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The basic standard of real Excel-like reporting tool [message #401003] Fri, 01 May 2009 01:01
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Registered: April 2009
Junior Member
Nowadays, many reporting tools claim that they are Excel-like, and they support Excel-like report design after improvements. Then, what is a real Excel-like reporting tool?

Today, we will discuss this problem from two aspects.
1. What are the most basic functions a real Excel-like reporting tool should have?
2. According to the data characteristics of report, what are the extended functions a real Excel-like reporting tool should have?

Generally, programmers and end users are familiar with Excel, and programmers often choose to develop reports in an Excel-like style. The main purposes are to realize complex report forms and improve report creation efficiency. For users' convenience, reporting software companies should provide a report IDE closer to Excel usage pattern as much as possible. In other words, besides Excel-like appearance, they need to spend more time on operation details to improve its service efficiency.

In my opinion, a real Excel-like reporting tool should have the basic functions below:

Same Cell Naming
Cells in Excel are named according to their horizontal and vertical positions in the table. 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 Properties Definition
It should be able to define those most basic properties of a cell: 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 editing method of expression should be the same with that of Excel. For example, "=sum(A3+B5)". When insert or delete a related row or column, the expression is 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 should be displayed in the edit box in the toolbar of the reporting tool.

Custom Functions
It should provides a great number of common functions, and retain some application programming interfaces for users to add their own custom functions.

Import and Export Excel files
Commonly, before involving a reporting tool or starting an information project, users may have had a lot of Excel files. Therefore, it is requisite to allow users to import and export Excel files.

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If you would like to read more articles about reporting tool, you can refer to his blog.
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