Optimization is a vexed problem today in nearly all areas of human activity. Unfortunately, there is no exception in reporting. How to most effectively make the process of designing, rendering, and processing reports? Today, these questions concern the majority of users of all reporting products.

Optimizing reports is a set of actions aimed at improving the system and process of working efficiency with the reporting software. Stimulsoft Company offers some useful hints, following which, you will not only save time taken to generate the required reports, but, in general, increase productivity of your staff.

As for designing reports, the optimization here lies in two directions: increasing the speed of report rendering and reducing memory usage.

Data

To increase the speed of rendering reports it is necessary to request only needed data from large databases. That is, if for the report you need, for example, only a few tables and fields, then there is no need to add to the dictionary data all the data available in the database. Otherwise, huge amount of resources will be spent on it to get all the data, not to mention the time spent. Also, it would be logical to use a WHERE construction in SQL. In case you do not need all the fields and records from a table, etc., but only the ones corresponding to specific conditions. But these conditions should be subscribed in the SQL filter, but not in the filter of the Data Band. Using the filter, only a small part of records in the table is displayed. Those records are requested. This applies positive effect on performance.

Also, you can set the SQL Query value to the Filter Engine property of the Data Band. This automatically adds the WHERE condition directly to the SQL query.

Dictionary

Images

Another more important thing in optimizing the process of rendering reports is optimization of images. In most cases, high resolution of images used in the report and their very high quality is not required due to the fact that to view the contents of the report, including the images, a computer monitor or a laptop is used. To reduce memory usage, reduce the size of images to the appropriate size. The best option is to get the desired result without using the Stretch image property.

Stretch image

Rich Text

The ability to use several common custom components instead of the RichText component. Since the RichText component is complex some issues with processing may occur. For example in Web, where the RichText editor is not present. So the RichText component is exported to an Excel file as a picture. After that, there are certain difficulties in editing and exporting the whole document.

Rich Text

One Page

When rendering a report, sometimes all the components are not placed on the same page. Typically, users transfer excessive ones on the next report page, group them by one Data Band on one page, or use the Sub-Report component. This is time-consuming.

To increase the speed of rendering reports, we propose to use the Large Height property, which increases your page to a required size.

The property will increase the page in the design mode, and the mode of viewing the report will not “suffer”.

Grouping

In order to increase the speed of rendering the report you should remove unnecessary groups from the rendered report. For example, grouping by the GroupHeader component. Users group by several categories: ID, Name, Description, and so on, but grouping is enough by the category ID. It is also possible to define complex conditions for grouping, i.e. to create grouping based on multiple fields of conditions. All conditions can be combined into a single group. In this case, instead of 5-6 GroupHeader components, you only need one component. This will speed up the construction of the report and simplify its structure.

Grouping
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.

Items

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.
Очень часто мы получаем запросы от наших клиентов, в которых они спрашивают о возможностях, специфичных для серверов отчетов. В прошлом году мы приступили к разработке такого продукта. То, что мы делаем в настоящее время рассказано в данной статье.

Stimulsoft CloudReports представляет собой универсальную и функциональную клиент-серверную систему для полного цикла управления отчетами различных видов – от простейших одноуровневых текстовых списков до сложных документов с многократной вложенностью и массой графических элементов. Важнейшей частью системы современного документооборота стали наглядные способы представления данных на электронных устройствах – панели индикаторов, позволяющие представить информацию в простом и понятном графическом виде. Stimulsoft CloudReports содержит большой набор наглядных графиков и индикаторов, позволяющих удобно отображать любые типы данных.

Stimulsoft CloudReports является мощным средством для агрегации и визуализации данных предприятия.

Серверная часть

В качестве серверной части доступны две парадигмы использования – классический управляемый сервер и подписка на сервис по модели SAAS.

В рамках первой концепции доступны два варианта поставки приложения:

- Stimulsoft CloudReports Server для установки на мощностях клиента. Этот классический способ использования серверных продуктов позволяет клиенту самому заботиться о вычислительных мощностях и администрировании системы. Подобная система полностью управляется администраторами клиента, но может использоваться в полностью закрытой корпоративной среде. В данной версии сервера присутствуют такие уникальные функции, как балансировка нагрузки и поддержка кластерных систем.

- Stimulsoft CloudReports Server для интеграции в облачный сервис Windows Azure. Этот способ является наиболее прогрессивным и рациональным, так как избавляет клиента от необходимости содержать собственную вычислительную «ферму» и позволяет оплачивать лишь те ресурсы, которые использованы в облаке Windows Azure.

Для работы Stimulsoft CloudReports Server требуется СУБД MySQL, MS SQL Server или Windows Azure SQL.

Лицензирование Stimulsoft CloudReports Server осуществляется по количеству пользователей при помощи ключа, который при установке необходимо авторизовать на нашем сервере.

Также Stimulsoft CloudReports Server будет доступен в виде сервиса, что для большинства пользователей является самым удобным вариантом использования, так как не требует услуг технических специалистов и выделенного аппаратного обеспечения. Вы просто активируете необходимый функционал и начинаете пользоваться сервисом.

Тарифные планы основаны на количестве пользователей, имеющих доступ к аккаунту, а также ряду специфических функций, влияющих на производительность сервера. Гибкие пакеты услуг позволяют разумно использовать средства, собирая набор только из тех функций, которые действительно необходимы.

Цены и полный функционал тарифных планов будут представлены позже, однако в структуре пакетов будет бесплатный для предварительного ознакомления или некоммерческого использования.

При необходимости расширить возможности пакета клиент всегда может перейти на более функциональный тарифный план или докупить набор необходимых ресурсов (пользователи, строки данных), однако пакеты Professional и Enterprise имеют ряд уникальных функций, которые недоступны в базовых пакетах.

Источники данных

Данные, необходимые для построения отчетов, можно вводить в систему несколькими способами:

- При помощи прямых соединений с СУБД MySQL, MS SQL Server, Windows Azure SQL и других;
- Импортируя их из локальных файлов Excel, XML, DBF, CSV и т.д.;
- Импортируя их из файлов, размещенных в распределенных хранилищах, например Microsoft SharePoint;

Для различных тарифных планов доступны различные наборы источников данных.

Клиентская часть

Клиентская часть системы Stimulsoft CloudReports представлена в виде трех приложений, которые обеспечивают удобный интерфейс и быстрый доступ ко всем функциям системы:

- WinRT-приложение для планшетов на Windows 8. Имеет современный сенсорный интерфейс и полный набор функций: построение и управление отчетами, создание и просмотр панелей индикаторов, печать информации, почтовые рассылки, управление задачами по расписанию, администрирование системы. Бета-версия запланирована на июнь 2013, приложение будет доступно из сервиса Windows Store;
- WPF-приложение для Windows PC. Исключительная функциональность и совместимость со всеми современными ПК. Бета-версия запланирована на август 2013, приложение будет доступно для загрузки с нашего сайта;
- Web-приложение. Возможность создания сложных отчетов и панелей индикаторов с графиками и индикаторами при помощи любого устройства, имеющего доступ в Интернет. Современный дизайн и поддержка устройств с сенсорным вводом. Продукт основан на HTML5 и AJAX. Бета-версия запланирована на август 2013.

Клиентские приложения доступны бесплатно и не ограничены по функционалу.

Дополнительные возможности

Стремясь удовлетворить потребности всех наших клиентов, мы предоставляем дополнительные опции Stimulsoft CloudReports:

- Ребрендинг. Интеграция в корпоративную среду предполагает использование атрибутики компании во всех сферах корпоративной деятельности. Активируя эту опцию Вы получаете брендированный ключ со всеми Вашими атрибутами – логотипом, названием приложения, юридическими данными компании и др., которые позволят не выделять наш продукт из Вашей корпоративной среды.
- Интеграция. Возможность встроить функционал нашего продукта в Ваши приложения. Для этого мы предоставляем SDK с понятным и простым API, созданным для платформ WinRT, WPF и Web. Интегрированный сервер Stimulsoft CloudReports будет работать в фоне, незаметно для клиентов, а Ваши приложения будут использовать весь его функционал.
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