BIRT reports will be located in one of two places in HoudiniESQ. Of the four ribbons displayed to the left on the picture, Billing and Reports are the only ones that will ever have BIRT reports.
In the Billing ribbon there is a section entitled BIRT. This area of the ribbon houses all BIRT reports that have been denoted as Billing reports, (for more information on how to assign a report to Billing or Reports please consult the article; Uploading, Editing, and Deleting BIRT Reports.
The Reports ribbon, like the Billing ribbon has a column dedicated to BIRT reports and it is titled accordingly. This column will always be the last one to the right and it's width will vary depending on the number of reports you have uploaded to HoudiniESQ. Once you have located the report you wish to run, regardless of the ribbon it is located in, running it is the same. Simply click on the title of the report.
Once you click the report title, the Report Format window will appear. This Window allows you to format the output of the report, the window may change in appearance slightly due to the parameters you have in your BIRT report. Below are examples of four Report Format windows (only one will ever display when you run a report), the first three window examples have different parameter and the fourth has no parameters at all. Parameters will be discussed further below, but notice that all four of the below instances of the Report Format window share the same file type options. File type is the first choice you have to make when running a BIRT report. HoudiniESQ supports a large majority of the output file types in BIRT and selecting the one you want is as simple as a click.
Note: Some file types may prompt you to download the report before you can view it. This is due to the file type and not HoudiniESQ, once downloaded, however, the report can be viewed and/or modified. Also, file type may affect some basic formatting in the report, but not the data!
The default file type for HoudiniESQ is PDF, all HoudiniESQ built internally are tested aesthetically as PDF files. After deciding on your prefered file type output, parameters must be addressed.
Parameters are described in more depth in the article Uploading, Editing, and Deleting BIRT Reports. A deeply detailed definition falls outside the scope of this article, but some basics will be addressed so that you can understand what it is you need to know.
First, parameters are like variables. They are values that a user can enter at run time to filter the BIRT report output to fit within a criteria. Parameters for a BIRT report are created and named by the creator of the report. As a person running the report you need to know if the report you are running has parameters. Once the BIRT report is in HoudiniESQ, the only way to know specific information about the parameters is to conult the source that provided you with the report.
The first three Report Format windows above are paramatized reports. We can determine by simply observing that the window has a section called Parameters with text labels to the left and a correspondng input method to the right. In HoudiniESQ there are six types of parameters. Some of them are specific while others are flexible. They are as follows:
1. Staff Parameter: This parameter allows you to click on a drop-down and select any staff member you have listed in your HoudiniESQ staff list.
2. Matter Parameter: The matter parameter is a search bar similar to the search bar in the Matter Dashboard of HoudiniESQ. Just putting you mouse cursor on it will not make results appear, enter in a coupe of characters (like 'Sm' for Smith or 'Ngu' for Nguyen). Press enter and after that the drop-down will populate itself with search results that match the text you entered.
3. Contact Parameter: Much like the matter parameter, this is searchable drop-down. Since you may have hundreds or thousands of contacts, type in a few characters and press enter to get list of relevant results.
4. Date Parameter: Next to the textbox for this parameter is a calendar icon. Click to bring up a larger interactive calendar that allows you to pick any date you wish.
5. Text: This is the first non-specific parameter. Text can mean anything, often times it is numeric. One example include wanting to search for a specific monetary range, like all maters that have been billed for more than $1,000, but less than $10,000.
6. Checkbox: This is a yes or no option, (boolean value).
Below is an example of a report in the Report Format window that has every parameter in it.
Here we can tell that the results will be correlated with one staff member, Eric Radtke. The results will also fall between 3/1/12 and 6/1/12 and be equal to at least $1000. The last parameter, the checkbox, indicated that grand totals will be present in the final report. Some important questions to consider:
1. How do I know what the parameters mean or what they do?
2. What if I leave a parameter blank?
To address the first question, the text next to a parameter is a label. This is information the report's uploader inserted to help you, the user, know what sort of information the report is looking for. Beyond that, BIRT reports are created independent to HoudiniESQ. HoudiniESQ is compatiable with the program and many of its features, but specific informaiton about a report is not stored in the ribbons. Report parameters need to be communicated to you from the person who created the report. This includes what they are and if they are required, which leads into the second question;
HoudiniESQ BIRT reports that are created internally and given out with the program allow parameters to be left empty (or null). What will happen is the BIRT report will then include all occurences of that parameter. Example, if staff paramater is left blank, the report will include results for every staff member. The same applies to the matter and contact parameter. An empty date or text parameter will include all values. The exception here is the checkbox parameter. If this is left blank you are telling the report 'No' for whatever question it is asking. In the example above an empty checkbox means no Grand Totals will be displayed.
The ability to accept empty values for a report parameter is ultimately a descion that is made by the report's creator. If you get a report that can not accept empty parameters, but still leave it blank you will get an error similar to (or exactly like) this:
Consider this a 'behind-the-scenes' error. If you get this, close the window or tab it opened in and try rerunning the report, but this time with the parameters filled out. Again, a report parameters's ability to be left blank is a dermined by the person who created the report.
Once everything in the Report Format window is filled out click the 'ok' button. Depending on your chosen file type the report will either save itself to your computer or open in another browser tab (or a new window). Of course every report will be different depending it's design, the data you have in your HoudiniESQ database, and the parameters that effect it. An example of a finished report is below; this only displaysa brief amount of what you can do with well crafted BIRT report in HoudiniESQ.