In Part 1 of this series of posts, we examined the underlying technologies behind RDLC reporting. In Part 2, we looked at the basic process of converting Dynamics NAV classic reports to an RDLC layout. In Part 3, we began examining some of the issues you will encounter when you use NAV’s Create Layout Suggestion function to generate an RDLC layout, starting with vertical and horizontal spacing.
We’ll now continue that approach by examining other common issues you will face in the conversion process, again starting with Report 101 – Customer List (see Converting Dynamics NAV Classic Reports To RDLC – Part 3 for our previous work with this report).
Using Dataset Fields in Page Headers and Page Footers
If you run the original classic Customer List report, it will produce the following report header:
If you examine the header in the classic report designer, you will see it consists of labels and TextBoxes displaying either straight text or the results of various functions (such as the Database function COMPANYNAME and the CurrReport function PAGENO).
In every case, NAV’s Create Layout Suggestion will convert these values into RDLC dataset fields. The problem is, RDLC reports cannot use dataset fields in their page header or page footer. So the Create Layout Suggestion does the following instead:
It will use global functions where it can in the page header/footer, as in the case of date/time and the user ID.
Where it cannot use global functions, i.e. where the source data can only be found in dataset fields, it will insert Textboxes for these fields in the body of the report, set the visibility for these Textboxes to “Hidden”, and set their font to red to indicate they were created by the Create Layout Suggestion process.
It will then insert additional Textboxes in the page header/footer, and set the value of this second group of Textboxes to equal the values of the corresponding hidden Textboxes.
In other words, since the Textboxes in the page header/footer can’t directly connect to dataset fields, they connect instead to the hidden Textboxes in the report body, which, like proxies, essentially connect to the dataset fields on their behalf.
There is nothing for you, the programmer, to do in this arrangement. It is all done automatically by the Create Layout Suggestion process, except for one task, which is best illustrated by examining Microsoft’s manual post-conversion changes of the same Customer List report:
As item 1 shows, Microsoft moved the hidden Textboxes from the right-hand side of the table to unused cells within the main body of the table. This was done because hidden Textboxes outside the width of standard paper may cause layout problems. In this case, it also has the added benefit of making the hidden Textboxes more visible to other programmers.
Of course, there may be times when you need to place your own hidden fields somewhere in the report, typically to support their use inside a page header/footer, but having nothing to do with Create Layout Suggestion. In this case, you are advised to use a yellow font to distinguish such fields from those created automatically by Create Layout Suggestion.
Hiding the Filter Line When No Filter is Specified
If you run the copy version of the Customer List Report (the one we had you create in Converting Dynamics NAV Classic Reports To RDLC – Part 3), you will notice that it displays a filter line in the report even when no filter is specified: