Nowadays, many reporting tools claim that they support Excel-like report design after improvements. Then, what is a real Excel-like report IDE?
Today, we will discuss this problem from two sides.
1. What are the most basic functions an Excel-like report IDE should have?
2. According to the data characteristics of report, what are the extended functions an Excel-like report IDE should have?
Generally, programmers and end users are familiar with Excel, and programmers often choose to develop reports in Excel-like style. The main purposes are to realize complex report forms and improve report creation efficiency. For convenience, reporting tool companies should provide an IDE closer to Excel usage pattern as much as possible. In other words, besides the Excel appearance, they need to spend more time on details to improve its service efficiency.
In my opinion, a report IDE which supports Excel-like design should have the functions below:
Cells in Excel are named according to their horizontal and vertical positions. If set another naming mechanism, on the one hand it is very troublesome, on the other hand it will bring some inconveniences in expression editing.
Cell's Basic Properties
The most basic properties are: font, font size, color, border, foreground, background, edit style for whole row or column or table, and format painter supporting, etc.
Cell Content Editing
The writing method of expression should be the same with that Excel. For example, "=sum(A3+B5)". When insert or delete row or column, expressions are supposed to transform automatically without manual updating.
When the content/expression of a cell is too long to display in it, the entire content/expression can be referred in the edit box in the toolbar.
Provide a great number of common functions, and retain some interfaces for users to add their own custom functions.
Import and Export Excel files
Commonly, users have Excel report forms, and they are accustomed to export report to Excel after statistics. Therefore, it is requisite to allow users to import and export Excel files.
Take RAQ Report
for an example. It provides a pure Java report IDE. As a real Excel-like enterprise class reporting tool, it inherits all the advantages of Excel.
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