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Archive for June, 2012

InfoPath

June 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Microsoft has a software product called “InfoPath” which is a program that allows you to create forms and provide forms to users to view, edit, and add data to some sort of database or data store.   This is a very versatile product and can provide a complete solution with Sunset Reports.   Use Infopath Designer to create the forms, and Infopath Filler to have users access the data using the forms.   Then with Sunset Reports connected to the same data store and you have a complete application.

There are numerous options for data stores.   Here are some screenshots taken from InfoPath to give you an idea of the choices.

MLS Data

June 27, 2012 Leave a comment

If you are a subscriber to the MLXchange, you have  the ability to export your search results.   These results can be directly read by Sunset Reports so you can create your own custom reports based on the exported data.  Here are the simple steps:

1 – After you have displayed your search results and included all the columns you need,  go to the export button on the bottom left of the form.

2 – Click on the arrow and choose either “Selected Records” or “All Records”.  Choose the “Comma Delimited” format, then click Next.   (Do not compress the file).

3 – Choose your grid format and make sure you click on “Include Column Headers”.

4 – Finally save the file in a location where you will store the file and connect to it using Sunset Reports.

Even though the file has an extension of “txt”, Sunset Reports will treat it like a CSV file.   Check out this post to see how you use the Query Builder to connect to the CSV file to create a data source based on this exported file.

Microsoft OneNote

June 25, 2012 Leave a comment

OneNote is a great program and is part of the Microsoft Office suite.   This program provides a notebook type interface with the ability to have all kinds of content.   You can integrate Sunset Reports output within OneNote is three different ways:

  • Link to a report file
  • Attach a report file
  • Insert a report printout

A very cool feature if you insert a report printout is the ability to have the content of the printout searchable by OneNote.   These powerful capabilities have all kinds of possibilities.

You can also send a report directly to OneNote.

Report Server

June 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Sunset Reports can work as a “Report Server” similar to SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) and Crystal Reports.   The difference is Sunset Reports is much easier to implement and does not provide a web based interface.   No actual server software exists.   Instead a Windows Service is run on any Windows based computer including XP, Vista, 7, Server 2003, and Server 2008.   The service or “Report Processor Service” as we refer to it, runs in the background whether a user is logged on or not.   It runs off a report queue which has a list of reports to run, their scheduled time, format, destination, etc.    Reports can be added via the Windows based user interface, or from an email request.   The Report Processor Service also monitors an incoming email inbox for requests.   Reports can be saved in a variety of formats and even FTP’d to a website.

Report History

June 21, 2012 Leave a comment
Here is a helpful hint if you want to keep a report history…  When Sunset Reports creates a report file from the Queue and Report Processor, you have an option to add a date time stamp as part of the filename.   If you include the date time stamp, files will not be overwritten and you can accumulate a history of a particular report.   Without the date time stamp, the files are overwritten and this is useful if you establish a shortcut to the file and want the shortcut to work all the time. Or if you are creating files that are part of a website, you will need to maintain the same filename for links to work.

Use the Web as a Data Source

June 19, 2012 Leave a comment

As you have probably already seen, Sunset Reports can use an Excel Workbook as a data source.  Excel has the ability to pull data from a Web Page using what is called a Web Query.   When you are in Excel choose the Data tab on the ribbon bar, and then choose the item “From Web”.   You can pull data from a section of a web page and have it inserted into a worksheet.   If the inserted data is formatted with headers, give it a range name, and now you have a web based data source.   Be sure to setup the options to have the data extracted when Excel is opened so the data is refreshed automatically.

Web Page Designer

June 17, 2012 Leave a comment
Sunset Reports is not only a great report designer, but you can use it to create static web pages that do not connect to a data source and are not really reports.   To do this, you create a new report design.  When it prompts you for a data source or the wizard pops up, just cancel.   You will then have a blank report design.    You can now use a number of controls to build your webpage. Start with a table control to organize a page.   You can add rows, columns, and cells.   Deleting cells will provide a way to merge cells across columns.   The sizes of rows and columns can be controlled.   Once you have a rough layout, now start adding controls to the cells.   A label control will give you text, but if you want to mix up the fonts, sizes, or colors within a control, use the Rich Text control.   Add lines, shapes, and images.   You can even add a chart if you want to add the data manually.   Use the HTML View to see how it will look.   You can also do a lot with borders, and styles.   All objects have a Navigation Target and Navigation URL property, so adding hyperlinks is powerful and easy.   The Navigation Target will be one of these values: _blank, _parent, _search, _self, or _top.   The URL can point to an external page or a control on the current page.  To point to the control within the page, assigning the name of the target control to the Navigation URL property, and set the Navigation Target property to “_self”.
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