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Posts Tagged ‘Features’

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..

Window View – The Next BIG thing in Sunset Reports

December 15, 2015 1 comment

Coming in the next version of Sunset Reports is “Window View”.   Currently you can print, export, and print preview a report.  With “Window View”, your report becomes a window for viewing on the screen only.   The features of this new view include:

  1. Display your report as a window on the screen
  2. The window can be interactive using the scripts you design in the report designer.   There are numerous possibilities here.  Drilldown reports, menus, etc.   This can be your user interface to the reports you want to give to a user.   Users don’t even have to see the functions of Sunset Reports to see the reports they want or you want to give them.  You can launch other reports in Window View or Print Preview.
  3. The window is automatically sized to the page size of the report design so you can control the window size.  Make it as small or large as you want.  Include any of the report objects.   Use a Label with a OnClick script to create a button.
  4. You can set a time for the window to refresh.  This means your report will be updated periodically automatically.  The update time can be as little as 1 second.  So now your report will update in real time showing real time data.
  5. If your report has more than one page, and if you set an window refresh time, the pages of the report will cycle to that time, and when the first page comes back up, the report will be refreshed with new data.   This feature can be used for slide shows with real time data.

The following figure shows a Window View of a report design.  This design is intended to work as a menu system.   It has a clock that is updated every second.   The five items on the right are labels with click events to perform functions.   This example is included in the sample reports file included with the product.   You can actually create your own application with this feature.

DemoMenu

Alternative to Reporting Services (SSRS)

January 11, 2014 Leave a comment

SQL Server Reporting Services is a popular choice for creating, deploying, and managing reports.  But there are many occasions when it is an overkill or the data source is not SQL Server.  Sunset Reports provides an attractive alternative that provides most of the features of SSRS and many features that SSRS 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 SSRS, or any other report designer, then look carefully at Sunset Reports.

Additional Samples

August 28, 2013 Leave a comment

With the release of 1.95, we have included a second set of samples in the Samples2 file.   These samples are more advanced and demonstrate the powerful features of Windows mode and scripts.  You can copy these reports and modify them as you want. Included are:

  • Digital Clock – This report when viewed in Window View will show the current time and update each second.
  • Current US Radar – This report will display the current US radar map.   If viewed in Window View, it will update automatically every 60 seconds by the use of the numeric parameter, WindowViewTimer.  The report can be easily modified to show a different region.
  • Disk Space – This report uses gauges and a script that reads the drive space on disk C and shows disk space used and disk space free.
  • Edit Global and User Parameters – This unique report is actually an interactive form showing how you can change data and update the global and user parameters.  Reports are not read only anymore.
  • Get IP – This report will get your current Internet IP address.   It will check it against a previous value created by this report and stored in a Global Parameter.   If the IP is different, the report runs.  If it is the same, the report will not produce any output.   This is useful if you want to email or text yourself if your IP changes.  This shows you how you can save data to the parameters.  Solves dynamic IP issues.
  • Get Web Page – This report shows you how easy it is to capture a Web Page and load the HTML into a Rich Text Control.
  • Hurricane Report – Captures an image from the internet.
  • Main Menu – The report is actually a customizable main menu for Sunset Reports.   You can use this as a starting point for your own menu.   Make sure you set the preference for the starting form to be “Main Menu Report Definition”.   If you need to get back to the regular program interface, close this menu holding down the Ctrl key.
  • Photo Album Slide Show – This report shows you how to display all the images in a folder in a report.   The script contains the code to create a file list from the parameter “Picture Folder”.  The file list is stored in a file named Index.XML.  This file is then used as the data source by using the report parameter XML Data Path.  You can change the design of the report to show one picture on a page.  Then using Window View, the pictures will cycle.

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

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.

More Features

July 28, 2012 Leave a comment
  • Powerful enough for the IT department & simple enough for end users
  • Lower initial and ongoing costs compared with competitor’s products
  • Handles document files from other software as well
  • Designed using award winning components and the best of proven technology
  • On the road! Request and receive reports via Email on your mobile device in a password protected PDF or various other formats
  • Connect to your accounting software, corporate databases, CRM, ERP, project management system or just a spreadsheet
  • Great for Data Conversion and creating new Excel files from Databases
  • The perfect data analyst tool
  • Companion to Microsoft Office
  • Use as the engine to drive a cloud solution

Click HERE to see more

 

Report Subscriptions

July 5, 2012 Leave a comment
Suppose a user wants to “subscribe” to a report such that the report will be emailed to the user on a periodic basis (i.e. daily, weekly, etc).  The process is very easy to setup.   First add the report to the Queue at the time the user wants the report.   Then open the Calendar view of the Queue and find the report just added.  By double clicking on the report or right mouse clicking on the report and selecting “Open”, you have the ability to change the time and also set the Recurrence of the report.   This is the way you can set reports to recur on specific days and times repeatedly.

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.

Product Integration

May 29, 2012 Leave a comment

In the last two posts about Quickbooks (CleverQ) and Medical Software (PsychNotesEMR) , you saw how Sunset Reports can enhance other software by providing a reporting solution.   Sunset Reports will enhance your software as well, by providing a complete reporting tool and information management solution.   To find out more contact us at Sales@SoftwareForProfessionals.com.

Business Asset

May 26, 2012 Leave a comment

One of the most important assets in business is DATA and when the data is turned into INFORMATION, it becomes the primary asset of a business.   Transforming data from a variety of sources, making it accessible, and presenting it in a form that is useful is the main purpose of Sunset Reports.    Timely information and business intelligence in the right format gives managers the ability to

  • Make quicker decisions
  • Make smarter dicisions
  • Adapt to changes
  • Affect the bottom line

With Sunset Reports, you do not have to manually run reports, they can be delivered on demand or scheduled to occur on a recurring basis.    They can be delivered to a manager’s workstation or portable device like a smartphone or tablet.   They can show up on a website, email, or message.

Database Export Tool

May 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Sunset Reports can work as a great database export tool to retrieve data from a variety of sources and then save them to a different file format that can be used by other software.   Refer to the post on Data Sources to see all the possibilities for input.   The report design for exporting should be a simple table object.   Each column in the table will be a field that get’s exported.   The typical export types that can be used to create files that can be read by other software include:  XLS, XLSX, CSV, and Text.   The first figure shows how you would create a simple report design for defining the fields to include in the export.   You can decide which fields and in which order you want to them to appear.   By using the reports sorting and filtering options, you can define the order and what data is to be exported as well.   With the formatting property of each table cell, you can specify the format of each data element.

The next figure shows the export options you can attach to the report design.

For the CSV and Text exports you will find a property called “Encoding”.   This property has a dropdown list containing different encoding schemes.  In the list below, click on the link to learn more about each encoding scheme.

Windows-1252
US-ASCII
UTF-16
unicodeFFFE
utf-7
utf-8
utf-32

For more information about encoding, check out this MSDN article.

Include Web Image in Report

May 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Here is a real cool feature of Sunset Reports.   You can easily include an image from a webpage into your report.   Whenever the report is run, the image is grabbed from the web and included in the report.   It is current and up to date.   What kind of images can be included?   There is essentially no limit.   Include stock charts, weather radar, traffic, or whatever is available.

The secret to getting this to work is to add a Picture Box to your report.  Then add the URL of the web image in the property “ImageURL”.  This property supports both absolute and relative paths.  An absolute URL provides the complete path and is what you will use to get a web image.   Note:  You will also want to adjust the “Sizing” property.   “Stretch Image” will probably work best.

Here are some URL’s to try…

http://images.intellicast.com/WxImages/Radar/usa.gif

http://chart.finance.yahoo.com/t?s=%5eDJI&lang=en-US&region=US&width=300&height=180

http://www.google.com/finance/chart?cht=c&q=INDEXDJX:.DJI,INDEXSP:.INX,INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC&tlf=12h

A sample report is also available for you to download HERE.

Shape Control

May 13, 2012 Leave a comment

There are a number of controls you can add to a report design.   These include labels, checkboxes, RTF boxes, images, panels, tables, lines, bar codes, charts, pivot grids, among others.   In particular, the “Shape” control lets you add a variety of graphic shapes as shown in the figure to the right.  (Actually with the properties, there are even more shapes than shown in this figure).

With each shape you can adjust the height, width, and angle.  The angle can be from 0 to 359 degrees.   You can also change other properties such as fillet (how shape corners are rounded).   The star shape can also be set with the number of star points, and concavity.  You can specify arrow head height and width, number of sides to a polygon, and other properties depending on the shape.   Then with the ability to define line width and colors, you have a great way to dress up your reports.

Categories: Features, Screenshots Tags: ,

Report Storage File

May 4, 2012 Leave a comment

All preferences, report designs, definitions, queue, etc. are stored in a single file so they can easily be retrieved and managed. When the software is installed, each user will have their own report storage file. The file extension of this file is “rdb”. The file is also referred to as the RDB file. You can determine the location by opening the “About” form from the Navigator by clicking on the Sunset Reports logo, or from the pull down menu Help – About.

You can change your default report storage file, by clicking on the “Change Report Storage File” button on the “About” form. You will either need to make a copy of the file installed or move the installed file to a different location.

NOTE for Advanced Users: You can create a shortcut to a different Report Storage file by creating a shortcut to the Sunset Reports program and adding a command line parameter with the filename of the Report Storage file you want to use. For example:

“C:\Program Files\SFP\Sunset Reports\Reporter.exe” “C:\Documents and Settings\MYNAME\My Documents\Sunset Reports\nwind_sample.rdb”

This provides you the ability to have multiple shortcuts that will open different Report Storage files.

Awards

May 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Sunset Reports is written in a combination of C# and VB.net.   It is also based on third party developer controls that really makes the software powerful, robust, and easy to use.   One of these third parties is DevExpress and their controls have won numerous awards.   Check out what awards they won here -> Dev Express Awards.

Of course if the controls that we use in our product has received awards, then the benefit of these controls and the recognition they received are seen by our users too.

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.

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.