Windward has gone through many changes in the past few months, including instituting new team members and processes. Through this time, we have scoured our ideas forums as well as our internal ideas for the best and most requested features to put into our upcoming release. We think you will be happy with the innovation and improvements that we think will make the next version of Windward our best yet.
AutoTag User Experience Improvements
Making our interface more elegant and intuitive is our major focus for our upcoming version. This includes:
- Live OUT preview mode, the ability to view your template in a preview mode with all tags populated with data from your data source.
- Advanced tag properties and attributes pane, a sidebar pane with all the properties of each tag displayed.
- Merged data bin and data tree, which combines two features into one and adds a search box.
- Core Microsoft Office macros setting for names. E.g., auto capitalize proper nouns in text returned from a Windward tag.
- Driver detection for data source drivers. AutoTag will detect which drivers are installed on your system.
- Better support for date comparisons in both the macro evaluator as well as the wizard.
AutoTag User Interface Redesign and Improvements
Here are a few of the interface components that will be receiving the most change:
- A modern UX for the macro wizard.
- The SQL Wizard with a modern UX through extension.
- The XPath Wizard with a modern UX and extended features.
- A new table wizard.
- Reworked Pods and Dataset UX with management interfaces.
Updated Charting Elements and Charting Data Selection UX
The charting data selection interface re-design has been on the minds of our development staff for a long time. We always knew it could be made better and more intuitive but we were not exactly sure how. After searching and viewing many different interfaces for chart data selection as well as reading charting fundamentals books, we feel confident that we have a solution that will be intuitive and easier to use. Data sources can return data with many axis and series, which brings a challenge in assisting a user that is not familiar with their data to select it properly using the best chart to represent that data visually.
Windward is also improving the types of charts that we currently support. The ability to use Geospatial and Heat maps will be added in our upcoming version. These are two heavily requested formats and we see them appearing in reports more and more these days.
Charts, EMF, Shapes, SmartArt PDF (primitives), HTML (SVG)
At present charts, Microsoft Shapes and Microsoft SmartArt are rendered to a PNG, and that PNG is then used for PDF, printer and HTML output. This is not ideal as we convert vector based objects, which scale nicely, into a fixed rectangle of pixels. This results in a bitmap that does not scale and appears degraded as you zoom in and out.
We’re going to change this for PDF and HTML (and probably for printers). Instead of a bitmap, we will convert the vector primitives in all three objects into native vectors for that output. PDF will use PDF primitives and HTML will make use of the SVG format. In the end we will no longer render images but rather translate them into equivalent drawing commands leading to faster generation of these objects.
In our tradition of adding new data sources to each release, we have selected a few below that have appeared on our ideas and features request forum:
- Olingo Java Odata Datasource
- OLAP and Cubes Support
In addition to these new data sources, Windward will also extend support for OData by adding a selection and connection debugger to assist with manually written OData select statements.
Internal discussion in regards to AutoTag’s SWITCH/CASE tag made us look at how users typically make logical decisions with their data. We found that we are missing a core condition between our library of logical operations.
So we will add a new tag type, the ELSEIF tag. This tag will allow you to work with nesting IF tags just as you have been but with the ability to add an additional condition based on a conditional outcome of the original statement. We have seen this type of logic in other products and we feel the addition of this tag will complete our logic library.
There are many more features that will be added to our upcoming version and unfortunately I don’t have room to go into detail for them all. Below is a list of those features that we are working on:
- Ability to remove Blank Pages from the end of a document
- Addition 2 new modes for URLs passed to the IMPORT tag
- Per report settings implemented via a hashmap (key/value) to override the properties and config files
- AutoTag text font sizes will increase and decrease dynamically to fit on a single line.
- Evaluate command in AutoTag handles simultaneous datasources
- Addition of loading screen animations for long tasks in AutoTag
- Hidden Excel worksheets and fields are will be passed through to the output file
- Automatically add column filters in Excel to generated dynamic column output
- Ability to update references between sheets in workbooks in Excel
- An SQL (or any datasource) select that returns XML and then creating an XML select on that data returned
- Improving the background efficiency of embedded forEach tags
Author: Ryan Fligg
Ryan, Windward's Sales Engineer, has been with Windward since 2006 in many roles as a sales engineer, IT specialist and account executive. Ryan's background fuels his desire to guide Windward's product development. He now works on the future vision of Windward offerings through creating the product roadmap, responding to customer requests, and communicating what Windward is doing and where it’s headed.
Other posts by Ryan Fligg