What Can I Expect in Version 15.1, 15.2 and Javelin?
Version 15 has been mainly focused on its central theme of improving product usability. In the recent months, our development team has been hard at work improving several core features as well as creating new ones, all to make working with Windward smoother than ever.
A lot has been accomplished and while I would like to list everything, I am only going to focus on the major improvements and additions.
Introducing Windward’s Error Handling and Verify Feature
A client came to use with a unique feature request. The ability to be able to allow a report to continue running that contained errors but also have the ability to view these errors in full form listed from the Engine as well as visually resolve them in AutoTag. Windward’s development team worked through several iterations alongside project management and the client to deliver the Error Handling and Verify feature.
Error Handling must first be setup on each tag you wish to log errors. Afterwards, you can run the Verify option to display any errors in your report to start resolving them. Error Handling and Verify have been added to AutoTag, .NET, Java and RESTFul Engines.
Error Handling has the ability to be set individually on every tag in a Windward template. It can be set under the Properties pane in the Tag Editor Window by clicking the 3 dots icon (…). You will be presented with the following options:
- Incorrect Data Type Issues
- Incorrect Formatting Issues
- Bad Select Statements
- Referencing a Node that Does Not Exist
- Referencing a Node that Returns a NULL Value
- Treat the warning as an Error
Note: Error Handling is limited to these tags: Out, Import, Set, ForEach, Query, If, Switch, Case, Link, and Bookmark
Verify is a visual tool that will allow users to see more detailed information about each error as well as additional common issues listed below. These common issues do not need to be enabled on each tag and will always be reported.
- Unused Data Source
- Undefined Data Source
- Elements Generating Off Page
- Invisible Tags Detected
Verify can also be enable to run by default on report generation by turning on “Verify On Report Generation” setting in the AutoTag Options Menu.
Redesigned Data Connection Editor
- Updated status icons to easily identify if you are connected, not connected or there is a problem with the connection.
- New Connections are easier to create as the connection types are organized into three categories SQL, Web/File and Apps.
- Existing Connections and New Connections are now separated into two distinct tabs
- Connections are sorted into Active and Inactive areas with the ability to connect or disconnect data connections
- Upon renaming a data source connection Name, you will be prompted if you want AutoTag to automatically update all tags to the new Name.
Resolve Connection Issues with the New Connection Debugger
We have also introduced a Connection Debugger button when the connection you are trying to create has a problem. This button will appear to the left of the Test button when an error is encountered. More details on debugging SQLand XML connections are found in the links to each.
New SQL Stored Procedure Wizard
Previously working with a Stored Procedure meant you had to replace all input parameters with values or variables by hand. Worse yet, you could not be sure of the type of data that each parameter needed. With the new Stored Procedure Wizard, AutoTag visually guides you through the process of selecting both the type and value of each input parameter.
Hone Your SQL Query Writing Skills
We know that writing SQL is not always the easiest thing in the world and some queries can become what seems infinitely long and just as complex.
Not to worry.
Whether you need to get a clearer view of your queries or you just want a different look, the new options in the Query Editor Pane will make writing your inconceivably complex queries satisfying.
- Format queries in native SQL format
- Change the color scheme to be easier on your eyes
- Increase of decrease query fonts for those times when you lose (and then find again) your glasses.
- Turn on query format checking underlining to get your attention when you query logic just doesn’t add up.
Preview your Data Directly in the Data Bin
Ever wondered what data was stored in that item you were about to drag out to the template from the Data Bin? Now you don’t have to, with the Preview Top 20 Rows feature you will be able to see a preview of your data directly in the Data Bin.
One Access Provide to Rule All Your Data Connections
When we constantly try to increase the number of data connections Windward can support; eventually, the issue of the different ways in which you can connect to each enters the picture. For us, that time is now. We have just implemented a Universal Access Provider for all Web and File based Data Connections.
OK, that’s great but what does this mean?
We realize that you can store your XML files, JSON files or even pictures of your dog Wombat in places and access them in different ways with different security. We have now added these security options when you need to retrieve that crucial picture of Wombat’s destruction of your holiday party 6 years ago.
So rest assured that you will now be able to retrieve your data in all the super secret secure ways you were trained in Ninja school.
Windward Access Providers framework now gives you the following options to connect to your files, web-based data or content your retrieve from your import tags. You just need to select the Authentication Protocol you are using and provide the proper connection credentials so successfully authentication with a username, password, Windows Identity or token.
Output to PDF Using Microsoft Word
PDF layout has always been tricky. Windward made signification strides in the last year rewriting its PDF Engine internally in order to move away from iText. It gave us much more control and the ability to make corrections much faster. However, we still had clients that were creating very graphic intensive reports. In order to address the alignment issues now while we continue to add advanced support for Windward PDF output, we created the Office PDF render mode. This feature uses Microsoft Word’s Engine to create the PDF output of a Windward generated report. To enable this feature you will need to turn it on in the AutoTag Options window, selecting Use Office for PDF Output.
Another note, when you output to Windward PDF, we now use WMZ files to convert to PDF Primitives.
Updated Output Options
As with each release, we are constantly improving the ways our users can generate reports from their templates. This release is not different, we are proud to introduce the follow output format additions!
Direct to Printer
After implementing our direct to printer output we received a lot of feedback about how we could make it better. In answering the call we have added the following features.
- Ability to assign and reference the Print Job Name
- Duplex printing (we are helping to save a few more trees!)
- Ability to print the first page only.
More Output Formats
It has long been requested that we add support for image based output as well as increase support for output options in the Unix landscape. Here are three output formats that should make those users very happy.
Javelin is Growing Up
Javelin is being used more and more by our clients and through that increased usage have come several requests for additional functionality. Among them were security, report history and SELECT input parameter support. More detail below
- Read generated report
Report History tab
Our users wanted the ability to see not only who had run a report at which times but also what the report looked like at that time. The reports history tab allows you to see this information, download past reports along with viewing errors during running scheduled and manual reports.
Select Drop Down Input Parameters Support
AutoTag can create input parameters that return a list of values to pick from when running your report. This functionality has been extended to the Javelin interface to enable drop down lists to propagate from Select input parameters that return multiple values.
Miscellaneous Feature Improvements
This is a short list of small feature improvements that can make a big difference.
- Additional RESTful sample code options added to Generate Code
- Prompts for automatically updating any tag that references a variable when the variable name is changed or updated.
- Import tags now use the default URL in its AutoTag Preview
- PODs now automatically display the POD Bin after loading a new POD and it will only show PODs created for the same Microsoft Office app (IE, no more showing Excel PODs in Word POD Bins)
- Installer has been updated to show whether it is the 32 or 64 bit version of the installer for easier identification.
- The Equation Editor no longer requires quotes to be placed around string values or select variables when used with OData data sources.
- Clean Template
- All samples shipped with Windward have been updated to the new tag color coding format
- Now keeps bitmap and chart tags instead of converting them to fields upon conversion.
- Find/Replace has a new and improved algorithm for better performance
- Calculation of Word tables has been vastly improved for better accuracy and report generation speed.
- You can now set the character encoding of a JSON data source.
- SELECT input parameter support was added.
- Metadata abilities were enhanced.
- Query Editor and Wizard were improved.
- Now handles connections to just a filename or a URL (XML as well).
- Added a connection debugger for OData using the odata.org website.
We Had to Remove a Few Things…
As with any release, the more we pack into the product the more we have to look at what should stay and what should go. We have given notification of the features that are being deprecated and removed previously. So this is just a formal announcement that those features will no longer exist in version 15 going forward.
- RTF and WordML templates are no longer supported.
- WordML output is no longer supported. However, RTF output is still supported.