Through the first 15 chapters, you have been exposed to a wide variety of the reporting capabilities found in Crystal Reports. Up to this point, however, all the reports you have created were based on relational data sourcesoften known as Online Transactional Processing (OLTP) databaseswhere most organizations generally keep their operational data.
In many organizations and for many people today, data reporting ends with Crystal Reports pointing at existing relational data sources such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, Sybase, or even Microsoft Access. All these relational databases have been designed for the efficient storage of information. These databases were not designed optimally, however, for the efficient extraction of data for aggregated analysis across multiple dimensionsthat is where OLAP databases excel.
OLAP stands for Online Analytical Processing and is designed to enable business users to quickly identify patterns and trends in their data while reporting against multiple dimensions at once. Examples of dimensions for analysis include time, geographic region, product line, financial measure, customer, supplier, salesperson, and so on. Crystal Reports provides powerful OLAP-based formatted reporting capabilities and these will be introduced in this chapter.
This chapter covers the following topics: