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The SCRIPT Language
The ELS-Script language, also referred to as the SCRIPT, is essentially a powerful scripting language specially designed for the purpose of the creation of standard as well as complex report documents.
It defines a full set of syntax elements destined to introduce a new direction in the technology of modern report making. The features of the SCRIPT language cover not only the presentation, but all aspects of report development cycles, from the query parameter selection to the data binding; the generation and the presentation of the report's result output in standard open document format. It has the capabilities to produce literally any kind of multi-section, multi-group, cross tabular, record or matrix based report, or for that matter, any presentation document. In particular, such documents may be HTML formatted reports, web pages, Active Server Pages, XML files, or any markup language based document.
To acquire experience with the SCRIPT language, it is recommended to download a trial version, or purchase the release version of the ELS-Script package. The package comes with a stand-alone visual report designer, a script editor, the report compiler along with the report engine.
The current implementation of the SCRIPT language is specialized to DHTML formatted report output generation, which naturally is very suitable for the application of web reporting.

Why to SCRIPT? More Information
Yes, why to SCRIPT? When all the report tool manufacturers on the market are advertising that theirs is the tool with ingenious visual report designer that requires absolutely no complicated coding or scripting. The current state of the art of the report making has traditionally evolved along the collective pattern of almost 20 years of software technology hype that has created the surprising baseless demand, that modern report tools must have absolutely no scripting capabilities.

The story goes as follows. Back in the 80's software and computer industry giants such as Apples, Microsoft, HP, IBM and others, were in for a race to develop the most graphical or visual user interfaces. Back then, some terms such as WYSIWYG (acronym of What You See Is What You Get) played a very powerful role in the daily tasks of the average office employee, whose computer operation skills were extremely limited. With the advent of the TrueType fonts and laser printer technologies, WYSIWYG became the norm for document creation tool repertoire. As a result the concept of device independence became feasible, so that for any selected printer the corresponding device context maps the document page to the display monitor (e.g. in the print preview), approximating the appearance of the actual printed page with high degree of precision.

Report tool developers incorporated these WYSIWYG features to simplify the creation and design of continuous report forms, essentially bringing the art of report making down to the level of average office employee's computer skills. There approach was statistical in nature and had the following primary goals:
  • To maximize visual design methodology in designing a report
  • To eliminate coding or scripting from the report tool
  • To simplify report making process at least for most standard report types
Although none of these conditions mutually exclude each other, it was mysteriously assumed that visual design methods should eliminate scripting, while simplification should rule out advance enhancements or extensibility. Not to mention the little old golden rule of reusability. Therefore, report making problems were solved in a quantitative rather than qualitative manner, which certainly satisfied 60-70% of most standard report types. One does not have to think much to understand that to support full scripting capabilities in a report tool does not necessarily imply that it should not have visual designer. Nor simplification implies sacrificing enhanced functionality and extensibility. ELS-Script incorporates specialized parsers and a sophisticated compiler to achieve the "best of two worlds".

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ELS-Script Initiatives

  • Maximize visual design methodology in designing reports
  • Provide full scripting capability to the report designer
  • Simplify the tasks of report making as well as data retrieval
  • Enhance functionality to cover virtually any data representation in any medium
  • Define a simple and universal report template format for standardization of industry level report types
  • Streamline the art of report making with the current software technologies

Advantages of ELS-Script
The art of report making must incorporate both powerful visual design methods and scripting, moreover this scripting must be complete, covering all aspects of the report template and therefore serving as a source code. Most third party report tools satisfy this condition only partially, while ELS-Script report tool is designed ground up to fully satisfy this condition. To illustrate the importance of scripting we will outline next the major tasks that must be undertaken for the preparation of a standard report.
After acquiring the user requirements:
  1. Analysis of the data and report content must be performed
  2. The actual report page must be designed, which incorporates constant text labels, graphic elements, variable sections, page setup, etc.
  3. Query commands must be built, to define the field elements that will be included in the variable sections
  4. Fields and formulas must be included
  5. Grouping, aggregations and sorting must be defined
  6. Query parameter form and report generator integration issues must be addressed in the host applications
Of these, only the second task is where most of the visual design methods can be applied, while all the other tasks require coding or scripting to a certain extend. In fact, even in the second task there are operations that may be simplified if scripting is incorporated side by side with visual design methods. For example, positioning borders, lines, text and graphic objects, via free-style pointer device maneuvers is much more difficult and inaccurate, than simply entering precise coordinate values relative to the page margins. In contrast, the other tasks such as query building, formula or expression building, as well as defining nested or hierarchical groups, are in essence so natural when accomplished via scripting.
The SCRIPT language supports all aspects of report development tasks, for example there are special syntax elements that handle page setup and other report setting parameters. It has full conditional controls and iteration elements to define grouping and complex data representation. Finally, it has special syntax elements that can define any query parameter form, so that the complicated task of integration of the report generator engine with the host application can be achieved by adding just a few lines of code.
In ELS-Script report tool, the contents of a report file are defined and stored via the SCRIPT language. This assures full support for maintenance, as well as reusability of report files as templates. The language features cover Standard Report Templates, which combined with preprocessor directives increases the reusability index to maximum efficiency.
The SCRIPT language flavor is a mixture of SQL procedural language combined with the syntax and the flavor of the Visual Basic function attributes. The reason behind the SQL procedural nature of the SCRIPT language is two fold. First, it provides a unified simple language for both data retrieval as well as data presentation. For example, to build queries one needs some familiarity with the SQL statement language, moreover to write stored-procedures additional knowledge of SQL procedural language is required. And therefore, instead of escalating the learning curve for users, by introducing new language syntax, we have used a syntax which is very similar to SQL procedural language.
The second reason is that often the advance reports are developed by SQL programmers or database administrators, and therefore, defining the SCRIPT language in their native language will definitely increase the popularity and utilization of the ELS-Script software system.
For more thorough study of the SCRIPT language, please download the ELS-Script User's Guide.

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