Create Report Template


This document outlines the current version of the new report writer.

This overview relates to the template creation process.

Getting There:

[templates icon]

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The first noticeable change in our approach to report creation is the limiting of the number of data files that users have access to. PowerForce is a huge application with 100s of tables to reflect the diversity and breadth of the application modules. As well there being multiple files to report on, each of the files (database tables) themselves had 10s of data items - and somewhat annoyingly no standard in respect of the naming of these fields.

With the new report writer, we have taken the opportunity to provide a new reporting tool as well as to commence a project to standardise the naming convention of the data elements. The goal is to create a standard and generic set of data element names, and to carry the same names to our SQL based products, providing you with a seamless transition between the two environments.

The reporting environment is made up of two reporting tools, this one which allows you to develop a template for users to subsequently tailor and use, and the report "view" only tool, which minimises the options your users have with report creation, therein managing the proliferation of reports as well as ensuring that all users maintain to company standards.

The report template creation screen is as you see it below.

Moving across the screen from left to right, you see that on the left hand side (LHS) you may choose to review an existing report. Use the dropdown facility or enter the name (if you know it). As with all PowerForce key fields, please "tab" off the field so that the system moves forward.

If on the other hand to want to create a brand new report, use the drop down on the right hand side (RHS) of the screen to select a report.

report template


The various buttons (some will be removed in the final version of the report template tool), will be explained throughout the rest of this document as they come into use.

Extending or using existing reports ()

If you are extending an existing report, use the "Report" dropdown to select a report already in the system.

report dropdown

Example 1 - Create a new report layout

To create a brand new report, select the data table that you wish to report against by using the Table drop down on the RHS of the screen.

new report

You will be presented with a screen similar to the above, with obvious different data elements depending upon the table. The things to note on the above image are:

  • Field Name - refers to the data element name (some of these will change over time)
  • Description - this is a clearer description of what this data element represents. You may select what you wish to report on by reading the description rather than having to know the data element name.
  • Inc - this column is a checkbox - tick the box is you wish to include the particular data element in your report. Similarly un-tick the box to remove the data element from your report.
  • Conv - stands to Output Conversion (currently still being enhanced to allow for smoother operation). As far as possible the system attempts to set the correct value based upon its internal knowledge of the data elements. You may change the conversion mask if you wish, it will only affect the current report that you are working on at the time.

Select columns for your report

Select the columns you want in your report by selecting the check-box under the Inc column.

output format

As we've indicated,to remove the column from your display, simply un-tick the box.

The Conv field will be a popup when completed, however for the time being, if you use the following guidelines, you should be ok for all of your requirements.

D2/E Date format 21/02/09
MD2$ Numeric format $999.99
MD0 Numeric format (no decimal places)
B Boolean format (1 or 0, for yes or no)

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Stage your data

Having checked off on a couple of columns, press the "Stage" button to move your selection to the lower area of the screen. This is where you start to format your report and define its display sequence, etc. Please remember this sequence, of checking and un-checking the columns for display, and then "staging" the data elements, as you either remove elements from your display or add new ones to those already selected.

data layout

You can see above that the data elements you've ticked previously are now laid out flat, representative of how the columns will align on the report.

You can also notice that the layout has some narrow columns, you using your mouse, select the seperator between two columns and drag in either direction to resize the display.

move layout

Again using the same principles, click on a data element and drag it between rows. When you have the element in the new position, simply let go off the mouse to see the new position.

drag and drop

You will notice the set of arrows showing you clearly where the data element will end up if you let go of the mouse.

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Sorting you data

So, we're still moving the data about to get a feel for how we want the final output to appear. If you want your data sorted, drag the columns to the area titled "Drag a column header here to group by that column". sort columns Again you will notice that the red arrows are clearly indicating where the data element is being moved to.

You may drag more than one field to this area, and you may drag and drop these column names within this area to further manipulate the sort order.sort more fields

Another very powerful facility is represented by the upward arrow on each of these column headers. So in addition to your report being sorted by the two fields, the sort sequence of the fields themselves is Ascending. By clicking on the arrow itself, you alter the sequence into the opposite direction. You may similary alter the sort sequence of each column by clicking once on the column header.

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Quick preview

Having completed the setup, the next step is to preview the data, so press the "Preview" button to take you to the screen where you actually view the data.

Pressing the Preview button will take you to the report view screen as in the below example. The report preview screeen and its operations are in a section of their own, however, to demonstrate where your preparatory work is leading to.

report preview

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Form buttons

The bottom of the screen has various buttons to manage the operations of this form.


Delete Delete the report currently showing in the "Report" dropdown. You cannot delete a report that you're preparing. Use Clear or Exit for that purpose.
Clear Removes everything off the display and resets all fields to empty.
Popup A different mechanism to allow you to select additional fields for display.
Stage Synchornise the data that you have "checked" on / off in the upper half of the screen to the staging area in the lowe half.
Preview Preview what the data on the report will look like
Save As Save the report permanently, and give it a new name.
Save Save the report permanently, and save it under the name currently showing in the report dropdonw.
Exit Exit this screen without saving any changes. The form will not prompt you to save un-saved work.

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The reporting tools described here are for adhoc reporting, allowing you quick and easy access to your PowerForce data.

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See Also

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Version 9 report writer

Viewing completed reports

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