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#1: Report Writer?

Posted on 2008-04-16 15:56:32 by sasha

Hello,

I would like to know if anyone has been able to integrate a more robust
report writer with a filemaker solution.

An example of a requirement that I find difficult to satisfy with FMP
layouts is a printed Proposal.

Proposal Table, Proposal_Item Table, Proposal_Notes Table

The printed proposal should have Header information, and then a list of
items (no problem yet). Then, I need another section with a list
ofnotes. Everywhere I look, the suggestion is always to NOT use portals
for printing.

I could write a script that would print each page in sequence to the
default printer, but these proposals are often send via pdf and I don't
want the user to have to combine them after the fact. In general, I
find id difficult to produce good looking printed matter from FMP.

This is a simple report to write in something like Crystal Reports.
With the ODBC capabilities of Filemaker Server, I envisions something
like a web based report - the user would click a link that would pass a
URL with the Proposal ID number to the report server.

Has anyone worked on a solution such as this?

Thanks very much in advance for any suggestions. I think Filemaker is a
great tool, but I'm usually disssatisfied with the reporting
capabilities. I wonder if I'm missing something. How do others handle
this?

Sasha

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#2: Re: Report Writer?

Posted on 2008-04-16 19:40:09 by d-42

On Apr 16, 6:56 am, Sasha <sashabal...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello,
>
> I would like to know if anyone has been able to integrate a more robust
> report writer with a filemaker solution.
>
> An example of a requirement that I find difficult to satisfy with FMP
> layouts is a printed Proposal.
>
> Proposal Table, Proposal_Item Table, Proposal_Notes Table
>
> The printed proposal should have Header information, and then a list of
> items (no problem yet). Then, I need another section with a list
> ofnotes. Everywhere I look, the suggestion is always to NOT use portals
> for printing.
>
> I could write a script that would print each page in sequence to the
> default printer, but these proposals are often send via pdf and I don't
> want the user to have to combine them after the fact. In general, I
> find id difficult to produce good looking printed matter from FMP.
>
> This is a simple report to write in something like Crystal Reports.
> With the ODBC capabilities of Filemaker Server, I envisions something
> like a web based report - the user would click a link that would pass a
> URL with the Proposal ID number to the report server.
>
> Has anyone worked on a solution such as this?
>
> Thanks very much in advance for any suggestions. I think Filemaker is a
> great tool, but I'm usually disssatisfied with the reporting
> capabilities. I wonder if I'm missing something. How do others handle
> this?

I generally do it by Projection to a new table.

Add a 3rd utility table with fields for all the print layout pieces.
Lets say you need to print 3 columns in the first section, and 2
columns in the 2nd section. Define 5 fields. p1...p5. Set up the first
3. Then immediately below them, set up the second 2. Set them all as
sliding/printing/shrink.

What this does is, if I populate p{1,2,3} when I go to preview mode it
will 'disappear' fields 4, and 5 and shrink the part so that its one
line high. When I populate fields p{4,5} it will disapear p{1,2,3} and
again shrink the part so its one line high, but with 2 columns.

Then I script my print so that it first imports the records I need for
'section1' into p{1,23} then the records I need for section2 into
p{4,5} When I go into preview mode I'll have a block of one line high
3 column records, followed by a block of one row high 2 column
records.

All I need is a section break, with a title. So I add p6, create
another line on my layout. And modify my print script to create a new
record after importing the section1 records, and setting p6 to
"Section 2 Heading Goes HERE". And now when I preview I've got a
heading between section 1 and 2.

That's the basic solution.

Some comments:

If you need column headings, simply create a record before importing
setting the p fields with the column names. If you want to make them
bold/underline create another field 'isHeaderRow' and then for header
rows set it to one (otherwise leave blank) and use conditional
formatting to make the header row stand out.

If you need summaries, at the end of the section, same approach,
although you'll have to build the records and values yourself.

If multiple sections are structured the same way you can just reuse
fields instead of creating new ones. (If both section one and 2 are 3
columns, maybe you can use p{1,2,3} for both, for exampe. If there are
more than 2 sections you can generally reuse the section header for
example.

There are more advanced techniques out their to conditionally display
pictures, and stuff like that can be used if needed.

Multi-user is an issue. If two users try to print at once our
projection table may contain records from both at the same time.
You'll need to define a user field and populate it, and when cleaning
out the data for the next print job, and before printing do a find on
the active user to ensure that you've got 'your users' records. (Make
sure your user field is unique for each user; if everyone runs under
the same filemaker user account, you'll need to get some other
parameter... like host ip, or create a serial number for the print
job, set it to a variable, and hang onto it for the duration of the
script.

You can still of course uses headers and footer parts. And its
possible to use subsummary parts in limited circumstances, but it gets
complicated, because you have to make sure that 'other sections' sort
properly group properly and work out. Hard to explain, but if you try
it you'll see the issues that you have to work around.

One notable limitation of this technique is that you can not print
muliple quotes in a single print job, because each quote is built on
the fly and is its own 'found set' print. You -can- write a looping
script to print a batch of quotes though, which is usually good
enough.

-cheers,
Dave

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#3: Re: Report Writer?

Posted on 2008-04-17 08:45:28 by bobemery

Sasha <sashaballen@gmail.com> wrote:

> Hello,
>
> I would like to know if anyone has been able to integrate a more robust
> report writer with a filemaker solution.
>
> An example of a requirement that I find difficult to satisfy with FMP
> layouts is a printed Proposal.
>
> Proposal Table, Proposal_Item Table, Proposal_Notes Table
>
> The printed proposal should have Header information, and then a list of
> items (no problem yet). Then, I need another section with a list
> ofnotes. Everywhere I look, the suggestion is always to NOT use portals
> for printing.
>
> I could write a script that would print each page in sequence to the
> default printer, but these proposals are often send via pdf and I don't
> want the user to have to combine them after the fact. In general, I
> find id difficult to produce good looking printed matter from FMP.
>
> This is a simple report to write in something like Crystal Reports.
> With the ODBC capabilities of Filemaker Server, I envisions something
> like a web based report - the user would click a link that would pass a
> URL with the Proposal ID number to the report server.
>
> Has anyone worked on a solution such as this?
>
> Thanks very much in advance for any suggestions. I think Filemaker is a
> great tool, but I'm usually disssatisfied with the reporting
> capabilities. I wonder if I'm missing something. How do others handle
> this?
>
> Sasha

If you are using 9, you might want to look at the List function and the
PDF Append script step

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