Some time ago we have changed the main menu of our products. It was made for our users who now can work with our products more easily. In this article we want to give you some information about the changes.

From the main menu we have removed the next buttons: "Open Page", "Save Page As", "Delete Page", since they were duplicated.

All these actions you can make by right click the tab.

Items

Also we could note other changes:

- the button Watermark was added to the tab Page.

Items

- we have hidden the panels Watermark Text and Watermark Image.

Items

- the tab View can now be found in the tab Page.

Items
Items

- in the context menu there are two new items “Open Page” and “Save page As”.

Items

- almost each element of the menu has now a tooltip. For the tooltip be displayed you should hover the cursor on an icon of the element.

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In addition, after the conversion of the designers menu we have decided to disable by default the buttons Save\Load in\from GoogleDocs.

To make these buttons visible use the following properties:

StiOptions.Designer.Ribbon.ShowMainMenuReportOpenFromGoogleDocs
StiOptions.Designer.Ribbon.ShowMainMenuReportSaveAsToGoogleDocs
When a user migrates from Crystal Reports on Stimulsoft Reports, this may cause some issues related to the differences between methods of designing and rendering reports. The most frequently asked questions in this regard will answer the head of technical support Stimulsoft Reports, Ivan Shmatov.

"The first major difference is working with data bands. The data is displayed in a report from the data source using a data band. In the reporting tool Crystal Reports on the same report page only one data band can be placed, so it is possible to use only one data source. In software products Stimulsoft Reports the number of data sources, you can work with in the report, is not limited. For example, when designing the Master-Detail report, you should use at least two data sources - master and detail. In Crystal Reports, the construction of this type of reporting is possible using sub-reports and scripts. In our products all the data sources can be placed on a single page and no additional scripting is required.

The second difference is different specialization of components. Plain text, expressions and fields of data sources have different components in Crystal. In Stimulsoft Reports a TextBox component is used. In this component you can combine regular text and expressions in any combination.

Another difference is using different syntax of expressions and scripts. Crystal Reports uses Visual Basic, while Stimulsoft Reports uses C# (by default) and Visual Basic.

The third important difference concerns data sources. For example, you create a report using a test database, and then you need to replace a data source in a report on the source of a different type. In Crystal Reports, when clearing the current data source, all the fields are cleared from the page. In Stimulsoft Reports you can remove all sources in the dictionary but required data will remain on the report page.

Our reporting tools have a grid - linking fields. When you drag a TextBox component you can use this grid to bind the component to a report page accurately and quickly. For this, select a component and click "Snap to Grid". Crystal Reports has no grid, only a Grid Lines component, by means of which it is not possible to accurately define the size of the TextBox.

Designing of the table, too, has some differences in the various reporting tools. Since Crystal Reports is quite difficult to place components in neat rows, users generally put a textbox as it will, and then draw borders with shapes. Users that migrate to Stimulsoft, often try to do the same, but we have a simpler way. You can use the margins of text components. You can also use the special cross-primitives - horizontal and vertical lines, and rectangles. It is possible to create tables using the Shape component, but one should make a reservation that Shape – is rather “heavy” component for exports, so that it is easier and faster to use primitives created especially for tables.

Our developers created an importing tool - a special application that allows you to convert reports from Crystal Reports to Stimulsoft Reports. Reports created in Crystal Reports, have its own internal format, which eliminates the possibility to open and view them in our tools. They can only be opened with help of API Crystal Reports. Before working with the importing tool you need to install Crystal Reports and recompile the converter specifically for working with the current version of the reporting tool. Please note that through the API Crystal Reports, not all the properties of the components are available, therefore, the converter only converts the properties available to it.

A few words about the properties of components

Properties of the components can be “not calculated”, that is, the value of which is set to a particular value; and “calculated”, the values of which are set by the expression and calculated each time they are accessed. In Crystal Reports, you can add a script to various not calculated properties, the result of execution of which is controlled by this property, i.e. actually turn the property into a calculated one. In our products, properties are clearly divided into calculated and not calculated. So, when converting a report, some logic of the report can be lost.

To solve this issue, you can use special events of components - BeforePrint, AfterPrint, Rendering, GetData, etc. They allow you to achieve almost the same result, but in other ways. Unfortunately, automatic converting of scripts from CR into our product does not work because there are differences in the data structure, engines, etc.

Differences in licensing policy

There are many differences between products by Stimulsoft Reports and Crystal Reports not only in functionality, but also in the licensing policy. Says Executive Director of Stimulsoft Company Andrew Savin: “First of all I would like to say, that the licensing of Stimulsoft products has two main advantages: minimum limitations and easiness in understanding”.

Crystal Reports provides the license for a named user. It means that the license is assigned to the specific user. Stimulsoft Reports license is per company, it means the license may be transferred to other developers within the company.

Crystal Reports allows the unlimited using of product within the company, when you develop the product only for internal using, then it is enough for you to have a license for your developers. The license you purchase in Stimulsoft relates not only to actions within the company, but even when to transfer your application to the third party.

Another difference: for example, the company creates the application and shares it to the third party. In this case the application must be provided with the Crystal Reports license. It is allowed to integrate in Rich Internet Applications 750 license free components for modification, previewing and printing of reports with free distribution and delivery of application to the third party. Stimulsoft Reports license does not have such limitations.
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.