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HelpMaster Pro ships with over 140 reports.  There are reports for jobs, clients, site, assets, knowledge base and more.  Even with all this reporting power, reporting has been a constant talking point in our on-line discussions and tech-support.

What this shows is that every business has its own individual reporting needs that lie beyond the standard reporting capabilities of HelpMaster Pro.  Every business is different, so it’s no surprise that the popular custom reporting requests revolve around SLA (service level agreements), assets, knowledge base and job comparison reports of various sorts.

The reporting engine

HelpMaster Pro has always used Crystal Reports as its reporting engine.  Crystal Reports is the industry leading report writing tool and features many powerful reporting options for the statistical analyst.

HelpMaster Pro v9 uses the CR 2008 reporting engine and this is installed with HelpMaster Pro.  This version of Crystal Reports is a viewing engine only – that is, it can only display reports – not create, edit or modify them.  To do that, you need to purchase the full edition of Crystal Reports.

Creating custom reports

There are many different approaches to creating reports and detailing each one is well beyond the scope of this post.  In a nutshell though, the following options may be considered when creating reports for HelpMaster Pro

  1. Edit an existing HelpMaster Pro report file (.rpt)
  2. Create a new report

Custom reports – getting at the data

One of the fundamental things in creating a report is basing the report on some data.  In the case of a HelpMaster Pro report, that’s easy – simply point the report at the HelpMaster Pro SQL Server database.

The HelpMaster Pro database makes this easy for report developers.    In the “Views” section of the SQL Server database, you will find many database views starting with the prefix “rpt”, for example, rptCompleteDetails_Job.  All views starting with the “rpt” prefix have been made to be consumed by reports, and these are the views that the standard HelpMaster Pro reports are based on.  These views have been assembled to pull all the relevant data together in single, easy to use view.  There is no need to piece together data from the raw tables.  Custom report developers can simply use these views, or copy them to create their own custom report data sources.  Of course, creating views based on the base tables is also possible, although this does require intimate knowledge of the HelpMaster Pro database structure.

Please note that these views should not be modified as they are being used by the default HelpMaster Pro reports.  It is recommended that if you need to extend, simplify, or modify one of the “rpt” reporting views, that you make a copy of it and use the copy as the source of your custom report data.

Once a custom report has been created, simply copy it to the “Custom reports” folder of the HelpMaster Pro working files and it should appear in the list of available reports in the Reports Selector.  Double-click the listing to open the report.

Share your creation

If you have designed a custom report that might be useful to other HelpMaster Pro users, why not share it.  The Custom Reports Swap Shop is the place to showcase your wares.

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