In this chapter, we've looked at various aspects of providing information to users based on the data stored in the database. This usually means the production of printed reports, but it can also mean information provided by way of a form or a recordset shown in a datasheet.
We began by examining the techniques provided by Microsoft Access for sorting and filtering data. Even if your application isn't being implemented in Access, these techniques provide useful examples of the kind of functionality that you might want to provide.
We examined various kinds of standard reports that might be provided by the system, including listing and detail reports, summary reports, and reports based on the forms in your system. We then looked at how reporting can be integrated into the user interface of the system and some of the issues involved in handling reporting errors. The production of ad hoc reports was discussed in some detail, and I presented the technique that I use for providing this functionality. Finally, we looked at the production of standard letters by combining the data management functionality of a database with the advanced formatting capabilities of a dedicated word processor.
In the next chapter, we'll turn to the subject of user assistance and look at the explicit forms of user assistance that can be incorporated into the user interface of your database system.