Hack 32. Protect Intellectual Property
If someone is bent on taking your intellectual property, you have no fool-proof way to prevent it. However, common sense dictates that we do our best to protect our assets. Often, putting some wording on the page or in the report header or footer saying the material is confidential serves this need. However, this method doesn't necessarily make the message stick out like a sore thumb.
An additional measure is to put watermarks on reports. A watermark sits right within the body of a report, page after page. It ends up underneath the actual text and is somewhat transparent; that way, it doesn't obscure the text, but it is evident enough to get the message across in a big way.
Figure 4-16 shows a report in which a watermark sits mixed in with the data. The word "Confidential" stretches diagonally from the lower left to the upper right. The text appears to sit on top of the watermark.
Figure 4-16. Using a watermark to get the message across
4.6.1. Making the Watermark
To create a watermark, you need to create a graphic that you will set to the Picture property on a report. You will need a graphics program to create a decent watermark. Several good graphics programs are available. I use an excellent, affordable program called Paint Shop Pro by Corel Corp. (http:// www.jasc.com.) Whichever graphics program you use, it must be able to do the following:
Creating such a graphic is beyond the scope of this hack, but for your information, the graphic in Figure 4-16 is 70% transparent and was saved as a .jpg file. The graphic is about 4 x 7 inches. Figure 4-17 shows how the graphics file appears on its own.
Figure 4-17. The watermark as a graphics file
4.6.2. Using the Watermark
Once you save the watermark as a file, go into the report's Design mode. In the property sheet, click the Picture property, and browse to select the graphics file, as shown in Figure 4-18.
Figure 4-18. Setting the report's Picture property
A few other relevant settings work with the Picture property:
You also might have to change the Back Style property on the report. You might have to do this because the watermark appears under the text, and text boxes can take up more room than the actual text they display. Figure 4-19 demonstrates this dilemma. In the report, the rectangular shape of the text box covers up part of the watermark. You don't actually see the text box, but the rectangular shape becomes apparent when it's contrasted with the watermark underneath.
Figure 4-19. Text boxes covering up the watermark
To avoid this behavior, go into the design of the report. For any text boxes that sit over the watermark, change the Back Style property from Normal to transparent. This forces the text boxes to display just the text, which is exactly the effect you want. Figure 4-20 shows how the report appears when the text boxes are transparent.
Figure 4-20. The watermark, appearing through the text boxes