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New Features

May 6, 2013 Leave a comment

Another great update to Sunset Reports is here.   This version introduces two new major features:

  • Start the program with “opening arguments”.   Create your own shortcuts or even open Sunset Reports with another program.  Up to 4 opening arguments will put the software in one of 8 modes.
  • A new menu interface inspired by the Windows 8 Metro interface.   Now it will be easier to use our software with your touch screens.

Here are the 8 modes:  (Note: Modes 2 thru 8 all require Arg1 being a specified report storage file)

  1. No arguments – normal mode connecting to default user report storage file
  2. Normal mode connecting to arg1 instead of the default user report storage file.
  3. With Arg2 a positive number – run in BATCH mode with arg2 = run queue time
  4. With Arg2 = -1, show report list and if Arg3 then filter by category = Arg3 and if Arg 4 then filter by userid = Arg4
  5. With Arg2 = -2, show report carousel and if Arg3 then filter by category = Arg3 and if Arg 4 then filter by userid = Arg4
  6. With Arg2 = a Report Definition Name and if no Arg3 then print preview the report definition by that name.
  7. With Arg2 = a Report Definition Name and if Arg3 = 1 then print to default printer directly
  8. With Arg2 = a Report Definition Name and if Arg3 = 2 then print with prompt for printer

Here is the new menu….

SunsetReportsTileMenu

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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.

Changes

April 5, 2013 Leave a comment

If you are an existing Sunset Reports customer, upgrade to this version for FREE!

Here is a summary of the changes in this new version of Sunset Reports:

  • New Report Designer with ribbon and tabbed reports
  • Preference added to choose standard report designer or ribbon/tabbed report designer
  • PDF Page Burst (see below for details)
  • PDF Bookmark Burst (see below for details)
  • MHT Bookmark Burst (see below for details)
  • [Run Now] button added to Report Queue List
  • Expanded status field of Report Queue
  • Send a report to multiple email addresses
  • Include a report as the body of the email message using HTML
  • Improvements in the performance of the Report Processor
  • Updated to the lastest DevExpress controls
  • Fixed issues with samples

These special formats are used for report bursting which is also referred to as report splitting or report exploding.  They are also useful for email blasts or email broadcasting.

PDF Page Burst:  If you select this format, a single report will be broken up into multiple files, each file containing one page.  The filename will be the report definition name followed by a dash and the page number.

PDF Bookmark Burst:  The PDF Bookmark Burst is a little more tricky than the simple page burst.   This format requires that you include a label control in your report design named exactly “BurstFileName”.  This control’s bookmark property needs to be bound to a data source that will determine the name of the file.  A good example of this might be invoice number, customer name, or a combination of similar items.   It wants to be something that will uniquely name the file and give you a description of what the file is.  So as an example, you could end up with a folder full of PDF files for your invoices.  When you preview the report, all the invoices will be in one report, but when the report is processed from the queue, it is separated into multiple files. Exactly which pages of the big report go into which files is controlled by the placement of the control in the report design.  The best place to put it is in a group band, and then you set the group to start on a new page.  This insures that pages are separated properly for each report file.

There is also another twist to this format.   If you also include a control name exactly “BurstEmailAddress” and bind the value of that control to your data source that contains email addresses, the reports will be created as separate files, but also emailed as attachements.   The subject and body of the email is controlled by the specific queue entry.  With this powerful feature, you can now send out multiple emails with different attachments with a single report and queue entry.

MHT Bookmark Burst:  This format is a variation of the PDF Bookmark Burst, except for the following.   The report format for the separate files is not a PDF, but instead an MHT file.  This is a referred to as a MIME HTML file where the page format combines what might be multiple files for HTML.

If you include the control named “BurstEmailAddress” as described in the PDF Bookmark Burst section, then the report will become the body of the email instead of the attachment.   This is perfect for email blasts or email broadcasting.   Graphics will work and the email is sent with the body as HTML.

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

Report Bursting

March 25, 2013 Leave a comment

The concept is to print one report definition and have multiple report files like PDF’s creating with individual files for multiple recipients.   For example, you have a report definition for invoices to send to all your customers, but you obviously want to send just one invoice to each customer.  With standard report processing, you will end up with multiple invoices in one big PDF.  With Report Bursting (also referred to as report splitting or report exploding), you can have a single file for each customer/invoice.  Each file is a subset of the report results.

This new feature is in the works with our development team and testing is in progress.   And with our report distribution system, each report can go to a different email address too.

This new feature will be valuable for order confirmations, invoices, contracts, purchase orders, dunning letters, employee statements, billing statements, promotional mailing, sales letters, appointment confirmations, etc. or any report you design.

ReportBusting

Poster – Large Format Pictures

March 14, 2013 Leave a comment

If you have ever wanted to take a picture, image, or photo and blow it up and print it on a large format paper, or multiple sheets of paper and tape it together, you might have a hard time finding the right tools.  Sunset Reports can be easily used to print posters, or simpye your picture or photo on multiple sheets of paper.   Choose as many sheets wide and tall you want, and print them out.   This concept works well too for signs.  For a sign, you can use the label or rich text control.  And you can also use any other combination of controls for both text and images.

Here are the steps to follow to print a picture across multiple pages:

1 – Create a new report design

2 – Select the paper size you want to print to and the orientation (Landscape or Portrait)

3 – Add a picture box control.

4 – Select your picture using the Image URL Property

5 – Size your picture by changing the size properties of the Picture Box control.  The size is set usually by hundreds of an inch(or tenths of a millimeter).   For example 2000 = 20 inches.

6 – Change the sizing property to “Stretch Image”

7 – Size the TopMargin and BottomMargin to something compatible with your printer.  (50 works good in most cases)

8 – Go to Print Preview to see your result.   Then either print it, or go back to Report Design to tweak your document.

Here is a print preview of an image that was stretched to 3 pages wide by 4 pages high.

Poster

Compare Toolbars with Crystal Reports

March 9, 2013 Leave a comment

In the following figure we have compared the report designer toolbars between Crystal Reports and Sunset Reports.

Crystal Reports vs Sunset Reports Toolbar

Crystal Reports vs Sunset Reports Toolbar

The red arrows show a match with the toolbar items between the two software programs.  Crystal Reports only has a rectangle as a shape while Sunset Reports provides 23 shapes.

The items on the bottom of the figure with a blue callout show items that Sunset Reports has and Crystal Reports does not have.

For the items on the top toolbar with a green callout:

1 – Insert Group (This is handled differently in Sunset Reports)