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Posts Tagged ‘report design’

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

BIG Advantages

April 15, 2015 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..

Not Just Reports

December 1, 2013 Leave a comment

Yes, Sunset Reports is a great report writer, designer, etc. based on the general understanding of what a report writer is.   But the definition of a report in the software goes far beyond the general understanding.   A report can be a…

  • standard report usually based on some data source
  • document (you can do what most word processors can do)
  • presentation (create a slide presentation where each page is a slide)
  • web page (save to an HTML file and post on a website)
  • Windows form (using the new Windows View)
  • interactive interface (using the new Windows View, you can have the user interact with the window with buttons, etc., make a menu)
  • data converter (define an output format to export to based on an input data source)
  • a software program (using scripts, you can write software in VB.NET C#, JScript .net)

We will explore a couple of these in more detail in future posts.

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

New Version Coming

March 5, 2013 Leave a comment

The developers at Sunset Reports are working on yet another version of Sunset Reports adding new features to make the product the best in its class.   One of the new features is a new report designer.   In the past versions, you were able to edit one report design in the report designer.  Of course, you could have any number of report design windows open so editing multiple reports at the same time was never a problem.  Now you can choose between a single report designer or the new multi tabbed report designer.   The new multi report designer also has a ribbon bar instead of the standard toolbars.   Both designers can accomplish the same task.  It is simply the user’s choice as to which one to use.   This can be controlled with a new setting on the preferences form.

MultiReportDesigner

The new Multi Report Ribbon Report Designer

 SingleReportDesignerThe Single Report Designer with standard toolbars.

Report Specification

June 2, 2012 Leave a comment

If a user is to request a report be designed, some questions must be asked by the designer in order to proceed.   The following list of questions can be used as a starting point for discussions when specifying a report:

  1. What is the purpose of the report?
  2. What skill level will be required to read the report?
  3. In what format(s) will the reports be generated?
  4. Who will the receipient(s) be receiving the report?
  5. What is the frequency of the report?
  6. If the report is stored in a repository, how long is the retention time of the report?
  7. What or where is the data source(s) of the report?
  8. What fields or columns will be used?
  9. What type of report will it be?  Columnar, Tabular, CrossTab, Detail, Summary, Charts, Labels, Form Letter, etc.
  10. What is the general content of the report?  Titles, Report Header, Page Header, Report Footer, Page Footer, Detail section, Subreports?
  11. What is the report orientation (Portrait, Landscape)?
  12. What page size should be used?  Margins?
  13. Are there any predefined templates to use?
  14. Are there any predefined style sheets to use?
  15. Are there any groupings for the report?  Contents of group header?  Contents of group footer?  Multigrouping?  Running Totals?
  16. Are there any paging requirements?  New page for groups?
  17. Is there any filtering?
  18. How is the data to be sorted?
  19. Is there any special requirements to emphasis the content of the report with fonts, color, shading, etc.?
  20. Will there be any user prompted parameters to control the content of the report?
  21. Are there any calculations to be performed?
  22. What data is to be summarized?
  23. Will there be any hyperlinks on the report?  Drilldowns?
  24. Will the report include a document map?
  25. Is there any security or permission considerations?

This list is far from complete, but it will give you a good start on the discussions that need to occur when specifying a report.

Purpose of Reports

June 1, 2012 Leave a comment

The content of a report should satisfy the information needs of the recipient.   Reports should be as complete and informative as possible.   Extranious information should be avoided so as not to confuse or distract the reader.   So what are the typical purposes of a report:

  • to analyze trends
  • to provide detailed data
  • to provide totals or statistical summaries
  • to identify exceptions
  • to assist in planning and control
  • to provide an audit trail

The frequency of a report is also tied to it’s content.   Monthly reports should be complete for the month(s) queried.   In general, when a date range is specified, it should be complete and not for a partial period.   This could cause a mis-interpreted analysis and ultimately incorrect decisions.