Preview in Web Applications with the Web Report Viewer

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).

Deploy Report Server on an Azure Container Instance and using it from an Azure Function

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.

New Features for the Web Report Designer in List & Label 27.002

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.

No More Printer Driver Dependency: The New Printerless Mode in List & Label 27

App to the Cloud with LL 27

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.

Making-of: Web Report Designer in Development Part I

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.

Add Your Custom Objects and Functions to the Web Designer

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.

Breakthrough for Web/Distributed Applications

Repo Source Selection

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.