Great Plains Dynamics Report Writer Technical Notes

Published: 13th May 2010
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Microsoft Dynamics GP Corporate ERP formerly was known as Great Plains Dynamics, eEnteprise. And Great Plains was designed on the architectural platform, known as Great Plains Dexterity. ReportWriter is and was scaled down version of Dexterity, where you have access to all out-of-the-box Dynamics reports (in Dynamics.dic): SOP Blank and Long Invoice forms, RM and PM Historical Trial Balances, GL Trial Balance are probably one of the most known and popular. Typically in RW you modify existing report by printing it on the screen and then in menu selecting - modify this report. Report Writer saves report in its own reporting dictionary (Reports.dic) and you do whatever you need to modify the report (or more precisely what RW Dexterity origin allows you to do). We will review most popular modifications and what you can do on advanced level:

1. Placing Graphical Logon on SOP Invoice form. Typically for printing to PDF printer or direct printout on Color Laser Jet. General recommendation is to prepare logo file in JPEG, BMP in higher resolution and then, when placed Picture on the Report (Report Header and Page Header) - just resize it to something like 40 percent of the original size

2. Moving, Hiding fields or creating and placing new Calculated fields on the report layout. As such report as SOP Blank Invoice form has complex business logic, we do not recommend heavy modification. Just move fields horizontally, hide them, resize, or change fonts. Be sure that you understand the concept of report body, additional headers and footers

3. Advanced options. You can also add tables to the report (typically restricted by Dexterity - each table in Dex belongs to table cluster and based on the availability of Dexterity table indexes, you can add one or more tables from the cluster). Also based on Dexterity tables indexes - you can create new table relation with another table (if Dex indexes permit)

4. New reports. Assuming that Smartlist doesn't do everything that you need in Dynamics GP data exporting to Excel or CSV file, you can try to do it in Report Writer by creating new report, selecting main table and then if required add new tables. For example you can create new report for exporting Customers and their addresses (main table is Customer Master, and linked one would be Customer Address Master), then go to Layout and add fields from both tables. If you do it this way - you probably want to filter customers and/or their addresses by certain criteria - do it Report Restrictions

5. Some limitations and breaking through. There were known concerns and compliance from the customers of Great Plains about Report Writer printouts problems in working with Clipboard and even if you save RW print out to the file - it is difficult to open and reformat it in Excel. In Dynamics GP 10 SP4 and GP 2010 (formerly known as version 11) - you can export to XML, which is very helpful in following report data massage

6. Upgrading Report Writer reports to new Great Plains version. There is standard way to upgrade (outside of the scope of this publication), however some reports are known to be not possible to upgrade (on Dynamics GP Partner Source). In fact, if you invested in the past into RW modifications, you can still upgrade virtually all the reports - the upgrade problem typically resides in redesigned or newly created calculated fields (all you need to do is to port old calculated fields with their original names to the new version of the report)

7. Report Writer and Barcoding. Yes, you can associate RW report fields with Barcode compliant font and it will be printed (be sure that report is in Graphical mode). Also, popular routine is to print USPS barcode mailing labels directly on your envelopes. Due to Barcode fonts support in version 7.5 and more recent, Dynamics GP Report Writer could be incorporated into Warehouse Management System (WMS), Supply Chain Management (SCM), Logistics, Consignment, Distributions extensions to Dynamics GP - all these systems or Dynamics GP ISV Partner supported modules are typically Barcode scanning and Barcoding Label Printing based

8. RW troubleshooting. One of the most popular topics and error messages discussed is when Dynamics.Dic dictionary becomes corrupt (due to the attempts to modify reports by Dynamics GP consultant, while users are printing these reports at the same time). In these scenarios you see really weird errors (Microsoft Windows encountered unknown problem and has to close - or even more strange). Simple cure is to have all users logoff Dynamics GP, rename your active Reports.dic and reimport reports in RW from renamed Reports.dic. By doing so - you will recreate new and healthy dictionary

9. Report Writer internationalization. Officially Microsoft Business Solutions supports GP in English, Spanish (South and Central America, Mexico, Caribbean), French (Canadian), to some extent Arabic. However there are add-ons on the Dynamics GP ISV market, supporting RW reports printing in Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, French (European), Dutch, Swedish (more languages are coming). We know successful RW customizations in Polish, Lithuanian and Russian

10. Beyond Report Writer. In our opinion excellent options are Crystal Reports, Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS). If your goal is pure financial reporting, including consolidated, consider FRx Reporting. FRx should be able to combine Dynamics GP originated GL balances with non Microsoft ERP platforms exported to Excel: SAP Business One (Brazil, China, Japan, Korea, Russia), 1S Bukhgalteria (Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus)

11. Report Writer and Customer Dexterity Add-ons. It is required that Dexterity customization has RW exposed dictionary, where you modify Alternate Reports (if Dex customization imports reports from Dynamics.dic and has sum modification there on its behalf and then opens it for you for further modification)

12. How to get help? Please, call us 1-866-528-0577, 1-630-961-5918 or email us Our consultants speak English, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Russian to address your Dynamics GP, Barcoding, WMS, SCM, SAP Business One needs in USA and Internationally

Andrew Karasev, Alba Spectrum 1-866-528-0577, Informational portal Andrew is Dynamics GP Certified Master and specializes in challenging customizations, data conversions, integrations, reporting

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