Alpha Four Reports

Answers to 16 Frequently Asked Questions:

 

How to...

Get back to the Report Parameters screen?
Once you have saved a report the first time, Create/edit a report will go immediately to the Report Layout screen. To return to the Report Parameters screen or the Grouping Parameters screen, press [F7] Goto.

Number pages automatically?
On the Report Layout screen, position the cursor in the section where you want the page number to print. Usually this will be the Page Header or Page Footer section. Press [F2] Fields, Select Field. Select the SYSTEM database, then select the PAGENUMBER field.

Force a blank line to print?
If you've set "Suppress blank lines" to "Yes" on the Report Parameters screen, you must use a special code to print blank lines. On the Report Layout screen, position the cursor on the blank line you wish to print. Press [Ctrl-Backspace] to produce the non-suppressible blank line character, which is shaped like an empty triangle. Although this character appears on your screen, your printer will not print it.

Make each new group begin on a separate page?
To advance to a new page when the value of the group break field changes, set "Start Group Header on a New Page" to "Yes" on the Grouping Parameters screen. Access the Grouping Parameters screen by pressing [F7] on the Report Layout screen.

Add lines to a report section?
To add a line at the end of a report section, position your cursor anywhere within the section and press [F9] Add. To insert a line at a specific location within a report section, position your cursor on the line above which you wish to add the line. Press [F9] Insert.

Lengthen or shorten the display width of a field?
On the Report Layout screen, position the cursor on the field whose length you wish to change. Press the plus key [+] to lengthen the display width or press the minus key [-] to shorten it.


You can also change the display width of a field on the Formatting Options screen by pressing [F2] Fields, Formatting Options. Remember, to permanently change the length of a field you must use the Reconfigure command under Database/Set Design on the Main Menu.

Make a long field print on several lines?
To wrap a long field around so it displays like a newspaper column, change the fields display window. From the Report Layout screen, press [F2] Fields, Formatting Options. Position the cursor on the row where the field name appears, under the "Window" column. Type the number of spaces corresponding to the desired column width. For example, a field whose display width is 80 can be wrapped over four lines by changing the window to 20.

Prevent a field from repeating within a report column?
Often a field in a report's Detail Section -- for example, a COMPANY field -- will contain the same value for several records. To prevent a company name from repeating for each record, use the data type "Unique." Choose this option when you first place a field on the Report Layout screen by pressing [F2] Fields, Select Field. Choose Unique, as opposed to Value, from the list that follows the field selections.


If you have already placed the field in the Detail Section, you can change it to Unique on the Formatting Options screen. Press [F2] Fields, Formatting Options. Position the cursor on the row where the field name appears, under the "Type" column, and type "U".

Combine character fields under a single report column?
To save space on a report, you may want to combine two or more fields into a column. For example, rather than printing individuals' first, middle and last names in separate columns, you can print them in the format "Doe, Jane S" under a single column.


Begin by defining a calculated field. From the Report Layout screen, press [F2] Fields, define Calculated fields. Give the calculated field a unique name, such as FULLNAME. Model your expression after this example, using [F2] Fields and [F3] Functions to avoid spelling errors:

trim(LAST)+", "+trim(FIRST)+" "+ MIDDLE

Refer to the Reference Manual for more information on functions and expressions. After defining the calculated field, press [F10] Continue to return to the Report Layouts screen. Instead of placing the database fields for first, middle and last name in the Detail Section, press [F2] Fields, Select Field, Calculated to place FULLNAME on the report.

Suppress zeros?
Sometimes it is distracting to look at a column of numbers when most are zero. Use the formatting option "B" to make Alpha Four print blanks instead of zeros. From the Report Layout Screen, press [F2] Fields, Formatting Options. On the Formatting Options screen, position the cursor on the row where the numeric field name appears, under the "Fmt" column, and type "B" for blank. You can combine this format with other numeric formatting options.

Print dates in the MM-DD-YY format?
Alpha Four's default date format displays a four-digit year, for example 07-27-1991. To print a date field with a two-digit year, 07-27-91, select [F2] Fields, Formatting Options on the Report Layout screen. On the Formatting Options screen, on the row where the date field name appears, under the "Fmt" column, type format "6". The reports chapter of the Reference Manual lists all nine available date formats.

Calculate the number of days between two dates?
Alpha Four can calculate how much time has passed between two date fields, or find out how far in the past or future a date is from today. This information can be printed on a report.


Define a calculated field that subtracts one date field from another. From the Report Layout screen, press [F2] Fields, define Calculated fields. Give the calculated field a unique name, such as DURATION. Model your expression after these examples, using [F2] Fields to avoid spelling errors:

DUEDATE-STARTDATE

DUEDATE-SYSTEM->DATE

The second example will calculate the number of days between the DUEDATE and today. If a negative number results, that record is overdue. You can select the SYSTEM->DATE field from the [F2] Fields, System database.

Refer to the Reference Manual for more information on functions and expressions. After defining the calculated field, press [F10] Continue to return to the Report Layouts screen. Press [F2] Fields, Select Field, Calculated to place DURATION on the report.

Show only summary values? (totals, averages, etc.)
If you do not wish to print each individual record on your report, you can print a report showing Group and Summary Sections only. Simply delete the Detail Section from the report. On the Report Layout screen, press [F3] Sections, Delete, Detail.

Delete unwanted summary fields?
Even if you remove a summary field from the Report Layout screen, it will remain on the list under [F2] Fields, Select Field, Summary. To delete it from the list, press [F2] Fields, define Summary fields. On the Summary Fields screen, move your cursor to the row on which the unwanted field appears and press [F5] Delete.

Print summary fields (totals, counts, etc.) at the top of a report
Normally summary fields are computed while the report is printing. Alpha Four can pre- process summary fields so that totals, counts, and so on will display accurately at the beginning of the report as well as the end. To pre-process a summary field, select [F2] Fields, define Summary fields, from the Report Layout screen. The last column on the Summary Fields screen allows you to specify pre-processing. Do not use this option unless you need to because it slows report printing.

Copy a report?
Often you can save time by basing a new report on an existing report. To copy another report from the same database, select Layouts, Reports, Create/edit a Report and select the report you want to copy. At the Report Layout screen, press [F10] Continue, Save As. Choose an unused letter to create a new report. For example, if your original was report A, choose B to make the new report. Now you can edit the report B, removing and adding fields to create a different report.


To copy a report from another database to the current database, simply select Layouts, Reports, Borrow a Report. Select the database that contains the existing report. Select the report letter you wish to copy. Next, Alpha Four will ask you to assign an unused letter to the new report. Unless the two databases are identically structured, you will need to edit the new report to adjust for differences.




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