Imported: 13 Feb '17 | Published: 18 Jan '11
USPTO - Utility Patents
A method of transforming reports from one version of software to another version is disclosed. The method exports existing report objects in an existing first version report into XML format to a transformation tool and then to a layout transformation tool. An XML object is created and is imported into a report in the second version.
This Background is intended to provide the basic context of this patent application and it is not intended to describe a specific problem to be solved.
Software is constantly improving. From addressing comments from users to taking advantage of better technology, software continues to improve. As a result, new and improved versions of software are released. However, users have often become accustomed to using older versions of software and created numerous customizations of the software, changing to newer versions of software becomes a more challenging process as the customizations often do not carry over from one version of software to the next.
This Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used to limit the scope of the claimed subject matter.
A method of transforming reports from one version of software to another version is disclosed. The method exports existing report objects in an existing first version report into XML format to a transformation tool. In the transformation tool, a report for the existing first version report is detected, mini-patterns within the existing first version report are detected, the existing first version report is tabularized, parts of the existing first version report are transformed into a series of instructions and a section part of the existing first version report is transformed into a RDLC (report definition language client) file in XML format.
Although the following text sets forth a detailed description of numerous different embodiments, it should be understood that the legal scope of the description is defined by the words of the claims set forth at the end of this patent. The detailed description is to be construed as exemplary only and does not describe every possible embodiment since describing every possible embodiment would be impractical, if not impossible. Numerous alternative embodiments could be implemented, using either current technology or technology developed after the filing date of this patent, which would still fall within the scope of the claims.
It should also be understood that, unless a term is expressly defined in this patent using the sentence “As used herein, the term ‘______’ is hereby defined to mean . . . ” or a similar sentence, there is no intent to limit the meaning of that term, either expressly or by implication, beyond its plain or ordinary meaning, and such term should not be interpreted to be limited in scope based on any statement made in any section of this patent (other than the language of the claims). To the extent that any term recited in the claims at the end of this patent is referred to in this patent in a manner consistent with a single meaning, that is done for sake of clarity only so as to not confuse the reader, and it is not intended that such claim term by limited, by implication or otherwise, to that single meaning. Finally, unless a claim element is defined by reciting the word “means” and a function without the recital of any structure, it is not intended that the scope of any claim element be interpreted based on the application of 35 U.S.C. §112, sixth paragraph.
FIG. 1 illustrates an example of a suitable computing system environment 100 on which a system for the steps of the claimed method and apparatus may be implemented. The computing system environment 100 is only one example of a suitable computing environment and is not intended to suggest any limitation as to the scope of use or functionality of the method of apparatus of the claims. Neither should the computing environment 100 be interpreted as having any dependency or requirement relating to any one or combination of components illustrated in the exemplary operating environment 100.
The steps of the claimed method and apparatus are operational with numerous other general purpose or special purpose computing system environments or configurations. Examples of well known computing systems, environments, and/or configurations that may be suitable for use with the methods or apparatus of the claims include, but are not limited to, personal computers, server computers, hand-held or laptop devices, multiprocessor systems, microprocessor-based systems, set top boxes, programmable consumer electronics, network PCs, minicomputers, mainframe computers, distributed computing environments that include any of the above systems or devices, and the like.
The steps of the claimed method and apparatus may be described in the general context of computer-executable instructions, such as program modules, being executed by a computer. Generally, program modules include routines, programs, objects, components, data structures, etc. that perform particular tasks or implement particular abstract data types. The methods and apparatus may also be practiced in distributed computing environments where tasks are performed by remote processing devices that are linked through a communications network. In a distributed computing environment, program modules may be located in both local and remote computer storage media including memory storage devices.
With reference to FIG. 1, an exemplary system for implementing the steps of the claimed method and apparatus includes a general purpose computing device in the form of a computer 110. Components of computer 110 may include, but are not limited to, a processing unit 120, a system memory 130, and a system bus 121 that couples various system components including the system memory to the processing unit 120. The system bus 121 may be any of several types of bus structures including a memory bus or memory controller a peripheral bus, and a local bus using any of a variety of bus architectures. By way of example, and not limitation, such architectures include Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) bus, Micro Channel Architecture (MCA) bus, Enhanced ISA (EISA) bus, Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) local bus, Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) bus also known as Mezzanine bus, and the Peripheral Component Interconnect-Express (PCI-E).
Computer 110 (typically includes a variety of computer readable media. Computer readable media can be any available media that can be accessed by computer 110 and includes both volatile and nonvolatile media, removable and non-removable media. By way of example, and not limitation, computer readable media may comprise computer storage media and communication media. Computer storage media includes both volatile and nonvolatile, removable and non-removable media implemented in any method or technology for storage of information such as computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules or other data. Computer storage media includes, but is not limited to, RAM, ROM, EEPROM, flash memory or other memory technology, CD-ROM, digital versatile disks (DVD) or other optical disk storage, magnetic cassettes, magnetic tape, magnetic disk storage or other magnetic storage devices, or any other medium which can be used to store the desired information and which can accessed by computer 110. Communication media typically embodies computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules or other data in a modulated data signal such as a carrier wave or other transport mechanism and includes any information delivery media. The term “modulated data signal” means a signal that has one or more of its characteristics set or changed in such a manner as to encode information in the signal. By way of example, and not limitation, communication media includes wired media such as a wired network or direct-wired connection, and wireless media such as acoustic, RF, infrared and other wireless media. Combinations of the any of the above should also be included within the scope of computer readable media.
The system memory 130 includes computer storage media in the form of volatile and/or nonvolatile memory such as read only memory (ROM) 131 and random access memory (RAM) 132. A basic input/output system 133 (BIOS), containing the basic routines that help to transfer information between elements within computer 110, such as during start-up, is typically stored in ROM 131. RAM 132 typically contains data and/or program modules that are immediately accessible to and/or presently being operated on by processing unit 120. By way of example, and not limitation, FIG. 1 illustrates operating system 134, application programs 135, other program modules 136, and program data 137.
The computer 110 may also include other removable/non-removable, volatile/nonvolatile computer storage media. By way of example only, FIG. 1 illustrates a hard disk drive 140 that reads from or writes to non-removable, nonvolatile magnetic media, a magnetic disk drive 151 that reads from or writes to a removable, nonvolatile magnetic disk 152, and an optical disk drive 155 that reads from or writes to a removable, nonvolatile optical disk 156 such as a CD ROM or other optical media. Other removable/non-removable, volatile/nonvolatile computer storage media that can be used in the exemplary operating environment include, but are not limited to, magnetic tape cassettes, flash memory cards, digital versatile disks, digital video tape, solid state RAM, solid state ROM, and the like. The hard disk drive 141 is typically connected to the system bus 121 through a non-removable memory interface such as interface 140, and magnetic disk drive 151 and optical disk drive 155 are typically connected to the system bus 121 by a removable memory interface, such as interface 150.
The drives and their associated computer storage media discussed above and illustrated in FIG. 1, provide storage of computer readable instructions, data strictures, program modules and other data for the computer 110. In FIG. 1, for example, hard disk drive 141 is illustrated as storing operating system 144, application programs 145, other program modules 146, and program data 147. Note that these components can either be the same as or different from operating system 134, application programs 135, other program modules 136, and program data 137. Operating system 144, application programs 145, other program modules 146, and program data 147 are given different numbers here to illustrate that, at a minimum, they are different copies. A user may enter commands and information into the computer 20 through input devices such as a keyboard 162 and pointing device 161, commonly referred to as a mouse, trackball or touch pad. Other input devices (not shown) may include a microphone, joystick, game pad, satellite dish, scanner, or the like. These and other input devices are often connected to the processing unit 120 through a user input interface 160 that is coupled to the system bus, but may be connected by other interface and bus structures, such as a parallel port, game port or a universal serial bus (USB). A monitor 191 or other type of display device is also connected to the system bus 121 via an interface, such as a video interface 190. In addition to the monitor, computers may also include other peripheral output devices such as speakers 197 and printer 196, which may be connected through an output peripheral interface 190.
The computer 110 may operate in a networked environment using logical connections to one or more remote computers, such as a remote computer 180. The remote computer 180 may be a personal computer a server, a router, a network PC, a peer device or other common network node, and typically includes many or all of the elements described above relative to the computer 110, although only a memory storage device 181 has been illustrated in FIG. 1. The logical connections depicted in FIG. 1 include a local area network (LAN) 171 and a wide area network (WAN) 173, but may also include other networks. Such networking environments are commonplace in offices, enterprise-wide computer networks, intranets and the Internet.
When used in a LAN networking environment, the computer 110 is connected to the LAN 171 through a network interface or adapter 170. When used in a WAN networking environment, the computer 110 typically includes a modem 172 or other means for establishing communications over the WAN 173, such as the Internet. The modem 172, which may be internal or external, may be connected to the system bus 121 via the user input interface 160, or other appropriate mechanism. In a networked environment, program modules depicted relative to the computer 110, or portions thereof, may be stored in the remote memory storage device. By way of example, and not limitation, FIG. 1 illustrates remote application programs 185 as residing on memory device 181. It will be appreciated that the network connections shown are exemplary and other means of establishing a communications link between the computers may be used.
FIG. 2 is a graphical representation of a method of transforming a report from a first version into a second version. The reports may be any report, including reports for financial reporting, enterprise resource planning programs (“ERP”) or customer relationship management (“CRM”) such as Dynamics NAV (formerly Navision) from Microsoft Corporation.
At block 210, existing report objects are exported in an existing first version report into XML format to a transformation tool. The report objects may be in any format, such as C/SIDE. Other formats in addition to XML may be possible.
At block 215, in the transformation tool, a report type for the existing first version report may be detected. Often times, reports may be created from templates and matching the report to a known type is straightforward. Other times, reports are modified and the determination of a report type may be more complicated. In some cases, a specific report type may be noted in the report file.
At block 220, mini-patterns may be determined within the existing first version report. The detection of mini patterns assists in identifying ways to efficient transform the report from a first version to a second version. The detection of mini-patterns may take many forms. In one embodiment, detecting mini-patterns entails examining properties of the existing first version report and determining if the properties of the first version report are similar to properties of known reports. Properties of the first report version may include the body of the first version report, the headers of the first version report and the groupings of the first version report. By examining the body, headers and groupings, the properties of the existing first report may be compared to the properties of known reports to see if the existing first report is or is related to a known report. For example, if a report only contains a header and a body section, the method may predict with great accuracy that the report is a list-style report. In another example, if the report contains a large header section with two address sections (sender and receiver address), the method may predict that the report is a Document style report.
In another embodiment, detecting mini-patterns entails examining parent-child relationships within the report and comparing the parent-child relationship to known parent-child relationships to determine if the parent-child relationship is similar to a known parent-child relationship. As an example, a balance sheet has a plurality of known parent-child relationship and these parent-child relationships may be used to predict the type of report. If there is a match, the report may be quickly classified.
In another embodiment, detecting mini-patterns entails examining the layout of fields in the report. For example, if a report contains multiple rows of fields in a columnar structure, and they all show very similar values, the method may detect that this is a Label style report for printing address labels for customers or vendors. In yet another embodiment, if the same field is used both in a body section and a group section, the method would predict that this is a “List with Groupings” style report with a list of entries and a summary line at the end.
At block 225, controls from the existing first version report are tabularized or put in tabular form. RDLC (report definition language-client) (which maybe represented as art in-memory object model or as an XML document) has a table concept with columns and rows that are used in reports. In previous versions of reports, controls that showed the various values were freely laid out on the report surface. In RDLC, most reports are created using a tabular format.
At block 230, parts of the existing first version report are transformed into a series of instructions. At a high level, reports may be broken into defined data sources and query information, along with data regions and fields on the report. Layout information and interactive features may also be included. These elements may be transformed into a series of instructions that are executed when the report is created, opened or updated. For example, data that is stored may be obtained first and fields which are dependent on the stored data may be filled in second, etc. In execution, transforming the parts of the existing first version report may include transforming request forms in the existing first version report into a request page.
More specifically, FIG. 3 illustrates how the transformation may occur. At block 300, the method may review the elements or field names in the report. The report may still be in its original format, such as C/Side. At block 305, any elements that are located at block 300 that are not already part of the RDLC data set may be added to the data schema. The RDLC designer may require a fixed dataset schema in order to perform a validation of the field names. By adding all the elements to the dataset schema, validation will occur. In addition, extra fields or elements may be added the dataset schema if the field can be more correctly implemented in RDLC rather than being calculated in the native format such as C/Side.
At block 310, shapes that cannot be supported in RDLC are removed from the transformation process. At block 315, all the body sections are tagged for later usage. At block 320, the report in its native format such as C/Side is analyzed to see if later in the process grouping should be used. If the analysis at block 320 is true that grouping are present, then the method may continue to a group transformation as described in FIG. 5.
At block 325, headers may be identified. Headers may be transformed differently than the body because headers are positioned with coordinates in C/Side, and in RDLC, the headers are fitted into a table. Headers may be found by looking at the first section of the report and looking for elements such as company name, date, time, user id, etc. The fields found in this analysis are added to a separate list because they need to receive their information from body elements and need a parallel field in the table. In one embodiment, the headers are added as hidden columns at the end of the RDLC table.
At block 330, the margin and width of the report are collected.
At block 335, the body of the report in its original format is reviewed. The first page only sections are identified and are created in the body area. As they are elements on top of the body table, they may be displayed only on the first page.
During transformation, only one body table is created. In order to make only one body table, at block 340, the most feature filled section is identified as the entry point for the transformation. Finding the entry point section may require an evaluation. FIG. 4 may be one such evaluation methodology.
At block 400, the method may attempt to find the body that is bound together with the header fields from block 325. If such a section is located, it may be used as the entry point. If such a section cannot be located, at block 410 the method may attempt to location a body that is bound to some controls in other sections. If such a section is located, it may be used as the entry point. If such a section cannot be located, at block 420, the method may try to find the inner most group footer. If such a section is located, it may be used as the entry point. If such a section cannot be located, at block 430, the method may take the section with the most controls as the entry point.
Referring again to FIG. 3, at block 345 fields inside the original format such as C/Side are sorted into rows and columns. In some formats such as C/Side, the fields are located using coordinates but in RDLC, the fields are located inside a table. The rows and columns make up a large table. At block 350, spacers between the fields in the native format report are calculated and are added to the table such that the report in RDLC will look like the report in the original format such as C/Side.
At block 355, the RDLC table is created by transforming the modified C/Side file into an RDLC table in an in-memory object model. At block 360, the hidden fields for the header section from 325 are added to the RDLC file as hidden columns at the end of the table. The RDLC in-memory object model is ready to be deserialized into RDLC Xml.
Referring again to FIG. 2, at block 235, the additional groupings may be added to the in-memory object model. The RDLC in in-memory object model may store the data until transformation is complete.
At block 240, the in-memory object model may be serialized into a RDLC file in XML format and at block 245, the files may be communicated to the updated version of the application. RDLC files may be created in a variety of ways. One way is to use the Visual Studio 2005 version of Report Designer. RDL and RDLC formats have the same XML schema. However, in RDLC files, some values (such as query text) are allowed to be empty, which means that they are not immediately ready to be published to a Report Server. The missing values may be entered by opening the RDLC file using the SQL Server 2005 version of Report Designer.
Some reporting services use a published, extensible XML schema called Report Definition Language (RDL) and RDLC is the client side version of RDL. The RDL format covers all aspects of the reports, including data retrieval, expressions, and layout. RDL is a set of instructions that describe layout and query information for a report. RDL is composed of Extensible Markup Language (XML) elements that conform to an XML grammar created for Reporting Services. RDL describes the XML elements, which encompass all possible variations that a report can assume. RDL promotes the interoperability of commercial reporting products by defining a common schema that enables the interchange of report definitions as a standard way of communicating using reports.
RDL is not a programmatic interface or protocol like HTTP or ODBC. It does not specify how report definitions are passed between applications or how reports are processed. Because RDL is fully encapsulated, you can write code that interprets an RDL document without having to know anything about the source application. Any protocol or programmatic interface that works with XML can be used with RDL. RDL is:
An XML schema for report definitions.
An interchange format for businesses and third parties.
An extensible and open schema that supports additional namespaces and custom elements.
Users may use the expression capabilities of RDL to support dynamic content within reports, designing conditional formatting and drill-down links. There are specific ways to generate RDL programmatically. One way to generate RDL from an application is to use the Microsoft .NET Framework classes of the System.Xml namespace. The XmlTextWriter class can write RDL according to the specification. However, a user may generate a complete report definition in any Microsoft. NET application. Because RDL is an open schema, it can be extended with additional attributes and elements. Users may even include custom report controls and elements that are not included with RDL and embed code inside the report definition. For example, a user may create and use maps, barcodes, and media clips within reports, and add the custom report controls to the Microsoft Visual Studio Toolbox. Custom report controls have their own properties and dialog boxes and use the expression evaluation, grouping, sorting, and filtering features of the Report Processor. As the RDLC file is XML schema, the report object is straightforward to make. The XML object may be imported into a report in the second version. As such, customizations that were made to the first version of the report will carry over into the second version of the report.
The report definition for a report contains elements that define the data and appearance of the report. A report definition file can contain additional elements that are not used by the report server. For example, Report Designer places an element in the report definition that is only used by Report Designer. The following are some of the elements in a sample RDL file.
FIG. 5 may be an illustration of group transformation one embodiment of how a group transformation may be performed. At block 500, all data items in the report may be reviewed to see if there are group total fields. If there are group total fields, at block 510, the method may transform the group total fields into group expressions. Also, at block 520, detail rows may be added and control may pass to block 530. If there are no group total fields, control may pass to block 530. At block 530, ordinary groups are evaluated. The start data item may be the data item that the best body section is in. At block 540, parent data items may be located and group expressions may be created on matches to the patent data items. At block 550, body rows and headers are added that are associated with the grouping. This process is executed for all parent relations. At block 560, header and footer sections may be added to the report and the table is ready to be deserialized into RDLC XML.
In use, the transformation may be made by accomplished by making a selection on a menu. For example, a user may select a “convert reports” tab and reports in Navision 5.1 may be listed. The user may select one, some or all of the listed reports to be converted. Once selected, the reports may be converted without further input from the user. In one embodiment, the user may be requested to indicate where to store the transformed reports.
Although the forgoing text sets forth a detailed description of numerous different embodiments, it should be understood that the scope of the patent is defined by the words of the claims set forth at the end of this patent. The detailed description is to be construed as exemplary only and does not describe every possible embodiment because describing every possible embodiment would be impractical, it not impossible. Numerous alternative embodiments could be implemented, using either current technology or technology developed after the filing date of this patent, which would still fall within the scope of the claims.
Thus, many modifications and variations may be made in the techniques and structures described and illustrated herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the present claims. Accordingly, it should be understood that the methods and apparatus described herein are illustrative only and are not limiting upon the scope of the claims.