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4 Designing Reports

4.1 How do I add wildcards to a parameter?

Wildcards are used in SQL where clauses when comparing strings using the "like" operator. For example, to select all records with a name starting with "Smit", your query might look something like this:

select name, age, shoe_size
from person
where upper(person.name) like upper('Smit%')

You can use a parameter to let the user specify the string prefix to search for ("Smit"). However, parameters may not be inside quotes (see What does "Parameter index out of range" mean?). So what exactly do you put in the WHERE clause?

You have to add the parameter and the wildcard separately, concatenating them together using your database's string concatenation operator. For example,

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

The characters "||" are the string concatenation operator, at least for Oracle and PostgreSQL. For SQL Server 2000, it's "+". Check your database documentation. The string '%' is the wildchard character that we are appending to the end of the user's string. (Different databases may use different wildcard characters.) To search for the user's string anywhere in the name column, add wildcards to the beginning and the end, like this example using a parameter named "Anywhere in the Name":

upper(table.name) like upper('%' || {?Anywhere in the Name} || '%')

4.2 How do I ignore unspecified parameters?

If you put a parameter in the WHERE clause (the "Select Records" text), then the user must specify a value. If he doesn't, then the parameter will be replaced by emptyness, which isn't always what you want.

When the user does not specify a parameter value, it would be nice to be able to use some special value like NULL or '%'. Here's a trick that will let you do that. Put the parameter into a formula and put the formula into the WHERE clause, like "table.column = {@formula}". You can then add code to the formula that looks for empty values and returns whatever you want. For example, here is a formula that returns either "user string" or "NULL":

if "{?parameter}".empty?

Warning: the previous formula is untested.

You can't put the column name in the result of the formula, because the return value of this formula is a string and string return values will automatically be placed in quotes.

4.3 How do I count the number of records?

Use the new "group.count" special value or a count aggregate.

4.4 How do I get the average (min, max, etc.) of a field's values?

There is not yet an easy way to do this. For now, you need to create a formula in the group header that sets the total, a formula in the body that adds the value of the column to the total, and a formula in the footer that calculates the average (min, max, whatever). You can use the group record count special value to retrieve the number of records in the group.

I plan to add a way to call aggregate functions (average, max, min, etc.) on column values. Some day.

4.5 How do I add a GROUP BY clause?

You don't. DataVision does not use or allow GROUP BY clauses; it uses ORDER BY and groups the records itself. This is because we normally want to see the detail values for each row. Using GROUP BY "collapses" the rows into one row. For instance, the example report groups by office name and job post date but we want to see all the job listings in the details row. Therefore, we can't use GROUP BY. Instead, we ORDER BY the group columns and let DataVision recognize group boundaries.

You can use a view or a stored procedure or DataVision's Ruby formulas to do what you want. If you can't figure it out, try asking on the DataVision mailing list.

4.6 Can I edit the SQL?

No. Some JDBC drivers do not return enough information to allow DataVision to determine which colums are being returned by a query. For example, the PostgreSQL driver only returns column names, not table or schema names. Thus if two tables have the same column name DataVision would have no way of knowing which column is being returned.

In order to allow arbitrary SQL DataVision would need to include a full SQL parser so it could understand which columns were being returned, which were stored procedure calls, etc.

You can modify the query's where clause by using the "Select Records" dialog, modify the sort order of columns by using the "Sort By" dialog, and modify record grouping by using groups.

To add your own SQL to the SELECT clause, create a user column and edit its code. The code you put in the user column becomes a column in the SELECT clause of the SQL query. For example, if you define a user column with the text "my_stored_proc({?My Parameter})" then the SQL query will look something like

select col1, col2, ..., my_stored_proc(the param value)
from table1, table2, ...
where ...

Finally, you may be able to create a view that returns the data you want, and then write your report against the view.

4.7 Can I add the total page count to a report?

No. DataVision does not know how many records or pages there are in the report when it is outputting data. That means there is no way to add "Page X of Y" to your report.

Even if DataVision did count the number of records, calculating the number of pages would involve outputting all of the records first, because the number of pages depends upon the amount of data in each field. DataVision would have to generate the entire report, then go back and replace "Y" with the number of total pages. That would be difficult for some of the layout engines to do.

4.8 Can I create a left outer join?

No, DataVision can't yet handle left outer joins. You need to create a view in your database that performs this join for you, and then use that view in your report.

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