The Demo System
Our demo system simulates the reporting platform of a toys retailer. The data originates from the Eclipse BIRT Sample Database (http://www.eclipse.org/birt/phoenix/db/) and was adapted by us to form a small data warehouse, that is, we mainly aggregated information according to different keys into aggregate tables. In addition we have created several reports which we will introduce in the following sections.
The organizational chart of our fictional enterprise is also based on the Eclipse sample data. On this basis we have introduced departments and divisions each with access to reports regarding their area of work. In the course of this introduction we will assume the position of different users to introduce the various aspects of ReportServer.
To start, we want to show you how ReportServer looks from the point of view of a typical user. For this please go to the demo system http://demo.raas.datenwerke.net and login with the following credentials:
Gerard Bondur is a sales person and responsible for the regions Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
After logging into the system you'll find yourself in the Sales TeamSpace. This is a shared workspace for all employees of the sales department. Naturally there can be many TeamSpaces and users can have access to multiple TeamSpaces. We will, however, take a closer look at TeamSpace later on in this introduction.
The first thing you should notice is that the view is structured into several areas. On the very top you will find the module navigation which allows you to access various areas of ReportServer. On the top right you will find a link to the user's profile allowing the user to change various settings. Next to the link to the user's profile you see a global search field.
Beneath the module navigation you will see the TeamSapce. This is again structured into two parts. The left part is modeled after the Windows Explorer and allows to navigate through folders to the various report objects. In the right part you'll find detailed information to the currently selected objects. Dragging the border between the two windows allows you to resize the windows. By clicking on the small strip on the left you can expand an iditional tree structure, that allows you to quickly navigate the TeamSpace even in case of many folders in various levels.
Let us start with the execution of a dynamic list which is the ReportServer way of ad hoc reporting. Access the folder "Customers" and open the report "T_AGG_CUSTOMERS - Basis" by double clicking its icon. This report accesses an aggregate table in the warehouse and allows the user to freely configure which kind of evaluation he or she wants to do perform.
After opening the report you will find yourself in the list configuration view. Begin with clicking on the button "select columns" to start adding data to your evaluation. The opened popup contains a list of all available columns that you can choose from for this report. You can select columns by double click or via drag and drop from the left to the right. Please select the following columns (it might be easier to use the search box to find the columns):
click on apply to confirm the selection.
To view a preview of your report click on "preview" in the left column. The preview view displays the first 50 datarows and gives some metadata on the bottom. Via right click on data cells you can access several functions such as sorting, filters and formats. These and additional functionality can also be accessed from the list configuration view ("configure list" in the left column). To export your report into one of various formats you can click on "Excel-Export" (for Microsoft Excel) or on the little arrow next to it.
The configuration of a dynamic list (which columns, filters, aggregations, etc.) can of course be saved as a so called variant such that it can be easily accessed again at some later point. In the demo system this functionality is, however, disabled.
Now go back to the TeamSpace (click on Team Spaces in the module navigation at the top of the page) and open the report Customermap (located in the root folder of the TeamSpace). ReportServer's scripting interface allows to incorporate almost any kind of report format such as, for example, a view of the existing customers displayed on google maps. Click on one of the customers to get some additional information and a link. If you click on the link you'll be forwarded to a dynamic list detailing informations about the selected customer. Notice that the new report is opened in a tab which allows you to easily go back to the maps report.
Another strength of ReportServer is its integration of the jXLS library. This allows users to export data into preconfigured (by the user) Excel templates thereby bridging the gap between simple list like reports and highly formatted reports such as as Birt and Jasper. To get a feeling of what can be achieved using Excel templates go back to the TeamSpace and open the report "OrderReport Template" (located in the Customers folder). Then click on "Template-Export".
Please log off the system and login with the following credentials:
You are now logged in as a user who has access to two TeamSpaces. In the upper menu bar of the TeamSpace you can switch between the TeamSpaces for the Accounting and Backoffice divisions. In addition to the ACL based permission management used throughout ReportServer, TeamSpaces have a simple role based access scheme. In the demo system all users are assigned the guest role and have thus only read-only access. The roles "user" and "manager" allow users to make changes in the TeamSpace (e.g., add reports) and to manage who can access the TeamSpace. With this, TeamSpaces provide a flexible view on the data without disturbing the administrative structure which can only be accessed by administrators. Managing permissions (who can access which reports) is an administrative task which sets an upper bound on the data that can be accessed by a single user. That is, even if a user is given permissions to access a TeamSpace he or she might not have the access to access all reports in this TeamSpace.
Now switch to the TeamSpace "Backoffice" and open the "ProductsByProductline" report. This is an example of a graphical report created using the JasperReports library. ReportServer seamlessly integrates report types and engines of different vendors, which allows administrators to chose the engine that caters best to their current needs.
Go back to TeamSpaces and select the "Accounting" TeamSpace. Open the folder "Sales" and execute the report "SalesInvoice". This is an example of a parameterized Eclipse Birt Report. Every report type in ReportServer can be parameterized to allow users to adapt the displayed data. Various types of parameters provide a comfortable and integrated user experience. In this case you see a simple text input parameter.
Insert the order number 10100 and select preview (in the left column) to get a preview of the report.
Finally let us take a quick glance at the administration of ReportServer. For this pleas logoff and login again using the following credentials:
Select the administration module from the module navigation (on the top). Users, reports and data sources are all structured in a hierarchical tree structure. This allows for efficient management of objects as well as for a powerful permission scheme. The file server takes a special role. It contains resources used in reports (such as images) but also configuration files and ReportServer extension: scripts. These were used, for example, to customize the the user permissions in the demo systems: for example users can not change their passwords and scheduling is disabled. To get an idea about what is possible with ReportServer scripts, please have a look at the scripts active in the demo system. These are located in the fileserver in /bin/onstartup.d/. The script prohibiting users from changing their password is prohibitpasswordchange.groovy.
With this our short introduction to ReportServer is at its end. We hope you got a first impression on the possibilities offered by ReportServer. Many features were only briefly covered or not covered at all simply to keep this guide short and readable. Here is a list of some of the features that we did not have the time to look at:
- Scheduling of reports
- Configuring of dynamic lists
- How to administer ReportServer
- Extending ReportServer
For a list of features please also check out our website http://reportserver.datenwerke.net
If we have aroused your interest, feel free to explore the demo system on your own or simply download the software and go through all the aspects without any restrictions. Please feel free to contact us directly or via our forum, if you would like access to an individual evaluation instance without restrictions or simply if you have any questions.