DeltaMaster clicks! 04/2016

Report formats for publishing reports

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Greetings, fellow data analysts!

Distributing reports is the one task in Business Intelligence where you can see the efficiency gains so clearly like nowhere else. Once you have created a DeltaMaster application or analysis session, you can use it as a template to automatically generate, update, assemble, and distribute tailored briefing books for individual consumers – all at marginal cost close to zero. In order to do that, you need a report format called Graphical Tables, which ensure efficient, reliable pro­duction processes with no follow-up work. Another advantage of Graphical Tables is that they are easy to read and clear to under­stand – which you surely know because we have frequently dis­cussed that already. This time, we will focus on the output of automated reporting. For publishing reports (using the ReportServer as the module is called in DeltaMaster 5) DeltaMaster offers a wide range of output formats and channels. We will provide an overview of these options as well as tips regarding selection in a three-part series of DeltaMaster clicks!. Part 1 will start with an overview of the various report formats.

Best regards,
Your Bissantz & Company team

When you publish reports (or work in ReportServer), you can define the Report Format and Distribution Type for each individual job.

This allows you to tailor the output to very specific reporting tasks. For example, you could send an email announcing the day’s revenues each evening, archive monthly reports as a PDF in a specific directory on the file server, and send personal sales figures including the respective database extract to each field sales representative for analysis. The automation for publishing is also useful in planning applications: A single job can automatically generate multiple customized applications in the repository which are pre-configured for individual recipients (i.e. planners) so that their respective planning objects are already set as the default values.

You can choose from the following 21 export formats:

csvdocpdfpdf-pptpptxls
dasexcelpdf-docpdf-wordrepository
das-offlinehtmlpdf-excelpdf-xlsticker
dm2gomobilepdf-powerpointpowerpointword

You will find this same list along with a short description at the end of this clicks!. We have combined the formats into groups as we look at them below in more detail.

Formats in groups

das, das-offline, dm2go, repository

These four formats are unique to DeltaMaster. Most times, they are used to publish DeltaMaster applications containing updated, personal default settings to individual users. If you want to inform a cost center manager or sales representative, the respective cost center and customer segment can be selected in advance (Report Generator) in the DeltaMaster files or applications. At the same time, a certain period (e.g. the last closed month) can be selected in all reports (Report Update).

DAS files (DeltaMaster Analysis Session) are commonly used to distribute DeltaMaster applications. DM2GO files (DeltaMaster to go) contain the analysis session as well as an extract from the underlying database in order to use the interactive analytic functions of DeltaMaster even when there is no connection to the database server (see DeltaMaster clicks! 07/2013). Offline DAS files work as well when there is no connection to the database. This lesser known format can only be used in Offline Reader. Since switching to a higher user mode or connecting to a database is not supported for offline DAS files, they are suitable for providing external consultants or other parties access to DeltaMaster reports but not the database (DeltaMaster deltas! 5.4.0, feature #4).

Instead of sharing applications as files, you can also publish them through a database with additional functions for administering permissions and roles. We call this a Repository. Many companies already use a repository as the central platform for all DeltaMaster applications. For more information, please read DeltaMaster clicks! 01/2015.

excel, powerpoint, word

The names of these formats resemble the popular Microsoft Office programs. They stand for exports that are executed by automating the respective Microsoft Office programs. If you select “word”, for example, DeltaMaster will start Microsoft Word and send it commands to generate a new document, populate it with data, format the document, and save it. In order to use these formats, the respective program must be installed on the computer executing the job.

doc, ppt, xls

The names of these formats resemble the well-known file name extensions of Microsoft Office. They stand for exports that are created by generating files without involving the Microsoft Office programs. In this case, DeltaMaster uses an integrated component to write directly in the respective files. This method is faster than automating Microsoft Office and also works when these programs are not installed (e.g. on server systems). On the other hand, it does not support some program-specific or interactive functions. For example, a dynamic table of contents will be inserted as a field function in a Word document, but will only be displayed when a user opens the file and updates the field in Word. For more information, please read DeltaMaster deltas! 5.5.2, feature #3.

If you want to use Office documents as the output format, you should consider using the DeltaMaster Add-in for Microsoft Office. Instead of exporting (i.e. pushing) DeltaMaster reports, it embeds dynamic objects in Word documents or PowerPoint presentations so that they can be updated (i.e. pulled) directly in the respective Microsoft program. This has its benefits, especially in heavily commented reports in which users compile detailed explanations or background information outside of DeltaMaster. For more information, please read DeltaMaster clicks! 12/2013.

pdf-excel, pdf-powerpoint, pdf-word

These report formats create PDF files by converting Office documents that were created by automating Microsoft programs.

In order to convert these files, you will need a PDF printer driver, which must be installed in addition to DeltaMaster and selected in the ReportServer Settings on the PDF tab. When the job is run, the ReportServer will temporarily create an Office file through automation. Afterwards, DeltaMaster will send a print command to the respective Office program. These formats are useful when you want the benefits of Office automation but with PDF files as the output.

pdf-doc, pdf-ppt, pdf-xls

These report formats generate PDF files but without Microsoft Office and without a PDF printer driver. This method also first creates a temporary output file, however, by generation (i.e. not automation) as described above. A further integrated DeltaMaster component will transfer the files to PDFs.

Please note that in all formats dealing with Office documents, the Export Format that you choose will determine the export method (generation or automation) for the respective job. Within the application or analysis session that is defined as the source of the job, you can define further settings, for example, whether to export tables as text or images (and, in this case, as bitmaps or metafiles), how to divide and scale tables, and how to deal with report comments in presentation slides. For more information, please read DeltaMaster clicks! 11/2014.

We will now take a look at the remaining five formats individually.

csv

You can export Pivot Tables and SQL Drill Through reports to CSV (Comma Separated Values) format, in other words, as pure text files. This is very helpful when you need to publish data in a machine-readable format so that other systems can import and process it. For example, you could provide clients, suppliers, or other business partners with data for analytics as an extra service that is always appreciated and even being requested more frequently. For more information on the CSV format, please read DeltaMaster deltas! 5.4.9, feature #9.

html

This format exports reports as images (bitmaps) and embeds them in a separate HTML file. Most times, you will use this format to send reports as an email. The recipients can immediately view the reports in their email program without having to open an attachment with an external display program. This is very useful for smartphone users as well.

You can, of course, display the exported HTML files in a Web browser (e.g. Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari) or reference them in other applications with a component for displaying HTML. An HTML export outputs several files for each job or generator cycle. These include the images for the individual reports as well as the HTML code that is used for headings, comments, and other text, and is combined with the images to create a complete view. For more information on HTML exports, please read DeltaMaster clicks! 03/2009 as well as newer documents, which you can access in our Online Help under the keyword “HTML Mail“.

SQL Drill Through reports also offer an additional HTML export, where you can output data records as text (instead of images) and apply HTML or CSS formatting, even just for specific fields and data records. This makes it possible to optimize the display for smartphones. For more information, please read DeltaMaster deltas! 5.6.1, feature #1.

mobile

This setting generates files for the DeltaMaster ReaderApp that is available for iPhone and iPad devices as an additional option for DeltaMaster 5. In contrast to the DeltaMaster App in ver­sion 6, version 5 always works offline, in other words, without a connection to the database. The reports in version 5 are always calculated as DMMOBILE files in advance and transferred to the device. In order to update reports in ReaderApp, users will need updated files, which are distributed as an email or through a Web server, typically as a separate job. Version 6 can publish these types of files as well. If you already use version 6, however, you should consider using the corresponding app, which offers many more functions as we explained in DeltaMaster clicks! 02/2016 and 03/2016.

pdf

This option outputs reports directly to a PDF file without creating an Office document as an intermediate step. It does not, therefore, produce text pages in a style similar to Word, presentation slides, or spreadsheets. Instead, the layout is based on a special export template in PDF format (“Templates\DeltaMaster.pdf”, see DeltaMaster deltas! 5.5.3, feature #3). Generating and modifying these templates is only possible with special editors (e.g. Adobe Acrobat Pro) and is a bit tricky as well. No other additional formatting options are possible. This export type is only used in special cases, which it completes, however, very quickly.

ticker

This format exports DeltaMaster reports to a specialized format for automatically presenting information as a type of news ticker. Specifically, it arranges the values of the table successively in a long row and saves them as images (bitmaps). These images can automatically run as a ticker banner in a continuous loop on a screen, for example, of a kiosk system that presents and regularly updates data without any user interaction. The suitable software to present this data is available from Bissantz & Company upon request. You can also use an iPad. Just download the iOS app DeltaMaster TickerPortal from App Store. If necessary, you can modify published ticker banners as well. For more information, please read DeltaMaster deltas! 5.5.2, feature #4.

A brief recap of all report formats

csvPure text files. Used to import data for further use in other systems (see DeltaMaster deltas! 5.4.9 feature#9). Export only possible by Publishing or with Report Server (i.e. not from an interactive DeltaMaster session). Only available for Graphical Tables/Pivot Tables and SQL Drill Through.
dasDeltaMaster analysis session. Pre-calculated. Can be updated.
das-offlineDeltaMaster offline analysis session. Pre-calculated. Cannot be updated (see DeltaMaster deltas! 5.4.0 feature #4). Export only possible by Publishing or with Report Server.
dm2goDeltaMaster to go. Analysis session and database extract (i.e. local cube) in a single file (see DeltaMaster clicks! 07/2013).
docWord document. Through generation.
excelExcel spreadsheet. Through automation.
htmlHTML file with reports embedded as images. For SQL Drill Through reports, export as text (instead of images) is also possible.
mobileBriefing books for DeltaMaster ReaderApp on iPhone/iPad (DeltaMaster 5, offline usage only).
pdfPDF file. Through generation. Based on a special PDF template.
pdf-docPDF file. From Word file. Through generation.
pdf-excelPDF file. From Excel. Through automation.
pdf-powerpointPDF file. From PowerPoint. Through automation.
pdf-pptPDF file. From PowerPoint file. Through generation.
pdf-wordPDF file. From Word. Through automation.
pdf-xlsPDF file. From Excel file. Through generation.
powerpointPowerPoint presentation. Through automation.
pptPowerPoint presentation. Through generation.
repositoryDeltaMaster application in the Repository. Only in combination with the distribution type “repository”.
tickerTicker banner for DeltaMaster TickerPortal (see DeltaMaster deltas! 5.5.2, feature #4). Export only possible by Publishing or with ReportServer.
wordWord document. Through automation.
xlsExcel spreadsheet. Through generation.