PLATFORMS: Seagate Crystal Reports 5.0, which runs on any Windows platform, combines with Visual Basic 4.0 and an Oracle7 back end to create DavTech's EH&S DataBridge, which DavTech offers to its customers to manage the information needed to comply with mandated regulations.

BACKGROUND: DavTech Systems is a software consulting firm that creates large, mission-critical, custom databases. DavTech sells to entities such as top international pharmaceutical firms.

PROBLEM SOLVED: DavTech customers needed to store, track, update and report on up to 8,000 separate federal, state, local and corporate regulations in order to stay in compliance and protect employee safety. Failure to manage regulatory information led to worker injury, lawsuits, loss of business and bad publicity. Most customers had in-house written software systems which were not performing well. Using Seagate Crystal Reports, DavTech wrote commercial quality software systems, providing customers with the tight control and reporting system they need for tracking large numbers of regulations.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: DavTech needed to provide robust report-writing capabilities for its EH&S DataBridge system, so the company turned to Seagate Crystal Reports for its power, flexibility and features, such as the ability to create sub-reports for very complex tasks. This report function gives users one-touch report generation. A suite of reports comes with each module of the EH&S DataBridge system. Without help from the database administrator, users who need reports can specify selection criteria so the report displays only the needed information. Report wizards guide end users through the process of specifying criteria. Custom reports can be created and existing reports modified.

STRENGTHS: The reports function is easy to use and customizable, and DavTech appreciates the power and flexibility Seagate Crystal Reports offers when they program to the Print Engine DLLs. The database administrator is freed from having to hand-hold users who need information, as the product stores report parameters which drive the report wizards. The report wizard is possible because of Seagate Crystal Report's ability to take changes "on-the- fly" using the Print Engine DLLs. Customers know their compliance status every day. The reports tell users if, when and where they are out of compliance so problems can be fixed immediately. This saves customers potentially large sums of money in averted fines or lawsuits and protects the customer's employees from needless harm.

WEAKNESSES: DavTech is currently evaluating Java as the next programming platform. The biggest drawback that they have seen in moving to Java is the lack of reporting tools. They believe that when they install Seagate Crystal Reports 6.0, the problem will be fixed.

PRODUCT DELIVERABLES: Crystal Reports provides a robust report writing environment that is very easy for end users to use.

SELECTION CRITERIA: DavTech never considered using any reporting product other than Seagate Crystal Reports, as they have been using the report software for several years in other software projects.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Seagate supports Crystal Reports by posting patches on their Web site. There is no need to call tech support, as Seagate is very diligent about correcting and posting patches.

DOCUMENTATION: Seagate has printed documentation, which is especially robust in the developer's version. The company also has on-line help. In the software itself, Seagate has written actual examples of how to use the functions, so users can see how a function works before they build it in.

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