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A Review of Windward Reports Java Engine

Product

Here at Windward Reports we offer a suite of reporting packages composed of four core products you can use individually or collaboratively:

This is our account of what a full Windward Reports Java Engine install and usability experience entails:

Installation

Getting the Windward Reports Java engine up and running is a fairly simple and straightforward process. First you'll have to download the correct installer from the latest versions page. From there the package can be installed with reference to online documentation, although the vast majority of users won't need to use the guide at all.

The instructions guide you through installing the engine and the installation will add both WindwardReports.jar and the third-party libraries to your classpath. After this you'll only have to install AutoTag, which automatically detects which components are installed on your system and installs only what's necessary.

Interface

With the install complete you'll be able to design reports right away. Our design tool, AutoTag, is an add-in to Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint so report creation is made that much easier by being integrated into an interface you already know. This means you can open Word and begin adding the desired elements to your template (headers, footers, text blocks, charts, graphs, images, tables of contents, etc.) using Word's built-in commands and AutoTag's slick ribbon interface. Since every business and technical user is already familiar with Word, AutoTag requires minimal training.

The charting package included with AutoTag really stands out. The charts are easy to create, have a wide range of layout and theme options, and are accompanied by solid examples in the sample templates and written documentation.

A lot of AutoTag users take advantage of our Excel integration just as much as our Word integration. Of particular note is the ability to use Excel's dynamic formulas and computational capabilities. In an invoice table, for instance, you can set one cell to sum the product subtotals (=SUM(E4)). When the report is generated, the cell will sum all the data in the product subtotals column (cells E4 through E10) instead of a single cell.

Tags

This is a summary of all the basic tags AutoTag uses and their primary functionality:

Out Tag: The most basic and most common tag, it takes just seconds to use the out tag to insert a piece of data into your template.

ForEach Tag: There is no complicated process for iteration over a set of records. This simple tag gives you the power to loop through your data and make an entry for each entry in the datasource.

If and Else Tags: To get the effect of conditional actions simply use tags that allow you to create select statements without hassle. No complicated sections or tricky fields required.

Chart Tag: The chart tag lets you create a series of selects to define the data you need to use in your charts and graphs. The tag interface's Select Data icon walks you through selects for the chart's rows and columns and formatting the chart is easily done within the tag itself.

Matrix, Column and Row Tags: The matrix tag lets you create a table with as many cells as needed and the rows or columns expand automatically depending on the data.

Import Tag: The Import Tag can import images, text, and PDF files directly to your report without requiring you to insert them manually.

Query and Set Tags: To save time you can use the query and set tags to create variables and use them elsewhere in the template. It saves time not only during report design but is also noticeable when running a report as the template will not need to repeatedly re-access the database.

Output

Windward Reports offers nine different output formats: HTML, PDF, DOCX, XML (Word), RTF, XLSX, XLS, PPTX, and direct to a printer. Two other Windward products, AutoTag Max and Arrow for Microsoft SharePoint, allow you to schedule reports to be run as needed and can also automatically email those reports to any recipients you specify. In addition, Arrow for SharePoint gives you the ability to set permissions so authorized colleagues and others can view, share, and edit report templates all on their own.

Support

This is where the Windward Reports team really shines. Our detailed documentation covers everything from installation to program use to system admin maintenance. There are also short "getting started" guides to help you get up and running in as little time as possible. If all else fails, the Windward Support team is here to meet your every need.

Summary

Overall, we think Windward Reports is the reporting package you've been looking for and will make your job infinitely easier. Our products install smooth, run fluently, and leave the competition in the dust. And don't forget, if you think we could do be doing something better tell us on our Ideas Page.

Tags Start & End

Tags Can Start & End Anywhere

Appendix B

.NET code for multi-page image output

Appendix A

Java code for multi-page image output

Data Bin Search

The Data Bin can now be searched to find a table, column, node or other piece of data without scrolling through it all.

Shrink to Fit

This will shrink the contents of a cell until it fits the defined cell size.

Time Zone Conversion

A new Windward macro has been added to help with converting dates and times from UTC time to the local time zone.

Image Output Format

New image output formats added.

PostScript Output Format

PostScript, commonly used with printers and printing companies, has been added as an additional output format.

New and Improved Datasets (Designer, Java Engine, .NET Engine)

Datasets have been re-written from scratch to be more powerful and easier to use.

Stored Procedure Wizard (Designer)

This works for all tag types that are connected to a SQL-based data source (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or DB2).

Boolean Conditional Wizard (Designer)

Before, conditional statements could only be written manually. Now they can also be built using our intuitive Wizard interface.

Reorganized Ribbon

The ribbon menus have been re-organized and consolidated to improve the report design workflow.

XPath 2.0 as Data Source

Adds various capabilities such as inequalities,descending sort, joins, and other functions.

SQL Select Debugger

SQL Select  Debugger

  • The look and feel was improved
  • Stored Procedure Wizard
  • Improved Exceptions pane

Tag Editor/Tag Selector

Added a Query tab as a field for typing or pasting in a select statement

  • Color Coding of Keywords
  • TypeAhead
  • Evaluate is now "Preview"

Rename a Datasource

All tags using that Data source will be automatically updated with that name.

Connecting to a Data Source

New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

Tag Tree

Displays of all the tags in the template, structured as they are placed in the template. This provides a simple & intuitive way to see the structure of your template. Also provides the capability to go to any tag and/or see the properties of any tag.

Added Javelin into the RESTful Engine

Support for Google Application Engine Integration

The ability to integrate the Windward Engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE).

Additional Refinement for HTML Output

  • Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
  • Better handling of template header and footer images
  • Better handling for background images and colors

Redesigned PDF Output Support

This new  integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional  text such as Arabic.  Your PDF output  will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able  to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.

PowerPoint Support

Includes support for new ForEach and slide break handling, table header row repeat across slide breaks, and native Microsoft support for charts and images.

Tags are Color Coded

Tags are color coded in the template by type, making it easy to visually identify them.

Increased Performance

Version 13’s core code has been reworked and optimized to offer a reduced memory footprint, faster PDF generation and full documentation of supported features and limitations in the specifications for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX.

Advanced Image Properties

Documents can include advanced Word image properties such as shadows, borders, and styles.

Improved HTML Output

Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

Version 13 New Data Sources

Windward now works with a slew of new datasources: MongoDB, JSON, Cassandra, OData, Salesforce.com

Generate Code

The Generate Code tool in the designer allows you to open an existing template and, with a click of a button, automatically create a window with the code needed to run your current template with all data sources and variables. Simply copy this code and paste into your application's code in the appropriate place. You now have Windward integrated into your application.

You only need to do this once. You do not do this for each template. Instead, where it has explicit files for the template and output, change that to parameters you pass to this code. Same for the parameters passed to Windward. This example uses explicit values to show you what to substitute in where.

Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

Any pivot tables in an XLSX template are carried over to the XLSX output. The ranges in the pivot ranges are adjusted to match the generated output. So your final XLSX will have pivot tables set as expected in the generated file.

This makes creating an XLSX workbook with pivot tables trivial.

Imported Template Can be Set to Match the Parent Styles

In an imported sub-template, if its properties for a style (ex. Normal) differ from the parent template's properties for the style, the use in the sub-template can be set to either use the properties in the sub-template, or the properties in the parent.

You set to retain when you don't want the child template's styling to change when imported. You set to use the parent when you want the styling of the imported template to match the styling in the parent.

Any explicit styling is always retained. This only impacts styling set by styles.

Tags can be Placed in Text Boxes

Tags can be placed in text boxes. Including linked text boxes. This gives you the ability to set the text in a textbox from your data.

Tags can be Placed in Shapes & Smart Art

Tags can be placed in shapes & smart art. This gives you the ability to set the text in a shape from your data.

HTML Output Supports Embedded Images

When generating HTML output, the engine can either write bitmaps as distinct files the generate HTML references, or it can embed the images in the HTML providing a single file for the output.

Footnotes & Endnotes can Have Tags

You can place tags in pretty much any part of a template, including in footnotes & endnotes.

Document Locking Supported in DOCX & XLSX

Any parts of a DOCX or XLSX (PowerPoint does not support this) file that are locked in the template, will be locked the same in the output.

Specify Font Substitution

If a font used in the template does not exist on the server generating a report, the font to substitute can be specified.
In addition, if a glyph to be rendered does not exist in the font specified, you can specify the replacement font. This can be set distinctly for European, Bi-Directional, and Far East fonts.

Process Multiple Datasources Simultaneously

Windward enables you to build a document by applying multiple datasources to the template simultaneously. When Windward is merging the data into a template, it process the template handling each tag in order, and each tags can pull from different datasources. (As opposed to processing all of one datasource, then processing the next.)

This allows the select in a tag to use data from another datasource in its select. For example, if you are pulling customer information from one datasource, you can then pull data from the sales datasource using the customer ID of the customer presently processing to pull the sales information for that customer. Additional details ...

Adam J

This blog was written by:_
Adam J

For over 10 years, Windward has lead the industry with our world-class document generation platform that creates visually stunning, data-powered documents designed exactly the way users want and are created in a fraction of the time and cost compared to existing solutions. Proudly located in Boulder, Colorado, Windward Studios is the premier solution for developers and business users adding reporting and document generation capabilities to their applications in over 70 countries around the world.

© 2019 Windward Studios Inc.

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