Version X9 has been released several months ago and we are already working on new features and improvements for the next version. In our labs, I was able to see some of the new features of the DocumentServer.MailMerge class - the Text Control Reporting Engine.

Even when there is no official final roadmap yet, I would like to reveal some of the great new features we are currently working on.

(Business) Object Support As Data Sources

Reporting Roadmap X10: Business Objects, Performance and Images

This is probably the most requested feature of the MailMerge class: Direct support for all kinds of (business) objects instead of DataSet and DataTable instances. Text Control will accept objects in the same way like a DataTable in order to find the relations between objects automatically for master-detail relationship representations.

This gives you the option to pass a business object directly from your application to the MailMerge component to create a report without converting data.

Performance Boost - Multithreaded Processes

Reporting Roadmap X10: Business Objects, Performance and Images

We were able to improve the overall creation and rendering performance significantly and made the implied components multithreading compatible. Not that the current Text Control version is slow. But we wanted to find ways to make it even faster. We worked closely with customers from the financial industry to specify new benchmark requirements. We have customers doing millions of transactions every day - and for each transaction a transaction slip is created. This requires word processing power and we wanted to help improving that - up to 15 times faster.

Real Image Placeholders

Reporting Roadmap X10: Business Objects, Performance and Images

Image merging has been supported since the very first version of MailMerge. The image field is a special form of the normal textual merge field with a unique prefix. Now, an image can be inserted as an image object placeholder with a specific name. If this name matches the data source column, the found image is merged into this location. The advantage is that you can design your template with the real image sizes.

Images can be also merged from databases directly (blobs or byte arrays), not only from physical files. A new event will be raised that allows you to manipulate the results.

MS Word Compatible String Formatter

Reporting Roadmap X10: Business Objects, Performance and Images

Version X10 is going to support string formatters for merge fields. These formatters can be added to the template directly to guarantee a consistent format independently from the input.

Consider a merge field for a product price in a specific currency: $345.55.

In this case, the switch for this merge field is: \# $###.00

It is no longer required to convert Integer values to a String when passing to the MailMerge component. Text Control is applying the formatters automatically and gets the data into proper shape.

These are just a few of the great new features coming in version X10. Let's innovate!