One of the biggest challenges that we faced in the WorkMobile™ design team was how to allow our users to design and host their own reports – just as they would use the drag and drop controls to design their own forms. Traditionally, we would design business intelligence solutions as bespoke projects –and charge usual consultancy rates to do so, however, this method defies the objective of WorkMobile™ which is meant to be a “self-service” system with no initial CAPEX. During discussions many argued that we should code and build our own AJAX interface but others argued that we needn’t re-invent the wheel when there are tools available that can be customised to meet our requirements.
We tend to break down reporting requirements into 2 groups – Management Information System (MIS) reports and – in the mobility world – Form-Based Replication reports. Many users are keen to digitalise their paper-forms; however, one of the questions they always have is how they can show components such as company logos, headers/footers, amongst others in the electronic version – and this is where a report-concept can help.
For the past few years, Seagate Crystal Report has been dominating the scene when it comes to business intelligence application and reporting; however, when considering implementation strategies, hosting facilities, integration layers and licensing requirements – it is simply not worth it. SQL Server Reporting Services on the other hand, provides the full-package and most importantly, tackles hosting and security challenges. Most senior developers are a bit reluctant when it comes to SSRS – given that it is a new technology and they themselves may not have much experience with it. We have been using SSRS since 2007 at eSAY and therefore it was not too hard to convince our directors to sign-off the technology to be used.
SSRS integrates beautifully with WorkMobile™ given that they both use the same back-end and custom partitioned security. Moreover, users can download the free Report Builder tools and design their reports offline, thus taking away frustrations such as time-outs or drop in internet connections. Users can then easily host their reports, directly on their WorkMobile™ folder which automatically creates a rule to link completed records to the newly designed report. These reports can then be exported in many different formats, such as PDF, Excel XLS, Word DOC, Html and RTF.
WorkMobile™ automatically creates pluggable dataset from a user-designed form, which can then be used to create the report, by drag and dropping fields – hence keeping the consistency between form and report design. We have plans to enable users to create their own dataset in the near future and also to use Integration and Notification services. These new services will enable users to subscribe themselves to receive automated MIS reports by email – for example every Monday morning they will receive job activities for the previous week or performance reports based on job types and the list goes on. This again will be a self-service on the report server at no additional cost!
To find out how to create reports, visit the WorkMobile YouTube Channel.