Context Driven Custom Reports

Custom Reports was introduced in Rollbase 4.0.6 as a beta feature and has seen many improvements in the releases that followed. Documentation states, “A custom report can include multiple sections and sub-sections with no limit on the number of sections or the depth of sub-sections. You can use custom reports to build rich, highly customized documents to present your application’s data.” but what is most interesting is context driven custom reports.

What Custom Reports Actually Brought In

The existing report types in Rollbase were lacking these salient features:

  1. Ability to design around & trigger them from a record context. E.g. Generate sales report for an individual sales executive.
    2. Ability to pull in data from records that have no direct relationship with the current object on which the report is based.

Sure there were workarounds to do something similar but the platform in itself did not offer these features. It will suffice to say there are enough cases that the existing reports feature cannot address.

Context Driven Custom Reports

These reports center around a single record’s context and it’s related data and can be invoked in the following ways:

  • Document Template field (enclosing custom report’s body) on the record
  • Send Email trigger (custom report’s body as part of mail template)
  • Send Email workflow action (using an email template that has custom report’s body enclosed)

I find the document template field to be the most useful one. See the use case from an app based on the fictional Northwind Traders database.

Printing a PDF invoice for an order placed. The document can be placed in a list view for quick access or can be in the record view page as shown in the 2nd image.

List View

List view with document template field

Record View

Record view with document template field

Sample output for the invoice (see below): Sample Invoice (PDF)

Context driven custom reports

Custom Report Section Types

Plain Text & HTML

Allows adding static as well as dynamic content to your report. For example, a preface section to a book based report or standard disclaimer content that you want to accompany your report. This is a rich text editor where you can use all tokens from the token generator.

Wizard

Similar to tabular reports, allows for rendering of data in a table like a list view with sorting, grouping, subtotals and totals functionality. You should generally have the “Smart table breaks” option selected when rendering the report as PDF. This renders the column headers for a large table spanning multiple pages on each page start.

HTML Template

Similar to existing report type HTML Template in every sense but embedded within your custom report as a single section. Has all features of a standalone HTML template report with the added benefit of using the tokens (rich set to refer loop records, context records, current user & current customer) from the token generator.

Loop

Allows looping over records while specifying the scope of the loop. Scope of loop can be either a list view definition or a relationship (either parent loop or context record if any). All sub-sections render for each looped record.

Sub-Report

Allows referencing an existing report which helps re-use well built reports without any modifications. The report generates in isolation and embeds as a section in the custom report. Note that the external reports cannot refer to loop record or context record tokens. You will have to recreate those reports as embedded reports using HTML Template or Wizard sections.

Table of Contents

This section is only a placeholder to generate the table of contents based on each section’s selection of “Show in TOC” setting. This option is only usable when rendering the report as a PDF.

Conclusion

Custom reporting in Rollbase augments the existing reports feature and opens up a lot of possibility. With the added benefit of context driven custom reports and ability to pull in multiple reports into a single report. I will come up with deep dive posts on major features on Custom Reports soon.