Tuesday, 29 January 2013 13:13

Report Writer Tricks #1: Copy Formatting from an Existing Report for a New Company

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If you have ever created any customized reports from within Microsoft Dynamics GP, then you are quite aware of how reporting can be a useful tool in extracting the exact information needed to increase your productivity and make effective business decisions. While there are a number of different reporting methods that can be utilized (such as SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), SmartLists, and Word Templates), the most popular and basis for reporting within GP is Report Writer.

While exceptionally powerful, Report Writer is not the easiest application to operate without prior knowledge or experience. However, the following is a trick that one can use to have Report Writer work for you.

A few weeks ago, a client had requested a Purchase Order form for a new company that they had just recently added to GP. The formatting of the PO form was to resemble that of an existing company, the only difference being a change in logo in the top-left corner of the report. Should be easy. However, Report Writer will only allow two versions of the same type of report: either the original GP standard or the modified version. When a report is 'modified', it will print in place of the standard version of the report. Although there are both 'Copy' and 'Duplicate' options when choosing a report to customize in Report Writer, these secondary versions of the report will only be accessible through (Reports → Customized) within GP and cannot be printed or displayed, for example, from the 'Purchase Order Entry' window.

Luckily, the Purchase Order form has two documents types: the Blank form or Other form. This way, both companies can utilize their own type of purchase order form. However, if the client requests the POP Purchase Order Other Form to be a copy of the POP Purchase Order Blank Form, the latter having numerous formatting changes and functions created; the replication of this report can be a lengthy process. There must be a better way, right? Well, there is.

Through the (Microsoft Dynamics GP → Tools → Customize → Customization Maintenance) menu, you can export a package file of the report you wish to copy. Package files are XML formatted and contain all the modifications and fields used on the report. Due to their text-based nature, these files can be manipulated within a simple text editing program, such as Notepad, without ever having to access Report Writer itself. After exporting the POP Purchase Order Blank Form as a package file (the form we would like to replicate) we can open the file and copy all text between the Report “POP Purchase Order Blank Form” line and the closing </Component>line.

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This can then be pasted into an exported POP Purchase Order Other Form package file, in the exact same location of the text document (between Report “POP Purchase Order Other Form” and the closing </Component>).

Once saved, the POP Purchase Order Other Form package file can be imported back into GP through the Customization Maintenance window. The only step remaining is to replace the logo in Report Writer with that of the new company. Simple.

When importing packages into GP, it is important that all users, other than yourself, are logged out as the package will not import correctly and problems can occur. Backing up existing packages files is always a good idea in the case that something goes awry. Access will also need to be granted to the users who wish to view or print the modified report.

Tricks like this one can save you a lot of time and stress when dealing with reporting in GP, and if a particular task appears as though it will take more work than warranted, then it is likely that there is an easier way of accomplishing it.

Brandon Germaine is an Application Specialist at WebSan Solutions Inc, a Microsoft Dynamics GP Silver Partner & 2012 Microsoft Impact Awards Finalist. Brandon can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 416-499-1235 ext 219.

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