Up until version 27, you were able to use the HTML5 Viewer in your own .NET web applications in order to display a report preview directly in the browser. Interactive user actions such as drill down, filtering data using report parameters and much more were already possible. But the technology that was utilized for this is getting older now, as for example the jQuery framework. With the new Web Report Viewer, we have created a modern, highly compatible replacement, which has been available since version 27 (year 2021).
As we keep getting requests to support calling List & Label from an Azure Function, and – due to several restrictions like e.g. GDI sandboxing – List & Label can’t be used directly in this context, I thought it might be interesting to explore another way to the cloud, this time using the Report Server. Using its REST-API, you can even create reports from an Azure Function. But let’s walk through the process step by step.
The Web Report Designer is an essential tool for using List & Label within web applications. We’re striving for constant improvements and enhancements – the plan is to add new features with each service pack we publish, until we’ll reach feature parity with the well-established Desktop Designer. Here’s a first glance what we were working on since the release.
This was a huge issue, that has been bugging us for years. While – generally speaking – List & Label’s level of printer control is unmatched by any competitor I know of, we always required a printer driver in order to execute this control. On the desktop, that’s all fine and well, as Microsoft conveniently provides the XPS Document Writer and – in more recent versions of Windows OS – the Microsoft PDF Writer. Those are always present and accessible. However, on the web and in the cloud, it’s a different story.
In our last blog post, we already announced it: this time, we’d like to address further challenges we encountered during our development of the Web Report Designer. Take advantage from what we learned, and maybe even use some bits for your own projects.
The rapidly increasing number of web apps has led to a great demand for web-based reporting solutions. We followed this trend with List & Label, and moved the Designer to the web – from version 27 on. One huge benefit, brought by the new Designer: way less effort, because only one front- and back-end needs to be developed and subsequently maintained. Naturally, the development of the new Web Report Designer presented us with technical challenges which we’d like to share with you – maybe knowing about our own learning curve is going to help you with your own projects, too.
While I've been blogging about the major and most-UI-visible features during the last few months, of course there are gazillions of minor and less visible changes underneath the hood in LL24. This blog post sums up some more reasons to be cheerful.
Extensibility is a first class citizen in the List & Label universe. You can add your own functions and objects to the Designer, enabling complex calculations within your code or custom objects. However, there was one important link missing so far – all this code just runs on the desktop. If your application runs on a server and you're using the Web Designer you're hosed – until version 24.
Until version 22, there was a number of restrictions for web based projects. As the Web Designer is a single project file designer, all the glory that comes with multiple project files like project templates, table of contents and index and – most prominently – drilldown support were not available as they couldn't be designed.