Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Report Specification

Under various circumstances, the support engineer will ask you for your report specifications. Usually it is when the engineer is not able to design a report which mimics your functionality. It can also be when you have some calculations going wrong and need help with those.

Please do note, that support engineers are not supposed to design your reports. They will definitely help you with issues but do not expect them to write the report from scratch. Unfortunately, they do not know your model and package as well as you do. They have no clue whether there are internal calculations involved. So it is pretty difficult for them to help you with creating the reports. Of course, issues and queries are very much welcome as long as they come as separate PMRs.

I have faced many customers who were asked to give a report specification and gave an XML output of the report instead. A report specification is the definition of the report and not it's XML output. The specification (which is an XML document) can be generated in Report Studio by clicking on Tools -> Copy Report To Clipboard. Then save the report to a text file and make sure it starts with a "report" opening tag and ends with an ending tag of the same name. If it does not, the specification has not been exported correctly or there was a data loss somewhere. An exported report specification can be imported back using Report Studio - Tools -> Open Report from Clipboard. The best way to know whether a report specification is valid or not, is to open it in Report Studio. If it opens well, the report specification is valid. If the Studio complains, well there is a problem.

Again the best way to explore a report specification is to open it in an XML editor and view it. The tags are pretty much self explanatory. In there, you should find the package the report is based on, list/crosstab/chart specifications, burst options, styles and many such attributes depending upon the complexity of the report.

Sometimes a report specification is enough. But many a times, the support analyst will also ask for either the Framework Manager model or the package. He/She may also ask you for the DDL of your reporting database. This is especially true when the report fails validation for some reason.

In the next post we will see what to pass when an analyst asks for the model.

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