Tech Docs: Creating Custom Reports

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Creating Custom Reports

You can use Microsoft Access to create custom reports that use the Facil data. 

All Facil Data is in the single data file, usually named FacílData.mdb. In a multi-user installation, this file is on a server. You can see the path and name of your Facil data file at any time on the Facil main menu at the bottom. You will work with a COPY of this file when you are doing custom reporting.

Facil 4.5 and earlier stores the data in the Access 97 format.  Facil 5.0 and later uses the Access 2003 data format.  NEVER CONVERT YOUR WORKING Facil DATA TO A DIFFERENT ACCESS VERSION.  The Facil program will not be able to use the data if it has been converted.  If you use a newer version of Access, you can convert the COPY (MyFacílData.mdb) of your Facil data into the newer Access format each time you copy it.

You can build custom reports without affecting the Facil system in any way - and without owning the Facil source code.  To create custom reports from Facil data, these are the general steps to follow...

1) Create a new, empty Access database to hold all your custom reports and queries. Name it MyFacíl.

2) Copy the Facil data file (FacílData.mdb) to the same directory as MyFacíl. Rename this copy MyFacílData.mdb. This is the "snapshot" of the data that you will be reporting on. Once things are set up, you can make a fresh copy at any time to have the latest data.

3) In the new MyFacíl database, use the menu choice File/Get External Data/Link Tables to "link" all the tables in MyFacílData. Now you can use all those data tables in your queries and reports. You do not need to repeat this linking step when you make a fresh copy of the data, as long as you always use the same file name and put it in the same place.

Here's why you should do it this way: MyFacíl provides a separate place for everything you will create; no Facil source code needed, no problem when Facil is upgraded. By keeping MyFacíl (your custom reports and queries) and MyFacílData (the current copy of the data) separate, you can simply copy FacílData to MyFacílData at any time, without disturbing your reports and queries in MyFacíl.

For safety reasons, you must work only with a copy of the data rather than just linking MyFacíl directly to the actual production copy of FacílData. It is too easy to change, damage, or even delete data accidentally while running queries or otherwise poking around. By working with a copy of FacílData, you can always put things right by just making a fresh copy - no risk.

4) Now you have MyFacíl (the file for your reports and queries) with all the tables in MyFacílData (the current copy of the data) linked into it.  Use the query and report designers to build your reports in MyFacíl.  Once they are defined, you can easily run them against a current copy of the data at any time.  The actual methods of creating the reports is too complex to be explained here; managing relational data is not trivial.  There are often Access classes available at local training centers or colleges; many good books are available (take a look at "Running Access" from Microsoft Press), or Becker Software can create custom Facil reports for you on a consulting basis.


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