Very frequently we get emails from our customers in which they require features specific for report servers. Last year we started the development of such a product. What we are doing now is unveiled in this article.

Stimulsoft CloudReports is a universal and functional client-server system for full cycle management of various reports – from simple list to complicated documents with multiple nested layers and a number of graphical elements. The primary part of modern workflow system is visual presenting of actual information on digital devices – dashboards, which allow providing information in a simple and intuitive graphical view. Stimulsoft CloudReports contains a large set of charts and visual indicators to conveniently display any data types.
Stimulsoft CloudReports is a powerful instrument for aggregation and visualization of company information.

Server part

There are two ways of using the server part – classic managed server and Software-as-a-service (SaaS).

The first way offers two options:

- Stimulsoft CloudReports Server for installation on the client server. This is a classical way of using the server product. It allows customers to control computing resources and administrate this system. Such a system is completely administered by a customer, but could be used in the fully isolated cooperative area. In this distribution there are such unique functions like load balancing and support for cluster systems.
- Stimulsoft CloudReports Server for integration in the Windows Azure Cloud Service. This way is the most progressive and efficient, because it saves the client from having to maintain its own servers and allows paying only for the resources used in Windows Azure.

Stimulsoft CloudReports Server uses MySQL, MS SQL Server or Windows Azure SQL to store data.

The licensing of Stimulsoft CloudReports Server is based on the number of users with keys, which should be activated on the server during installation.

Also Stimulsoft CloudReports Server will be available as a service. This is more convenient for majority of users as it does not require technical services and hardware. You should just activate necessary functions and start using our service.

The payment is based on the number of users who have access to this service, and some additional functions influencing on the server performance. Flexible packages allows you reasonably use only the functionality that you need and do not waste funds for unnecessary stuff.

Prices and the full list of features will be published later; however there will be a free account for evaluating and non-commercial use.

Customers will be able to change their tariff plans or add any additional feature at any time. But the Professional and Enterprise packages will have some special features, which are not available in other packages.

Data Sources

Data for reports could be fetched in different ways:

- Using direct connections to DBMS MySQL, MS SQL Server, Windows Azure SQL or etc.;
- Imported from local files (Excel, XML, DBF, CSV, etc.);
- Imported from files on distributed storages, for example, Microsoft SharePoint;

The set of acceptable data sources depends on the selected package.

Client side

The client part of Stimulsoft CloudReports is provided in three applications, which has a user-friendly interface and provides quick access to all system functions:

- WinRT-application for tablets on Windows 8. It has a modern touch interface and full set of reporting features: creating и managing reports, creating and viewing dashboards, printing, newsletter mailings, managing tasks on schedule, administration of your system. The beta version release is scheduled for June 2013, application will be available in Microsoft Windows Store;
- WPF-application for Windows PCs. Exceptional functionality and compatibility with all PC's. The beta version is scheduled for August 2013, the application will be available on our site;
- Web-application. Allows you to create complex reports and dashboards with charts and indicators with any device that has Internet access. Modern design and the possibility of using touch interface. It is based on HTML5 and AJAX. The beta version is scheduled for August 2013.

Client side applications will be available free of charge and without any limitation.

Additional features

To meet the needs of all our customers, we provide additional features of Stimulsoft CloudReports:

- White-labeling and rebranding. Integration in corporate area allows using company brand. By activating this feature you get brand key with all attributes of your company – logo, application name, legal company data and etc., which allows not allocating our product in your corporate area.
- Integration. Possibility to embed the features of our product in your application. We provide SDK with a clear and simple API for it, which is available on WinRT, WPF and Web platforms. Integrated Stimulsoft CloudReports server will work in the back-end, and will be invisible for end-users, and your application could use all our features.
It is now more easy and comfortable to work with reports designer in our program product Stimulsoft Reports.Mobile! The innovation our customer waiting for – in mobile designer we have added Property Grid.

Earlier the Property Grid was in all our report designers Stimulsoft Reports.Silverlight, Stimulsoft Reports.Net etc. In the designer of Stimulsoft Reports.Mobile the tab Design on the toolbar worked as the Property Grid. In this tab you could find all tools for creating and designing reports and it was not handy. We have substituted the tab Design with the Property Grid what made the functionality of the product more extended.

We have some other improvements. Now you may add a Watermark image directly from the local disk. In previous versions you could load only text and edit the image, but not load it. In addition the Hierarchical Band component now has a tree; the Cross-Tab component has the tab Cross-Table, the component Condition – the tab Data.

Property Grid
Property Grid
Many years ago people spoke a single language, and, by all appearances, it was beautiful time. Just imagine the world, where all people understand each other, without restrictions and misunderstanding, easy and free… Since building of the Tower of Babel people attempted many times to create a universal mean of communication, but we all know the result - notorious language barrier still has not been overcome.

The same problems people meet every day in many areas. And reporting is no exception. Often companies, organizations and institutions need in creating one report in different languages. How can you translate the report content into all required languages, and, what is very important, to do this quickly and with minimum costs? We have got an answer. We always have got an answer.

There are two solutions of this problem. You can create many separate reports for each language or one report with the ability to automatically translate it into the required languages.

When creating separate reports you can flexibly customize them considering specifics of languages. But, besides this way is time- and money-consuming, if you need to change some data in reports, you will have to do this step by step in each versions of the reports for each language.

There are two ways of creating reports with the ability to automatically translate it into required languages. They are creating reports in the designer using the GlobalizationEditor and from code, using the resource file.

For the first way we have created the editor Globalization Strings. It shows all report strings, which can be translated. You can add required cultures and specify translation of strings for each of these cultures. By default, for all cultures, all strings match report values and change when modifying the report. But if you set a new value for a string, this value will be stored and will not change itself.

You can call the Globalization Strings from the Property Grid. The context menu of the Property Grid should be set to Professional.

Globalization string

In the latest release we have added two new buttons, which make your work with editor easier. The function Get Culture Settings allows filling the current culture in the editor with report values, in other words, all values, which you earlier entered for this culture, will be substituted with report values. The function Set Culture Settings allows applying the customized culture to the current report, during report designing.

Globalization editor

In order to globalize the report from code you need to make 3 steps:

Set the Globalized Name for all components, which must be changed. There are, for example, Text, TextInCells, RichText, and Image. In Visual Studio we create resource file for each culture with applied GlobalizedName and values of components. The values of components are translation of component texts or images.

Create the GlobalizationManager with the description of all fields.

The second step is the description of the class GlobalizationManager, which example you can see in the project delivered with the installation pack of the product (you may find it in the folder Samples). After this, in the source code, the GlobalizationManager will be created indicating the culture that will be used for the translation.

Page {PageNumber} of {TotalPageCount}

3. After we know, what language we need, we create GlobalizationManager and assign it to the report, load the report, and all values will be substituted.

report.GlobalizationManager = new GlobalizationManager("GlobalizedReport.MyResources", new CultureInfo(cultureName));

With Stimulsoft reporting tools you will never have any language barriers. Try it and make sure.
We all strive for the best, and it is natural. We drive beautiful cars, wear comfortable clothing, and use reliable computers. We try to surround ourselves with the most exciting things that combine style and quality. Specific requirements are demanded for the household items that fill our everyday life. And our demands are constantly increasing. Look at a mobile phone. From this device we want much than just playing video and audio files, surf the Internet, and work with any application. We want beauty, delights of shape, sophistication in a style. And if people make such demands on their mobile devices, it is not surprising that we will improve our products for them.

In order our tools be enjoyable and interesting, we have made significant changes in Stimulsoft Reports. Mobile. We wanted to ensure that the words "speed" and "universality" have become synonymous with our product.

ribbon

We have done substantial work to change the interface. And the changes are really global. After trying different ways, our developers have identified the most suitable type of the interface, Ribbon UI.

page setup

Now all menus: drop-down lists, forms, and other items now have animation. Each item has a special drawing, so work with this has become much more enjoyable.

In addition to the graphical changes we optimized the code. Now the report designer has to work even faster.

An interesting innovation is Quick Zoom. Drawing became smoother and more pleasant for the eye, and its speed increased significantly.

quick zoom

To better understand the feasibility of the next innovation, consider a well-known situation. You work in the Internet and, at the wrong time, the connection with the server is lost. Everything you did is lost, and you have to start all over again. It is very inconvenient! Now, if you lose your connection with the server, automatic synchronization with the server occurs and your report will not be lost.

There are many new features for working with components, for example, work with the clipboard. Now you can copy, cut or remove components. Previously color was selected by entering the color number. Now you should simply click the palette to get the needed one. One of the most important updates is the ability to open a report directly from the local disk. Also you may load images from files into the relevant report components.

menu

colors

We completely redesigned the preview window. Work with this has become much faster and more convenient. Now you can view all the report pages immediately.

preview

Changes of the component properties are displayed immediately, but not after you click Submit. This simplified the report designer and made it user-friendlier.

barcodes
Our WinRT report designer continues to gain new users in the Windows AppStore. This is not surprising, since feeling that it is at your hand (in the truest sense of the word), bringing additional pleasure of working with it. We have already talked about its features and advantages, and now want to give you a small report on what you can do directly with your touch.

No doubt, the most important thing in the Touch UI is convenient and fast moving and resizing of components on the report page. For this, when selecting the component, you see four rectangles in the corners of components. Touching them you may perform the actions mentioned above.

image1

Also, for convenience, in case a component is quite big (bigger than a finger size), and is easily accessible by pressing, it can be moved simply by clicking on it and dragging the finger across the screen. In case the component is small and is difficult to be selected, it can be dragged by the top left box.

As for resizing components, we have three remaining rectangles - bottom left, bottom right, and top right. Clicking them and moving across the report page, you change the size of the component. As for resizing bands, we have only one triangle on top, bottom or right side, depending on the band type.

image2

When developing the report designer, we experimented a lot until got an optimal size of the touching regions comfortable for the fingers control. At this size you always choose the right component and do not accidentally select the adjacent item - everything is very convenient.

Consider the report zoom. The main advantage of any tablet is zooming by the movement of two fingers on the screen. So we certainly implemented this feature. There is only one restriction. The first click should be done on the report page or outside of it without selecting a component. This is needed in order not to interfere other activities on components. Also in case of manipulation on the screen by your finger without selecting components, the page will be scrolled, if it does not appear entirely on the screen.

In all our designers on other platforms, when double-click the component its editor (if it has the one) is invoked. In the RT version we also implemented this. When you select a component then on the right side of it the so-called «Quick Buttons Panel» is appears. It contains buttons for the most important actions (calling the component editor, removing the component, creating a copy of the component on the left, creating a copy of the component on the right, settings). This feature is currently in the final stage of development and in the next prerelease build will be available for testing. Calling the design from the panel is very comfortable, even if the size of the component is too small, and double click by a finger is difficult to perform.

Also in the «Quick Buttons Panel» you may find such interesting commands as "creating a copy of the component on the left", "create a copy of the component to the right", using which, for example, you can easily fill in bands with StiText components (or others) with one click, instead of creating a permanent component from the Components panel.

Now about the ribbon interface. This interface has been chosen for a reason. With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft has provided a fully functional version of Office 2013, which was designed for work with the mouse device and for the touchpads. The only difference - they slightly increased the size of buttons so that users can easily press them with their fingers. And as the practice shows it is really very comfortable! Entirely familiar user interface with a number of buttons available on the tablet. There is no need to spend valuable time to retrain or get used to the new location - just sit down and quietly generate reports.

For complete convenience, we have developed an Object Inspector. It is a powerful tool for quick and visible changes in the properties of components, which, of course, is present in all of our report designers. Properties are grouped by category, folding-unfolding categories by a finger. Maximum optimization of speed gave excellent results. Even on the less powerful tablets of the RT version everything works very quickly and without delays caused by lack of memory.