What are reports?

Reports are configurable objects that define how information from your data sets should be combined and presented into reports and charts.

Let's look again at our diagram (which we explained in the introduction) :

diagram reports

Reports are flexible, powerful, and very interactive with dynamic user filters. You can create multiple layouts and choose from 7 different report types and 14 chart types (full list with examples):

  • Standard reports - A combination of Excel pivot tables and subtotals, these reports show automatic row and column grouping, and subtotals.
  • Drilldown reports - Similar to Excel pivot tables, these reports show aggregated two-dimensional information which you can drill into.
  • Pivot chart - Similar to Excel pivot charts, the charts include all common types, such as line, bar, column, pie, donut, area, radar.
  • Sparklines - Sparklines show the development of a given item over a period of time, which is useful to understand trends at a high level.
  • Hierarchy reports - These reports show data in a hierarchical structure. For example, revenue by region or business unit can be represented this way.
  • KPI gauges - These reports show gauges, ideally suited for KPI purposes.
  • KPI scorecards - These reports show numeric scorecards, enabling you to compare two different metrics, ideally suited for KPI purposes.

Create a report

You can create a report in two ways:

  • Click on Define - New in the sidebar menu.
  • Click on the Actions - Create new button of an existing report. This also enables you to make a copy of an existing report.

Either way, the rest of the process is the same, and you can enter a name for your new report, set user permissions for it, and define its fields and layouts. At every change, the preview of the report will be automatically updated:

screenshot define reports

Settings

You can define the settings for the report via these fields:

  • Name - enter a name. This must be unique within all your reports.
  • Description - enter an (optional) description. This is helpful to document your various reports.
  • Active/locked - activate or lock a reports. When locked, the report can not be run.
  • Source data - select the source data set. This is the primary data set for your report, all linked data sets will automatically be included as well.
  • Group - select how this report is to be shown in the menu navigation.
  • User roles - select one or multiple user role(s) to restrict access to this report. If you leave this blank, all users have access.
  • Script - create a script to process the source data before the report is generated. This option is for advanced use, and only visible if your user role has the relevant permissions. Read more about scripts.

Define

You can define the fields and layouts by clicking on the Define button:

screenshot define reports fields

This opens a dropdown menu with further options:

  • Define fields - select the fields that you want to include in this report, and (optionally) define custom field names, conversions, calculations, and data filters.
  • Add new layout - add a layout to this report.
  • Edit this layout - edit the currently selected layout.
  • Rename this layout - rename the currently selected layout.
  • Delete this layout - delete the currently selected layout.

Define fields

By default, reports will include all columns from the source data set and its linked data sets, without any conversions or filters.

Optionally, you can click on Define - Define fields to include or exclude data set columns, rename fields, convert field values, or to set data filters:

screenshot define reports fields

You are free to rename fields for the purpose of this report, without impact on the source data sets or any other reports.

To insert, delete, copy, or move fields, you can either right-click on a row, or click on the ☰ button in the last column of a row. You can create 2 types of fields:

  • Source field - this refers to a data set column. You can use the reserved word data to refer to its content if you want to convert or filter this data.
  • Calculated field - this does not have its own source. You need to provide a static value, a formula, a function, or an expression on other fields to give this field some value.

In the above example, we have created 2 calculated fields: one to calculate a variance between 2 other columns, and another one to calculate the variance as a percentage.

You can optionally set a specific format for fields with numeric values. If you leave this blank, the field values will be formatted to 0 decimals.

✭ Tips:
  • You can enter the full field names in the Convert the data and Filter the data columns. They are not case-sensitive. XLReporting will match them to data set columns and report fields and enclose them in brackets e.g. [Actuals]. If this produces the wrong results, you can place the field names between brackets yourself.
  • You can create multiple calculated fields but alway use the source fields, and try to avoid chained calculations (i.e. one calculated field using the outcome of another calculated field). Be aware that division operations (e.g. field1 / field2) will only work if all referred fields are included in the report layout.

Convert the data

You can convert or recalculate field values in your report. You can enter a simple function or an expression with multiple functions and operators. There is a large collection of functions you can choose from:

screenshot define reports functions

An expression can contain the following elements:

  • The reserved word data - this is a placeholder for the current value of the selected field. Use this every time you want to refer to the current value in an expression. For example, to multiple the field value by 100:
    data * 100
  • Field names in the report - simply type the field name. For example, to substract the Credit field from the Debit field:
    Debit - Credit
  • Functions - you can choose from a large collection of functions with the same syntax as in Excel to perform a large variety of text, data, and number operations. Some examples:
    ROUND(Amount, 2)
    LEFT(data, 20)
    IF(Unit = "Actuals", Amount, 0)
  • Static values - you can use any static value in your expression. When using text values, these must be enclosed by " (= double quote) characters. Some examples:
    data / 1000
    data + " some added text"
    IF(data = "Sunny", "warm", "cold")
  • Operators - you can use all common mathematical operators, such as: + - * / and you can use brackets ( ) to control the sequence of operations. For example, to substract the Credit field from the Debit field, divide it by 1000, and then round the result to 0 decimals:
    ROUND(Debit - Credit) / 1000, 0)

Filter the data

You can filter the data in your report. Filtering means that you can exclude rows in your source data from the actual report. You can specify a static value, a simple function, or a complex expression and you can use all common operators. You can choose from various filter functions.

In below example, we are filtering a report on a certain period and only "P&L" data:

screenshot define reports filter

User selections

In many cases you might want the user to select some value when they start a report. For example, the company or the period. You can do that by using the SELECT() as a filter:

screenshot define reports filter select

This will present a list of values that the user can select from before the report is generated.

A special variant of this is the SELECTPERIOD() function. If you use this function in combination with the PERIODSUM() function, you can build powerful and dynamic period-discrete and year-to-date calculations with just a few clicks. Read more about period conversion functions.

Layouts

Click on Define - Add layout or Define - Edit layout. For every layout, you can enter a name and select its report type:

screenshot define reports layouts add

The report types that you can choose from are:

  • Report: standard, drilldown, sparklines, hierarchy.
  • Chart: line, bar, column, pie, donut, area, radar.
  • KPI: gauges, scorecards.

It is very easy to edit a report layout, simply by dragging fields across the various areas of a report:

screenshot define reports layouts

This window enables you to change the report options and the fields position:

Report options

These are settings that determine the overall appearance of the report layout:

  • Type of report or chart:
    • Report: standard, drilldown, sparklines, hierarchy.
    • Chart: line, bar, column, pie, donut, area, radar.
    • KPI: gauges, scorecards.
  • Column totals - sum, average, variance, none.
  • Report totals - sum, average, variance, none.
  • Sort by - sort either on the descriptions in the row fields (if you select multiple Row fields, these will all be included in the sort operation), or on the values in the report.

XLReporting provides 7 different report types and 14 chart types, see examples of all report types.

Fields position

You can manually drag-and-drop any of the available fields into any of the report areas, and if you no longer want a field in your report, you can simply drag it out again.

  • Fields - this shows all fields that are available within this report.
  • Filters - drag fields here that you want to use as dynamic filters. They will be shown above the report with automatic lists of values. Whenever you select a different filter value, the report will be immediately updated to reflect this. There are several types of filters, which you can choose from by clicking on the field name:
    • date - this will present a date picker.
    • select - this will present a list of values, and allow the user to select one.
    • multi-select - this will present a list of values, and allow the user to select one or multiple choices.
    • text - this will allow the user to enter any partial text.
  • Rows - drag fields here that you want to lay out into rows. This is the main dimension of your report. You can create a grouping in your report by dragging multiple fields here, and move them into the desired order. For the standard report type, you can also indicate where you want the report to show subtotals.
  • Columns - drag fields here that you want to lay out into columns. Usually, these are fields that contain a period, date, or time. By including one or more fields into columns, you can create two-dimensional reports.
  • Values - drag fields here that you want to summarize on. Usually, these are number or amount fields. Once you have dragged a field here, you can click on it to select the color and the type of operation.
    screenshot define reports layouts
    You can choose from these operations:
    • Sum - the sum of all values (non-numeric values are ignored).
    • Average - the average of all values (non-numeric values are ignored).
    • Count - the number of values that are not blank (values can be numeric or text).
    • % of total - the % that each value makes up of the report total (non-numeric values are ignored). The report total is always 100%.
    • Minimum - the smallest value (values can be numeric or text).
    • Maximum - the largest value (values can be numeric or text).
    All operations are automatically calculated for all subtotal levels in the report.
✭ Tips:
  • We deliberately kept this feature identical to pivot tables in Excel. It is a very powerful and easy way to define reports.

Actions

When defining a report, you can use the Save and Actions buttons in the right-top of the screen:

screenshot define reports actions

These buttons enable you to do the following:

  • Save - save your changes
  • Actions - open a dropdown menu with further options:
    • Create a new report (or copy one)
    • Delete this report
    • Add to my dashboard
    • Export data or print
    • Review this report
    • Run this report now

Add to dashboard

A dashboard is a personal page with your own favorite reports and models. You can create multiple dashboards, and each dashboard can contain multiple reports or models.

Click on Actions - Add to my dashboard to add this report to either a new dashboard, or to a new dashboard:

screenshot dashboard reports edit

Review this report

Click on Actions - Review this report to review a number of aspects of this report and its source data set:

  • Data diagram - shows a diagram with all linked data sets. This is derived from columns that are set to data type Linked values.
  • Linked data - shows the results of checks on the Key values and Linked values that are used to link data sets. Because linked values need to correspond with key values, this integrity check is important.
  • Define fields - shows a summary of all defined columns and data types.
  • Data set use - shows all linked data sets, the imports, reports, and models that are using this data set, and the total number of data rows in this data set.
  • Recent activity - show all recent user activity relating to this data set.

screenshot define datasets reports review

Report types

XLReporting provides 7 different report types and 14 chart types:

Standard reports

A combination of Excel pivot tables and subtotals, these reports show automatic row and column grouping, and subtotals:

screenshot reports standard

Drilldown reports

Similar to Excel pivot tables, these reports show aggregated two-dimensional information which you can drill into:

screenshot reports pivot

Pivot charts

Similar to Excel pivot charts, the charts include all common types, such as line, bar, column, pie, donut, area, radar:

screenshot reports chart

Sparklines

Sparklines show the development of a given item over a period of time, which is useful to understand trends at a high level:

screenshot reports kpi sparklines

Hierarchy reports

These reports show data in a hierarchical structure. For example, revenue by region or business unit can be represented this way:

screenshot reports hierarchy

KPI gauges

These reports show gauges, ideally suited for KPI purposes:

screenshot reports kpi gauges

KPI scorecards

These reports show numeric scorecards, enabling you to compare two different metrics, ideally suited for KPI purposes:

screenshot reports kpi scorecards

All report types are very interactive with dynamic user filters, and you can change the position of fields in the report -and the level of detail- at any time.

Recommended reading:
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