Tutorial - Lesson 2

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If you've not familiarized yourself with the Report Formatter you need to right now. Review that section for information about the screen layout and what the various buttons do.


There are two goals for any report that you create: properly extract information that you need, and try to make it visually pleasing. The second goal is sometimes elusive; everyone has their own opinion as to how reports should look like. The first goal is much simpler, once you understand how the Report Builder "engine" works.


It helps some users to think of Report Builder as a big circle. Inside the circle is the information that you have in the database. Using a DETAIL BAND in the report will start at the top of that circle (at the first database record), then loop through all the inputted information until the last database record is reached, bringing you back to the top of the circle once again. A DETAIL BAND is responsible for doing the "grunt work" of accessing the database, retrieving the database information and printing the database field in the area that you tell it to.


Every report that you create will have a DETAIL band in it. While there are many different types of report "bands" that you can use, a DETAIL band is mandatory - without it the information in your database will never be processed. Before adding a DETAIL band let's go ahead and define some basic information about the report.


Click the main menu option titled FILE, then select REPORT PROPERTIES from the drop down menu. A window will appear asking you for the Report Properties. The Report Title is the description that will be displayed in the Reports Manager window - you want to give a meaningful description that others can understand in this entry field. The Record Filter entry field allows you to use the Data Dictionary to assist in creating a filter condition. Record Filters will be described in much more detail in later lessons - in a nutshell a filter allows you to print ONLY the information that you desire (such as: print all names for customers living in Hawaii). Here is what the screen looks right now:


Naming a new report


Click on the second tab labeled "Page layout"; on this tab you can override the default settings for the generated report. The default settings are for letter size (8.5 x 11 portrait) output, with small margins on all 4 sides of the generated report page. You can also change the report orientation to landscape by clicking on the Landscape check box. For now the default settings will be used. Here is the screen:


Report page layout screen


We'll go ahead and click the SAVE button to save the report page information. At this point we need to save the report to the *.RPT file that is stored in the directory. Click the FILE main menu option, the select the SAVE AS menu option. A window will appear on screen that you've seen in other Windows applications - you are being prompted for a location to save the file, and a filename for the file. The default folder will be the C:\ComQuest folder on the Fileserver. This is the desired location for ALL reports that you create, so go ahead and leave the location as is.


HandIf you have more than one ComQuest database folder on your Fileserver(s), then Report Builder reports are stored in the individual data folders instead of in C:\ComQuest


For the filename, you want to create a unique filename for all new reports. You can use the Windows 95/98/NT long filenames if you want, or give it a 8 character filename - the choice is yours. Leave the *.RPT file extension alone - you do NOT want to use a file extension other that *.RPT!!


For this report a filename of Completes will be given, with the screen resembling:



Saving "Completes" report


Once the filename is entered, click the OK button to save the report file. The file Completes.rpt is now saved to the hard drive. Each report that you create will be saved with a different *.RPT file.


You will also notice that the top of the report formatter window now displays some of the information that was just entered above:



Report Header information


To recap; in this lesson you learned:


Every report needs a DETAIL band to extract/print database information


How to create a new report file and save it to your computer's hard drive


How to change the dimensions of a report (from portrait to landscape, etc)


How and where report files (*.RPT) are saved