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Re: Repost: Desperately seeking for the perfect reporting tool

From: Kevin Cole
Subject: Re: Repost: Desperately seeking for the perfect reporting tool
Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2001 10:33:28 -0500 (EST)


How much work do you want to do?  I'm not an expert with Lout, LaTeX or 
LyX.  I'm also not an expert with the Python programming language.  
However, I was able to get a nice cross-platform GUI-based report 
generator going using Python.  Python's really quite quick to learn, as 
programming languages go, and has several front-end GUI packages.  It's 
free, and the code I've written runs on both Linux and Windows.  

My code's not very general purpose, so I don't know how much it would
help you to look at it.  

Specifically, in one case I used a GUI called wxPython (based on the
wxWindows routines for C), and I generated PostScript directly.  (I
learned enough PostScript to write my own macros, and stuffed them in a
"prolog" file.)  At the end of the program run it through "ps2pdf" so
that I'll have a PDF file.)

In a separate program for an entirely different project, I used Python
without a GUI to read from a PostgreSQL database and generate a Lout 
source file.

There is also a Python add-on called ReportLab -- also freely available
-- which looks very promising for generating direct to PDF.  (I learned
about it after I'd already finished the other two programs.)

Last but not least: Python's an interpreter so you need to move more
than just your code to the target machines. But if you don't want to
load the entire interpreter plus add-on modules, there are programs that
"bundle" your application into some installable form.  I've never used
them, and don't really know much about them other than their names.  
The most popular two seem to be Gordan McMillan's installer, and
something called py2exe.

My needs were simpler than yours, but everything I've seen about the
wxPython GUI suggests that it would meet your needs for interactivity.
And given that it sounds like you already have a good handle on LaTex, 
LyX and Lout, you'd probably not need much time to get up to speed with 
your project.


I hope that gives you some leads...

On Fri, 14 Dec 2001, Henning von Bargen wrote:

> > -----Urspr√ľngliche Nachricht-----
> > Von:        Ian McGowan [SMTP:address@hidden
> > Gesendet am:        Freitag, 14. Dezember 2001 01:01
> > An: 'address@hidden'
> > Betreff:    lout
> > 
> > henning,
> > 
> > did you get any responses to your post on fa.lout?  i too have been 
> > researching alternatives for reporting from an oracle database.
> > we currently use crystal, which is lousy for both a) and b) in your
> > example.
> > 
> > i was researching gurgle:
> > 
> > http://www.dai.ed.ac.uk/homes/timc/gurgle/gurgle.html
> > 
> > but it doesn't seem to be easy to provide database support for
> > oracle.
> > 
> > if you came up with a good package, i'd love to hear about it!
> Sorry, no answers until now.
> It dawns to me that what I want is impossible with lout.
> I tried looking at the LaTeX packages for long tables, too,
> but it seems far too complicated for a normal LaTeX user
> to implement what I want with LaTex.
> Until now, I didn't find _any_ tool that solves my reporting problems.
> Funny somehow - in the 21st century!
> Hey, all you lout and LaTeX gurus, can you help Ian and me?
> (I attached my original message below)
> Thx
> Henning
> ---------------------------
> Subject: Desperately seeking for the perfect reporting tool
> I'm a beginner with Lout. I know LaTeX and Lyx (wrote my math diploma using
> it).
> I have the following reporting scenario:
> I want to generate relatively simple ASCII output (LaTex, XML, XHTML, or
> Lout)
> in an Oracle Database.
> I want to give the end-user 2 abilities that seem to be impossible at the
> same time with the tools I used before: 
> (A) high quality output
> (B) the option to change the output in a simple manner.
> I was looking for a solution when I found Lout.
> It seems that Lout is a 99% solution for (A) and quite usable
> (say, 70%) for B.
> LaTex also provides a 100% solution for (A),
> but is only a 50% solution for (B) _on_Windows_.
> >>>  Now I think Lout is only a 80% solution for (A)
> >>> and LaTeX _could_be_ a 100% solution, but is only
> >>> a 80% solution because there exists no package that fits my needs.
> Until now, we are using Oracle Reports.
> This is a 95% solution for (A), but a 5% solution for (B) only.
> I guesss the same is true for Crystal reports and other commercial
> reporting tools.
> This is why I'm desparately seeking for a better solution, be it 
> commercial or freeware.
> Now, to be more concrete on (A) and (B):
> (A)
> I want to be able to create
> PostScript, PDF and TIFF Output and (if possible) RTF and HTML export
> (with the natural restrictions of these formats)
> including:
> (i)
> n-level tables where column headers can be magically repeated 
> on the following pages
> like this:
> =================================
> Continent | State    | City
> _________________________________
> Europe    | France   | Paris
>           |          | Marseille
>           | Italy    | Milano
>           |          | Roma
>           |          | Napoli
>           | Germany  | Hamburg
>           |          | Frankfurt
> ==========================<EOP>==
> Continent | State    | City
> _________________________________
> Europe    | Germany  | M√ľnchen
>           |          | Berlin
> ...
> (ii) 
> images from external files
> and (if possible) figures like charts.
> (iii)
> Configurable, but out-of-the-box usable
> page breaking mechanism.
> I like the idea of LaTex to give penalty points
> to a break.
> This seems to be better than strict
> "keep on one page".
> (iv)
> good justification (block, center, ...)
> horizontal and (if possible) vertical.
> (v) support for widow-control
> Don't know the English word exactly,
> german word are: "Schusterjungen" und "Hurenkinder".
> This corresponds with (i) and (iii).
> (vi) colours
> (vii) support for displaying all European language characters.
> (B)
> (i) it must be editable under Win32.
> (ii) The optimum solution would be if a user could a WYSIWY[G|M] editor
> like LyX. I like LyX very much, but I need a reasonable solution
> running on Win32. LyX needs an X server for that. 
> Our customers wouldn't want us to install that
> (and we wouldn't like it, either)
> Why not a native Win32 GUI?
> (iii) The user must be able to add or remove lines to a table.
>    This is why editing the resulting PDF with Acrobat does not work, for
> example.
> (iv) The user must be able to change cell values in a table.
> (v) The user must be able to add a few lines of text,
>     like an introduction, a comment or resumee
>     with basic formatting like bold, italics, header lines.
> (iv) Since there seems to be no tools yet that satisfy (i) and (ii),
>     there should at least be an editor with syntax-highlighting,
>     and integration of the compiler in order to fix any compilation errors.
>     TextPad, WinEdt or UltraEdit or EMacs can do this.
> Henning

 Kevin Cole, RHCE, Linux Admin  |  E-mail:  address@hidden
 Gallaudet Research Institute   |  WWW:     http://gri.gallaudet.edu/~kjcole/
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