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Quick guide to InReports Designer

Introduction

In this introduction you will learn how to create a simple report in InReports Designer, and hopefully be more accustomed to the application. To start, download the installation program from the web page and install InReports Designer.

When the installation is complete, you can find InReports Designer in the Start menu under the folder InReports. If you’d like, you can start InReports Designer.

The first time you start InReports Designer, a registration dialog will pop up. Don’t be startled though, it is quite harmless. You should have an activation code available through the InReports web site under your personal pages. You can find your personal pages by logging in, and clicking your name at the top right of the page. If you don’t have an activation code, please login to the web site where you will be able to create an activation code for a 30 day trial or purchase a license.

When InReports Designer is registered, a tips and tricks dialog will pop up. If you don't want to see it the next time you start InReports Designer, check the checkbox in the dialog and click close.

Installing an InReports database for hosting reports

Visit the database page to find more information about downloading and installing InReports web, which will include a tutorial on setting up your InReports database.

Overview

The design surface is displayed in the middle of the application. On it you can drag controls, insert sections to design your report. When you have a design you want to preview, click View in the menu and then Preview (shortcut F5). The InReports Viewer will pop up and display your report.

InReports Designer has a few different toolbars that you will be able to interact with. Under the menu, there's the standard toolbar, with options such as opening a report from either your file system or from a database.

To the left, you will find the explorer bar and the toolbox. With the explorer bar you can drag fields from a connected data source, and create calculated fields that you can use in your report. You are also able to see what sections you have in your report, such as the detail section, and page header and footer, along with the controls, such as text boxes, that are added to them.

With the toolbox you can create controls that will render when you run your report. Here you will find controls such as label, which holds basic text, text box, if you want more control over the formatting, or for instance the chart control, if you want to create charts.

To the right you will find the properties toolbar. The properties toolbar displays all the settings you can set for a specific selection in your report. To change a setting for a label for instance, click and drag a label from your toolbox to the design surface, and click it to select it. The properties toolbar will show you all current settings for the selection, and you are able to change the properties which are not grayed out.

Attaching a data source

To be able to show data from a database or an Excel document for instance, you must connect to a data source. Click the Edit menu, and then select Data source. A dialog window with the title Report Data Source will open with options for connecting to a data source. To connect to a MSSQL server you can first select the SQL tab in the top of the dialog and then click the Build button.

Another dialog will appear called Data Link Properties. Select the SQL Native Client and click Next >>. Enter the computer or host name to the SQL server in Data Source, enter your credentials to be able to connect to the database, and choose what database you want to query by entering it under "Enter the initial catalog to use:". Click OK to return to the Report Data Source dialog.

Now you can enter what table you want to retrieve data from by entering a query, such as "SELECT * FROM Customers". The query is case insensitive, so feel free to mix upper case and lower case letters as you want.

When you've entered a query, you can click OK to close the Report Data Source dialog. If you entered a correct query and the database is accessible the Explorer toolbar will display the columns from the query under the Fields item. Click the + to the left of Fields and then click the + to the left of Bound. If you want to display a field, click and drag it to the design surface.

Inserting sections

If you want to group datafields of a specific kind or calculate subtotals you can use the group sections in InReports. Right click on the design surface and hover your mouse over Insert. Click Group Header/Footer to insert a group section. You can select what column from the database table to group over by opening the properties toolbar (F4) and entering the value in the DataField entry. Don't forget to correctly order your query in your datasource.

You can use the TextBox control to calculate subtotals or count values by dragging a TextBox to the GroupFooter and assign the entries under the Summary group.

Changing page size and margins

Sometimes when you preview your report you will see a vertical red line to the right of your report. This is because the report width is to wide to fit on one page, so the red line displays where the page will break if you export or print it. You can change the width of the report either by dragging the white area in the design surface or by clicking the gray area, and then assign a value to the PrintWidth entry in the Properties toolbar.

You can also change the page settings by clicking the Edit menu, and then select Margins and page...

In the Page settings dialog you can set the margins and printer settings for your report. If you check the Adjust width of report before you click OK, the PrintWidth of the report will be adjusted when you click OK to fit when you print it.

You can download the full InReports manual for a more detailed overview of the software.