Designing the Report Layout
We have put a query in place to designate the dataset from
which the report will select the data it presents. We now need to turn to the
physical Layout of the report.
The prospective Layout of a report is another consideration
in the business requirements gathering phase, regardless of the platform upon
which the report is being constructed. We will assume, for the purposes of our
example that we have obtained a sketch from the information consumers, showing the
desired arrangement of the data that will appear in the report. Meeting with
the satisfaction of the intended audience in this regard is a significant focus;
the arrangement that they specify is likely based upon an existing report or
other design that has worked for them before, and which presents the
information in a manner that makes it easy to use.
The Layout tab
presents the Design Surface, as depicted in Illustration 15.
15: The Layout Tab and Design Surface
The Design Surface
of the Layout tab acts as a central "palette:" from here, we
start our blank report. It is on the Design Surface that we add Data
Regions, define the report Layout and perform other steps in our
creation efforts. As we can readily see, a blank report contains no data,
layout specifications, graphical or style elements, or other components. When
we start with a blank report, it is really blank.
Creating a blank report
affords us complete control in the design and creation process, which is
typically the best, and often the only, way to write an enterprise-grade
report. After we assemble the basic reports set (with underlying datasets and
other components) in our "toolbox," we can reuse them with a
flexibility and ease that is unparalleled by the proprietary enterprise
reporting systems of the (recent) past.
Click the Toolbox icon,
atop the Report Designer window, (see Illustration 16) to open
the Toolbox, as necessary.
16: The Toolbox Icon
The Toolbox appears to the left of the Layout tab.
Click Table, within the Toolbox.
The Toolbox, with Table icon selected, appears as
depicted in Illustration 17.
17: Toolbox, with Table Icon Selected
Click on the design surface
(a small table icon will appear in place of the usual mouse pointer).
The Report Designer renders a three-columned table,
straddling the Design Surface, as shown in Illustration 18.
18: The Table Appears on the Design Surface
Select the Fields tab,
below the Toolbox (shown in Illustration 19).
19: Select the Fields Tab to Raise the Fields Window
window opens, replacing the Toolbox, to the left of the Design Surface,
as shown in Illustration 20.
20: The Fields Window
The fields we captured
in our SQL query appear in the Fields window, for easy selection into