Estimated reading time: 23 minutes
Today’s times bring new standards. “Branding” has become an inevitable standard in every company’s business. Report designer is the result of our users’ wishes that they can adapt each document to their own needs and according to their own graphic standards.
“The first thing someone encounters when starting a business with my company is the Sales Order. We produce organic food, our color is green, I want my documents to have elements with green color.” , these are literally the words of the user to whom “branding” is extremely important.
What do other software solutions do?
In some competitive software solutions, it is necessary to hire a special specialist (usually a software developer) who will (in most cases with compensation) do the finishing touches or it is necessary to purchase specialized applications through which the appropriate report will be made. Only the complexity of the “retrieving” of retrieving data from the database requires the engagement of a professional again. What is very pronounced in design is that designers like (or are forced) to change their minds. Which in practice means that the whole process has to be done almost from the beginning.
More economical competitive software solutions have an on / off data display system. Simply, if you want an “SKU” on the Sales Order print, simply turn on the option and the system will insert that column. It is usually inserting the company logo and choosing the background color of the table headers. ERPAG used to have such a solution in previous versions, but the possibility of customization was rather limited.
Report Designer in ERPAG is a fully integrated solution that provides unprecedented customization possibilities in an intuitive and simpler way. It is made on the principle of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), office style toolbar, and an intuitive menu for connecting data from the database.
Basic guidelines in Report Designer
The basic concept is really similar to spreadsheet documents (Google spreadsheet, MS excel).
Each data must be in a cell of a table.
What we have enabled for practical reasons is the ability to insert multiple tables. A standard spreadsheet has X columns and Y rows throughout the document, while in our Report Designer tables can have a different number of rows and columns. The different number of columns makes it easier to design and group data. For example, in spreadsheet document header (eg customer info, billing/shipping address, etc.) and items (eg SKU, description, quantity, etc.) share the same columns. In our Report Designer, we can have special tables for billing/shipping address and a separate table for items. Each table can have its own number of rows and columns.
Defining the page size
By default, you will be suggested the size of an A4 or Letter page, depending on your regional settings. You can change it at any time via the option on the right. From the offered options, you can also select the orientation to be “Landscape” as well as to determine the margins of the paper. Printers from different manufacturers have different “printable areas”, so you can make fine adjustments accordingly.
You also have the ability to define your paper size. This is useful for non-standard printers. For example, if you have self-adhesive labels that you stick on the packages upon delivery.
The elements of the report designer
- Zoom (marked green) – As the description says, it’s for zooming the paper in/out, in order to style objects more precisely. (Note that Firefox browser doesn’t have the full functionality, unlike other browsers);
- Toolbar (marked blue) – Office-style toolbar for styling selected cells within the table;
- Paper (marked yellow) – Edit area, the main part where you design your report;
- Insert menu (marked red) – Intuitive menu for adding data to the table cell.
All manipulations are done on selected table cells, by using the toolbar or the insert menu.
The selected cell is bordered in blue color.
- To select a cell just click on it with your mouse;
- To select more than one cell, just left-click on the cell and drag over the other cells. The cells that you ‘drag’ over your mouse over will be selected;
- You can also hold ‘CTRL’ on your keyboard and left-click to select cells;
- All cells within a table can be selected through the toolbar option “table > select all”.
Note: With some manipulations you have to select only a single cell.
As already mentioned, you will use these options to style your report.
As in each editor, it changes the document back to the previous state. Before you made a certain change.
This is where you choose the font type. In Report Designer, we only offer “websafe fonts”. This is a list of fonts that you can find on every computer and every web browser. So depending on what you design, you can be sure that it will look identical on other computers. (more info at: https://www.w3schools.com/cssref/css_websafe_fonts.asp)
Note: If you don’t use an exclusively Latin alphabet, you have to check whether your alphabet is supported by the font of your choice.
- Font size
The font size is expressed in “pt” (“points”) which is the size of a dot on printed paper (72pt is approximately 1 inch). For more information click on this link https://www.w3.org/Style/Examples/007/units.en.html.
Colors and Style
- Color / Fill
“Color” indicates the color of the letters, while “Fill” indicates the background color of the cell. To have the same color everywhere, a color picker (marked in green/chrome browser) will help.
As in other editors, it indicates the style of letters (bold, italic, underline). For convenience, we have added an “A” which means that the text will be capitalized (Upper case).
Classic text alignment.
Note: When you add numbers through the insert menu, Report Designer aligns them to the right automatically.
Vertical alignment within cell (top, middle, bottom).
- Border, line
With these options in the report designer, we add a “border” to each selected cell. The line of thickness and style is the “border” line.
Note: The color of the border line is identical to the currently selected text color.
- Page header / page footer
With these options, we add or remove the page header and page footer. The header and page footer are printed on each page. The blue dashed line marks the boundary of the header and footer. When it is turned on, it practically inserts an empty table, which can be rebuilt and designed like any other table.
Adding tables in Report Designer
- Add table below / above
This option adds table above or below the table where the selected cell is. When adding a new table, we must also specify the appropriate parameters.
- Table source – Indicates which data will be primarily added to the table through the insert menu. For example, if the table should contain items from the sales order, the table source will be “Items”;
- Columns and rows – How many columns and rows will the table have;
- Header rows – The table header row is a special row that’s printed on each page if the table passes onto another page. It’s most commonly used in “table source items” tables;
- Header fill color – The table header row can have a different background color. It’s usually different than another text color;
- Cell margin – The space between text and the cell border. In design, this is called white space;
- Page break – If it’s “avoid” it means that upon printing we don’t want the table to be separated on two pages but on one. For example, if you have a summary table.
Note: Table source is an important data because the Report Designer has a logical checkup. For example, data “item price” cannot be added to a table where the source is “document”, it has to be added in the table where the source is “items”.
- Table properties
From table properties you are opening a table setup of a selected cell. The setup is the same as in adding a new table.
Note: Adding new rows in table header is done exclusively through table properties.
- Delete table
Use this option to delete the whole table. Because sometimes you will delete a table by mistake, and you can bring it back with the “undo” option.
Columns and rows
This option is used to manipulate the table columns. So you can add a new column right or left of the selected cell, as well as removing the column where the selected cell is.
Similar to the option column, the row option adds a row below or above of the selected cell. Delete removes the row where selected cell is.
This is where you can merge more than one cell into one, or split previously merged cells. Because this is very useful when data takes a lot of space. The “Clear” option deletes all data in selected cells.
Determining the width and height of columns and rows is done with a classic resizing with your mouse. When we approach the edge of the cell, the mouse cursor will change its appearance and by holding down the left mouse button we determine the size that suits us.
The horizontal and vertical resize is done separately. In case you are resizing the entire table, the columns will be resized proportionally.
When you hover over the cell with your mouse, the “+” button appears. By clicking on it the “insert menu” opens. You can also open the “insert menu” by clicking directly on a cell with your right click.
The “Insert menu” is the menu through which you fill in the contents of the cells. There are static data, ie. data that are always the same regardless of the content of the document (eg “Bill to” text) and dynamic data, ie data from a document stored in a database (eg “Billing address”).
Static data is in the “Insert” sub-menu, while dynamic ones are in a special sub-menu according to the content of the document (eg Work Order has: Document, Materials, Finished products, Work operations).
Insert static data
When you activate the “text” submenu, you will get a pop-up window for free text entry. By clicking on “ok” to confirm, the text is inserted in a selected cell.
Style is taken over from the toolbar. Text is single line, for multi line text you have to use “formatted text”.
Note: Double click on an empty cell is a shortcut to this option.
- Formatted text
Here is where you can enter multi line text that you can also format. The basics of style is taken over from the toolbar.
- Web link
This might not have any sense for printing, but if you export the document to PDF, the link is very useful!
You can enter URL address and the caption of the link, if desired.
You can upload any standard picture format. The picture is inserted based on the cell dimensions. Additionally, you can resize the image by using the slider in the bottom right corner.
- Barcode / QRcode
With the advent of smartphone apps, QR code has gained great practical application. So, naturally, we have made it possible to easily print QR codes (and other barcode types).
The QR code can contain any information. From the location of the customer portal to the payment instructions. Simply enter the data you want to display in the appropriate type in the DATA field.
Insert dynamic data
Dynamic data is data that is “pulled” into a report from a document (eg customer billing address). Almost any field from the document can be added to the report through the “insert menu”.
The “Insert menu” is thematically grouped very similar to the document itself. In the image above, we have marked in green the “billing address” in the document and the position in the insert menu. The icon on the right indicates the data type (“abc” – text, “1.23” – numeric data, “31.X” – date, etc.).
“Document” dynamic data are usually in one row. For example, in a Sales Order you can have one billing address and one customer. In contrast, you can have multiple rows for items. That is why a loop is made for “Items” when printing, by adding rows for each entry in the “Items” table.
Note: In order for the report designer to recognize which table needs to be looped, the table must have a “Table Source”. (Determining “Table source” is when you are adding a table or through the table properties).
On the picture above, the blue color marks the document data, and data on the report.
Note: While you are designing the report, only one row is designed. But upon printing, ERPAG will generate the appropriate number of rows with the appropriate data.
How to input data with multiple rows in Report Designer?
The data that can have multiple rows (e.g. “SKU” from “Items”) is not allowed to be in the table of another source. Report Designer will display a logical error. It is also not allowed for this data to be on the table header, page header / footer.
There is also a “SUM” field type in the “Items” submenu. This field is the sum of the corresponding columns. For example, “SUM: Quantity” is the sum of all quantities from the “Items” table.
Such data cannot be found in the “Items” table source table. Usually a “summary” table is added where such data will be displayed. In the picture below, we highlighted in yellow an example of a summary table.
We expanded the QR code functionality. You can display each dynamic data as a QR code or a Barcode.
There is a QR code option in each dynamic data submenu. Upon activating this option, you get a pop-up window to choose which data you want to show.
View and pay online
If you are using Stripe or PayPal integration, you can insert payment links into the Report Designer.
By default, you will be suggested one of the standard payment processing pictures. However, you can always upload the one more suitable for you.
You can find more about payment integrations on these links:
Blockly Script and Report Designer
In practice, sometimes there is a need to process some data during printing. Whether it is a question of adding up some values or presenting some texts in a different form is not particularly important. It is important that software developers cannot anticipate all the needs of users. The solution to this is our integration with the Blockly Script.
One of the examples of how the integration works can be found at this link: https://www.erpag.com/news/how-to-calculate-commission-on-saleshttps://www.erpag.com/news/how-to-calculate-commission-on-sales.
In order to make things simpler, we will do a short example where we will create a QR code with shipping informations.
First, we will create a variable “shipping_info”. Variables are elements that are used later in the Report Designer.
Note: We advise that the variable descriptions don’t have space, so use the bottom dash instead of space “_”.
In the picture bellow we added an example of text formatting where the data is separated by semicolon “;”.
After saving the Blockly Script, you will get a submenu “Blockly Script” in the Report Designer. This submenu will have all variables that you created.
In our example, we will activate the “QR code” option and select the appropriate variable.
And that’s it, now we have a QR Code in our report designer.
While you are in the “edit” mode in report designer, the data that you see is ‘dummy’ data. In order to test it out, you have a “Preview” button on the right side. This will print preview the last entered document.
Also, when you create a new report, ERPAG will suggest a generic template. You can either modify this one, or use “Clear all” to start from an empty sheet.