This document answers the most frequently asked questions regarding custom reports. This document assumes that you are familiar with basic mouse operations (selecting objects, right-clicking), as well as the "Producing Reports" chapter in the ACT! User's Guide (AUG).
To keep this document as concise as possible, you will be referred to the manual when it sufficiently explains a concept or procedure, for example, (See AUG,Name of section in the "Producing Reports" chapter). Keep in mind that ACT! Support can help you with specific issues related to standard, unmodified ACT! reports only, but it is beyond their scope to design or troubleshoot customized labels or envelopes. Should you need those services, we recommend contacting an ACT! Certified Consultant (ACC). A list of ACCs is available on the World Wide Web at: http://act.com/partners/acc/index.cfm.
The ACT! Database Services Lab can also help with customization of Reports for your particular needs, for more details refer to the following web site: http://www.act.com/support/databaseservices/index.cfm.
Additional help can be found in the online help system. In ACT!, click the Help menu, then click Help Topics. Double-click How To..., and then Produce Reports. There you will find sections on modifying existing reports and creating new reports. If you are an ACT! 4.0 user, ViaGrafix multimedia help is available by clicking the Help menu, clicking Getting Started with ACT! 4.0, then clicking Using Reports.
If you have any difficulty printing these reports; ensure that your printer driver is the most current version, and also that your printer is defined as the default printer for Windows. To obtain printer drivers, contact your printer's manufacturer. To make your chosen printer the default printer, click the Start button, point to Settings, then click Printers. Right-click your printer, then click Set as Default from the shortcut menu.
Make sure you have the most recent version of ACT! by clicking the Help menu, then clicking Check for Updates. You can also request the document titled, "How to Get the Latest Update."
ACT! ships with several predefined reports, which (if you are in a hurry) will likely give you the important information you need. For a list of predefined reports with descriptions, see the ACT! User's Guide. (See AUG, Predefined reports)
If you were a user of ACT! 2.0 for Windows, the new report writer in ACT! looks very different. The new way of designing reports is similar to the Layout Designer:
- You use a graphical layout that contains header sections, body sections, and footer sections. Within each section, you add report elements that display the pertinent information. (See AUG, Understanding the sections in a report template)
- Report elements (data fields, text fields, lines, graphics) are treated as independent objects, each with its own properties, such as size, position, alignment, text font and style, and so forth. (See AUG, Changing the appearance of a report template)
- When running reports, you can specify date range and other filter options, depending upon which data are included in the report. (See AUG, Running a report)
- You can print summary information for a contact. (See AUG, Adding fields to a report template)
A report can consist of four types of sections:
- Header and footer sections, which are useful for printing information about the report itself, such as My Record information, report date, and page numbers.
- Primary sections, such as Contact and Group sections. Every report contains a single Contact section or Group section, but not both. However, a Group section can contain a Contact subsection, and vice versa. Primary sections contain data fields from the associated records, and can also contain subordinate sections, such as Activities or Notes/History.
- Subordinate sections, which can be nested under primary sections or other subordinate sections. For example, a Group section can contain a Contact section, which can contain Activities or Notes/History sections.
- Summary sections, which include counts, totals, averages, and minimum and maximum values. Summary sections can display statistics for primary sections or subordinate sections.
- The group name, with its associated companies and salespeople
- Company and salesperson name (from the contact record)
- Total amount of sales for each salesperson and company, within each group
- How to sort the report by group, then by company and salesperson within the group, with a page break on each new group
We will use the ACTDEMO database as the source file for our data. (If the ACTDEMO database is not installed, reinstall ACT!, click Custom Install, and install only the ACTDEMO database.)
Prepare ACTDEMO.DBF for the Report
- Open your demo database (ACT6demo.dbf, ACT5demo.dbf, ACT4demo.dbf or ACTDEMO.DBF)
- Click the User Fields tab, then place the cursor in the User 1 field.
- Click the Edit menu, then click Define Fields. The Define Fields dialog appears with the User 1 field selected.
- Change the Field Name field to Gross Sales.
- Change the Type field to Currency, and the Number of digits to 12 (Before decimal) and 2 (After decimal).
- Click OK. You will get a warning message that says you may lose data, and asks if you want to continue. Click Yes. The database will be reorganized.
- Starting with the first contact in the database, place a dollar amount in the Gross Sales field. Press the Page Down key on your keyboard to enter a value for the next contact. Repeat for approximately 20 contacts.
Create the Report
Now create the report (there is a sample report on the last page of this document). Follow the instructions carefully, take your time, and notice what other options are available, so they will become familiar to you.
- Note: You can test the report while you are designing it by clicking the File menu, then clicking Run. At the Send Output to: field, click Preview to see your results on the screen. If something is not quite right, click Close to return to your template. Repeat until you are satisfied with the results. A sample of our report is on the last page of this document.
- Click the File menu, then click New, select Report Template, then click OK. You will see a blank template with Header, Contact, and Footer section titles on the left side of the window. (If section titles are not displayed, click the View menu, then click Show Section Titles.) Immediately click the File menu, then click Save As. Save the report as GROSS SALES.REP.
- Drag down the Header section title to give yourself more room to work.
- Click the Field button on the Tool Palette, the drag a new field into the left side of the Header section, then release the left mouse button. A Field List appears.
Note: If the Tool Palette is not visible, click the View menu, then click Show Tool Palette
- Ensure the Use My Record checkbox is enabled and the Add field label checkbox is clear, then add the following fields to the left side of the Header section:
- Address 1
- Address 2
- a comma (this must be added with the Text tool from the Tool Palette)
- Zip Code. (See AUG, Adding fields to a report template)
- Drag a new field into the right side of the Header section, under the System tab add the Date field on the same line as the My:Contact field.
- Click the Edit menu, then click Define Sections. The Define Sections dialog appears.
- Select the Header section, then click Change. The Change Section dialog appears.
- Enable both Collapse blank lines and Collapse blank section checkboxes at the bottom of the dialog box, then click OK. Click OK again to return to your template.
- Drag the Header section title up as far as it will go. (Any blank lines remaining below the last field in a section and the section title will always be printed.) (See AUG, Changing or removing sections from a report template.)
- In the Footer section, drag a small field into the lower right corner, then click the System tab of the Field List dialog and add the Page Number field. Click OK.
- Drag the Footer section title up as far as it will go.
- Because our report will be broken down by groups, our main body section will be the Group section. Click the Edit menu, then click Define Sections. The Define sections dialog box re-appears.
- Select the Contact section, then click the Delete button to delete this section.
- Click the Add button. The Add Section dialog appears. Enable the Group option from the Sections area, then enable all four checkboxes at the bottom of the dialog box and click OK. Click OK again at the Define Sections dialog.
- Above the Group section heading, drag a new field into the second line of the section, on the left side.
- Select the Group Name field from the list that appears, and ensure that the Field type is Detail field. Clear the Add Field Label check box, then click Add. Close the Field List.
- Click the Selection Tool on your Tool Palette, right click the Group Name field, then click Properties from the shortcut menu. The Object Properties dialog appears.
- Under the Font tab, change the properties for the field to 10 point Bold.
- Under the Format tag, enable the Don't print if duplicated option. (See AUG, Changing the appearance of a report template) This means the group name will only print once, followed by all its company and contact information.
- Drag the Group section up, but leave one blank line below the Group Name field.
- Next we want to add information about the contacts in each group, so we need to add a Contact subsection to our Group section. Click the Edit menu, click Define Sections.
- With the Group section selected, click Add. The Add Section dialog appears., enable Contact subsection, and make sure only Collapse blank lines and Collapse blank section are enabled, then click OK. Click OK to close the Define Sections dialog. You will see a new Contact Sub-body section heading. It is here that we will add contact information.
- Between the Group and Contact Sub-body section headings. Add the following contact fields, making sure that the Add field label and Use My Record options have been cleared:
- Address 1
- Address 2
- a comma
- Zip Code
- Select all the new fields, right click over any of the selected fields, then click Properties from the shortcut menu. The Object Properties dialog appears.
- Ensure that the Don't print if duplicated and Close up blank space options are enabled. Align them any way you like.
- Skip a line, and add the Contact field to the section, making sure that Add field label and Use My Record options are clear. Indent this field somewhat from the company information. On the same line, and on the right side of the section, add the Gross Sales field, with its field label. Select both the Gross Sales field and its label, right-click one of them, then click Align Text Right from the shortcut menu. Drag the Contact Sub-body section header up as far as it will go.
- Now that the fields for the contact have been entered, we need to tell ACT! how to sort the data for printing. Within each group, we want to sort first by company name, then by the contact's last name. To do this, we will use Summary Sorted By sections. Click the Edit menu, click Define Sections, then select the Contact entry in the list and click Add. The Add Section dialog appears.
- Enable the Summary sorted by option. Select Company from the list. Ensure that the Sort order is ascending, and the Allow section to break across multiple pages option is enabled. Click OK. The Summary Section Placement dialog appears.
- Click Below. You will see a Summary of Contact sorted by Company field section added below the Contact section. This indicates that the first sort is on the Company field.
- Select the Contact entry in the Define Sections dialog, then click Add. The Add Section dialog appears.
- Enable the Summary sorted by section. Select Last Name from the list. Ensure that Sort order is ascending, and Allow section to break across multiple pages is enabled. Click OK, then click Below. You will see a "#2 Summary of Contact sorted by Last Name field section added below the Contact section and above the #1 section. This indicates that the second sort is on the Last Name field. The order in which you select the Summary Sorted By sections determines the sort sequence. Click OK to close the Define Sections dialog. You will see the new sections in the report.
- Finally, we want a total of gross sales for all salespeople at each company. We will total the Gross Sales field in the #1 Summary of Contact sorted by Company field section, as this will be a summary field. (We could have used either of the two Summary Sorted By sections.) Pull down the section heading to make room (if necessary), then add a new field. At the Field List dialog box, make sure Summary field is enabled as the Field type. From the Summary Type section, enable Total, select Gross Sales from the list of available fields, then enter an appropriate Summary Field Label, such as "Gross Sales by Division:", then click Add. Place the fields on the second line of the section and align them below those for the contact. Drag the section title up as far as it will go.
- Click the File menu, then click Save to save your work.
As a final note, you saw in steps 27 - 31 how we added summary sections. You could also have added Activity or Notes/History subsections to the Contact section, if they had been pertinent to this report. Take a look at the Activity report template (ACTIVITY.REP) and the Notes/History report template (NOTEHIST.REP) to see how it is done.
Chris Huffman 3/23/99
12 East 54th Street
New York, NY 10034
Cordoba Coffee Shops
1233 Avenue A
Irving, TX 75060
Carl Bowman Gross Sales: $10,000.00
Ms. Gloria Lenares Gross Sales: $25,000.00
Mr. John Lew Gross Sales: $30,000.00
Gross Sales by Company: $65,000.00