The problem is that you need to install the Crystal Reports runtime. This isn't a problem with regular hosting since you can just install Crystal Reports on each of your servers and off you go.
With Azure, though, if you remote into the machine and install it, it will work fine until your deployment is redistributed to another machine which it will do at some point due to the nature of cloud computing.
How to install Crystal Reports on your Azure web role
Fortunately it is still easy with Azure. Easy when you know how anyway. Here are the steps you will need to take:
First of all you will need to download the SAP Crystal Reports runtime engine for .NET Framework 4 (64-bit). This should extract as a msi file called CRRuntime_64bit_13_0_2.msi.
In your web application in Visual Studio you should paste this msi file at the route of your web project and include it in the project. Right click it in the Solution Explorer and set its 'Build Action' to 'None' and also set its 'Copy to Output Directory' to 'Always Copy'.
Next you will create a command file to execute this msi file. Create a new text file, call it StartUp.cmd and then save it in the root of your web project (next to the msi). In that file write the following:
@ECHO off ECHO "Starting CrystalReports Installation" >> log.txt msiexec.exe /I "CRRuntime_64bit_13_0_2.msi" /qn ECHO "Completed CrystalReports Installation" >> log.txt
Set the properties of StartUp.cmd to 'Build Action' = 'None' and 'Copy to Output Directory' = 'Always Copy'.
Now in your ServiceDefinition.csdef make this cmd file a start up task by adding the following lines:
<WebRole name="Web" vmsize="Small"> ... <Startup> <Task commandLine="StartUp.cmd" executionContext="elevated" taskType="background" /> </Startup> </WebRole>
You are now instructing each instance that starts up with your package to run the Crystal Reports msi file that installs the runtime on the instance ready for its use in Azure.
A few Crystal Reports on Azure tips
I ran into a few bits and bobs which caused me unnecessary pain along the seemingly clean process outlined above. I will share them with you in case you do too in no particular order.
- Make sure your .rpt Crystal Report files are set to Build Action: Content and Copy to Output Directory: Copy always.
- Don't be alarmed with how long it takes to deploy. It will take much longer to upload than usual because you are now uploading an extra 77MB of installation files. It took me an hour to deploy on my home connection!
- Ignore all the warnings about how your web project is dependent on various Crystal Report assemblies since Azure will have them just as soon as your installation file runs.
- Configure a remote desktop connection when you do your deployments since it will be invaluable should anything go wrong and at an hour per deployment you don't want to be messing about.
- Visual Studio may have added a load of random assemblies in your web.config you are not aware of and don't need and may even cause problems like log4net.
That is all. Good luck - it's very satisfying when you get it going.