About Portable Reports
A portable report, also known as a PRF (portable report format) file, is a file format that can be used to distribute report files along with a layer of information describing the data structure of reports. This data description layer allows the end user of a report to intelligently explore the report on-screen, to extract data from it for analysis, or to export data from it to another application, such as a spreadsheet or a database.
The data description layer may include a Monarch model file, a field-based index (called a tree view index) and a page index. A portable report may also include data pre-extracted from the report in the form of a Monarch Table window database.
Portable reports offer several advantages over other electronic report distribution methodologies. A portable report is a single object that contains all of the intelligence needed to explore a report or series of reports electronically. Portable reports provide built-in compression and data encryption, which minimizes transfer times via e-mail or the Internet while maintaining security of confidential information.
Benefits of Portable Reports
Using an electronic copy of a report versus a hard copy yields several benefits: you can look up information in a report file, copy information to other applications and print only those report pages that you need.
Portable Reports extend these capabilities, providing several advantages over traditional methods of report distribution and access:
Report distribution: Portable reports allow you to easily distribute reports electronically. A portable report is much more than a report file. Portable reports encapsulate information about the structure of the report, allowing recipients to quickly and easily turn report data into information, that is, queries, summaries and data extracts. Since a portable report is a single file, it can be easily distributed across a LAN or WAN or via e-mail, the Internet or an intranet.
Report storage and security: Portable reports offer both data compression and security. Compression, which averages 10:1, allows you to save space when storing reports on a network or local drive and also reduces transmission time when distributing reports electronically. Security provides the functionality to restrict access to confidential reports.
Performance: By pre-extracting and storing report data, a portable report offers instant access to the Monarch window database. This is especially valuable if you work with very large reports (over 1MB) or if you frequently load a report into Monarch Server to perform data analysis.
Components of a Portable Report
One or more instances of a report file: For example, a portable report may include an entire year of monthly sales reports. A portable report must contain at least one report file.
Tree view index: The tree view index represents a high level view of the data in the report. Typically, the tree view index contains values from fields at each sort level in the report. When a portable report is viewed in the Report Explorer, the tree view index is displayed in the same manner that Windows Explorer (in Windows 95 and 98) and Windows NT Explorer display a directory tree. Each report represents a root of the tree, with branches for each field selected as part of the tree view index.
Page Index: The page index contains the offset of each page in each report file. This information is used for speed navigation and on-screen exploration of the report data. The page index is usually built by Monarch on-the-fly as the user works with a report in a Monarch session. By pre-building the page index and including it in a portable report, report navigation commands in Monarch operate much faster.
Model: The data extraction model contains information about the structure of the report, specifically the intelligence needed to extract data from the report. The model may include one or more filter, sort, calculated field and summary definitions that can be applied to the extracted data.
Table window database: Pre-building and storing the table window database in a portable report file provides a performance advantage, since the recipient of the portable report does not need to perform the data extraction process to build the table database.