It’s been a little over a month since BKeeney Shorts, our Real Studio/Xojo reporting classes, were released to the general public. All I can say is thank you! The response has been tremendous and has exceeded my wildest explanations.
We’ve been working on a few updates this week. First, we can now search a report for specific instances of a string. This wasn’t on our radar but during the Xojo Developers Conference someone blurted it out during our training day and it got me thinking. It turns out it was really easy to implement.
One of the things that Shorts does is has all of the pages available to the document and all of the objects on the page available to search so it ended up being an incredibly easy thing to do. We don’t really ‘render’ the page until it’s called for. In the demo app we added the search function and also created a list to show which pages the instance is on. I think you’ll be really happy with it.
The second thing we accomplished this week was to get RTF Text blocks mostly working. RTF is a particularly troublesome format to deal with because you have to convert from RTF into something that Xojo understands (StyledText) and then figure out how to draw it because we can’t use the standard TextArea.DrawInto command because our Page display can zoom in and out and also deal with Retina display on Mac OS X. What a pain and I’ve already been able to get it to fail if I make the RTF even remotely complicated.
The conversion to HTML and PDF has gone relatively smooth but there are some minor glitches to work out there too. Few conversions are 100% perfect and the trick is to get it close enough so most people are happy with it (or at least don’t send angry emails).
So what else is coming up? That’s always a tough question to answer. One of the things we really need to get into the product is automatic text block height calculations. You provide the string, block width, and characteristics and it returns the height. You can do this on your own now but it’s not nearly as easy as it could be.
The second thing that I really think would be cool for a Xojo application is runtime interaction with your report and receive events when a user clicks on a report object. Imagine if you will an account balance report. You see that account 10100 has an unusually high balance and rather than go back to the report screen to create a report on that account you simply click on the account. The Shorts viewer receives an event, and the smart developer responds to the event and automatically creates a drill down report on account 10100. I know of no other reporting tool in the Xojo world that is doing that.
Then there are some of the obvious needs. We really want to add a designer control allowing you to visually create reports and then save that format into an external file so that in the long run reports don’t have to be compiled into your application. Client wants a tweak to a report? Find, send them the new report definition file and voila, it’s done.
I’m sure I can come up with a half a dozen other things I want to see in the product.
Some of the comments we’ve received about BKeeney Shorts so far have been awesome. Things like it being easy to import into an existing project, fast in creating reports (about 300 pages a second!), and thanking us for wonderful support are all really cool things to get in your email in box.
That’s my quick update for BKeeney Shorts. What sorts of things do you want to see in a reporting tool for Xojo?