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7 Editing a Report

This section briefly describes the most common actions performed when editing a report. For a complete description of the DataVision GUI, see The DataVision User Interface.

Fields have popup menus. Sections have popup menus. The section labels on the left side have popup menus.

7.1 Adding Fields

To add a database field, formula, parameter, aggregate, or special field to a report, select the corresponding menu item from the Insert menu. The Field Picker window will open, allowing you to select and drag a field from that window onto the report.

The Field Picker window also lets you create new formulas and parameter fields. Use the New Formula... or New Parameter... menu items from the Field menu.

To add a static text label, select Text from the Insert menu. The cursor will turn into a text cursor. When you click the mouse in any section, a new editable text label will appear.

See Aggregates for adding aggregate fields.

To add an image, select Image... from the Insert menu. A dialog box will open, letting you type in the URL or file path for the image. (If you type in a relative file path like "example/postgres.xml" or URL like "file:example/postgres.xml", it must be relative to the DataVision directory, not to the report XML file.) When you enter the URL, the image is inserted into the report in the top left corner of the Report Header. From there, you may move the image anywhere else in the report. See image fields for more information.

Only image formats understood by the Java Swing interface (GIF, JPEG) may be created using the DataVision GUI. That's because I haven't yet written the code that will visually represent images that Swing can't understand.

To change how a field is displayed, select Format Field... from the Format menu or from a field's popup menu. See The Format Dialog for details.

7.2 Selecting Fields

To select a field, single-click it. To select more than one field, hold down the shift key while selecting the fields.

Not yet implemented: You may also select fields by clicking and dragging a selection box with the mouse.

7.3 Removing Fields

To remove a single field, select it and hit the delete or backspace key. You may also right-click on the field and select Delete from the popup menu.

To remove a formula or parameter from the report, open the Field Picker window, select the formula or parameter, and select Cut from the Edit menu. You can only remove formulas and parameters that are not used somewhere in the report. If the Cut menu item is not enabled when you select a formula or parameter, that means it is being used somewhere in the report.

7.4 Moving and Re-sizing Fields

Click and drag a field to move it. Drag the edges to re-size it. Moving and dragging operate on the current selection, so if multiple fields are selected they will all be moved or re-sized.

7.5 Aggregates

To create a new aggregate field, either right-click on a field and select Aggregate... from the popup menu or select a field by single-clicking it and then select Aggregate Field... from the Insert menu. A dialog box appears that lets you select where you would like aggregates to appear for this field, and what type of aggregate to use where.

The field you want to aggregate must be in the details section. (It can be hidden, if you don't want to display its value.) It must be a numeric column, a formula, a user column, or a numeric parameter.

7.6 Parameters

Double-clicking a parameter field, either in the Report Design window or the Field Picker window, opens the dialog box appropriate for the parameter type (string, number, or date). Alternately, you can right-click on the parameter field in the Report Design window and select Edit... from the popup menu or you can select Edit Parameter... from the Field menu in the Field Picker window.

To be written.

7.7 Formulas

Formulas are Bean Scripting Framework (BSF) scripts that can contain database fields, parameters, and more.

Double-clicking a formula field, either in the Report Design window or the Field Picker window, opens the formula editor dialog box. Alternately, you can right-click on the formula in the Report Design window and select Edit... from the popup menu or you can select Edit Formula... from the Field menu in the Field Picker window.

The main text pane in the dialog box that is opened lets you edit the text of the formula. For more information about this dialog see The Formula Editor Dialog.

For more information about BSF, see Bean Scripting Framework.

7.8 Groups

The sort order of a group determines the order in which a group's values are selected. For example, if the "office.name" group of a report has three possible values (New York, New Jersey, and Chicago) then the sort order determines which office's detail records are displayed first. When sorted ascending, Chicago's records will be first, then New Jersey and finally New York. When sorted descending, New York will be first. This is not the same as the sort order of the detail records within a group. (See Sorting Records for information about sorting detail records.)

To edit the sort order of a group's values or the nesting order of groups within a report, open the Group By... dialog from the Report menu. See The "Group By" Dialog for more information about this dialog.

7.9 Subreports

A subreport is a report within a report. The subreport's query runs each time the subreport's field needs to be output.

7.9.1 Adding a Subreport

  1. Select "Sub-Report" from the "Insert" menu.
  2. The table joiner dialog appears. Select the columns that join together the two reports. The first column will be filled with the current value in the master report. The second will be a SELECT column for the sub-report.

    For example, selecting "office.name <= office.name" will fill the first office.name with the current value of the office name from the master report. Let's say the master report's office name value is currently 'Chicago'. The sub-report's query will then contain a WHERE clause that ends with "... AND 'Chicago' <= office.name".

  3. When you click "OK", a file chooser dialog appears. Select the sub-report for importing.
  4. The sub-report is read in. Only the detail section area is read; all the headers and footers are ignored.
  5. A new field is inserted into the master report's detail section. It is a single field, no matter how many fields are in the sub-report's detail section. You can of course move the field anywhere else in the report.

7.9.2 When the Report Runs

When you run the master report, the contents of the sub-report field are populated with multiple lines of text, one for each row returned by the sub-report. Each line of the text is a simple concatenation of the fields in the sub-report's detail section, separated by spaces.

For example, if the sub-report's detail section had three fields "name.first", "name.middle", and "name.last", each line of the output would be "First Middle Last".

7.9.3 Problems

The sub-report field does not expand vertically (no DataVision field yet knows how to expand itself).

The way of generating the contents of the sub-report field is pretty stupid. This should improve in future releases.

7.10 Sorting Records

Detail records may be sorted using any combination of user columns and database columns. The order in which columns are sorted is significant. In the example database, job records have an id and a date. Sorting the records by date and then id will return the records in a different order than sorting them by id and then date.

A column may be sorted in ascending or descending order. Ascending order means lower values are first.

To edit the list of sorted columns and their order, open the Sort By... dialog from the Report menu. See The "Sort By" Dialog for more information about this dialog.

The user columns and database columns used by groups do not appear in the "Sort By" dialog. To change the sort order of groups, use The "Group By" Dialog. See Groups for more information about editing groups.

7.11 Selecting Records

By default, running a report retrieves and displays all of the records from all of the tables in your report. It is often desirable to limit the records that are retrieved.

When reading records from a database, you use a SQL WHERE clause to specify which records you want to retrieve. (The WHERE clause is also used to specify how tables in your SQL query are joined, but we are not concerned about that right now. For information about joining tables, see Joining Tables.) The SQL specification is beyond the scope of this document. See your database's documentation.

When reading records from a comma- or tab-separated file, you select records use a BSF script. The script must return a boolean (true/false) value. If the returned value is true, the record will be included in the report.

To edit the text of the WHERE clause or BSF script, use the Select Records dialog.

The text you enter may contain columns, formulas, and parameters. You can type their names (using the proper format) or simply drag them in from the Field Picker window. Formulas look like "{@My Formula}" and parameters look like "{?My Parameter}".

7.11.1 Database Column Names

You can enter database column names with or without the curly braces. (When you drag them from the Field Picker window, the curly braces are used.) The curly braces make a difference when the database column's name is not all lower case (or all upper case, depending upon your database). Column names without curly braces will not be quoted. That means the JDBC driver may automatically convert the name to all lower case or all upper case. This causes problems when your database was created using mixed-case names, for example. See Database Name Case Sensitivity for details.

To summarize: when you need to enter a mixed-case name because the table or column name is mixed-case, use quotes around the name.

The quotes go around the parts of the name that need them, not the whole name. For example, if the table name is "table" and the column name is "MyCol", the quotes don't go around the entire name "table.MyCol". Instead, you would need to type


7.11.2 Parameters

When using a parameter that is a string, do not enclose the parameter in quotes. If you do, you will see an error message like "Parameter index out of range" when you run your report.

If you want to combine a "like" string comparison that uses wildcards with a parameter value you need to concatenate the parameter with the wildcard characters. Here's an example. Let's say you want to run a report that only displays records where the "name" column starts with a user-selected prefix string. You would create a parameter called "Start of Name" that will be used to ask the user to enter the start of the name. Next you use the Select Records dialog to set the SQL WHERE clause to

upper(table.name) like upper({?Start of Name} || '%')

The characters "||" are the string concatenation operator, at least for Oracle and PostgreSQL. The string '%' is the wildcard character that we are appending to the end of the user's string. To search for the user's string anywhere in the name column, add wildcards to the beginning and the end, like this:

upper(table.name) like upper('%' || {?Start of Name} || '%')

7.12 Joining Tables

When two or more tables appear in your report, you probably want to join them together by one or more common columns. To do so, use the Visual Table Linker dialog.

7.13 Startup Script

The startup script runs at the beginning of the report, before any data is read. The script is Bean Scripting Framework (BSF) code, not SQL. Edit the startup script by selecting Startup Script from the Report menu. Any variables you set in this script are available to all of the rest of your formulas. Note: all the formulas in the same language; I'm not sure about other languages.

7.14 Page Breaks

Each section can force a page break before it outputs data. To turn a section's page break on or off, open its popup menu and select New Page Before. The menu item will be checked when this feature is on and unchecked when it is off.

7.15 Database Name Case Sensitivity

Some databases support case-sensitive names. In those database, the column named "mycol" is different from the column named "MyCol". Unfortunately, the programs that access databases such as JDBC drivers and command-line tools like PostgreSQL's psql often confuse the issue by changing all names to lower case or upper case internally before sending the query to the database. When you type "select MyCol from MyTable" it sends "select mycol from my table" to the database.

If your database was created using names with only lower case (or upper case) letters, you may not see any problem. Your queries always work because no matter what case you use, the names are converted to all lower case (or upper case) and everything is fine.

In order to access a column named "MyCol" using a tool that converts the names, you have to quote the mixed-case names. For example, the query "select MyCol from MyTable" must be entered as

select "MyCol" from "MyTable"

The quotes go around the parts of the name that need them, not the whole name. For example, the quotes don't go around the entire name "MyTable.MyCol". Instead, you would need to type

select "MyTable"."MyCol"

As of version 0.6.0 of DataVision, database table and column names are case-sensitive. All table and column names are quoted if their case does not match the case the JDBC driver uses when executing SQL queries

DataVision's internal searches for columns (for example, when loading a report XML file) now perform case-sensitive searches. This may break reports designed manually, especially if you used all upper-case for your table and column names.

Using previous versions of DataVision along with many (most) JDBC drivers, it was impossible to query a case-sensitive database. Since DataVision did not quote table or column names (unless the name contained a space), the JDBC driver would convert all of the names.

Use the -q command line flag to disable this new behavior. Table and column names will not be quoted when sent to the database (unless the name contains a space) and internal searches for columns will be case-insensitive.

Not that if you only used the DataVision GUI to create your report, you probably won't see any difference. The table and column names were retrieved from the database and saved to the report XML file using the correct case.

Any column name within curly braces is automatically quoted by DataVision (unless you use -q), so you don't need to add the quotes. Also, if you drag a column from the Field Picker window to another window like the "Select Records..." window, the column's name is surrounded by curly braces and you don't have to add any quotes.

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