ReportWriter: Microsoft Dynamics GP technical highlights

By: Andrew Karasev

Microsoft Great Plains was designed as Dexterity application in earlier 1990th.? At this time ReportWriter was the platform-independent Dexterity based GP module and as we see through about 15 years – it still is an does the job.? Of course, there are others reporting tool: Crystal Reports, Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services or SRS.? In? this small article we will try to give you additional tips on Report Writer:

  • Trivia.? REPORTS.DIC – this dictionary stores all your so-called modified reports for main dictionary DYNAMICS.DIC.? If you install third party dex application or create your own customization – ReportWriter will be given the option to modify third-party or your custom reports.? Consider storing Reports.dic in central location, on your file server for example and modify Dynamics.set file – specifying the path to this central dictionary
  • Dexterity security realm.? The nice thing about ReportWriter report is the fact that you control report access via GP security.? Compare to Crystal Reports – here you base your report (as a good practice) on SQL Stored Procedure or SQL view – which means that you use SQL Server security.? Just to remind – GP security system is stored in Dynamics database and it translates into SQL Server security -? in SQL you can not directly use GP userid – due to the fact that user password (which you use to login GP) is encrypted in SQL
  • Simple data export tool.? Besides GP SmartList or Explorer, you can simply create Report Writer custom report, base it on the table you need and add the fields from the above table – run this custom report and data is ready to be saved into text file
  • Popular Customized reports.? SOP Invoice Long form if one of the most modified.? Here you typically place your company logo, change address format, add comments.? The second customization candidate is Purchase Order.? The reason you use custom report writer reports is simple – you like to print Invoice or PO from SOP Entry or POP entry forms directly, rather than launch Crystal Report and provide invoice number as a parameter
  • Version Upgrade.? In most of the cases upgrade works fine.? However, assuming we are upgrading GP custom reports – sometimes you need help.? When GP report in new version uses different calculated fields – you will need to analyze calculated fields of the old report and compare them to the one for new one and make changes.
  • SRS & Crystal Reports.? We often hear questions – which tool should we use, or even more direct – should we walk away from all our Crystal Reports and redesign them in SRS?? The answer is – probably you should wait, when SRS will be better integrated into GP model.? From the reporting tool power aspect – both CR and SRS require good SQL base query design, so data manipulation logic is typically out of the scope (sql view or stored procedure) – the rest of the reporting job – list query results and group them by certain criteria – both tools are good in it.

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