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Report Desk: Running & Designing Reports Basics

Release Date: 03/24/2021
Revised: 08/30/2021
Version: 8.6 & Up

Report Desk is a new report-developing platform for Elliott Business Software. It is based on the PSQL relational engine accessing the Elliott database, which has the potential to make large reports run significantly faster than traditional Elliott reports. In addition, all reports can output to PDF, CSV or XLSX format. The best feature is that the user can modify the standard Report Desk reports provided by Netcellent and customize them by adding or removing columns. Report Desk uses proportional spacing fonts, which usually results in more data being presented in a limited space.

How to Run Report Desk Reports

Report Desk is not turned on by default in Global Setup.  In addition, there are global user security flags to determine if a user has adequate rights to run or modify Report Desk reports. Please refer to the following KB article for details:

When launching a traditional report in Elliott, if that report has one or more corresponding versions of Report Desk reports, then the user will be prompted to decide which report to run.  The following is an example if the user goes to A/R -> Maintenance -> Terms Code File -> List. If the user is allowed to run Report Desk reports, he/she will see the following window:

The "Legacy Terms Code List" is the traditional Elliott report that you are familiar with.

The "UDR Terms Code List" is the new Report Desk report. It has the format of ARTRMLST.X.1.2.3 where ARTRMLST is the type of report. The 1 stands for template ID; 2 stands for report ID; and 3 stands for the user's own revision. Each template can have multiple reports variances (i.e., a different report ID). Each report ID can have multiple revisions.

Go ahead and choose to run "ARTRMLST.B.1.1.0" in this example. The following window will show up. In this screen, you can choose the filter criteria. In this particular case, you can enter the starting and ending terms code. Typically, when you don't enter anything, it means "All." See sample screen below:

If you click "OK," the system will ask where you'd like the output to go. The default choice is "Screen" and "PDF" format. See sample screen below:

To view the report in PDF format, the system assumes you have a PDF reader installed to view PDFs. When you click "Go," you will then see that the report is being processed and output to your default PDF reader:

Security Settings for Report Desk

There are two global user security flags that control Report Desk access. You can access them by going to System Utilities -> Password Setup -> Global Security -> User Global Security. 

  • Screen 6 - 16. Allow to Modify Report Desk's User Def Report: This flag is only intended for system managers who can modify the default report desk reports to create a new variance. It does not give you the right to modify the variance created by other users. To modify other users' variance report, user needs to be one of the supervisor in Global Setup -> System -> Print Option Window.
  • Screen 7 - 1. Allow to Run Report Desk's Reports: This flag is for the general users. You can decide whether a user should be allowed to use Report Desk reports.

Typically, flag 16 in screen 6 should be turned off for most users. Flag 1 in screen 7 can be turned on at your discretion. If you have many users, to avoid having to set these two flag values one by one, you can set the default value by going to  System Utilities -> Password Setup -> Global Security -> User Global Security. See sample screen below:

User’s access to the Report Desk is also subject to Elliott menu security in password setup.

Modifying Report Desk Reports

If a user has the right to Modify Report Desk's reports per Global Setup, then when that user brings up the Report Desk filter criteria screen, he/she will see the "Modify" button at the bottom right corner. For example, you can go to Customer File Maintenance -> Numeric-List. You should see the following list shows up:

This screen will show the Legacy and the UDR (User Defined Report) options that are available for the report. The Legacy report is the original version of the Elliott report. The UDR reports are the new Report Desk reports. Each UDR report will have a unique ID with the following format: NAME.X.1.2.3 where:

  • NAME is the name of your UDR report, in this case ARCUSLST.
  • X can have the value of B (Base) or E (Enhancement). Base means this report was originally created by Netcellent, and Enhancement means this report was created by your developer.
  • 1 - the first numeric digit represents the template ID. A template represents a unique way of joining the tables. As an end user, you can't create your own template because the joining must be done by Netcellent or your developer to ensure best database performance. We are aware that you could perform table joining with report writer like Crystal. But tables joining requires knowledge of the database. If it is joined incorrectly, it could result in terrible database performance. This is a common problem we are seeing with user using Crystal Reports. Therefore, the restriction on creating template is intentionally to make Report Desk safer.
  • 2 - the second numeric digit represents the different types of report options derived from the same template. This can be a different sorting sequence, different input selection options, or different columns to be included on the report.
  • 3 - the third digit is the variance of each type of report. The value zero means this is the original report developed by Netcellent or your developers. Other values (greater than zero) are variances of the report made by you. You can, for example, change to different sorting, selection and columns options and save your own version of the report.   Netcellent or your developer may change the reports that end with zero in the future, but your derived reports that do not end with the zero will never be overridden.

If the report developer included an abstract of the report, it will show up in the Abstract column. If it is truncated (having trailing ... ), hovering the mouse over the cell will show the entire abstract.

Let's choose "ARCUSLST.B.1.3.0 Customer credit Info" from the list. The following sample screen should show up:

Report Documentation

Pressing the "Help..." button on the Report Desk parameter input screen will bring up the documentation for your report.  If your report (top red box below) was derived from a standard report (bottom red box), its documentation will be included:

For more information on the Documentation screen, see the following KB article:

Adding Filter

Let's say you would like to add a selection criteria based on customer sales year-to-date and only see those customers on this report when the year-to-date sales is greater than a certain amount.  To accomplish this, you can click on the "Modify" button. The following sample screen will show up:

You need to add the column CUS_SALES_YTD to the "Where" area on the top. The first step is that you should expand the ARCUSFIL table which contains the CUS_SALES_YTD column. Drag the  CUS_SALES_YTD column from the Body area to the "Where" area between CUS_SLM_NO and CUS_TP. See sample screen below:

Now you can change the Operator of CUS_SALES_YTD in the Where area from default "=" (Equal) to ">=" (Greater Equal). See sample screen below:

Now change the prompt from "CUS_SALES_YTD" to something more friendly like "Sales YTD." See sample screen below:

Before saving your new design, you can choose "Test..."  You can expect to see the parameters screen show up with the new column "Sales YTD >=" like the following sample screen:

Enter a value and click "OK." In the destination screen, note there's a check box for "Print parameters," which is selected by default.

Let's choose to print to the Screen with PDF format and click on "Go." You can see your default PDF viewer will display the content of the report. You will also see that the parameters that were used to print this report are printed at the end of the report.

If you would like to further modify this report, you can continue to do so. You can also "Exit" without saving it.  If you choose to "Save New" in the Report Desk Designer screen, the application will request you update the report title and provide a report abstract. A Report Abstract is a short, multi-line description (abstract) of this report.    This information will be displayed on the list of reports.

Once you exit, if you chose to "Save New", then in the "Elliott Report Selection" screen, you can expect to see a new entry like the following:

The report ID is "ARCUSLST.B.1.3.1" with the last digit "1" meaning that this is the first revision from original report ID "ARCUSLST.B.1.3.0."  Since both of them are called "Customer Credit Info," we want to change the Description of the second one to differentiate them.  Click on "ARCUSLST.B.1.3.1" and click the "Modify" button.

Change the title as shown in the sample screen above. This time, you need to choose "Save" instead of "Save New."   You will be prompted to log this change. You can either skip it by clicking on the "Exit" button, or put in something to indicate the nature of this change and click on "Save." See sample screen below:

If you choose to "Save New," then a new report ID "ARCUSLST.B.1.3.2" will be created. "Save New" is probably not your intention because you have not made any significant changes yet.  But if you did make enough changes and wanted to provide a different option than your previous design, then you can choose "Save New" instead.

Now with the same principle of modifying the "Where," you can explore the following areas:
  • Order By/Grouping - this determines how the data will be sorted. For example, you can choose to sort by CUS_NAME instead of CUS_NO.
  • Line 1 - This is the actual column on the report.  You can add or remove columns from the body of the report.

Change Order By Sequence

Now expand the ARCUSFIL node in the body, and drag CUS_NAME to the Order By/Grouping: area. See sample screen below:

You will now see two columns in the Order By/Grouping area:
  • CUS_NAME    Asc
  • CUS_NO         Asc
The "Asc" means "ascending" sequence. You can optionally choose "Desc," which means descending sequence. Descending sequence typically will make sense for sorting by amount field where you want to show the largest amount first.  It is possible to order by multiple columns. But in this case, sorting by the CUS_NAME column alone is sufficient. So we right click on the CUS_NO column and choose "Delete row."  We now change the title of the report to "Customer Credit Info by Name & Filter by Sales YTD" and click "Save" since we don't intend to create a variance of this report. See sample screen below:

You will be prompted to log this change. You can either skip it by clicking on the "Exit" button, or put in something to indicate the nature of this change and click on "Save." See sample screen below:

Now run the report and see if the result is what you expect. See sample screen below:

Modify the Body of Report
Let's say you have decided this report is best sorted by Customer Type. You can drag the CUS_TP column to the Order By/Grouping area easily. But it would make no sense if you don't show CUS_TP in the body of the report. 
  • Since CUS_TP is the first sorting column, it makes sense to make CUS_TP the first column. You can do so by dragging the CUS_TP and placing it just before the  CUS_NO column in the "Line 1" area. See sample screen below:

Now you will see the column in the "Line 1" area as:
  • CUS_TP
  • CUS_NO
  • ...etc.

Add Grouping

Since the sorting sequence is by CUS_TP, then CUS_NAME, it would make more sense to move CUS_NAME before CUS_NO column. You can: 
  • Drag CUS_NAME to be in front of CUS_NO.  
  • Also, if you'd like to have a break between each CUS_TP, you can click on the "Group" area for CUS_TP and choose "1" to stand for level 1 break. 
Your screen should now look like the following:

Save and test your result. The printed output will be similar to the following:

Report Desk Handles Extra Space Requirement Automatically

Note we just added a new column "Type" to the report and the report continues to work without a problem.  The report is designed for landscape letter size paper so the space is limited. How is this possible?  Report Desk uses the following strategies to deal with spacing:
  1. It tries to determine if there are extra spaces that we can take away from each column and choose the "best fit" column width.
  2. It tries to use smaller fonts if there's no extra space to take away from each column.
  3. It tries to wrap the content of certain columns to the second line if necessary to reduce the column space requirement. 
All these adjustments will happen automatically without the report designer's intervention.

Please note that the smallest font system will use is 8 points by default. You could override the default to use even smaller fonts. But as you add more and more columns to the report, at some point, you will face the dilemma of either the font being too small to read, or the wrapping being too annoying to read. That is the time that you probably need to decide to (1) ignore the PDF printing version, just use CSV or Excel format only; (2) remove less important columns; or (3) redesign the report to use a multi-line formation. Please refer to the following KB article on how font is determined in Elliott:

Add Grouping Subtotal

It is desirable to have a subtotal of Customer Balance, Sales YTD, Last Year.  To do so, go to Report Desk design view.  Click on the "GrpFtr 1" tab.  "GrpFtr 1" stands for "Group Footer 1." Since you can have multiple levels of subtotals, you may have GrpFtr 2, 3...etc.  On the right side, you will see a "+" plus sign.  Click on that plus symbol to add "Group Footer 1" area. See sample screen below:

After adding the "Group Footer 1" area, now you can drag CUS_BALANCE from the left side to Group Footer 1 on the right side to the corresponding column. See sample screen below:

You will be prompted with the message "Do you want to make this column two digits wider?" because this is a subtotal area.  Potentially, your total value may be bigger than the maximum column length reserved for the field.  It is up to your discretion to answer "Yes" or "No" here. See sample screen below:

Continue this for CUS_SALES_YTD & CUS_SALES_LAST_YR. Now you can click on "Save" and test your report again.

Add Grand Total

Finally, if we want to have grand total repeat the above "Add Grouping Subtotal" procedure for the "Footer" tab.  

Also, if we'd like to add the literal "Grand Total" under the "Telephone" column, we would drag "New Text" under the Text area from the left side to the "Telephone" column on the right side and change the literal to "Grand Total." See sample screen below:

Now save the design and run it. The following is a sample with sub and grand total:

You could use the same "text" technique in the subtotal area as well. Here are rules you should be aware:
  1. You can put "text" in any column in the grand or subtotal area even if the column is not in "string" format.
  2. You can optionally make the "text" bold by clicking on the "i" (information) icon to change its attribute.
  3. If the "text" is longer than the space allocated for the column, it can overfloat to the next column if it is unused. In the next example below, the "Subtotal..." text in the "Cr Limit" column will overfloat to the "Rating" and "Hold" columns. It will not overflow to the "Balance" column because it is used already. In this example, any extra text that can't be accommodated in these three columns will be wrapped to create extra lines in the subtotal area.

Export Report to CSV or Excel

The same report can also be exported to CSV or Excel. See sample screen below:

Click on "Go." Your Excel will be started with the following sample screen:

Note we do not show subtotal and grand total in CSV and Excel format. We presume CSV and Excel exporting is for data consumption so we do not include anything extra that may prevent it from being used as data.

Save Default Parameters, Output Format & Reuse
Let's say after you run this report many times, you notice you often choose the parameters of "Sales YTD >= 1,000". Also, you notice that you always export to Excel. To save yourself typing, you could save these parameters for future to reuse.  To do so, after you enter the parameters, click on the "Save" tab.

In the popup window, enter a proper name. Since you mostly want to output to Excel format, so you should also check the option of "Save Output Options with this template." See sample screen below:

Then proceed to run the report with output to "XLSX."

The next time when you run this report again, click on the "Use" tab to select the parameters/destination you want:

For other advanced functions of Report Desk, please see the following KB article as an index to other documents:


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