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BIG Advantages

May 16, 2018 Leave a comment

So a company in the construction business is using accounting software like QuickBooks or Timberline which have built in reports.   The reports can be customized to a certain extent and most of them produce the output that is needed for the standard needs of a company.    Using a product like Sunset Reports can take it to a new level with custom reports from scratch where the user has complete control over the content.   Plus, the ability to schedule reports and distribute them in a variety of ways is something almost no accounting software can do.   Two big advantages.

But there is more….  The same company is also using a project scheduling package like Microsoft Project and another package to manage contracts, subcontractors, communications, change orders, etc., and then another software program to do take-offs and estimates.   Each one is perfect for the function it performs, and each one creates reports as necessary.    But you cannot combine the information from all these software packages to produce reports that tie it all together unless you use a program like Sunset Reports.   A really BIG advantage.

Sunset Reports not only can connect to almost any software package to use as a data source, but it can combine the data sources onto one report.   A single reporting solution that will provide consistency across all applications and is fully customizable with the ability to schedule the reports as well as send them or publish them to a variety of destinations and in a variety of formats.

This scenario is not only applicable to the construction industry, but also to materials, consumer goods, financial, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, publishing, technology, utility industries, etc..

All In One Software

April 23, 2013 Leave a comment

As we continue to see how people use Sunset Reports, we are amazed to find out that the product can do so much.   In surveying our current user base, we have found the functionality of the software going beyond what we originally intended.   Here is a small list of how the software has been used (The first few were obvious, but included here to make the list as complete as possible.)

  • Reporting Tool
  • Data Analysis
  • Business Analytics
  • Management Dashboards
  • Charting
  • Visualizations
  • Business Graphics
  • Web Site Design
  • Web Page Designer
  • Label Maker
  • Word Processor
  • Dunning Letters
  • Data Conversion Tool
  • Document Management
  • Document Distribution
  • FTP Client
  • File Backup Manager
  • Report Server
  • Report Subscriptions
  • Meeting Presentations
  • Report Scheduler
  • Model What-if Scenarios
  • Email Blasts

If you are using the product for something not on this list, drop us a line, we would love to hear from you.

Feature List

March 27, 2013 Leave a comment
Data Connectivity Data Sources MS Access (all versions), SQL Server, MS Excel, Oracle, OLEDB, ODBC, MS Outlook, MySQL, and more
Visual Query Builder Grouping, Sorting, Filtering, Sub-queries, derived tables, Union queriesAdvanced properties: Aliases, Virtual fields, Various SQL Dialects, Visual representation modes
Report Design Contents grouping, filters, sorting, bands, sub-reports, styles, summaries, calculated fields, watermarks, backgrounds, bookmarks, parameters
Controls text boxes, lines, shapes. barcodes, checkboxes, page info, panels, images, page breaks, tables, postal codes, rich text controls, cross-band controls, hyperlinks, multi-columns, cross-references, gauges, map control
Pivot Tables OLAP, Key Performance Indicators, (KPI) Graphics
Charts & Graphs 56 Types with many options2D, 3D, Regression and Trends
plus Parameters, scripts, wizards, labels, mail merge, Drilldown, Drillthrough, Document Map, Multiple reports within a single reportImport from Crystal Reports, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, Data Dynamics Active Reports, and DevExpress
Report Definitions Parameters Select from a data sourceText, Numeric, Static Dates, Dynamic Dates, Fixed and Prompted
plus Multiple definitions using the same design, Descriptions, Titles, External files (treat a file from other software as a report), Print/Preview, Export, Email
Distribution & Delivery Report Processor Runs as a service in the background
Similar functionality to a Report Server
Has the functionality of a server without an operating system server, database server, or web server
Handles report subscriptions
Report Bursting, Report Exploding, Report Splitting, Email Blasts, Email Broadcasting
Report Queue Schedule one time, Schedule recurring, List and Calendar views
Email Requests Monitor email requests, Reply to emails with attached reports/documents
FTP Transfer reports to FTP Site
Website Semi-Static Website, Automatic Index page creation for reports including nested folders
File Formats Document: pdf, html, mht, rtf, txt
Data: txt, csv, xls, xlxs
Graphic: bmp, emf, gif, jpeg, png, tiff, wmf
PDF’s can be password protected

Stored Procedures

January 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Sunset Reports provides many options for connecting to data.   This includes:

  1. Direct Connection to Microsoft Access Tables and Queries
  2. Direct Connection to DSN defined ODBC Connections
  3. Direct Connection to Microsoft SQL Server
  4. Direct Connection to Oracle
  5. Direct Connection to MySQL
  6. and others….

There are also a many options using OLD EB and ODBC connection strings as well as Excel, Outlook, XML, and CSV files.

In general connecting to a table, query, or view is straightforward.   But you can also connect to a stored procedure by defining the SQL directly.  And you can pass parameters to those stored procedures as well.

In the following figure, you can see a a stored procedure defined in the SQL block.  This can be edited directly on this form.

1-24-2013 10-10-49 AM

As long as you have a valid ODBC, PDC, SDC, or QB Connection, you should be all set to retrieve data from stored procedures.   This implementation is similar in functionality to Microsoft Access Pass-Thru Queries.

Alternative to Microsoft Access – Part 1

August 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Recently we were asked if Sunset Reports can work as an alternative to Microsoft Access.   The answer is yes or no, depending on what Access is used for.   In many situations, Access is used to query a database and create reports or export data.   There are no tables or forms designed, just queries or reports.   In this case, yes Sunset Reports can replace Microsoft Access.   In fact it is a great replacement because the query builder and report designer in Sunset Reports is actually more powerful than Access.   Exporting from Sunset Reports is also better handled than Access with more options and better formatting.   Sunset Reports also has a great distribution system with multiple channels including email and FTP.

If you need a way to store data and don’t want to use Microsoft Access, then SQLite, MySQL, and FireBird are free database back ends that you can use and in conjunction with Sunset Reports, you should have all you need.

Alternative to Crystal Reports

August 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Most people know that Crystal Reports is the standard for report writing and has been around for a long time.   But there are many people who feel it is too hard to learn, too complicated to implement, too expensive, or just more than they need.   For those people, Sunset Reports provides an attractive alternative that provides most of the features of Crystal Reports and many features that Crystal Reports doesn’t provide.   Sunset Reports is easier to learn, is simple to install and use, and is less expensive.

Sunset Reports provides a great award winning Report Designer, a powerful visual query builder, the ability to connect to almost any database, a huge list of export and file formats, and numerous features to deliver the reports to the user.   Sunset Reports can act as a report server with a true Windows based process running in the background.   As a report server it can push reports to users, but it can also respond to emails when a user wants to pull a report.   With the ability to schedule reports and have them queued up, you have everything you need to manage document delivery.   And since reports can also be saved as a web page, Sunset Reports can build web pages and FTP them directly to your website.

So if you are looking for another option besides Crystal Reports, or any other report designer, then look carefully at Sunset Reports.

Business Reporting Software

July 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Choosing the right Business Reporting Software is critical to the success of your organization.   Sunset Reports provides just what you need for to get the data converted to information and distributed to the people that need it.   Here are some of the critical features that you should look for:

  • Quick and easy report design with intuitive interface
  • High quality reports with graphics, charts, and links
  • Create reports from numerous data sources
  • Ability to create queries for sources that don’t have the views required
  • Simple to generate and schedule reports
  • Can utilize built-in formulas, perform calculations, and provide user defined filters

SQL Joins

May 2, 2012 Leave a comment

One of the more difficult concepts to learn is connecting tables using the Query Builder and understanding the links.   The links are referred to as “Joins” in SQL (Structured Query Language), and there are different types.   Look at the first figure (click on the figure to see it better).

This figure shows the Sunset Reports Query Builder and a query based on two tables:  Customers and Orders.   The Customers table is on the left and the Orders table is on the right.   Note on the Link Properties window which you can see with a double click on the graphical link, that both “Select All from Left” is unchecked and “Select All from Right” is unchecked.   This results in an “Inner Join” in the SQL statement.   It means we only want the records that exist in both tables.  To understand this better, look at the next figure.

The left circle (yellow) represents the left table or the Customer’s table and the right circle (blue) represents the Order’s table or right table.   An Inner Join results in only those records were corresponding records exist in both tables shown by the overlap of the circles (green).  This green area is the “inner” part and is why it is called the “Inner Join”.   That should make it easy to remember.

Now say we want to see all the customers and only the orders that have a customer record.   We need to create a “Left Outer Join”.   We want all the left circle including the overlap region (yellow and green), but not the right circle not in the overlap (blue).   In other words, all records except where there is an order without a corresponding customer.   This is handled in the Query Builder as shown in the next figure.

Now let’s do the opposite.   Now say we want to see all the orders and only the customers that have an order record.   We need to create a “Right Outer Join”.   We want all the right circle including the overlap region (blue and green), but not the left circle not in the overlap (yellow).   In other words, all records except where there is a customer without a corresponding order.   This is handled in the Query Builder as shown in the next figure.

And finally we could create a “Full Outer Join” where everything is returned.   Both circles and the overlapping part.   This is not always available in some database systems (Microsoft Access is an example of this).   For those database systems that support this type of join, the Query Builder can be used to create it as shown in the last figure.   Note both checkmarks are shown on the Link Properties window.

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.

Academia

February 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Sunset Reports is a perfect tool for the classroom.

Advantages

  • A working software tool for a variety of “Information System” topics
  • Easy installation for instructor and students
  • No additional software required
  • Many samples included and the instructors can create their own examples
  • Sample course outline provided
  • Concepts directly applicable to other software
  • FREE – No cost to instructor or students – License valid for duration of semester
  • Discount available for purchase after semester

Applicable Subject Areas

  • SQL and Query Design
  • Report Design
  • Graphing Data
  • Web Page Design
  • Programming

System Requirements

The software runs on any Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 computer.  It can run on either 32 or 64 bit machines.  Licensing is for installation on a single workstation.   The program is written based on Microsoft .NET version 3.5.   This is generally available as part of the operating system, but can be installed free from the Microsoft website if needed.  The installation program will warn you if this is needed.   The user manuals are in PDF form, so you will also need a PDF reader, available free from the Adobe website.   Minimal memory and hard disk space is necessary.

Procedure to Get Software

Instructors:

For a FREE copy:  Contact Sunset Reports via email at Education@SunsetReports.com.  Include in your email your name, school name, course name and number, and approximate number of students. If you have a web link to either your website and/or the course website, please include that as well.   Also include the dates the course will be held.   You will then receive an email with instructions for downloading the software for yourself.   The software will then need to be activated and will be usable from the date of the request to 1 month after the course ends.   To Purchase a copy:  Go to the Purchase page.   Choose the Workstation Edition with the Educational discount, and pay online.

Students:

For a FREE copy:  Contact Sunset Reports via email at Education@SunsetReports.com.  Include in your email your name, school name, instructor name, course name and number, and starting date of the course.  You will then receive an email with instructions for downloading the software for yourself.   The software will then need to be activated and will be usable from the date of the request to 1 month after the course ends.

Data Gathering

January 5, 2012 Leave a comment

A recent customer of Sunset Reports really exploited the power of the product.    The customer was a distributor of parts and wanted to get sales data from their customers.  The application required connection to several different sales databases including Access, SQL Server, and Oracle.   It was necessary to collect sales data for products.   Each customer got a copy of Sunset Reports.  Since there were several different database schema’s, the query builder in Sunset Reports was used to extract the data.   Each different system required a different query.   A report was created that normalized the format of the data so all systems could be combined and analyzed in the same way.   The report was used to create a CSV text file and the file was daily uploaded to an FTP site.   All this was done with Sunset Reports.    The FTP site was hosted by the distributor and a program was written to consolidate the CSV files.   Then another copy of Sunset Reports produced a set of reports against the consolidated data.

The savings in software development was tremendous.   Sunset Reports provided the means to connect to, query, and transform the data.   The data was exported to a file, uploaded, and then reported on.   Comparatively, the alternatives would have cost over $20,000 more.

Reporting from the Web

July 26, 2011 Leave a comment

If you need the ability to include Web data in a report, here is a great method.  Using Excel gives you the ability to get data from the Web.   The data comes from tables that exist on web pages.   You create a web query in Excel 2010 by going to the Data tab on the ribbon bar, then selecting the icon “From Web”.   Using the New Web Query dialog, select a data table on the web page.   Once you click “Import”, the data is loaded onto the worksheet and the data range is given a name.   You can change the name if you want.   Now, with a named range, Sunset Reports can directly read the data and you have a data source for your report.

We have plans to include Web RSS feeds as a data source for a report as well as capturing an image of a webpage and placing it in a report.   These changes are currently in development.

Data Repository

April 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Do you ever need to extract data from some data source and store it temporarily so you can use it again? Sunset Reports is a great tool for data conversion. You can connect to a variety of data sources and create a report design that is solely used to send data to Excel. Excel is then the repository. Now you can create a report using that Excel repository as the data source.   Check out the video titled Query Builder and Excel Demo both on our YouTube channel Sunset Reports on YouTube