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by Brett Sheppard- GUI Computing
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VSReports is going to be a popular product. It's as simple as that.

This new ActiveX control from Videosoft enables programmer's to be able to print preview and print Access 95 or 97 reports from within Visual Basic or Visual C++ or any other language that supports ActiveX controls. Sounds pretty cool you say, but I bet the end user needs Access running on their machine. Wrong! Videosoft have come up with a two step process that quickly and efficiently gives your applications the look and feel you have created in your Access reports.

Step 1.

Convert your Access report into a Report Definition File.

This is done using vsTranslator, an executable that comes with VSReports. (There are two files that can be used depending on whether you are using an Access 95 or 97 database.) Running either of these executables initiates a Wizard that walks you through the process of the report transformation. It is basically a process of selecting the desired report and giving the Report Definition File a name. Creating this file is the reason why you do not need Access on the end users machine as it extracts static information about the framework of a report from the database itself. This also allows live data from the database to be shown during the application runtime.

Step 2:

Call the Report Definition File from Visual Basic.

By placing the VSREPORT ActiveX on a form, setting a couple of properties and writing a couple of lines of code you can preview or print your reports just by running the application. Too easy.

If that isn't enough to impress you, at run time, you can double click on the report to zoom in and out, click and drag on the control to pan across the report and and double click to go to the previous or next page. Now that's nice.

There are a stack of features that are automatically supported by VSReports. The following is a list that can be found in the manual that accompanies the product.

A fairly comprehensive list I think you'll agree. You can also use VSReports on the Web. The ActiveX control can be embedded into the web page itself, allowing the user to view reports that are driven with VB Script. Also VSReports can reside on the server and its output saved to file as an HTML document. This HTML document can then be published on the Web. I picked up that hint from Videosoft's web page - it has some good technical issues covered on the support pages. The manual also states that there are some special cases that must be considered when using report code in report code modules, standard modules and macros. These cases require a bit more coding but are covered pretty well in the manual so the average programmer should not run into too many difficulties. Nevertheless, VSReports does deliver and I think most people who use it are going to ask one main question. 'Why didn't someone think of this earlier?'

Written by: Brett Sheppard
May '97

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