Pentaho Reporting - User Guide for Report Designer
Creating a report the sane way: Have a Concept, Get the Data, Make the Report
Creating a report is the same as creating any other document. You can start with dropping elements on the canvas, but generally it pays off ten-fold to start with a proper plan before you create your queries or report.
1. Conceptual Stage
Key questions asked:
- Who is the recipient of the report?
- What is the purpose of the report?
- Or: What information must the report include at which detail level?
Every report ever created is aimed at a specific target user, which I shall call the reader. To be effective, it has to contain the right information your reader. The resulting document must have all the context information required to get your point across but should minimize the amount of unnecessary data and noise, which would only distract your reader from the key points of your report.
The information you need to include depends on what your reader needs to do with the information.
Example: The same data - two different uses
A regional manager is responsible for monitoring the performance of the company. To judge whether the predicted sales numbers are met, he only needs aggregate numbers for all sales per region.
Your secretary in the sales department also needs access to the same sales numbers. But he needs a detailed list of each sale done yesterday so that he can generate the invoices for it.
Ask your reader what information he needs.
Ask in what sort order the information needs to be given.
How much detail is needed?
The majority of reports will fall within three styles of reports:
(1) Detailed Item List
(2) Summary Report
(3) Summary Report with Detailed Item List
Once you know the information you need, you can begin to plan on where to acquire the information from.
Key Questions asked:
- Where do I get the data from?
- Is the data readily available in a database or data warehouse?
- Do I need to create additional processes to get my data? How often do I need the data? How expensive is it to get the data?
- What elements do I need? How do I need to organize the data visually? Can I convey the information as chart?
When to use tables and when to use charts
Summary information as charts.
Detail information as table
Somtimes: Visualize data with sparklines