About Report Writer

Report Writer is one of the most important features of Issuetrak. This article will help you get to know the report writer’s terms, capabilities, and why you might want to use this feature. This feature gives you the powerful ability to construct reports to gather and structure data from your Issuetrak site. The following section will provide you with a list of terms that will be helpful as we explain this feature and how it is used.


Quick Overview

Report Writer has two distinct functions: Reports and Scheduled Reports.

  1. Reports are an information gathering tool that can be logically divided into two stages:
     
    1. The first stage consists of data selection: You select the datasets and fields you want to use, optionally followed by applying any filters you might want on that data. If you want to quickly grab information from Issuetrak, then you don't need to go any further than this.
       
    2. The (optional) second stage is effectively a process of customizing how your report results are presented. You determine whether you want your data sorted or grouped, as well as make decisions on how the report is formatted. Once complete, the report will run based on how you've configured it.
       
  2. Scheduled Reports automatically runs a report and delivers it to specific recipients. You select which report you want to run, decide how often it should be delivered, and who should receive it. 

 

Terminology

It’s best to be familiar with several terms going forward:

Term Definition
Table Basic database repository for information stored in Issuetrak. For example, the organization table contains information about all of your Organizations. Report Writer is fed information from these tables.
Field A piece of information about a specific record in a database table, such as an address or phone number for a user.
Dataset A collection of data from multiple tables that allows us to provide various fields for your reports. For example, to display a user record, we data from the Users, Organizations, Departments, and Locations tables.
Filter Expression A filter that limits the data you view in a report. For example, a report can be filtered so that issues submitted last week are the only viewable data.
Filter Statement The combination of filter expressions allows for a more complex data filter. For example, a filter statement would allow you to build a report to (for example) see all issues assigned to a specific user that were submitted last week.
Data Scope The combination of dataset and filtering, which selects the data a report will contain. Report Writer allows you to select fields and create filters to select a subset of data from the raw dataset.
Presentation While you are building a report, you can optionally fine-tune how the results are presented. Methods include selecting fields to group results by, as well as sorting, column formatting, subtotal counts or sums, and whether the text is justified.
Record The basic unit of the information displayed in your report. Each record displays one row. A record can be an issue, a user, an asset, a task, or any other item that you need to report on with your selected fields displayed.

 

Getting Started

This feature allows you to build your own reports. Consider what you want to see in the resulting report, what type of data needs to be included, and how you want that data displayed. This will keep you on track through the report creation process.

Consider the following to determine which data and fields to include in your report:

  • Dataset – Do you need data about assets, users, issues, or something else? 
  • Filter Expressions / Statement – Based on the dataset you selected, which records do you want to see? Are you looking for records from a specific time frame, customer, or department?
  • Defining the Data Scope – Do you need to see all of the fields for each record, or are you just looking for certain fields? What filter criteria do you want to use?
  • Report Formatting and Presentation – How do you want the results formatted? Do you need to sort or group them? Do you need to see an average of time, count the total number of records, or get a sum of the data in the fields? This helps you decide how to sort, group, and total the columns in the report.

Additionally, you should have a look at the Report Writer Defaults, as they will govern (to some extent) the way your results will be presented.


Creating a Report

We're going to go through the motions of creating a new report.

Steps:

  1. Click on Reports from the left menu.
  2. Click New Report at the top of the Reports list that is displayed.
  3. Name your report something descriptive so that you can easily find it again.
  4. (Optional) Provide the Report Title that will appear on the report results.
  5. (Optional) To share the report, check the box next to Share. Use the type-ahead field and magnifying glass button to add users that will have access to this report.
  6. (Optional) Set a description for your report to explain the purpose or context of this report.
  7. Broadly define the data scope.
    1. Choose the Data Set you want to gather information from.
    2. Drag and drop the fields you want this report to display in order from the list on the left to the box on the right. (To remove fields, drag and drop them back into the lefthand list.)
  8. You can choose to:
    1. Save & Run - Immediately run the report and see the results.
    2. Save & Exit - Save the report and go back to the initial Select Report screen.
    3. Click Next to continue to the Create a Report screen and fine-tune your report with filters and formatting. (Continue to step 7.)
  9. (Optional) Narrow the data scope.
    1. Beneath the Filtering header, define any filters to limit the scope of data in the results.
      1. The left dropdown menu lets you select the field to filter by.
      2. The right drop down menu lets you select the condition to filter the field.
      3. The Filter Logic field allows you to define a Filter Statement that combines the filters in the way you want.
Option Description
Field All Available Fields in the selected Data Set will be shown in the Field list
Condition The Conditions available are based on the data type of the field selected for filtering. Most conditions are self-explanatory. A few that may not be are In and Like. The In condition allows you to type a series of values separated by a semicolon. For example, Priority In Medium;High means that all records with a Priority of Medium OR High will be returned. Note—no space is used after the semicolon. The Like condition will search for the value anywhere in the field selected. For example, Priority Like I will return records containing both the Medium and High values since both values contain the letter I.
Field Value This field will only appear when a condition of =, <>, >, =, <= is selected, requiring a discriminating value. Field values can be manually entered or selected using the search (magnifying glass) icon. When selecting the search icon, a dialog box containing all the possible values for the specified field will display. Values for the specified field may be selected individually, or all values may be selected by clicking the Select All button. The CONTROL and SHIFT keys may also be used as described in Step 1. Click Update when all desired values have been selected.
Filter Expression This section lists all individual filters that have been created for the report. Each individual filter is assigned a sequential letter of the alphabet for identification purposes. Filter Expressions may be modified by clicking the EDIT link associated with the expression or deleted by clicking the DELETE link.
Filter Statement Filter Expressions can be related to one another using the Filter Statement. By default, the Filter Statement includes each Filter Expression with the AND operator. The Filter Statement can be modified as desired, using the operators: AND, OR and NOT. Parentheses can also be added for more advanced relations

  1. (Optional) Under the Sorting and Grouping header, you may choose to sort or group your data. In order to do this, use the dropdown menu to select a field that you want to sort or group data for, then click Add.
    1. A line item will appear for the field you selected. You may now choose the sorting direction, whether the data is grouped by this field, and whether the Header or Footer is present. Additionally, you can choose the order that these fields appear on the report using the up and down buttons, or click the X button to remove the line item.
  2. (Optional) Under the Defaults and Formatting header, you may choose to do the following:
    1. Make the report very brief by checking Suppress Report Details.
    2. For each line item, you can choose:
      1. Format (Date and numeric fields only) - Select how dates or numbers are presented.
      2. Subtotal - A count of the values for this column.
      3. Justification - Paragraph formatting.
      4. Width of the field.

  1. Click Save & Run.

The current results for your new report will appear when this process is complete.

 


 

Scheduling Reports

The Report Writer then allows you to create a schedule that emails reports to users of Issuetrak.  Scheduled Reports allow you to keep staff informed of what is going on, without your administrator being involved.


Best Practices

The information outlined above introduced the basics of Issuetrak’s Report Writer.  We will now discuss some best practices and tips for working with queries and reports created with Report Writer.


Use Filters to Limit Your Data

Reports can use a lot of system resources when calculating, so make sure to match your needs with the appropriate data filters. For example, if you only need to see the 150 issues that were submitted this week, make sure to use an expression that specifies “This Week” instead of “This Year.” Making filter statements with more than one expression narrows down your results so you only see the required values.


Use Grouping to Deal with Duplicate Data

Datasets such as Issues/Notes or Issues/Tasks use a combination of information that displays a line in the report for each note or task added to a particular issue in a one-to-many relationship.

You can use grouping in the report to limit duplication where possible.


Use Report Descriptions

The description for a report is displayed on the Select Report screens in Report Writer. This information can include a statement of purpose with a list of the fields in the report. Having that information makes it easier to find the report you need, especially if you have a lot to choose from. The below example shows the grouping, totals, and sort values, as well as what fields are included.


Change Default Format and Settings

The Settings screen under Reports allows you to set different formats for the field data types. To improve output on all reports, you may want to modify the defaults. For example, decimal fields can be changed to “display as currency” fields with a dollar sign automatically added. Remember that this will change the value for each field using that data type.

We also recommend the following modifications for the settings at the bottom of the page:

  1. Increase the maximum number of records returned by a report to allow more results. The default of 1,000 may cause frustration if your users are trying to create a report that needs to return more than 1,000 results.

  2. Increase the number of records printed per page to avoid blank spaces when printing your report. Increase the number of records displayed per page or set it to 0 for an unlimited value. This keeps you from having to click “Next Page” when viewing results within Issuetrak.

  3. Increase the number of records displayed per page or set it to 0 for an unlimited value. This keeps you from having to click “Next Page” when viewing results within Issuetrak.


Use Formatting on Specific Reports

If you don’t want to modify the default settings, formatting changes can be made on a specific report. On Step 5 of building a report, the formatting page allows you to make modifications for each field appearing in that report.


Tips and Tricks

1.    Displaying Date and Time

In a report, by default, fields such as “Submitted On” only show the date.  To display both date and time when building a report, on the formatting step, remove the formatting value from the specific columns. After removing the formatting on the “Submitted On” field, the time value displays.


2.    Creating Summary Reports

When building a report, you can create your own summary reports by using the “Suppress Report Details” option on the formatting page.  This option limits the report to show only the headers and footers for each grouped section. Make sure to turn off the option to show headers when setting your group defaults and leave the footer option selected.  This results in a formatted report that shows the footer totals. This example shows the count of issues and the average number of days open for each footer.


3.    View in Full-Screen Mode

When viewing the results of a report, this option removes the Issuetrak menu and allows the data to fill the entire browser window for less scrolling. This can be useful when you need to see extra columns or rows.


4.    Exporting Data

You may elect to export your results to Excel or CSV. This allows for additional manipulation of data, such as creating graphs and charts based on your results.


5.    Reporting on Inactive Types and Subtypes

Issue Types and Subtypes have the ability to be marked as inactive so that they can’t be selected on issues. In order to report on these inactive objects, you must temporarily reactivate the type or subtype long enough to create a filter in your report that includes those values. Once your report is created, you can deactivate the value. When you run the report, the deactivated value will be included.


6.    Renaming Columns

By default, each column name in a report is the actual field name.  Renaming a column on a report can give the data more meaning. 


Closing Thoughts

The goal of Issuetrak consulting is to make sure you get the most out of your Issuetrak implementation. Because your company is unique, your account manager can discuss which consulting options will work best for you. Or you can reach out directly to the Professional Services team.