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Custom Reporting Feature

posted Jan 3, 2016, 9:05 AM by Admin Manager   [ updated Jan 10, 2016, 3:53 PM ]
In App Purchase

mInventory makes available a single In App Purchase.  This is our custom reporting feature.  If you find the need to make changes to the standard mInventory reports or if you decide that you would like to create your own reports, this is for you.  

The purchase process is similar to any other App in the App store and works as follows:

On the Action Bar you will notice a shopping icon and link called "In App Purchase".  Pressing this link will bring up the In App Purchases screen shown below. 
      
        
If you have not already purchased this feature, you simply click on the "Buy Now" button and following the App Store prompts.  Apple takes over the purchase process and you will be asked to confirm that you want to make this purchase.  Once complete, mInventory will notify you that your purchase was successful and will immediately enable the custom reporting feature.  See Custom Reporting for online help.

If you purchased this feature on another computer or have had to re-install the mInventory App for some reason, you can restore your purchase and unlock the feature on this computer.  Click "Restore Purchases" and follow the App Store Prompts.

Custom Reporting - Overview

We think that this is a relatively straightforward process, but we need to share that some experience with reporting will be key to fully utilize this feature. However, if you just want to make minor changes, this can easily be accomplished. Creating entirely new reports will take some practice before you are sufficient. We think the investment will be worth it in the long run.

Find below a screen shot of how this reporting feature looks in the application.
    
Using Custom Reporting

After purchasing the Custom Reporting Feature, you will notice that the menu options on the Report menu will be enabled. This will allow you to create new, open existing, save and manage custom reports.  We'll go over each of these functions in the help below as well as how you actually use the reporting feature.
Creating a New Report

To create a new report, use the "Report", "New.." menu option. You will be presented with the screen below that will allow you to specify that type of report that you want to create.
    
You should give you report a name that you recognize and represents that type of data that it reports on. Then you should specify the Type, Data and Template:

TYPE - Detail or List.  Use detail if the report is primarily based on a single DATA record.  A list report is for showing a set of records for the DATA selection.
DATA - The primary data table that the report will be based on.
TEMPLATE - if you wish to edit an existing standard report, select it from this list.

Press Create to begin editing your new report.

Opening an Existing Report

To open a previously created report, select "Report ", "Open...".  You should see the screen below.
    
The Reporting Canvas

A report is made up of 3 canvases. These are Page Body, Header and Footer. There are tab buttons at the top of the screen that allow you to toggle between each of these. Each canvas can hold fields and will be used to create the report. It's not required that you use the Header and Footer canvases. If you choose not to use these and keep all fields on the Page Body, you should set the height of the Header and Footer to 0.01 so that they don't take up space on the report in the margins. See section below on Page Setup and Margins.

Page Setup and Margins

If you are creating a new report you should first setup the page layout and margins. Page Layout allows you to specify the paper size and whether your report should be portrait or landscape. This is done by selecting the "Report", "Page Setup..." menu and making changes to the values. Once you have done this, you'll notice that the report canvases changes to represent your new settings.

To set margins, expand the Page Margins editing section on the right side of the report editor so that you can see the page margin fields. You should see a display similar to the one below.

      
 
Enter the margins on this panel or use the up and down clickers. Each margin value is specified in inches. The Header and Footer will allow you to specify the height of the header and footer canvases.

Using the Grid & Window Zooming

In the bottom right side of the status bar, you'll notice a zoom scroller that can be used to zoom in and out on the report.  This can be helpful to get a full view of the report or to zoom in to do some fine tuning of the layout.

A Grid can be setup to allow fine control of the placement of fields on the report canvas.  You can specify the size of the grid as well as whether or not the fields will snap to the grid.  The grid is shown on the editing section on the right side of the screen.

      

Adding Report Fields

 
 There are several tools available to place fields on the reporting canvas.  These are:
  • Arrow - Not really a tool, but when this is selected you can move fields around on the canvas.
  • Rectangle - use to draw rectangle shapes on the canvas.
  • Circle - - use to draw circle shapes on the canvas.
  • Line - - use to draw lines on the canvas.
  • Text - used to place an editable text box on the canvas.
  • Image - used to place an image on the canvas. 
  • DataField - used to place an editable text box on the canvas made up of standard text and report data fields.
  • DataTable - used to place a data table on the canvas that is made up of tabular report data fields.
To place a field on the canvas, first select it from the tool palette.  Next click on the canvas where you would like the field placed and drag to size. Let up the mouse when you have the size that you want. Note, for Data Tables, you just click without having to size the table. The data table size depends on the fields that you add to the table.

Once you have placed a field, click back on the Arrow tool to turn off placement of the same field.

To remove a field from the canvas, click the field and press the delete key. Note that you can use cut, copy and paste as you would in any other application. The "Report Fields" section on the editing panel can be expanded and you can see each of the fields in a table view.

If you make an edit to a field that you wish to undo, press command-Z.  mInventory supports the typical undo/redo functions.
Setting Properties

Depending on the type of field you added to the canvas, a variety of shape options are available for you. Select one or more fields and then change the attributes in the Shape panel.  If an attribute is not available for a field, it will be grayed out and can not be selected.

     

For Image Fields, you can click on the "Select..." button and pick the image from a finder window. Alternatively, you can select either the Logo or Signature check boxes and have the logo/signature automatically pulled from the value you set in the preferences screen.

You can align fields on the canvas by using the Alignment and Position panel. Click the fields and then choose the alignment option. The top row of buttons will align fields based on the representation in the icon. The second row is for moving fields forward, backward, front and back. Play with these and you'll get the hang of how they work.

     

Using DataFields

When you need to add one or more specific data report field to your report, add a DataFields field to your canvas. Once you have set its size and positioned is appropriately on the canvas, you can double click on the field and open the Edit Data Field window. You can see a sample of this screen in the image below.
  
The text field on the Data Field Window can be made up of standard text as well as actual fields that represent data for customers, vendors, items and invoices. Additionally there are company specific fields that represent the fields you setup when you created your company as well as other reporting fields like page number, number of pages, current filter, etc...  

Report fields can either be directly entered into the edit window with square brackets around them or you can press the "Reports Fields..." button to open up a window from which they can be selected. Depending on the type of report you are creating, the report fields shown in this window will vary. Select one or more fields from this list and press the "Add" button.
Once report fields and text have been added to the edit window, you can apply colors and fonts by selecting parts of text and opening the colors window or fonts window by clicking on the icons. Picking different fonts and colors will change the view in the edit window. You can also use the ruler at the top of the screen to set tabs and get fine placement of your report data fields and textual labels.

After saving your changes, you'll see the DataField field update on the canvas and you will see the text you entered and any report fields. It goes without saying, but the report fields will get replaced with actual data values when you run the report.

You can add as many DataField fields as you need to the report canvas and position them in different locations.

Using DataTables

DataTables are used to represent tabular data on your report. Add a DataTable to the canvas like you would any other field and then double click on it to open the Data Table Window as shown below.
Before you can add columns to your DataTable you need to pick a Data Source in the drop down. This tells the window what report table the fields should be pulled from. You can only have a single Data Source for each DataTable, but you can add multiple DataTables to your report if necessary. Once you have picked the Data Source, click on the "Add..." button to select fields in the field selection window as shown below.
You can command click on multiple fields to select them together and have them added to the Data Table window all at once. Press the Add button to add the fields. Once added, you can order them using the up and down arrows to the right of the Table Columns. 

Now that you have added fields, you can use the Column Settings and Table Settings section of the form to change attributes for each field. Some of these attributes can be applied to multiple fields at once if more than one field is selected in the Table Columns list. Experiment with these fields to see how they are represented on the DataTable on the canvas. You'll notice that the DataTable updates live as you change the settings on the Data Table Window.

It is important that you don't add so many fields to make the DataTable on the canvas scroll fields off the side of report. If this happens, you can either shrink the size of your columns so that they all fit or reduce the number of fields on the DataTable.  If this still doesn't work and you need more space, you can consider making your report landscape or reduce the page margins. Note that you can also shrink the column size even more and increase the height of the Table Settings Row Height Attribute and have the report fields wrap in the space provided when the report is run.

When you are done making edits on the Data Table Window, click close.  You can move the DataTable around on the Canvas and increase the height of the table to have more records shown.  When the report is run, it will automatically create multiple pages and continue the DataTable on subsequent pages until no more records remain to be printed.

Running Custom Reports from mInventory

Once you have completed your report or you just want to test it, you simply select it from the mInventory Application. This can be done in two different ways.
If you are using the Action Panel, select the "Report..." dropdown at the top of the Panel. You will see a popup menu that first lists the standard reports followed by a submenu called "Custom Reports...".  Selecting the Custom Reports submenu will show all custom reports that have been created that are available.  
If you right click on the data records on the table, you will see a "Custom Reports..." submenu that you can select to show all custom reports that are available.
Pick the report that you want to run and you'll see the PDF Report Viewer open up showing your report. All DataFields in square bracket notation will have been replaced by actual values from the record that you are running the report for.

Note that if you are viewing Customer Records, only custom reports that are meaningful to customer data will be show in the Custom Reports menu option.

Replacing Standard Reports

If you find that you would prefer to use a custom report in place of a standard report, you can use the Preferences screen to specify that the system should use your version instead. This way you won't have to pick the "Custom Report..." submenu each time and can just pick the standard report from the list.  For instance, if you change the default invoice report, you can specify that your custom version should be utilized when ever you run the standard "Invoice Report".

Please Note -

The custom reporting module can be quite powerful but also a little daunting at first. The best way for you to get to understand all of the features is to dig in an play with it. Don't worry about breaking anything as you can always delete your version of the report and start over. You should also play around using standard reports as templates and see how these standard reports were created. You'll get the hang of it.
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