Planning a report

Before you create a report, it’s a good idea to plan the report completely. The following list outlines the major steps you should take when planning a report.

  1. Define the purpose of the report.

Knowing exactly what the report you are creating will be used for will help keep you focused as you define and design the report.

  1. Sketch the report layout.

Include all the different types of information that you wish to appear on the report. Consider the size of the report’s headings, whether you want to use graphics, and any other options that would affect the layout.

  1. Decide which fields and tables to use.

Once you’ve decided upon the information to be included in the report, deciding which fields to use should be fairly straightforward.

If a single table doesn’t contain all the fields that store the information you need, you’ll need to choose one table as the main table, and link additional tables to it so that you can access the desired information. Most often, you should select the table that contains the majority of the fields for your report as your main table, and link other tables to that table as needed.

A table can be linked to the main table only if a relationship between the two tables has been defined, using the Table Relationship Definition window. Relationships are based upon fields that exist in both tables, and are key segments in the secondary table.

  1. Decide whether additional items are required for the report.

These include items such as additional sorting options, restrictions, calculated fields or conditional expressions.

Reports usually are sorted based upon the sorting criteria associated with the main table key selected in the Report Definition window, or any key used in a one-to-many relationship. You can sort your report by any field in any of the report’s tables. Sorting is described in Sorting.

Restrictions limit the scope and amount of the information included on a report. For example, you could use a restriction to limit the scope of a report to list only cash accounts rather than all accounts. Restrictions are described in Restrictions.

Calculated fields allow you to perform calculations using fields in the tables associated with the report, such as calculating the number of line items in an invoice. By including these calculated fields in your report, you can include information in your report that isn’t stored anywhere in your application.

Calculated fields can also contain conditional expressions, which allow the field to display a particular value if a specified condition is present, and another value if the condition is absent. Calculated fields are discussed in detail in Calculated Fields.

Once you have completely planned your report, you are ready to create the report using the Dexterity Report Writer.


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