Writing Custom Serio Reports using Open Source Tools

We are going to be running a series of posts featuring how to write your own reports, in a' tutorial by instalments' form.

The good news we are trying to do this with free tools – so you can follow the posts even if you can’t stretch your budget to a report writer. If you want to follow this posts and create the reports as they are created in the blog, you will need to download the software from the links I’ve given below.

You will also need the Serio Development Kit for Crystal at some point. Don’t be put off by the name – it’s useful for any SQL-based report writer. This is also free, but you are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Before contacting your support representative to get a copy, please check you don’t already have it in your company.

The target audience for these posts is the more technically minded – getting some of the free tools working can be a bit tricky. I managed it in about 90 minutes (including the problems I had with about 5 different versions of Java on my machine), and I’ve tried to include a bit of troubleshooting below.

Important: Please don’t contact Serio support for problems with the open source reporting tools, as these are not Serio tools. I’ll try to anticipate any issues in the blog, but if something unexpected comes up use the blog comment features and I’ll try to help that way, where everyone can read the comments.

My advice is this: if you are going to follow these posts and create the reports at the same time, try to choose a machine that does not have Java installed yet – particularly the Microsoft Java Machine (JVM). For me, this was the biggest install problem I had (removing Microsoft JVM).

I’m going to be using Microsoft SQL Server as the target database platform, as it’s the most widely used DB platform. You can use Oracle, though you’ll need to use the Oracle JDBC drivers.

OK, here’s what you need. Remember these posts are for more technically-minded users.

1. Download Java and install it. The latest version link is below or google for ‘java runtime’.

www.java.com/en/download/manual.jsp.

2. Download the open-source report writer. We’ve chosen Datavision simply because it’s the easiest to install (you can download the software here). If you know of better ones let me know. It seems to be the simplest, but requires you to know something of SQL.

3. Install Datavision. There is no install as such, simply unpack the files. If you are not familiar with tar or gz google for it - there are lots of free tools.

4. Download the JDBC driver. Use the link below.

http://jtds.sourceforge.net/

Unpack these files and put them somewhere safe.

5. Within the JDBC driver software, locate the file called ‘jtds-1.2.jar’. Copy it to the Datavision directory called /lib (which will have been created in step 3).

6. Datavision is started by running a BAT file on Windows platforms called Datavision.BAT. Locate this file, and edit it by adding the following on to the end of the first line – no spaces, no CR – just add it straight to the end.

;lib\jtds-1.2.jar

Now try running Datavision (i.e., run ‘datavision.bat’).

Troubleshooting If you get an error message telling you that you’ve got the wrong Java version, you’ve got a bit of work to do. I had this problem as well, and resolved it by removing the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine (this link shows you how).

If you run a command shell (CMD) and type ‘java –version’ you can see the Java version you are running. You want that to say something like 1.6.0.1. If you still get Java version errors, search your hard disc for ‘java.exe’. I had about 10 copies, and renaming each one except the one from Sun as Java.exe.old finally fixed the problem.

You know you are home and dry when you see the Datavision login page. I’ll describe how to log-in in the next post I write.

[Update by blog admin: the next post in the series is here]

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