Well, it's been fun but it's time to focus on more interesting areas of Microsoft Dynamics GP. This is the last official article in the Report Writer series of posts I've written, although I'm sure there may be the odd article pop up that has some Report Writer content.
Tips, Tricks & Thoughts on Microsoft Dynamics GP
Articles filed under: Report Writer
Here, at long last, is my next-to-last blog post in the Report Writer series. It's not that I've covered everything you could possibly know about Report Writer, not by a long shot, but what I've found is some of the basic information I've shared thus far wasn't as easy to find as the more advanced stuff was. Do you want to know about using VBA with Report Writer? Editing package files? Adding Extender fields to a Report Writer report? There are many things like these that are already covered by the Dynamics GP community. In my last article I will summarize my series and include a few links to other Report Writer resources if you haven't found them already!
Now onto this article... This one is a bit of a hodge-podge of things, there is no particular reason why these are all lumped together in one! The items here probably deserve more in-depth discussion but for the purposes of this blog I just wanted to highlight a few key things about them rather than dig deep into their usefulness.
The next in my series of blog posts about Report Writer is a brief article on Custom reports.
Why would you create a custom report in Report Writer? (really... why?) I've done it a handful of times, and don't particularly recommend it (with all due respect to David Musgrave :) ) but there are a couple simple reasons why it makes sense sometimes. The types of reports you would create with it would need to be extremely simple due to the fact there is no end user option for sorting or filtering results and no parameter input.
One: Data Validation. It can be useful to put together a report to quickly view some records that are otherwise not available on a regular out of the box report. This is usually why I use it, and the reports are generally discarded after we've validated and printed what we need. This is my last resort, as Smartlist Builder is my tool of choice for this but if the customer does not own SLB, sometimes this is the next best option.
Two: Time. Sometimes the alternative is another reporting tool, which needs to be purchased, licensed, installed and/or configured; not to mention the matter of distributing the report to the necessary users. Sometimes, if the report is possible using Report Writer, it's quicker and simpler to do it this way. There are so many tools out there, most of the time the best option for the long term is another reporting tool (Crystal Reports, SQL Reporting Services, Smartlist Builder, etc.). There simply is not enough flexibility with Report Writer to do all the things many people want to do with reports but the one thing it has going for it is it's always there ready to go when you need it.
I'm continuing the Report Writer series with a brief article on Sections in Report Writer. Every once in a while I see a question on a forum "my field didn't print and I don't know why!". Hopefully this will help answer that kind of question!
Generally speaking a report will have at least 5 sections to it, in this order:
- Report Header - this prints on the first page of the report only
- Page Header - depending on your settings, this prints on every page or on "page 2" onwards.
- Body - the guts of the report
- Page Footer - same as Page Header, this either prints on the bottom of every page or only on Page 1 to the second last page of the report.
- Report Footer - this prints on the last page only
Way back in February 2011 (yikes!), I wrote about some Report Writer toolbox items, and focussed on the Arrange tab of tools. Today, at long last, I am concluding that article with some notes and tips on the drawing options (most font options), hopefully clearing up some mysteries.
What are Drawing Options?
These are the options you get when either double-clicking on a text field or graphic field like a line or a box, or using CTRL+D on a data field. There are several pieces to it and options that you have. Here I will describe how they work and how to use them effectively.
If you haven't yet ready my article on formatting text, that may be a good place to start which gives some info I will not be covering today.
When you open the Drawing Options window, what you see differs depending on whether you opened this window from a text field, a data field or a graphic (line, box etc.) field. This screen shot is from a graphical report that I’ve been modifying in this series. If you are in a Text report, every Drawing option is greyed out.
I'm a bit behind in my blogging lately, time to catch up a little bit! Today I'm digging into some of the lesser-used items on the toolbox, and finishing this topic up next week. How can I tell these tools are not used much? The answer is simple: I've seen a lot of ugly reports - fields formatted poorly or not lined up with the header fields they match up to, etc.
I do cringe when I see simple things like a block of address fields for instance not aligned, when there are tools there for you to eliminate this issue forever.
So far, I've gone through a number of things relating to Report Writer, most of which are aimed at an audience of new Report Writer users. This is likely the last two posts of the "starter" topics that I plan to cover unless something interesting comes up! There are lots of blogs out there on FAR more advanced topics, which I will point people to shortly, instead of re-inventing the wheel and writing articles on topics already out there.
Picking up from Part 1, now we are getting into tips and tricks for modifying reports. I am walking through a specific example of taking a report that was in text format (General Posting Edit List), converting it to a graphical report, then modifying it to make it better looking!
Now that most of the payroll year-end tax update season is behind us, it’s back to the Report Writer series of articles.
You’re not the only one who is sick of looking at ugly plain-text edit lists and searching for the information you want to review. Have no fear, more useful and attractive reports are a few mouse clicks away!
Lots of users have gone to other reporting tools to get better looking reports and I don’t blame them. Crystal and SQL Reporting Services give us a lot of great tools to improve reporting in terms of look and feel as well as flexibility of layout and many other benefits. As much as some of us would like Report Writer to die a slow death, the reality is for posting journals and edit lists and anything with temp tables, Report Writer is “it”.
So, you have two choices: you can put up with the out-of-the-box ugly reports or you can roll up your sleeves and make some reports more visually appealing, enhancing the fields which are of importance to you. The next 2-3 articles will be focussed around how to spruce up your reports, using an example of modifying the General Posting Edit List, converting it from text to graphical and cleaning it up.
Updated with a new tip!
If you have modified many Dynamics GP Report Writer reports in the past, you will have perhaps found that dealing with text fields is sometimes a little tedious. There is no obvious place to set what I refer to as a "default" text format, if I was adding a bunch of new text fields. Here are a few simple tips to help you modify those reports a little faster.
My last post was the introduction to dictionaries and launch files for those new to Report Writer (or GP). This post is all about things to keep in mind before you actually venture into Report Writer to start working. It’s rather boring stuff but it’s important to protect your reports from becoming corrupt or damaged due to poor process or lack of understanding.