The typical reporting work-flow has 3 stages:
- Designing reporting templates
- Merging templates with data
- Sharing created documents
All of these stages have different requirements and user groups. Template designers are typically trained to use a template design application. But what if any business unit would be able to modify templates only with MS Word skills?
The Text Control Reporting Framework provides sophisticated components for all of these stages. Not being dependent on an additional third-party tool such as MS Word to create templates is a very important key aspect when implementing reporting functionality into business applications.
All reporting processes should be completely integrated into the application to guarantee the best possible user experience. Only with fully integrated solutions, applications can be adapted to the user expectations and requirements. If MS Word is required to create templates, the Merging process must support all different MS Word versions. If the Designing process is realized with MS Word plug-ins, various MS Word versions need to be supported and such applications cannot be completely customized.
Designing Reporting Templates
TX Text Control provides designers for all platforms including ASP.NET, Windows Forms and WPF. The functionality is consistent and compatible over the platforms. The MS Word compatible editor has the look and feel of MS Word, but can be customized and adapted to user requirements. MS Word templates can be reused and edited in TX Text Control.
TX Text Control comes with an out-of-the-box editor with a fully-featured Reporting tab that contains the most typical reporting features to load data sources, insert merge fields and repeating, nested merge blocks for master-detail views.
Templates can be stored in industry standard(ized) formats such as DOCX, DOC and RTF and are always compatible with other word processors such as MS Word.
Merging Templates with Data
After a template has been successfully designed, the reporting engine MailMerge is merging data into the template. For each data row of the master table in the data source, a document is created. Merge fields are populated with column values and repeating blocks are merged with data rows of related child tables in the data source.
A data source can be any IEnumerable object (business objects), JSON objects, DataSet and DataTable objects. TX Text Control follows the concept of pre-shaped data where data queries are executed before data is passed to the merge process. TX Text Control is using the data and its order and logic as is in order to create the resulting documents. The advantage of this concept is the separation of content and logic. Users of applications built with TX Text Control enjoy an easy-to-use interface and a simplified concept of inserting merge fields and merge blocks into templates. Complex logic is not part of the template, but part of a separate business layer in your application that creates the data object. This concept helps to simplify the template creation process and to allow non-technical business units to maintain templates instead of binding developer resources.
Sharing Created Documents
In many cases, resulting documents must be shared or presented in the application. All editors of TX Text Control can be used to view documents as well. For ASP.NET, additionally we provide a more lightweight DocumentViewer to render documents in cross-browser compatible applications.
The DocumentViewer is able to render pages in a true WYSIWYG manner, documents are searchable and selectable and it provides a print functionality to print all resulting documents client-side in the browser.
Test this all on your own and download a trial version of TX Text Control .NET Server for ASP.NET.