Sneak peek: New report designer for DevExpress' reports library

ctodx
05 October 2009

Andrew, team lead for our reports group, sent me a screenshot of the new end-user report designer for XtraReports v2009.3. As he puts it: it has the look of a page editor, with a lot less visual noise. I certainly can't wait to start using it.

designer-v2-3

Of course, since the end-user report designer is exactly the same as the one in Visual Studio, this is the one you'll be using after v2009.3.

On the eighth day of DevExpress Christmas, The Progress Bar blog gave me news of the DXPivotGrid for WPF

46 comment(s)
sean kearon
sean kearon

A very nice, clean look.  I presume there will be a ribbon counterpart?

5 October, 2009
Chris
Chris

Any plans on a Crystal Reports Clone in the future ... sure looks nice.

5 October, 2009
Brien King
Brien King

That looks pretty much like the current one.  What's special about this one?

5 October, 2009
Anonymous
Thomas Pfister

any plans to make this for VCL available ?

5 October, 2009
Rinaldo Ferreira Junior
Rinaldo Ferreira Junior

Yes, it really looks nice, but I agree with Chris. When will we get some of the missing functionality that is available in other tools?

5 October, 2009
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Chris, Rinaldo: This is just one of the new items in the next version of XtraReports; there are others and I'll be blogging about them soon.

As for a "Crystal Reports Clone": not really interested. It seems to me that if you want Crystal Reports, then you should go for it. We'd rather develop XtraReports along ways that will make it the best reporting tool for .NET, not to be a grab bag of features tossed in to fill out some comparison chart.

Cheers, Julian

5 October, 2009
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Brien: There's lots of subtle differences, nothing too glaring, but compared to the current version, there's a lot less visual noise to distract you from the task in hand.

The biggest thing for me is that the grid in the current version is way too emphatic. All I see is grid.

Cheers, Julian

5 October, 2009
Neal
Neal

I hope your EUD "toolbox" has an option to display captions with those icons.  Neither I or my less technical users are going to know what those icons do.  Text is far better (IMHO) for picking controls to place on a report designer surface for non-programmers.

Although you're cleaning things up you need to think about UI design and usability.  The person (or team) creating this must remember the user of this EUD is most likely NOT going to be a programmer.  If you could imagine a EUD that is on one of those MAC's in an Apple store in the kid section, you'd probably end up with something that works better for the people that will use this item.

5 October, 2009
Anonymous
Jason

Wow, tough crowd :)  Looks like a Word Processor rather than a Report Designer which is a smart move,,, people have been using Word Processors since,,, well, forever.  Just need to make the rest of my applications look as clean and smooth as this interface.

5 October, 2009
Neal
Neal

Spelling error on the Report Header band (oer report)

5 October, 2009
Steve Sharkey
Steve Sharkey

Looks good to me - though I have to admit many of my customers have or are going to switch to SSRS for their reporting needs. I'd still like to see a video/feature on delivering a reporting feature that is based upon XPO data sources.

6 October, 2009
Hans Nieuwenhuis
Hans Nieuwenhuis

The new report designer looks nice!

Steve Sharkey  said:

"I'd still like to see a video/feature on delivering a reporting feature that is based upon XPO data sources."

Me too.

6 October, 2009
Daz
Daz

I like the page view but can't say the same about the toolbox/bar.  Can't see where my other navbar groups would go that currently house my custom controls.

6 October, 2009
Marcelo Schostik
Marcelo Schostik

Hi,

good job, it looks good :)

When the end user designer will be available as a Web application?

6 October, 2009
Paul Talbot
Paul Talbot

This is something that we would certainly embed into the next release of our head office reporting software.

6 October, 2009
Anonymous
Alberto Calcano

Very nice, but the performance it is the same?

6 October, 2009
Anonymous
tasos

This is great news.Thanks for sharing!

6 October, 2009
Julius Jackson
Julius Jackson

This reminds me of Expression a bit.

6 October, 2009
Anonymous
John C

Looks good however it's going to become a *major* requirement quite soon for any reporting component to have an asp.net version of the report designer.

Many apps are leaving the desktop world and XtraReports already has a web report viewer.

7 October, 2009
dimitris74
dimitris74

It looks very good but something really important. The current designer does not support stored procedures. If this new one does not support them then I know a lot of people including ourselves that are not going to adopt it. So does it?

7 October, 2009
Anonymous
Alex

Yeah - let's have a Crystal Reports clone. Make sure it takes 4 hours to install, fills your hard disk with rubbish, has impenetrable copy protection, no API to speak of and lacks any form of support.  Oh and make sure that deploying it on client machines is next to impossible. I'll buy that!

7 October, 2009
Eduardo Quintana
Eduardo Quintana

Looks nice! Much simpler. I wonder if a beta will be made available soon.

I hope you will add a much needed native 'weigthed average' function to the reports library. Will it be in the version 2009.3 version?

7 October, 2009
Anonymous
Duane C

Looks great!  Any chance it will allow for multiple data sources?  

7 October, 2009
Charles Russell
Charles Russell

Julian, the biggest hassles with the current designer (and it is making me look at alternative products) are in two areas:

1) cross band boxes and lines are miserably hard to work with, they don't snap to corners nicely, they tend to take a mind of their own and try to go to the wrong band when making adjustments.

2) Borders on various objects don't always aline if you snap to grid - you need a snap to corner or object so that we can design forms (I do invoices, etc.) so that we can easily create attractive forms. The current designer is miserable to use for these kinds of situtations.

7 October, 2009
Russell Yeagley
Russell Yeagley

I like the new UI, and I think a lot of my clients will too. With this said, I must add my 'want' list by quoting Dimitris and Duane.

I, like Dimitris, would like to see support for stored procedures, and I, like Duane, would really like to see support for multiple data sources!

7 October, 2009
Johnny K
Johnny K

i hope it can be easily localized by using localizer classes!??

and dont ever give up on locilazation with classes not everyones has the source or the knowledge to recompile dlls.

otherwise look clean and easy... we will see ;-)

7 October, 2009
Johnny K
Johnny K

oh yeah multi datasources too is a must! :)

7 October, 2009
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

All: Let me pick off some easy answers.

Web report designer: We're considering it. Nothing to report (ha ha) yet.

Beta availability: Probably more beginning of November than end of October.

Other 9.3 features: we'll be blogging about them soon.

Your favorite suggestion: If the status hasn't changed already, it probably won't for 9.3.

Cheers, Julian

7 October, 2009
Steve Sharkey
Steve Sharkey

Could those posting wish list items here in response to a blog please make sure they have made a suggestion directly to DevX in the correct manner AND post a reference to it so other interested parties can track them - this way we can "persuade" DevX of the popularity (or otherwise) of suggestions - this will ensure there isn't just a vague feeling of "...well we all want it but they just don't listen to us..." - give them (DevX) something they can work with.

8 October, 2009
Patrik Olausson 1
Patrik Olausson 1

When will import of report design from XML be available??? We have created an own report generator in VB6 the last 15 years, and now consider to use XtraReport. We will export the "old" reports to XML, and need to import them as XML then. The repx file format is to complex to generate, as it's generated source code of the report.

8 October, 2009
Jaime Flores
Jaime Flores

Hi.

I think the new report designer looks much nicer.

Good job!

I hope this is not all that is new, but the handling is better (easier) and other "weaknesses" are fixed (eg facilitation of multiple data sources, localization easier, improving the global change in only certain field properties ,...) .

8 October, 2009
Alan (DevExpress)
Alan (DevExpress)

Hi Guys,

First of all thank you for your compliments to the new XtraReports appearance - we've put a lot of efforts trying to make it more good-looking and easy-to-use, and hope you'll like it.

As for your requests to XtraReports, I'll try to answer most of your questions. Note also that the new appearance of our designer is not the only new feature in XtraReports v2009 vol 3, and Julian will certainly describe all of them in the future.

PS. If some of your questions won't get an answer here, please don't hesitate to publish your questions using our Support Center at http://www.devexpress.com/sc, and our Support Team will help you. Also, if you feel that some of your most-wanted features don't get enough attention and should be developed sooner than other requests, you can escalate their priority by raising a public discussion in our XtraReports forum at community.devexpress.com/.../172.aspx

8 October, 2009
Alan (DevExpress)
Alan (DevExpress)

Neal, Darren: In v2009 vol 3, we support two types of the XtraReports toolbox - one is based on a standard bar, and another looks like a navigation bar (the old one). Using both of them is allowed, but by default a bar-like toolbox will be displayed.

We decided to do this in such a way after getting a lot of feedback concerning the fact that icons with texts occupy too much space on the left - this space is now occupied by the report page and allows us to show the left page margin. In addition, the following arguments were taken into consideration when making this decision:

- toolbox item names are already displayed in tooltips for these toolbox items;

- they are important only for newbies, who are not familiar with the report designer - while experienced users might not want to see them;

- we increased the size of toolbox items, and now they look much more informative - so that one don't need captions near them to understand what they mean.

So, we hope that the new toolbox will be more usable. However, if you prefer a navigation bar-like toolbox, you still can use it by adding a corresponding XRDesingDockManager's panel.

Neal: concerning the spelling error - we've corrected it, thank you!

8 October, 2009
Alan (DevExpress)
Alan (DevExpress)

Steve, Hans: In general, I believe that it shouldn't be very difficult to bind an XtraReport to an XPCollection, but if you feel that this area should be enlightened better, we'll do this in the future. So, I've found a suggestion concerning this (www.devexpress.com/issue=S50068) and changed its state to Planned - please track it to get more news on this.

By the way, what is the main difficulty for you in using XtraReports with XPO? Is it adjusting an XPO datasource or anything else? For example, I've seen a suggestion in our Support Center about providing an XPO data binding option in our Report Wizard (www.devexpress.com/issue=S91569), but this option still requires an XPO datasource to be first created in code, and this task isn't related to XtraReports, am I right?

8 October, 2009
Alan (DevExpress)
Alan (DevExpress)

Marcelo, John C: Concerning the web report designer - we have this suggestion in our Support Center, and you can track it at www.devexpress.com/issue=S18857. I must admit that although this request is very popular, and we're constantly getting questions regarding the Web XtraReports designer, there are still too many questions to start implementing it. Probably, comments to this blog isn't a good place to start this discussion... So, in case it is urgent, you can start a discussion on the Discussion tab of the corresponding suggestion, and it will be greatly appreciated if you describe your real-life scenario there (do you want to use this designer in Internet or intranet, how do you want to store reports, how do you want to bind them to data, and so on - describing any detail you consider to be important for this feature).

8 October, 2009
Alan (DevExpress)
Alan (DevExpress)

Alberto: Currently, we have only one bug report related to the XtraReports End-User Designer and its performance: www.devexpress.com/issue=B139358. If your situation is different, please feel free to report this problem to us, and we'll certainly investigate it. If your issue is related to some certain actions you perform in the report designer, probably it's a bug that can be fixed on the XtraReports side.

8 October, 2009
Alan (DevExpress)
Alan (DevExpress)

Dimitris, Russell: As for stored procedures, do you mean www.devexpress.com/issue=S30468 or anything else? If this is S30468, there is nothing new in this regard, because our Report Wizard has no new features for v2009 vol 3.

Again, if you want this feature to be implemented, you can start discussion on its Discussion tab and describe the way you want us to implement this feature. This would be greatly appreciated for us in understanding your requirements and planning what to do for future XtraReports versions.

8 October, 2009
Alan (DevExpress)
Alan (DevExpress)

Eduardo: Sorry, nothing new on www.devexpress.com/issue=S31039 in v2009 vol 3.

8 October, 2009
Alan (DevExpress)
Alan (DevExpress)

Duane C, Russell Yeagley, Johnny K: Could you please explain in greater detail what you mean by support for multiple data sources? Currently, it is possible to create reports with two or more data sources using the following approaches, depending on the desired output:

- Side-by-side subreports (www.devexpress.com/.../Content.aspx)

- DetailReportBands (www.devexpress.com/.../Content.aspx)

8 October, 2009
Alan (DevExpress)
Alan (DevExpress)

Charles: In v2009 vol 3, we'll increase the accuracy of measurements when moving and resizing report controls in the report designer, and probably this will make it easier to work with cross-band boxes and snap controls to grid.

But to make us certain that these hassles will be solved with our new report designer, it would be greatly appreciated if you could post a bug report to our Support Center, and describe exactly the steps you are executing and what incorrect results you get, so that we can investigate this problem and fix it.

8 October, 2009
Alan (DevExpress)
Alan (DevExpress)

Johnny K: Sorry, but it is unlikely that our End-User Designer form will be localized only via the Localizer class. The reason is that localizer classes are intended to provide localization only for simple UI elements (e.g. context menu items) and are useful for controls with a small number of items to be localized. However, when it is necessary to localize forms, it is common practice in .NET to localize them via a form's resources. This makes it possible to localize not only texts, but also their positions, widths, fonts - all this may differ from one culture to another - to ensure that texts are not cut and occupy the form in the best way...

Also, could you please explain, why you want to use the localizer class instead of satellite assemblies? In general, you don't need to have sources and recompile dlls - we already provide resources for many languages at www.devexpress.com/kb=A421 (for more information, please see www.devexpress.com/Help)

8 October, 2009
Alan (DevExpress)
Alan (DevExpress)

Magne: To be honest, changing our serialization format (www.devexpress.com/issue=AS4336) isn't in our upcoming plans, since we're not sure why XML serialization may be more convenient than the currently used REPX format.

By the way, could you please explain why you need XtraReports to be saved as XML? If you're writing your own converter from your custom report format to XtraReports, you can create an XtraReport instance at runtime, fill it with all required bands and controls (corresponding to your original report's structure), and then save to an REPX file - or this approach isn't applicable in your case for some reason?

8 October, 2009
Steve Sharkey
Steve Sharkey

Alan: the main problem I have had (if I recall correctly) when binding to an XPO source is in then offering that as an end user reporting tool - it was a while ago but I seem to recall that when presented to the users it looked too much like I was opening up the "guts" of the system for them rather than a friendly end user tool. Of course this was quite some time ago now and could have been related to my lack of understanding - all the more reason for a video!

9 October, 2009
Roel Vlemmings
Roel Vlemmings

If you are working on Reports anyway for the new release, can you take a look at why the XRPictureBox does not support the Squeeze Sizing option that the PictureEdit supports?

Squeeze is a great option, for example, if a company logo for a report cover page is selected by the end-user so that you do not know in advance what the size will be. If the size is too large, you want it to be squeezed. If the size is too small, you want to leave it in the original size, because enlarging will kill the image quality. This works beautifully with the PictureBox, but for some reason is not supported by XRPictureBox.

Should be easy to add right? (yeah right...)

We love your XtraReports otherwise, and the new designer looks great. We just rolled out our first report made with your components to our beta community, they all love the quality.

10 October, 2009
Sigurd Decroos
Sigurd Decroos

Nice UI:

Here are some remarks I have concerning Reports:

- The XRRichText should provide the same possibilities as the new RichEdit.

- Stored Procedures with automatic parameters defined

- Filtering possibilities by parameters BEFORE loading all the data. I have the impression millions of rows are read now to show e.g. only the 10 requested. (or provide stored procedure support)

12 November, 2009
Anonymous
Martin

The main reason we will be paying some 3.000,- euros for royalty free Crystal Reports run-time distribution is parameters or better the lack of decent support for embedding lookup comboboxes etc. in XtraReports.

23 November, 2009

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