November 29, 2012
NAV 2013 Report Designer – Pandora’s Box?
Having tried reading documentation on RTC reporting in NAV 2013, I would liken it to trying to find meaning in Gertrude Stein’s poem “Roast Beef”. I quickly gave up on the documentation, and tried another approach. I just dived in, head first! “So, how different can RTC reporting in NAV 2009 and NAV 2013 be? They’re both creating RDLC. They’re both using layouts created in Visual Studio. NAV Report Designer is still used for creating the dataset. Really now, what is all the fuss about?”, or so I thought, until I opened a standard NAV 2013 report in Design mode. At that point, with heart beating fast and shortness of breath, I felt like I had opened Pandora’s Box. Thereafter, I took a more formal approach to learning NAV 2013 Report Design. What I found was that report design in NAV 2013 has “some” similarities with NAV 2009, but I dare say not enough for even a seasoned developer to say they are proficient in report writing in NAV 2013! Here’s a quick list of some of the biggest changes. Report Designer is gone. RIP dear report designer! We’re sorry for all the bad things we said about you and your sections! Upon entering design mode in a NAV 2013 report, you are faced with the “Report Dataset Designer”. Remember the old option for converting a custom report to RTC using “Tools – Create Layout Suggestion”? Yes, you guessed it! It has passed on - along with “Delete Layout”. Were you good friends with “View Toolbox”? You won’t find him in the Report Dataset Designer. He’s moved on to Visual Studio. And of course, all forms are long gone so “Request Form”, we bid you adieu! But there’s no need to grieve! In many ways I believe the new report writing tools we’ve been given make the task easier. The tools are broken down into several “designers”, such as Report Dataset Designer, Label Designer, Request Options Page Designer, and of course, Visual Studio 2010 Report Designer. Understanding the function of each of these will give you a good foundation for how to create and modify NAV 2013 reports. Report Dataset Designer Report Dataset Designer is used to define not only the tables used by the report, but also the fields and field captions. When you first open it, pay close attention to the columns. If you don’t see one called “Include Caption”, be sure to show the column. A quick click in this field will allow the caption of the field to be included in the dataset without having to add it as a separate field in the dataset designer. Here’s what the Report Dataset Designer looks like when we design report 10139, Inventory Valuation: Let’s correlate what we have in the new Report Dataset Designer to the old Report Designer.
- A “DataItem” data type row is much like the old Report Designer DataItem. Here you set properties on how the table will be filtered, it’s sort sequence, and even relations to other tables. You can still indent dataitems to show that they should be read in conjunction with other tables. And using the Properties button while on the dataitem row, you can still define “DataItemTableView”, “DataItemLink”, “ReqFilterFields”, and other familiar properties.
- A “Column” data type row defines a field or variable to be used on the report. The “Data Source” field of the row is used in the same way that the old field “SourceExpr” property would be used, and the “Name” column is used in the same way that the “DataSetFieldName” property was used. Note: Make it easy on yourself! If you create clear, standardized Name properties, you won’t have trouble identifying your data in Visual Studio Report Layout Designer. Be consistent in using the Data Item Name + Field Name, or Global Variable Name to identify your fields. And there’s really no need to write a novel for a Name property. Keep them short and simple.
- The “Include Caption” field will append “_Caption” to the Name you give the field, allowing the caption to be easily associated with the field. Of course, if you choose to create your own captions, as shown in the standard NAV report above, you can call it whatever you like. To me, it seems so much easier to just have NAV create the variable for the dataset based on the “Include Caption” field so that I don’t have to remember to do it, or cross check myself that I have all the column headings I need. And if you check the “Include Caption” field on the Data Item row, all fields listed for the dataitem it will automatically have the “Include Caption” field checked.
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