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Archive for April, 2012

Preferences

April 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Prior to designing reports, you should establish your preferences. Click on the Preferences block on the Navigator, or use the pull down menu Edit – Preferences.

The preferences form contains tabs which group the preferences into related areas. The form itself should have enough information about each of the preferences so you know what to enter.

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If you would like to have the time of sunset each day be displayed on your splash screen and available for schedule of reports, you need to add the latitude and longitude of your location on the Preferences form. There are a number of ways to do this from using a GPS at your location, to going to various websites that provide that information when you enter a city or zip code. Here is a simple method. Go to Google Maps. Zoom into your location. Right mouse click on your location and select “What’s here?” On the top of the web page in the search box, is the latitude and longitude. They are even in the right format. Enter the first number as the latitude on the preferences form and the second number as the longitude.

The Email tab contains the preferences to establish the connection to the SMTP server that will be used to send emails as well as the default values for the Email messages. If you are going to send password protected PDF attachments, enter the password here.

The FTP preferences include the required items to send a report file to an FTP site. By default the files will be sent to the root folder of the FTP site, but you can have subfolders and you can specify the subfolder as the destination folder when defining the Report Queue entry. Only reports processed from the queue can be sent to an FTP site.

Sunset Reports has the ability to create a semi-dynamic web site that does not require a web server. This is ideal for creating a web site and not having the complications of a web server. Since Sunset Reports can automatically create web pages and update the web site, it is referred to as a semi-dynamic web site. The Web preference to “Create Home Page” if set to yes, will create an index.htm file in the repository so the repository can be a local static web site for reports and the home page will contain links to the files. Files indexed include PDF, HTML, HTM, and MHT. If an IndexMaster.htm file exists, it will be used as part of the Home Page. This allows you to create a custom home page with a logo. If you do not have this file, a default home page will be created. The repository may contain subfolders and these are treated as groups and will appear as a link on the parent index.htm and will open a new index.htm file created in the subfolder. This allows you to group reports and organize the static web site more. You might also use this feature to provide security on the website, using Windows security to give access to users by subfolder.

The Data preferences are optional but very useful. By establishing a common data connection, creating data sources becomes real easy. The tab contains the preferences “Primary/Preferred Data Connection” (PDC) and “Secondary Data Connection” (SDC). These are data connection strings that are very specific to the database you are connecting to.  Note that your reports are not just limited to these two data connections.  By changing this preference, all report designs with the data source type PDC or SDC will be updated to the new data source. Creating the PDC and SDC is made easy by using the Report Designer wizard or the Query Builder.

XML Data Reporting

April 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Sunset Reports can connect directly to XML data files.  Using the XML Data Path property, browse to the XML file.   The data contained in the file including the schema is now available as a data source for your report.

Information Management

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

If you refer to the definition of “Information Management (IM)” from Wikipedia, you will see that IM “is the collection and management of information from one or more sources and the distribution of that information to one or more audiences. …. the organization of and control over the structure, processing, and delivery of information”

Does this definition describe Sunset Reports?   Actually this definition is exactly what Sunset Reports does.    You can define many sources of information from databases, Excel documents, or any other type of file created by another system.   With the query builder, report designer, calculations, scripting, etc., information can be processed.   The delivery of information can take many forms in terms of file formats.    Delivery can be scheduled and there are several destination types including websites, shared folders, cloud services, email, and more.

Document Map

April 27, 2012 Leave a comment

When viewing a report in the print preview window, you can simplify the navigation through complex and hierarchial reports by using a document map.   This map shows the hierarchy of the report bookmarks in a tree structure. If the current report has a data source, the Bookmark property can be bound to a data field, obtained from the data source. To do this, expand the (Data Bindings) property, and in the Bookmark.Binding dropdown selector, select the required data field.

Localization

April 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Both imperial (inches) and metric (centimeters) units of measurement are available for your report design.   By changing one report property, you can switch between these measuring systems for the entire report.

Categories: Features Tags:

Web Capabilities

April 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Sunset Reports has several capabilities for the web. These include:

  • Saving reports as HTML and MHT
  • Automatically creating index web pages for report folders
  • Sending files to web sites via FTP
  • Designing web pages using the report designer with tables, labels, images, rich text controls, lines, shapes, navigation targets and navigation urls.
  • Preview designs in HTML

Use on Mobile Devices

April 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Sunset Reports can work as a great tool for viewing reports on mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad, or other smartphone via Email, FTP, or Web pages. The Push/Pull capabilities via Email and the report server function in Sunset Reports provides everything you need for viewing reports. Report design is best handled on the Windows based hardware where the databases generally reside.

The PDF’s generated by Sunset Reports can be sent to your iPhone and iPad  and they look great and are easy to view using iBooks. 

A good scenerio used by many users is to receive reports from Sunset Reports each morning via email on their iPad. The email comes to you when you are at home when you are connected via WiFi. Then when you leave for the day, your iPad has the reports you need without an internet connection. This process works great. You never have to wait for your reports to run or download. They are there when you need them and the PDF quality is wonderful. You can even forward or share the reports as necessary.

Page Size

April 22, 2012 Leave a comment

What are the limitations of page size in Sunset Reports? Microsoft Access reports has a limit of 22.5″ for both width and length.

If you look at the Property “Paper Kind” in the report designer, you will find over 120 different paper sizes to choose from. One of the bigger sizes is called an “E Sheet” which is 34 inches wide and 44 inches in height in portrait mode. You can create a custom page size 120″ (10 feet) by 120″ (10 feet) which would pretty much mean there is no limit to the page size in Sunset Reports.

Microsoft Excel Alternative

April 21, 2012 Leave a comment

If you add a table control to your report, you can have the table work similar to a spreadsheet like Excel. You can add rows and columns. Each cell can be formatted independently. You can put text and numbers in each cell. You can link a cell to a field in a data source.

The harder part is dealing with formulas. But there is a simple method for that. Each cell can be named and you can change the default name to anything you want. So you can give them meaningful names. Then the formulas are placed in the scripts on the report before print event. The formulas would be written in vb.net, C#, or J-script. And with the programming constructs like looping, conditional if then else, case statements, etc., plus all the functions available.  You can have the calculations even more powerful than your typical spreadsheet software.

To view the results of the calculations, just run or preview the report.

Here is a simple example. Assume there is a table with two cells named A and B and they contain numeric data. If you want the sum of A and B put in a third cell named C, the script would look like this…

Private Sub Detail_BeforePrint(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As System.Drawing.Printing.PrintEventArgs)
C.text = csng(A.text) + csng(B.text)
End Sub

The cells contain a text property and it needs to be converted to numeric in code so you can do calculations. The csng function does this and converts the text to a single precision value. You need to refer to each cell with the “.text” property.

Report Templates from Office

April 20, 2012 Leave a comment

If you use Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel, you have access to many templates.   These templates can be imported into Sunset Reports as a starting point for reports.

For Word, create a document from a template, and save the document as an RTF file.   Then import the RTF file into the RTF control in the report designer.

For Excel, use the import report design from Microsoft Excel menu item when in the Report Designer.

Chart Series Views and Indicators

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

For certain chart types, you can add an indicator to the series views.  There are 9 different types: Regression Line, Trend Line, Fibonacci Arcs, Fibonacci Fans, Fibonacci Retracement, Simple Moving Average, Exponentional Moving Average, Weighted Moving Average, and Triangular Moving Average. Each one has some additional properties that are different from each other. Most people are already familiar with regression, trend, and moving averages. The Fibonacci indicators are primarily used for financial analysis, but with Sunset Reports you can use them with not only stock and candlestick charts, but for any 2D X-Y chart as well as the Gantt series of charts. There are a number of good websites that will give you details of the Fibonacci indicators. Quickly, these indicators expose the golden rule symmetry between two series and are useful to forecast levels of support or resistance for a trend.  Check out this link for more information- Fibonacci Number

More posts coming on this topic, so keep checking back.

Microsoft and the Future

April 18, 2012 Leave a comment

A recent article Microsoft’s master plan to beat Apple and Google on the CNN Money website talks about how Microsoft is staging a comeback with Windows 8.   Sunset Reports is a Winform application that will run on the new operating system when it is released this fall.   The future is exciting for all of us here at Software for Professionals and we want you to know that we will continue to support the current and new operating systems that all our businesses are built and depend on.

Categories: Advantages Tags: ,

Microsoft Project

April 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Microsoft Project is a great data source to use with Sunset Reports.   If you are using Project 2003 or earlier, you can use the OLE DB provider to connect.   Use the Microsoft.OLEDB.11.0 provider in this case.   if you are using Project 2007 or later, save your project into the 2003 format and use the OLE DB provider.   Here is a sample connection string:

Provider=Microsoft.Project.OLEDB.11.0;Project Name=myProjectDatabaseFile.mpp;

Categories: Implementation Tags:

Business Dashboard

April 17, 2012 Leave a comment

To create a webpage that has several charts on it like a dashboard do the following:

If you start with a blank report, add all the data sources you need by choosing the “Add Data Source” menu item on the report designer. Then add one or more chart controls onto the report. Click on the chart smart tag on the top right if each chart and select the Data Source, Data Member, and Data Adapter. Do this for each chart. Run the chart wizard now to setup the chart. Arrange the charts so the report appears like a dashboard. You are now ready to go.

Your dashboard can include pivot tables as well as subreports.   There is no limit to the formatting options.   Then set it up to output in all kinds of different file formats and be sent to a website, FTP site, emailed, or other output option.

Note:  For a even more powerful Dashboard solution, check out CleverQ.   This product actually includes a version of Sunset Reports built-in.

Video Introduction to Sunset Reports

April 16, 2012 Leave a comment

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbxoSiGV2IU

Watch this video for a quick view of the program in operation.

Report Scripts

April 15, 2012 Leave a comment

When designing a report you can use scripts to handle special requirments. Scripts are program commands, placed within the event handlers of the report, band, and control elements. When the corresponding event occurs, the script code runs.  Events occur when the report is previewed, printed, or exported.

Although when in the Report Designer, virtually any task can be accomplished without scripting (Conditionally Change a Control’s Appearance, Conditionally Change a Label’s Text and Conditionally Hide Bands), scripting is made available to extend the standard functionality even more.  The Scripts Tab allows you to manage your report’s scripts. It provides centralized access to all the scripts being written for a report or any of its elements (bands and controls).  The built-in scripts validation capability is provided in this tab. After clicking Validate, the result is displayed in the Scripts Errors Panel.  Scripts are saved to a file along with the report’s layout.

The report scripts may be written in one of the following languages that the .NET framework supports – C#, Visual Basic and J#. Since J# is not installed with the framework installation, by default, make sure it is present before writing code in it. The scripting language is specified via the Script Language property of the Report object.

Script execution is performed in the following way: The report engine generates a temporary class in memory. The names of the variables are defined by the Name properties of the controls and objects they represent. When the script is preprocessed, its namespace directives are cut from the script code and added to the namespace, where the temporary class is defined. After preprocessing, all scripts are placed in the code of the temporary class. Then, the resulting class is compiled in memory, and its methods are called when events occur. Scripting offers many advantages: you can declare classes (they will become inner classes), variables, methods, etc. A variable declared in one script is accessible in another script, because it is, in fact, a variable of the temporary class.

The Script References property of the Report object specifies the full paths (including the file names) to the assemblies that are referenced in the scripts used in a report. These paths should be specified for all the assemblies that are included in scripts via the using (C#), Imports (Visual Basic) or import (J#) directives. Usually, you don’t need include any assembles, because most standard assemblies that you may require in scripts are already referenced by the program.

Report Carousel

April 14, 2012 Leave a comment

You can also have the program start with the Report Carousel.  The Report Carousel is a great place to browse report definitions available since the entire description is shown as well as a thumbnail of the first page of the report.   From here you can add a report definition to the queue or print/preview it directly.  You can click on the form to have the report carousel move, or use the scroll bar on the bottom right, or the record selectors on the bottom left.

Report List

April 12, 2012 Leave a comment

In addition to the Navigator, another startup form can include the Report List.  This list allows you to see reports by category.   You can collapse or expand category groups.  There is also the ability to filter and sort the list by any of the columns.  The record selector on the bottom left provides a means to move through the list.   The scroll bar on the right side of the form also provides a means to scroll through the list.

Check out our Video Ad

April 11, 2012 Leave a comment
Categories: Features, Video

Report Destinations

April 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Send your reports to any one or more of several different types of destinations.