Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Santa is working hard ...

NextReports Server will have a new user interface and Santa is working very hard to it.

The new UI uses Bootstrap and brings many improvements in how the entire layout is created and shown to users.

The themes were redesigned and now they are applied also to the Login page:

The tabs were replaced with a vertical menu offering now more space and allowing for scalability (number of tabs was big enough to go to second row and creating an ugly effect). You can take a look at some screenshots:

Because changing the UI was a big step it wasn't time to release a new version of NextReports this year. So, instead of an awaited 8.3, a new version 9.0 will be released in January.

Merry Christmas and  A Happy New Year to all NextReports users!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

NextReports Server: More Settings

NextReports 8.3 will add a lot of new settings for users.

Inside Application Settings a new "Distribution" set is found. This groups all email settings and two new:
  • Distributor Date Pattern
  • Distributor Time Pattern
These patterns are used by generated report files if ${date} and ${time} are used inside their names.

"General"  section will have new properties like:
  • Polling interval (s) : number of seconds after a poll is done (to show messages to users)
  • Upload Size (MB) : maximum size of a file that can be upload to server (in previous version it was 1MB and it was not configurable)

Data Source definition will contain two new properties for connections pool:
  • Increment connections number (if pool is full a number of new connections will be created inside it)
  • Idle connection time (time a connection can stay inside pool if it is idle)

Any table widget will have a new property called : "Enable filters".

If this is checked, then a row with filters will be seen:

These are just a few properties that will increase the level of configuration inside NextReports Server.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

NextReports: line spacing

From version 8.3 a new cell property will be available: line spacing.

This property is in percents and its default value is 100.  This property has meaning if wrap text is set to true and only for PDF, HTML and DOCX exporters.

A simple header with default line spacing looks like:

If we increase the line spacing to 140, it will look like:

Monday, October 26, 2015

NextReports: Report with Empty Data

When NextReports generates a report, in case there is no data, the generation process stops without creating any file.

From version 8.3 we will extend this with a new feature. Users will be able to configure how the generation process must behave regarding empty data. On any report, a new property called "show empty data" will be available. By default it is set to false, meaning no file will be created in case of empty data.

But if we set it to true, then the report will be generated showing everything is available in all bands except detail band. "Timesheet" demo report from designer will show like this:
In addition, users can create some layout in detail band for cases with empty data. For example, in our "Timesheet" report we add a new detail row with cell "No Data Found in Query!".

To make this row be hidden in case there is data, we must select for this cell a "hide when expression" property. A new variable called EMPTY_DATA will help us to achieve this.

Now, when we generate the "Timesheet" report and there is no data, the result will look like:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Deploy NextReports Server on WebLogic 12c

First, you should create a nextreports-server.war folder and unarchive the war file here.

Inside nextreports-server.war/WEB-INFyou should add weblogic.xml file:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>


Here we specified we want another joda library than that used by weblogic.

Next, we have to register reports folder as a web context. We create a reports.war folder as a sibling to nextreports-server.war, and inside it we have a WEB-INF folder with two files:  
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
 xmlns="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/j2ee" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
 xsi:schemaLocation="http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/j2ee http://java.sun.com/xml/ns/j2ee/web-app_2_4.xsd">
and weblogic.xml where we specified local path to our reports folder:
<!DOCTYPE weblogic-web-app PUBLIC "-//BEA Systems, Inc.//DTD Web Application 8.1//EN" "http://www.bea.com/servers/wls810/dtd/weblogic-web-jar.dtd">





After your server starts, you should accordingly modify your server settings like base url, reports url , mail server and so on.

Publish static context to WebLogic

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

NextCharts: Bar Charts with Negative Values

NextCharts has now support for bar charts with negative values. A new chart type called nbar was introduced. From NextReports 8.2 version this feature will be part of designer and server.

A simple bar chart with negative and positive values will show all values over X axis if chart type is bar:

If we just change the type from bar to nbar,  X axis will be considered at 0, so positive values will be shown over it and negative values will be shown under it:

In case all values for nbar are positive, then it will be no difference between bar with startingFromZero=true and a nbar chart.

In case all values for nbar are negative, then the chart will have all its values under X axis:

nbar chart can support as styles glass (as above) or normal:

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

NextCharts: Highlight selection

From version 1.5, in addition to tooltip message,  NextCharts allows to highlight selected element through a changed color. This version of library will be used by NextReports Server 8.2

There are different situations which were taken into account. For simple 2D charts like line, area, bar, pie, bubble, selected element (like bar, arc, circle) will have another color, lighter or darker depending on the brightness of the current color. For 3D charts like dome, cylinder, parallelepiped, selected element will be the 'visible' part of it and it needs some more drawing adjustments to show (after fill) all the lines and arcs that are supposed to be on top.

Let's see some examples of highlighting.

Bar highlighting:

Stackedbar highlighting:

Line highlighting:

Pie highlighting:

Cylinder highlighting with different area selection between top and other elements:

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

NextReports: Grid Style for Charts

NextReports charts can have a grid shown for x, y values. Till version 8.2, this grid can only be a full-line of a specific color. From version 8.2 this grid can also have style like line, dashed line or dotted line. This style is specified for both X and Y grid lines:

By default, simple line style is used:

The other two styles are dashed line:

and dotted line:

This feature is available on all modern browsers and it is supported from Firefox 27+, IE 11+.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Adjust your SQL queries to see data series

Many users have data in a specific table format with a 'type' column and want to show inside a chart series for every value of 'type'.

Lets take a simple example of a DAY table (where NAME column is our 'type') :
NAME               VALUE               CREATION_DATE
MORNING            90                  2015-06-12
NOON               210                 2015-06-12
EVENING            60                  2015-06-12
MORNING            85                  2015-06-13
NOON               240                 2015-06-13
EVENING            50                  2015-06-13
MORNING            92                  2015-06-14
NOON               235                 2015-06-14
EVENING            55                  2015-06-14

We want to show DATE on x axis and series for MORNING, NOON, EVENING on y axis. To make this happen NextReports must obtain a query result like:
2015-06-12        90           210      60 
2015-06-13        85           240      50   
2015-06-14        92           235      55 

Then it is very easy to add DATE on x axis and MORNING_V, NOON_V, EVENING_V on y axis as column series.

This transformation can be easily obtained using sub-queries. For example, on our table we will use following sql:
   (select VALUE from DAY a2 where a2.name='MORNING' and         
   (select VALUE from DAY a2 where a2.name='NOON' and
   (select VALUE from DAY a2 where a2.name='EVENING' and
DAY a1

Thursday, June 04, 2015

NextReports Server: JNDI Data Source

Starting with version 8.1, NextReports Server (war) can use JNDI protocol to connect to such data sources defined inside some web server.

A new type (JNDI) was added and users will just need to specify the JNDI name:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

NextReports: Batch Mode

From version 8.1 users can run/schedule a report in batch mode. What does this mean?
If a report has a single-selection parameter with a source and if this parameter is selected as a "batch parameter" then running it in batch mode will generate a report for every value of that batch parameter.

To make this right there are two conditions that must be met:
  1. Batch parameter must not be set as dynamic
  2. All chained parameters that are children of batch parameter must be set as dynamic.
These two conditions are also written inside batch definition panel and are automatically set on save if user does not do it.

As an example, we use a report that shows the Timesheet for an employee on all projects he is assigned to. There are two parameters : Employee and Work code (work, meeting, administration, travel) so we can see the Timesheet for that employee for a specific list of work codes.

Here we see that the parameter we want to use in batch (Employee) is not set as dynamic, but the other parameter (Code) which is a child of Employee parameter is set as dynamic.

Batch Mode is practically a new step in run/schedule wizard process:

"Employee" parameter was set as a batch parameter. This simple selection means the report will be generated for all "Employee" values.

Second field, called Batch Data Query, is a simple sql select that gives an email address for every Employee. First column in query must be the same as that used in source for Employee parameter, which is defined as:

select distinct employeeid, firstname || ' ' || name as fullName from employee

Second column in query is the email column.

Batch Data Query is needed only if we need to send every generated report to it's actual employee.

Mail Destination Step in this case is allowed to not define a To property, because it is dynamically set at run time:

But we can also select a To property if we also want to send all generated reports to a static email address. In mail step, we can see that besides existing template values until version 8.1 (like ${date}, ${time}, ${name}) we can use parameter values as $P{Employee} or $P{Code}. This allows to have a mail message customized for every employee.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

NextReports Server: Connection Logging

Starting from NextReports 8.1 connection creation is written to log for debug purposes. By default all connections are written to connections.log found inside <server_install_folder>/logs folder. Default log level type is INFO

Inside <server_install_folder>/webapps/nextreports-server/WEB-INF/classes/log4j.properties user can change log level from INFO to DEBUG, to see information from the pool when a connection is created/used:

log4j.logger.ro.nextreports.server.util.ConnectionUtil=INFO, CONNECTION_FILE

Users will be able to see on DEBUG level how many connections are in pool (min and max values), how many connection are active, idle or busy.

In case you experience some connections problems (like timeouts) and you are sure your database is up and running, you should put this log's level on DEBUG and start accumulating data to reproduce the problem again.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

NextReports: Analysis versus Table Widgets

Even if a table widget inside a dashboard seems to be similar to an analysis table, there are many differences between them.

"Analysis" is a special object with following major differences than a widget table:
  • Analysis shows raw data (no patterns are used) and that makes the possibility to easily have sortable columns
  • Analysis can have a list of sortable columns (sort by column1, then column 2, ….)
  • Analysis persists sortable columns
  • Analysis has a lot of other features  like selection, grouping, filtering, pagination, freeze.
  • Analysis uses local data brought here by an ETL process
"Table Widget" has the following characteristics :
  • Table Widget has behind a report with a layout
  • Table widget may contain formatted data (if patterns are used like for dates, numbers,..)
  • The report behind a table widget may contain different type of values on same column (because report's layout can have more than one detail band). 
  • Table Widget may have a style (foreground and background colors)
From version 8.1 of NextReports Server :
  • Table widgets will have a header with sorting columns. 
  • Sorting is added only to those table widgets that contain only one detail band (the actual database columns). On all others table widgets sorting has no sense.
  • Sorting on table widgets is not persisted, so if you will leave dashboard and return or if you do a refresh the sorting will disappear. But if you sort, you are able (before refresh) to Save to Excel with the used sorting.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

NextReports: yAxis with 'starting from zero' property

From NextReport 8.1, Next Charts library will add a new property on yAxis called 'starting from zero'.

The minimum value on yAxis is computed so that all y values be some 'nice' numbers. This minimum value can be sometimes negative, sometimes 0 and sometimes positive. In case of positive numbers users may desire to start yAxis from zero  if computed minimum  value is bigger than zero.

Let's take following chart, for example, with values 44, 32, 34, 31. Computed min value is 30.

If users want to see the chart starting from zero, this is easily done by selecting 'starting from zero' property:

In this case computed min value is considered zero and the chart will look accordingly:

In case of negative values, this property has no effect.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

NextReports Server: Internal Reports

Starting with NextReports 8.1 version a new section called Audit will be available.

Here, any administrator can obtain data from NextReports Server repository.

Just some examples of questions, users can get an easy answer:

What are the reports with write permission for group 'Test'?
What were the failed run reports yesterday?
What is the full list of Schedulers?

Users can sort the result and save it as an excel file.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

NextReports Server: Audits at your hand

By default NextReports Server outputs some events to log files with following action names:
  • Sign in
  • Sign in failed
  • Sign out
  • Add entity
  • Modify entity
  • Delete entity
  • Copy entity
  • Move entity
  • Rename entity
  • Restore entity
  • Grant user / group
  • Revoke user / group
  • Run report
These events have some common properties like id, date, user name, action,session, ip, level (0=info, 1=error), error message. For some events there are also other properties. For example for "Run report" there are report path and duration; for "Grant user" there are entity path, user name to grant for, permissions and recursive flag.

NextReports Server has an extensible auditor feature. A database auditor can be defined to save all these events inside a database. This is very important because NextReports can generate reports over that database to get valuable information.

Inside securityContext.xml there is a bean called auditor:
 <bean class="ro.nextreports.server.audit.CompoundAuditor" id="auditor">
        <property name="auditors">
                <ref bean="logAuditor"/>

In this list, besides the log auditor we can add a database auditor:

<bean class="ro.nextreports.server.audit.CompoundAuditor" id="auditor">        
        <property name="auditors">             
                 <ref bean="logAuditor"/>
                 <ref bean="dbAuditor"/> 
<bean class="ro.nextreports.server.audit.MySqlAuditor" id="dbAuditor">
         <property name="dataSource" ref="auditDataSource"/>
<bean class="org.springframework.jdbc.datasource.DriverManagerDataSource" id="auditDataSource">
      <property name="driverClassName" value="com.mysql.jdbc.Driver"/>      
      <property name="url" value=""/>
      <property name="username" value=""/>
      <property name="password" value=""/>

The database behind must contain two tables and a sequence:
As stated before, common properties will be saved inside NS_AUDIT, while specific event properties will be saved inside NS_AUDIT_CONTEXT.

For example, for a MySql database we need to call following sqls to initialize:




You should also create an index on EVENT_ID column from NS_AUDIT.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

NextReports Server: What are the references?

NextReports Server contains (among others) a number of entities like :
  • data sources
  • reports & charts
  • schedulers
  • widgets
  • dashboards
Some of them are referenced by others. For example  any report or chart has a data source. That means a data source is referenced by that report / chart. What happens if we want to delete this data source? User will be informed the action cannot be done because there are other entities that use it.

The message is not very useful to users because if they do not know what are the entities, they must to search for them and delete those first (if the deletion is needed).

From NextReports Server 8.1, users will be informed about these entities with their full path. For example if we want to delete a report which was scheduled by a number of schedulers, the following message will be shown:

In case there are too many referenced entities, only the first 10 will be shown. In next image we want to delete a data source and we will see the list of reports and charts that use it:
In case a report or chart is used (referenced) inside a dashboard as a widget, it can be deleted and the user will see inside dashboard a message that the entity behind it was removed.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

NextReports Server: Dashboard Embedded Code

NextReports Server is able to offer dashboards page as an url like


This will bring to users the following page, without header, footer and tabs menu:

From version 8.1 a new Dashboard Embedded Code action is available in dashboard popup actions:

This will give users the url for a specific dashboard:


This url will show users the dashboard without navigator and buttons and will become the default way of how to show a full dashboard on a monitor screen for visualization.