Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Leveraging TimeControl reports with Dynamic Filters

TimeControl is designed with a very powerful reporting system that works in conjunction with other elements of the system to allow many possible results from a simple configuration.  The first area to think about when making reports available to users is within User Profiles where the data that this role of user can access is defined and if necessary constrained.  Also, the Report security will determine what report formats or templates will be visible for each user.  The combination of available reports, data and even fields defined in the User Profile will ensure that no one sees information in a report that they shouldn’t.
Once you’ve defined a report however, it’s a common request that the report only show a subset of the timesheet data.  For example showing only the timesheets for a particular project, department or range of dates.
This is easily done using TimeControl’s “Dynamic Filters”.  In a dynamic filter, we choose a field or combination of fields but instead of entering a value for that field, we use square brackets: [].  This tells TimeControl to request the filter’s value at the time it’s used for a report or an export.  Let’s say, for example, that you want to create a dynamic filter that only selects timesheet. We create a filter on the Posted Time Detail table that selects the Date Work Performed field, the Between operator and uses the square brackets to denote the value:
Select_a_Date
Now we save that filter and run a report on Posted timesheets.  TimeControl asks us to fill in the value which we can do by double clicking the empty field or clicking the ellipses to the right of it.  If the field is a date as in this example, we get a calendar.  If it’s a possible list of values, the TimeControl shows the list:
Report on Select a Date
Let’s take a more complicated example.  Let’s say we want users to be able to select a project and a range of dates.  We create the filter again on the Posted Time Detail and add both the Project Name and the Date Work Performed fields.  For the values, we use again the square brackets []: 
Select_Project_and_Date
When we run this report, we’re asked now to fill in all 3 of those values at the time the report is created:
Report on Select Project and Date
We can make any combination of values, dynamic requests and macro-type field values in a single filter.  For example, we could create a filter which automatically shows data for all of this year but asks only for the project value by using the [YEARSTART] value for Date Work Performed and the square brackets [] for the Project Name.  The TimeControl Reference Guide contains examples of how to make such a Parameterized filter with a list of the parameter values.
Using combinations of these features makes for an easy to use system with a tremendous amount of power working for you in the background.

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