I'm excited to announce the release of ActiveReports 15. This is a significant release - giving you everything you need to create rich reports with user-friendly report designers, feature-packed controls and components, and a robust backend reporting engine. In this blog, we'll discuss some of these features and how you can benefit from them:

  • .NET 5 Support
  • Table Control Simplifications
  • Tablix Wizard
  • Advanced Parameters Panel
  • Advanced Filtering
  • Improved Syntax for Expressions
  • New Page Height setting for RDL reports
  • New Installer

There is a lot to cover, so let's get right into it.

See ActiveReports v15 in Action

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New .NET 5 Controls for Reporting

What's New in ActiveReports v15

source: Microsoft

As you know, .NET 5 is the next version of .NET Core. It is Microsoft's first release to unify the .NET platforms and was released last month. We can expect at least three more major releases over the next few years, with .NET 6 and 8 offering LTS (Long-Term Support). The release of .NET 5, aside from starting to unify the .NET universe, brought many features, including Single-File Apps to distribute applications as a single exe, performance improvements including garbage collector and JIT enhancements, and Blazor Server and WebAssembly improvements, among others.

To get started with ActiveReports on .NET 5, you will need Visual Studio 16.8 or later, obviously with .NET 5 installed. Run the ActiveReports installer to install the necessary tools and integrate it with Visual Studio 2019.

At this point, you can either create a new application or upgrade an existing application to .NET 5. To create a new application with ActiveReports, and Microsoft certainly recommends targeting .NET 5 for new projects, you can either start a new blank project or use one of the pre-built project templates ActiveReports provides:

What's New in ActiveReports v15

If you have an existing application, upgrading it from .NET Core to .NET 5 is relatively simple. See this page for a step by step guide on migrating the project. ActiveReports v15, for its part, requires nothing beyond that to work in .NET 5.

Report Designer for Web Enhancements

The following are new features and enhancements introduced in the End-User Report Designer for web:

Table Control Simplifications

Creating a WYSIWYG tabular report in the End-User Report Designer for the web has been dramatically simplified in ActiveReports v15. In this release, you can create a table from a dataset by dragging the dataset to the design surface. Alternatively, if you need a table made from only some of the fields, you can select the data fields of interest and drag-and-drop them to the design surface to create a table. This saves so much time and effort instead of dropping a table from the toolbox, adding the necessary number of columns, and then assigning a data field to each column.

Another significant enhancement is re-arranging Table columns at design time. Imagine you've added several fields to the design surface and the designer automatically created a table out of those fields. Now, you want to reorder the fields, so Column1 comes between Column4 and Column5. You can do this by simply dragging Column1 to the desired position. You can move multiple columns the same way by selecting them using Ctrl+mouse_click. So much easier, especially for non-technical users.

 

There are several more enhancements to make working with the Table much simpler. For example, dropping a data field in the Table's "Group" panel automatically groups data on that field. You can also add a data field at a specific index in the table. For example, if you have an existing table, you can insert another data field between Column1 and Column2 by dragging and dropping from the designer's data panel.

Tablix Wizard

Creating a report based on the Tablix control is even easier in ActiveReports 15 with the new Tablix Wizard. You can see that the wizard offers an Office-inspired UI to make it more user-friendly:

What's New in ActiveReports v15

The wizard features drag-and-drop functionality allowing you to drop fields from your data set (left panel) to either the Column Group, Row Group, or Values sections. Placing a field under Values will automatically apply the appropriate aggregate, which can be changed by clicking the sigma Σ icon for that field.

Additionally, aside from adding totals to groups and specifying styles, the Layout Options section has advanced features to help you better organize your data. For example, the Stepped Row Groups toggles between nested hierarchical grouping and side-by-side parent-child grouping.

Creating complex pivot tables featuring multi-level grouping and aggregates, drill-down functionality, and custom styling is as easy as a few clicks with this wizard!

Improved Syntax for Expressions

Reading expressions is now much simpler in ActiveReports v15! Expressions are like simple scripts that not only allow you to control the runtime behavior and appearance of a control but are also used for conditional formatting, aggregation, and more. For example, in previous versions of ActiveReports, to calculate the average price of products, you would use something like =Avg(Fields!Price.Value). In v15, this expression would be {Avg(Price)}, which is much neater and easier to understand.

Advanced Parameters Options

What's New in ActiveReports v15

ActiveReports v15 gives you the ability to define custom parameter options using advanced control types. You and your end-users can design the look and feel of the parameters they will interact with. For example, you might display a date parameter as a calendar or a drop-down, or even a date range. You can even allow your end-users to customize parameter layouts, similar to customizing a report layout. With all the options available, you can design a very advanced and complex parameter panel. And with our extensive API, you can disable parameter customization for end-users if you so choose.

Advanced Filtering

A final feature for the End-User Report Designer for the web is the Advanced Filters. Similar to the advanced parameter customizations discussed above, you and your end-users can create advanced filters to filter your data at the dataset level or apply different filters to specific data regions or controls. The objective of this feature was to make the data filtering process simpler and straightforward. Therefore, we created a simple, uncomplicated UI to help you create complex AND / OR logic-based filters, depending on a parameter value, a specified string, or some other condition.

What's New in ActiveReports v15

New Page Height setting for RDL reports

What's New in ActiveReports v15

We added an "Auto" setting for the PageSize.Height property for RDL reports so print jobs can be better managed for reports whose length is unknown. Imagine a scenario where you need to print a lengthy report on a scroll of paper, similar to a retail store's receipt. While this was possible using calculations at runtime in previous versions, it was a bit cumbersome. Now, if you need to print reports of unknown height, set the PageSize.Height property to "Auto."

New Installer

With ActiveReports v15, we've improved the installation process. First, the installer is now a much smaller executable that determines which files are needed for the installation and gives you control over where you want them installed. As with previous versions of ActiveReports, samples are not installed on your machine as they are readily available on GitHub. I'm excited about this next one: the executable offers you the option to join the GrapeCity Customer Experience Program, which sends us information specific to GrapeCity's controls and libraries. This information is then used to address issues within the product and improve usability and quality. No personal information or application-specific information is collected. As such, we will learn which ActiveReports controls and features you use most often to focus more development resources on those features and help you achieve more in less time.

What's New in ActiveReports v15

ActiveReports 15 is a milestone release focused on the latest tech, ease of use, and customization. I am confident that you and your end-users will love the unparalleled experience ActiveReports 15 delivers. So I invite you to be among the first to download ActiveReports 15 if you haven't already done so. If you are a lucky ActiveReports 14 user with an active maintenance subscription, you get this release for FREE! Everyone else will enjoy a 30-day FREE trial of ActiveReports 15 upon installation.

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