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Designer tutorial and feature request

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Groupe CDGI
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Groupe CDGI asked on 30 Mar 2009, 07:40 PM
Hi,

I'm about ready to switch from Crystal Reports to Telerik Reporting. I know some features are not supported but my change is more aimed at simplified operations and distribution and Telerik Reporting greatly appeals me.

It does appeal me, but man, i have to say, some things are just not right... Let me explain how i see the designer after working with it for 2 days now.

First, data integration is not easy. I have a bunch of DataSets already built but i was never able to run the report by simply assigning the dataset to the report. I even looked at the training videos and although it works in the videos, it never worked for me. Why? I could never figure out. Thats not the worst problem, i could easily add programmatic code to the report and test it that way and it works fine.

The worst problem is the sluggish designer and it's features...

1) My god, you guys need to drastically improve it. I have been designing 1 report in 2 days while with crystal reports, i could design a super complex report with tons of fields in a matter of hours. I'm afraid my machine will crash and burn and it's not a hardware problem, i'm running a practically brand new 4 gig o ram / Core 2 Duo 2.4 Ghz machine with Windows XP. Having 30 fields on the form and a few lines makes the designer slow down dramatically to the point that dragging fields stop working and i have to click and reclick several times to be able to drag...

2) Integration of shapes is atrocious... If youve used CR before, you know how the canvas concept work, drag a line from one section to the other and it still works. With Telerik's report designer (although i understand why, it's a programmatic issue), i cannot span a control in two sections, thus creating grid like layout becomes a PAIN.

Maybe the inclusion of a few controls to help drawing gridlike reports such as invoices could help a lot... Also, a few tutorials on the aspect of placement of the different controls could help. I've had a lot of problems to place my controls and align grid lines together without causing gaps or overlapping elements. In fact, my invoice now features overlapping elements since i have no choice at all or the invoice cannot be migrated from CR to TR.

3) Missing features

3.1) Capability to strech a section to fill the rest of the page. (only for windows output, web can't support this yet because CSS is not respected correctly) For example, in my invoice, i'd like to strech a group footer section to fill the rest of the page. It would look much nicer to my client than having the invoice stop at the middle of the page if i have only 2 lines in their invoice...

3.2) Many group headers... In CR, i can have several detail/group section (headers and footers). It would be great to be able to have access to several of these. Now you probably wonder why, it's because of 3.1. In a document you may wish to allow one section to span from top to bottom to fill gaps but you may want some items to stick at the bottom of the gap filling and this gap filling could be applied to the first group footer and the second group footer could contain the page tail for the group.

3.3) Support for PageNumber and PageTotal anywhere in the document not just headers and footers.

For the rest, great work, i love telerik controls and it will not prevent me from switching to telerik at all. We just decided to abandon Infragistics and Crystal Report due to their poor service and i hope we will get great service from Telerik.

Thanks

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Svetoslav
Telerik team
answered on 02 Apr 2009, 03:09 PM
Hello Groupe CDGI,

Thank you for the feedback and the good will to help us improve Telerik's reporting engine. We appreciate that! Now up to your questions/suggestions:

Although the two products - Crystal Reports and Telerik Reporting - have one common purpose and look pretty similar they are based on different concepts and have different pros and cons that you should always have in mind when choosing the tool that would best fit your needs.

There are some issues with the report designer (including the accidental freeze of the items that prevent them from being moved or sized) that we are currently working on and I hope they will be fixed in the upcoming service pack due in a couple of weeks.

In Telerik Reporting, by design the items should always reside in one container at a time. There is no way to have an item spanned on two or more sections. If you need to create a grid-like report layout it is much more easy if you use the borders of the items to draw the grid lines instead of using shapes. Even better with the latest release of Telerik Reporting we have introduced a new Table item that you can use to create tabular reports. Depending on the configuration you can create a table or a crosstab or even simple repeater. You can have as many header or footer rows for each row or column groups as you need. If you still haven't got the chance to take a look at the new features I encourage you to do download it or at least browse through the online demos.

Regarding the suggested features. To be honest we have never thought of having a way to instruct a section to fulfill the entire page. We will appreciate if you can show us some practical application of this.

Compared to the previous feature we have already thought of support for multiple sections from one type (maybe except the page sections). Anyway with the Table item you can easily achieve a similar result especially if you start thinking of the Report and its sections as a Table with a single column and multiple rows (the report sections).

For more information on the last feature (the Page Number and Page Count) please see Report Life Cycle.

Greetings,
Svetoslav
the Telerik team

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Groupe CDGI
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answered on 02 Apr 2009, 03:23 PM
Thanks for the reply.

I know there are differences between CR and TR and so far i can live with them. I'm anxious to try to table layout control. It will indeed save me lots of layout problems.

Regarding the layout suggestion i asked for "Fill the whole page" it is simple. Take an invoice with only one line. It's nice to see it fill the whole page and show the information such as the total of the invoice at the bottom of the page. At least, this is what we had in the previous report engine.

For example, if an invoice would have spanned two pages, then the remaining space on the second page is still filled up with the different lines and white space and the content that shows the Tax numbers, notes, Grant total always appeared at the bottom. Now, with your implementation, i can't force the total to stick at the bottom.

IT IS NOT A CRITICAL ISSUE

But it would be nice to see a "Fill whole space" feature to a section component. The way it should work is split amongst all "Fill whole space" contenders an equal share of what is left on the page. In case of page breaking, for example, a section could feature "Fill whole space" and "Break: After" then each time the section changes, it will stretch to the bottom of the page to draw it's information and then split to the next page.

Thanks for your reply about the my post, and cheers for a very good product :)
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Brian
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answered on 29 Dec 2009, 03:05 PM
I have a customer with a similar requirement, which is that a contract have a signature block that appears in the report footer, but to have it shifted to the bottom of the page rather than appearing just after the last page footer section. I believe this is the same sort of "fill the whole page" behavior mentioned previously. I've tried a number of different tricks to force content to the bottom of the last page, but the only way I've been able to do this is by forcing a page break before the report footer, and then stretching the entire report footer section to consume the height of a page. It's not quite what the customer really wants, but as close as I can get.

Has the Telerik development team decided whether or not this kind of feature might make it into a future release?
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Steve
Telerik team
answered on 04 Jan 2010, 11:55 AM
Hello Brian,

As far as we understand, you want the report footer to be at the bottom of the page right next to the page footer, instead of starting directly after the detail/groups sections, correct? If so you would be glad to know that your request has already been logged in our system and would be considered for a subsequent version of the product.

Greetings,
Steve
the Telerik team

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