The earlier chapters introduced the concept of report sections such as the detail section and the group header and footer sections. Report sections segment reports into logical areas to facilitate logical report design. Report sections are identified by name on the left side of the design environment, and, by default, each report includes a Report Header and Footer, Page Header and Footer, and Details section. If you have inserted any groups into your report, you also have a Group Header and Footer for each defined group item. As reports have been created in the previous chapters, objects such as database fields, text fields, and corporate logo images have been placed into the various report sections and organized based on the report design requirements.
Each section has unique display properties and printing characteristics that can be modified. For example, if a report object, such as an image, is placed in the Report Header section, the image displays and prints only once per report, on the first page. If the same image is placed in the Page Header section, the image then displays and prints once for every single page of the report. The same principals hold true for other custom sections, such as Group Headers and Footers. Finally, the Detail section implies that whatever is placed in this section displays, and prints, once for each and every row retrieved from the data source.
The Crystal Reports design environment is built on a paper metaphor with pages the driving concept in structuring the presentation of report information. This page metaphor applies when referencing report printing and with respect to various presentation characteristics of report formatting.
Using the report created in Chapter 6, take a closer look at how to format report sections. The following exercises demonstrate how to format sections such as the Group Header and Group Footer to improve the overall presentation of a Crystal Report. In addition to modifying display properties, conditional logic is also applied that modifies the behavior of the Page Header section based on the result of the defined condition (format formula). The Section Expert is the central location for working with all report section properties, and it is used to view and modify the properties of each report section throughout the following exercises.
As you might have noticed, long names (descriptive names) of each section are provided to the left of the design environment within the Design tab, whereas only the short names (abbreviated names) of sections are presented while viewing reports from the Preview tab. This maximizes the report viewing space while working in the Preview tab. The long names can, however, be accessed by either hovering the mouse cursor over the section or by right-clicking on the section name (or label).
There are three distinct ways to access the Section Expert; these include
To start the hands-on learning, follow these steps:
Figure 7.4. The Section Expert provides access to a variety of section formatting properties, as well as enabling the specification of what happens before and after each section is printed.
From within the Section Expert, you can easily navigate from modifying the properties of one report section to another without closing this dialog window. Regardless of how you open the Section Expert dialog window, you can quickly toggle to other report sections, providing a central location to access and modify the properties of all report sections.
Figure 7.1. Formatting a report section can make reports more readable and friendly to end users.
To access the Insert Summary dialog so that you can add a summary field to your report, you can use the Summary command from the main Insert menu, you can use the Insert Summary button located on the Insert toolbar, or you can simply right-click on any report field already in the report and access the Insert Summary menu option from the right-click menu. This last option prepopulates the Choose the Field to Summarize drop-down box and saves you a few needless steps.
Figure 7.2. Section formatting can be applied specifically to the various sections of your report for a more meaningful report presentation.
As you have seen, formatting the various sections of your report is very straightforward. Each section has unique and specific properties that can be modified and used collectively to enhance the presentation quality of the entire report.
To quickly remove blank space within report sections and tighten up the alignment of the objects positioned within the sections, you can use the Fit Section command. The Fit Section command is available from the right-click menu of each report section. This raises the bottom boundary line and reduces unnecessary space within the section.