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The line between IT consulting and management consulting is quite often blurred, with overlaps between the two fields habitually happening. Worse still, most people do not understand who an IT consultant really is, or what he/she does. There are those who think the job entails fixing computers, others – selling computers and associated accessories. This is misleading though.

In a nutshell, IT consultants are professionals who aid businesses in deciding what computer tools and technologies are best placed to grow and sustain a profitable business. They work hand in hand with clients to help integrate IT systems into the latter’s business. They show clients how to use technology more efficiently, and in so doing, the client is able to get a higher return on their technology investments, and ultimately, increase the bottom-line.

IT consultants, or IT advisories, could work independently or for a consulting firm, with their clientele spread across all sorts of businesses and industries. Companies hire or contract the consulting firm to come in and analyze their IT systems and structure.

The job itself is not short of challenges, however, and the path to becoming a successful IT consultant is fraught with its fair share of ups and downs. But hey, which job isn’t? Experience is the best teacher they say, and only after you’ve worked as a consultant for a number of years will you finally gain invaluable understanding of what is expected of you. Learning from the experiences of those who’ve been in this business for long is a good starting point for those who decide to venture into the world of IT consultancy.

  1. The IRS is enabling taxpayers to download their tax transcripts over the internet from the Internal Revenue Service. The official secure URL for the transcripts download followed immediately after The White House fact sheet confirmed the decision. According to the Tech Crunch You Can Now Download Your Tax Returns From The IRS  article, there are some minor bug issues when registering. Given that security has long been problematic with the IRS, the best course of action for the public is to take some precautions when downloading personal information on mobile devices, pc’s and laptops. Installing disk encryption software on all your devices will protect your files reduce risk
  2. Have an awesome Start-Up with products in ‘stealth or private beta” that you want like to pitch for a chance to get a table at Disrupt NY? TechCrunch is heading to Atlanta and New Orleans February 18th and 20th 2014 and will host a beer fest night in exchange for your thoughts and pitches. Tickets are $5, and all entrepreneurs, investors, dreamers or tech enthusiast are welcome.
  3. Cloutex, a cloud computing future enabler has just secured their first round of seed funding.  Cloutex is an Estonian tech startup, which connects and syncs various web applications such as e-marketing, CRM and accounting tools under one convenient hub. The United Partners, SmartCap and EstBan business angels seeded the start-up with $6000, 000.
  4. Could you get everything important that you need to know about living successfully from a computer program? Ryan Dube seems to think so. In his 6 Life Habits That Programming Could Teach You Today  he speaks in flow charts, loops and program modules, in the same breath as paying off debt or buying a house.  How can your programming skills help in life skills by modeling some of the same principles?
  5. 10 Incredibly Simple Things You Can Do To Protect Your PrivacyPassword protect your devices.  Put alerts on your name in Google; simple tasks that can be significant in protecting your privacy.
  6. Adobe Brings 3D Printing Support to PhotoshopAmong the latest updates in Adobe, Photoshop users have the ability to design 3D models from scratch as well as being able to toy around with color, shape and angles.

 

Over time, companies are migrating from COBOL to the latest standard of C# solutions due to reasons such as cumbersome deployment processes, scarcity of trained developers, platform dependencies, increasing maintenance fees. Whether a company wants to migrate to reporting applications, operational infrastructure, or management support systems, shifting from COBOL to C# solutions can be time-consuming and highly risky, expensive, and complicated. However, the following four techniques can help companies reduce the complexity and risk around their modernization efforts. 

All COBOL to C# Solutions are Equal 

It can be daunting for a company to sift through a set of sophisticated services and tools on the market to boost their modernization efforts. Manual modernization solutions often turn into an endless nightmare while the automated ones are saturated with solutions that generate codes that are impossible to maintain and extend once the migration is over. However, your IT department can still work with tools and services and create code that is easier to manage if it wants to capitalize on technologies such as DevOps. 

Narrow the Focus 

Most legacy systems are incompatible with newer systems. For years now, companies have passed legacy systems to one another without considering functional relationships and proper documentation features. However, a detailed analysis of databases and legacy systems can be useful in decision-making and risk mitigation in any modernization effort. It is fairly common for companies to uncover a lot of unused and dead code when they analyze their legacy inventory carefully. Those discoveries, however can help reduce the cost involved in project implementation and the scope of COBOL to C# modernization. Research has revealed that legacy inventory analysis can result in a 40% reduction of modernization risk. Besides making the modernization effort less complex, trimming unused and dead codes and cost reduction, companies can gain a lot more from analyzing these systems. 

Understand Thyself 

For most companies, the legacy system entails an entanglement of intertwined code developed by former employees who long ago left the organization. The developers could apply any standards and left behind little documentation, and this made it extremely risky for a company to migrate from a COBOL to C# solution. In 2013, CIOs teamed up with other IT stakeholders in the insurance industry in the U.S to conduct a study that found that only 18% of COBOL to C# modernization projects complete within the scheduled period. Further research revealed that poor legacy application understanding was the primary reason projects could not end as expected. 

Furthermore, using the accuracy of the legacy system for planning and poor understanding of the breadth of the influence of the company rules and policies within the legacy system are some of the risks associated with migrating from COBOL to C# solutions. The way an organization understands the source environment could also impact the ability to plan and implement a modernization project successfully. However, accurate, in-depth knowledge about the source environment can help reduce the chances of cost overrun since workers understand the internal operations in the migration project. That way, companies can understand how time and scope impact the efforts required to implement a plan successfully. 

Use of Sequential Files 

Companies often use sequential files as an intermediary when migrating from COBOL to C# solution to save data. Alternatively, sequential files can be used for report generation or communication with other programs. However, software mining doesn’t migrate these files to SQL tables; instead, it maintains them on file systems. Companies can use data generated on the COBOL system to continue to communicate with the rest of the system at no risk. Sequential files also facilitate a secure migration path to advanced standards such as MS Excel. 

Modern systems offer companies a range of portfolio analysis that allows for narrowing down their scope of legacy application migration. Organizations may also capitalize on it to shed light on migration rules hidden in the ancient legacy environment. COBOL to C# modernization solution uses an extensible and fully maintainable code base to develop functional equivalent target application. Migration from COBOL solution to C# applications involves language translation, analysis of all artifacts required for modernization, system acceptance testing, and database and data transfer. While it’s optional, companies could need improvements such as coding improvements, SOA integration, clean up, screen redesign, and cloud deployment.

What are the three most important things non-programmers should know about programming?
 
Written by Brian Knapp, credit and reprint CodeCareerGenius
 
 
Since you asked for the three most important things that non-programmers should know about, and I’ve spent most of my career working with more non-programmers than programmers, I have a few interesting things that would help.
 
Number One - It Is Impossible To Accurately Estimate Software Projects
 
No matter what is tried. No matter what tool, agile approach, or magic fairy dust people try to apply to creating software… accurately predicting software project timelines is basically impossible.
 
There are many good reasons for this. Usually, requirements and feature ideas change on a daily/weekly basis. Often it is impossible to know what needs to be done without actually digging into the code itself. Debugging and QA can take an extraordinary amount of time.
 
And worst of all…
 
Project Managers are always pushing for shorter timelines. They largely have no respect for reality. So, at some point they are given estimates just to make them feel better about planning.
 
No matter how much planning and estimation you do, it will be wrong. At best it will be directionally correct +/- 300% of what you estimated. So, a one year project could actually take anywhere between 0 and 5 years, maybe even 10 years.
 
If you think I’m joking, look at how many major ERP projects that go over time and over budget by many years and many hundreds of millions of dollars. Look at the F-35 fighter jet software issues.
 
Or in the small, you can find many cases where a “simple bug fix” can take days when you thought it was hours.
 
All estimates are lies made up to make everyone feel better. I’ve never met a developer or manager who could accurately estimate software projects even as well as the local weatherman(or woman) predicts the weather.
 
Number Two - Productivity Is Unevenly Distributed
 
What if I told you that in the average eight hour work day the majority of the work will get done in a 30 minute timeframe? Sound crazy?
 
Well, for most programmers there is a 30–90 minute window where you are extraordinarily productive. We call this the flow state.
 
Being in the flow state is wonderful and amazing. It often is where the “magic” of building software happens.
 
Getting into flow can be difficult. It’s akin to meditation in that you have to have a period of uninterrupted focus of say 30 minutes to “get in” the flow, but a tiny interruption can pull you right out.
 
Now consider the modern workplace environment. Programmers work in open office environments where they are invited to distract each other constantly.
 
Most people need a 1–2 hour uninterrupted block to get 30–90 minutes of flow.
 
Take the 8 hour day and break it in half with a lunch break, and then pile in a few meetings and all of a sudden you are lucky to get one decent flow state session in place.
 
That is why I say that most of the work that gets done happens in a 30 minute timeframe. The other 7–8 hours are spent being distracted, answering email, going to meetings, hanging around the water cooler, going to the bathroom, and trying to remember what you were working on before all these distractions.
 
Ironically, writers, musicians, and other creative professionals have their own version of this problem and largely work alone and away from other people when they are creating new things.
 
Someday the programming world might catch on, but I doubt it.
 
Even if this became obvious, it doesn’t sit well with most companies to think that programmers would be paid for an 8 hour day and only be cranking out code for a few hours on a good day. Some corporate middle manager would probably get the bright idea to have mandatory flow state training where a guru came in and then there would be a corporate policy from a pointy haired boss mandating that programmers are now required to spend 8 hours a day in flow state and they must fill out forms to track their time and notify their superiors of their flow state activities, otherwise there would be more meetings about the current flow state reports not being filed correctly and that programmers were spending too much time “zoning out” instead of being in flow.
 
Thus, programmers would spent 7–8 hours a day pretending to be in flow state, reporting on their progress, and getting all their work done in 30 minutes of accidental flow state somewhere in the middle of all that flow state reporting.
 
If you think I’m joking about this, I’m not. I promise you this is what would happen to any company of more than 2 employees. (Even the ones run by programmers.)
 
Number Three - It Will Cost 10x What You Think
 
Being a programmer, I get a lot of non-programmers telling me about their brilliant app ideas. Usually they want me to build something for free and are so generous as to pay me up to 5% of the profits for doing 100% of the work.
 
Their ideas are just that good.
 
Now, I gently tell them that I’m not interested in building anything for free.
 
At that point they get angry, but a few ask how much it will cost. I give them a reasonable (and very incorrect) estimate of what it would cost to create the incredibly simple version of their app idea.
 
Let’s say it’s some number like $25,000.
 
They look at me like I’m a lunatic, and so I explain how much it costs to hire a contract programmer and how long it will actually take. For example’s sake let’s say it is $100/hr for 250 hours.
 
To be clear, these are made up numbers and bad estimates (See Number One for details…)
 
In actuality, to build the actual thing they want might cost $250,000, or even $2,500,000 when it’s all said and done.
 
Building software can be incredibly complex and expensive. What most people can’t wrap their head around is the fact that a company like Google, Apple, or Microsoft has spent BILLIONS of dollars to create something that looks so simple to the end user.
 
Somehow, the assumption is that something that looks simple is cheap and fast to build.
 
Building something simple and easy for the end user is time consuming and expensive. Most people just can’t do it.
 
So, the average person with a brilliant app idea thinks it will cost a few hundred or maybe a few thousand dollars to make and it will be done in a weekend is so off the mark it’s not worth considering their ideas.
 
And programmers are too eager to play along with these bad ideas (by making bad estimates and under charging for their time) that this notion is perpetuated to the average non-programmer.
 
So, a good rule of thumb is that software will cost 10 times as much as you think and take 10 times as long to finish.
 
And that leads to a bonus point…
 
BONUS - Software Is Never Done
 
Programmers never complete a software project, they only stop working on it. Software is never done.
 
I’ve worked at many software companies and I’ve never seen a software project “completed”.
 
Sure, software gets released and used. But, it is always changing, being updated, bugs get fixed, and there are always new customer requests for features.
 
Look at your favorite software and you’ll quickly realize how true this is. Facebook, Instagram, Google Search, Google Maps, GMail, iOS, Android, Windows, and now even most video games are never done.
 
There are small armies of developers just trying to keep all the software you use every day stable and bug free. Add on the fact that there are always feature requests, small changes, and new platforms to deal with, it’s a treadmill.
 
So, the only way out of the game is to stop working on software. At that point, the software begins to decay until it is no longer secure or supported.
 
Think about old Windows 3.1 software or maybe old Nintendo Cartridge video games. The current computers and video game consoles don’t even attempt to run that software anymore.
 
You can’t put an old video game in your new Nintendo Switch and have it “just work”. That is what happens when you think software is done.
 
When programmers stop working on software the software starts to die. The code itself is probably fine, but all the other software keeps moving forward until your software is no longer compatible with the current technology.
 
So, those are the four most important things that non-programmers should know about programming. I know you asked for only three, so I hope the bonus was valuable to you as well.

Tech Life in Maryland

Maryland has several historic and renowned private colleges and universities such as St. John?s College, Washington College, Towson University, and the University of Maryland Baltimore, the most prominent of which is Johns Hopkins University. The city of Annapolis, is known as the sailing capital of the world. The Tech Council of Maryland (TCM), Maryland?s largest trade association for technology and life science companies, announced in October 2013 that Rockville, Md. based IT services firm Optimal Networks, was the winner of the organization?s first annual ?Outstanding Place to Work? award, Portal Solutions, a Rockville-based technology services firm and DMI, in Bethesda, were runners up.
Design without code is just a daydream. Code without design is a nightmare Assaad Chalhoub
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Software developers near Rockville have ample opportunities to meet like minded techie individuals, collaborate and expend their career choices by participating in Meet-Up Groups. The following is a list of Technology Groups in the area.
Fortune 500 and 1000 companies in Maryland that offer opportunities for Crystal Reports developers
Company Name City Industry Secondary Industry
McCormick and Company, Incorporated Sparks Wholesale and Distribution Grocery and Food Wholesalers
USEC Inc. Bethesda Manufacturing Manufacturing Other
Coventry Health Care, Inc. Bethesda Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, and Biotech Other
Host Hotels and Resorts, Inc. Bethesda Travel, Recreation and Leisure Hotels, Motels and Lodging
W.R. Grace and Co. Columbia Agriculture and Mining Farming and Ranching
Discovery Communications, Inc. Silver Spring Media and Entertainment Radio and Television Broadcasting
Legg Mason, Inc. Baltimore Financial Services Financial Services Other
Marriott International Inc. Bethesda Travel, Recreation and Leisure Hotels, Motels and Lodging
Constellation Energy Resources, LLC Baltimore Energy and Utilities Gas and Electric Utilities
Lockheed Martin Corporation Bethesda Manufacturing Aerospace and Defense
T. Rowe Price Baltimore Financial Services Investment Banking and Venture Capital

training details locations, tags and why hsg

A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

The Hartmann Software Group understands these issues and addresses them and others during any training engagement. Although no IT educational institution can guarantee career or application development success, HSG can get you closer to your goals at a far faster rate than self paced learning and, arguably, than the competition. Here are the reasons why we are so successful at teaching:

  • Learn from the experts.
    1. We have provided software development and other IT related training to many major corporations in Maryland since 2002.
    2. Our educators have years of consulting and training experience; moreover, we require each trainer to have cross-discipline expertise i.e. be Java and .NET experts so that you get a broad understanding of how industry wide experts work and think.
  • Discover tips and tricks about Crystal Reports programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized Crystal Reports experts
  • Get up to speed with vital Crystal Reports programming tools
  • Save on travel expenses by learning right from your desk or home office. Enroll in an online instructor led class. Nearly all of our classes are offered in this way.
  • Prepare to hit the ground running for a new job or a new position
  • See the big picture and have the instructor fill in the gaps
  • We teach with sophisticated learning tools and provide excellent supporting course material
  • Books and course material are provided in advance
  • Get a book of your choice from the HSG Store as a gift from us when you register for a class
  • Gain a lot of practical skills in a short amount of time
  • We teach what we know…software
  • We care…
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