Chapter 2. Introducing Report Layout

The layout window defines the format and content of report output. It typically contains one or more layout areas, named spaces whose contents are output at runtime. A layout area can only be invoked through a print node in the report structure; the timing and sequence of the layout area's output depends on execution of its print node.

A layout area outputs data through the widgets that populate it. Each widget's properties determine the source and format of its data; the widget's position within the layout area determines where that output appears in relation to other output from the same layout area.

A layout area is defined by a layout area widget, which set the area's boundary and name. The layout area spans the width of the layout window and extends to the layout area widget above it or to the window's border. The layout window also contains an unnamed area whose contents are cannot be output.

For example, the following layout window contains three layout areas for detail, page header, and page footer output, defined as data, page_header, and page_footer, respectively:

Figure 2-1 A layout window contains layout areas and an unnamed area.

The following report structure contains three print nodes that specify when to output the layout areas shown earlier:

Figure 2-2 Print nodes specify which layout areas to output, and when.

Creating Layout Areas

You define a layout area by creating a layout area widget:

  1. Give the layout window focus.
  2. Choose CreateLayout Area or the corresponding toolbox button.
  3. Point and click where you want the new area to appear in the layout window.

Panther creates an unnamed layout area widget, which defines the area between it and the layout area widget above it.

Because layout areas can only be invoked by name, you should always set a new layout area's Name property (under Identity). Like other widgets, layout area names within the same report file must be unique. For information about Panther naming conventions, refer to "Naming Conventions" in Using the Editors.

Managing the Layout Window

You can modify the view of report layouts by collapsing some or all of the layout areas, or by changing their relative positions. This can help maximize the amount of working space available for a given area and lets you rearrange the window's contents in a way that makes sense to you. You can also manipulate a layout area widget in order to change the area's size.

How to Collapse and Expand Layout Areas

  1. Select the layout areas that you want to collapse or expand.
  2. From the Edit menu, bring up the Arrange submenu and choose the desired option:

How to Move Layout Areas

  1. Select the desired layout area widgets.
  2. From the Edit menu, bring up the Arrange submenu and choose the desired option:

How to Change Layout Area Dimensions

In both cases, changing the dimensions of one layout area has no effect on the others.

Note: You can only change a layout area's height; all layout areas occupy the entire width of the report page.

Editing Layout Area Properties

Each layout area has a set of properties that are described below. These properties set format and behavior parameters for the entire layout area. Select the layout area widget and bring the Properties window into focus.

Only named layout areas can be specified for output in the report. Layout area names must be unique among all other named widgets and nodes in the report file. Refer to "Naming Conventions" in Using the Editors for more information about widget naming conventions and requirements.

Inherit From
Defines the source of inheritance—the name of the repository report followed by the name of the parent object in this format:

For more information about inheritance, refer to "Controlling Inheritance" in Using the Editors.

Memo Text
Provides up to nine lines of text for comments or programmatic use.

Start Row
Specifies the layout area widget's position relative to the layout window's grid.

Vertical Anchor
Specifies how the layout area widget aligns itself to the layout window's grid when you choose EditGrid Align or OptionsSnap To Grid:

Font properties
Sets the default font properties—Font Name, Point Size, and so on—for all widgets in this layout area. If the layout area's font properties are set to Default, at runtime Panther resolves which fonts to apply according to what is set at a higher level. For more information about how fonts are set, refer to "Using Fonts."

Populating Layout Areas

In general, Panther outputs the data of all widgets in an invoked layout area. Two widget types are responsible for most report output:

For example, the following layout window contains three layout areas—page_header, page_footer, and data:

A report that uses this layout might yield the following output:

A layout area's output includes white space. The height of the layout area determines the amount of space the layout area uses. White space is reduced or eliminated only in the case of shrinkage (see "Shrinking Layout Areas") and consolidation (see "Consolidating Blank Space").

A layout area can also include other widgets: graph widgets let you present data as a pie or bar graph; box and line widgets can be used to enhance a report's appearance. For example, page_header contains a horizontal line that underlines the column labels in the actual report.

Copying Widgets to a Layout Window

You can create widgets directly from the Create menu or toolbox, or you can copy them from the layout window of another open report or a screen. When you copy widgets from a screen, Panther checks their type and makes the following adjustments:

When you copy widgets from a repository entry, Panther sets the widget's Inherit From property and applies rules of inheritance to the copied widgets. A widget that is copied directly from a repository entry inherits the properties of its source. If you copy an object from a screen or from another report, any properties that it inherits are propagated to the copy.

Inheritance helps ensure that a widget is consistent in its appearance and behavior wherever it appears in the report or elsewhere in the application. For example, you might want all monetary values to conform to the same format. Setting the appropriate properties in repository objects lets you propagate this format to output widgets in your reports.

For more information about inheritance, refer to Chapter 11, "Creating and Using a Repository," in Application Development Guide or "Controlling Inheritance" in Using the Editors.

Positioning Widgets

By default, a widget's position is fixed in relation to its layout area. If widgets that are on the same line are wider than the data that they actually output, you can eliminate the unused space and thereby make their data contiguous. Set their Placement property (under Composition) to one of these values:

Panther floats widgets only to the extent that their own widths are trimmed. The actual amount of white space between widgets remains unaffected.

Note: To make sure that widgets float towards each other, align them horizontally so that their Start Row properties have the same value. If Start Row properties are not the same, Panther might use their absolute (fixed) positions.

The screen editor provides a number of options for aligning and spacing widgets within a layout window—for example, EditAlign and OptionsSnap to Grid. For more information about arranging widgets, refer to "Arranging Widgets" in Using the Editors.