Cross-tabs deliver data in a familiar spreadsheet format. They also summarize both vertically and horizontally, have a grid format, and can change size depending on the data.
Several of the most compelling reasons for using cross-tabs are
Because cross-tabs are grouped and summarized both vertically and horizontally, they are incredibly efficient at saving space as compared to a typical grouping report. They are very good at showing key information if the information required has at least two levels of grouping.
Let's look at an example: school grades for the end of the year. These need to be grouped by course, student, and term. If the report were shown in a standard grouping layout like you've worked with previously, it could be several pages long. Figure 10.1 shows a typical Crystal Report in which three pages display one course with only 10 students in one class.
Figure 10.1. Standard grouping style used on a typical school grades report.
Cross-tabs replicate the information contained in a teacher's grade book while resembling a spreadsheet. Teachers get a one-stop view of all the students and all their grades. Figure 10.2 shows how the information is more efficiently presented when a cross-tab is used to display the same information. Now the teacher can view all the student grades information at a glance.
Figure 10.2. Student grades shown in a cross-tab.
Leveraging Experience with the Spreadsheet Format
Another benefit of the cross-tab format is its familiarity to many users of spreadsheet applications. Many people use spreadsheets in their daily routines and are accustomed to their look and feel. Because cross-tabs do appear very much like spreadsheets, Crystal Reports offers a familiar format and reporting style for many users.
Cross-tabs, like spreadsheets, expand both vertically and horizontally. In Crystal Reports, cross-tabs are one of only two object types that expand across horizontal pages. Crystal Reports handles this expansion automatically. If there is more data to display than the original size of the cross-tab allows for, Crystal Reports doesn't cut off any critical data from the cross-tab area.
Cross-tab objects are also highly customizable in terms of formatting. Everyone has different needs from their data, so Crystal Reports allows for a great deal of changes to the formatting of these objects. Some of the most highly useful formatting features that are used in cross-tabs are