax
Global names () As String
names = Array("Frank", "Helen", "Fred", "Linda")
Dim i

For i = 1 to 4
If names (i) = "Fred" Then
formula = i
Exit For ' Exit the loop once Fred is found
End If
Next I

Do Loops

The Do loop that is supported in Crystal syntax is:

• Do … While

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basic_vs_crystal_syntax.pdf
Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

There are 4 different types of Do Loops supported in Basic syntax:

• Do While … Loop
• Do Until … Loop
• Do … Loop While
• Do … Loop Until

Do … While
The Do ... While statement evaluates the expression once no matter what. It then
evaluates the condition, and if the condition is true, evaluates the expression
again. This process continues until the condition is false. This is the only Do
loop supported in Crystal syntax; it is not supported in Basic syntax.

Crystal syntax only

// The following formula will return the number 1. The loop


// will evaluate once.
numbervar x;
Do
x:=x+1
While x>5;
x

Do While … Loop and Do Until … Loop


The main difference between these two loops is that the Do While loop
evaluates a condition and does actions while the condition is true, whereas the
Do Until loop evaluates a condition and does actions until the condition is true.
Both loops evaluate the condition first and then do the action. All Do loops
support an Exit Do statement.

Basic syntax only

' The following formula will return the number 0. The loop
_ will not evaluate.
dim x as number
Do While x = 2
x = x + 1
Loop
formula = x

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basic_vs_crystal_syntax.pdf
Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

' The following formula will return the number 6. The loop
_ will evaluate three times.
Dim x as number
Do Until x > 5
x = x + 2
Loop
formula = x

Do … Loop While and Do … Loop Until


The main difference between these two loops is that the Do Loop While
evaluates the loop while a condition is true, whereas the Do Loop Until
evaluates until the condition is true. Both loops do the action first and then
evaluate the condition to see if they should loop again. All Do loops support an
Exit Do statement

Basic syntax only

' The following formula will return the number 1. The loop
_ will evaluate once.
dim x as number
Do
x = x + 1
Loop While x = 2
formula = x

' The following formula will return the number 6. The loop
_ will evaluate six times.
dim x as number
Do
x = x + 1
Loop Until x > 5
formula = x

While Loops
While loops are similar to Do While Loops except that they generally do not
support Exit statements. While loops are supported in both Basic and Crystal
syntax . The main differences between Basic syntax and Crystal syntax are:

• Basic syntax ends a While loop with Wend whereas Crystal syntax encloses
the contents of the While loop with parenthesis

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basic_vs_crystal_syntax.pdf
Crystal Reports Crystal versus Basic Formula syntax

• Crystal syntax requires While…Do whereas Basic syntax only requires


While
• Crystal syntax supports the Exit While statement whereas Basic syntax does
not
Crystal syntax

// The following formula will return the value of 1


// and will not evaluate the loop due to the exit while
// statement
numbervar x;
While x < 3 Do // Notice the While Do statement versus While
(
x := x + 1;
if x = 1 then exit while; // Notice the Exit While
// statement
); // Notice the parenthesis versus the Wend statement
x

Basic syntax

' The following formula will return the number 1 and


_ evaluate the loop once
dim x as number
While x = 0 ' Notice the While statement versus While Do
x = x + 1
Wend ' Notice the Wend statement versus parenthesis
Formula = x

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basic_vs_crystal_syntax.pdf