by Chuck Ray, PMP, IT Project Manager, Nazareth College
At Nazareth College, Informer has been a part of our toolkit for several years. With the advent of Informer 4.x we quickly realized that the tool was extremely powerful and limited only by our imagination. While we leverage Informer for end user reporting, data extracts and reporting across multiple databases, we have also made extensive use of the ability to add calculations.
Through the use of the Template type calculation, we have been able to achieve report layouts that go beyond the traditional “spreadsheet-like” result set and present the data in new ways. The Template calculation allows the user to embed HTML into your calculated column, giving you a whole new tool set at your fingertips.
With the ability to use HTML inside a calculated column, we were able to streamline the production of our Course Book. Traditionally, the Course Book would start with a .csv file delivered from Datatel Colleague. The data would be brought into Excel and formatted as needed. The spreadsheet would then be merged with Word to present a view that is a single column with stacked data. The data would then be sent off for print.
Through the use of Informer, our team was able to leverage HTML inside a single calculated column to return twelve columns of data in a single formatted column. The report makes repeated use of calculations to combine Colleague data elements prior to returning the data through HTML. What this means to the business is that they no longer have to move through several steps to produce the course book; they can now run a single report, export it and send it off for print.
This is just once example of how we make use of the Template calculation. We have also taken advantage of this functionality to embed Google maps based on the addresses returned in the report. We have used CSS to provide conditional formatting based on report data as well as embedded pictures into our reports.
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