If there’s one type of reporting format that demands extra attention to detail, it’s pixel-perfect reports. But is there an all-in-one BI solution out there that currently supports it?
Pixel-perfect reports are a highly specific formatting capability that requires the right business intelligence (BI) solution to meet your needs for precision, quality and design.
However, you may be surprised to learn it’s often not an out-of-the-box feature in 2020.
It’s a common pain-point we’ve heard from customers, who search for an analytics platform that can create banded reports – in addition to offering advanced reporting, dashboards, and visualization – and find it’s not quite as available as they first assumed.
Naturally, we want the most out of our BI solutions and look for vendors that can accommodate our needs and offer the broadest analytics featureset. But for such specialized reporting needs like pixel-perfect reporting, some level of integration is needed to get the best of both worlds.
This article and our accompanying video guide explains how your business can create pixel-perfect reports in Yellowfin with one easy integration - but first, it’s important to understand the demands and use cases for pixel-perfect reporting in the modern era.
What is pixel-perfect reporting?
Pixel-perfect reports, or banded reports, are a type of reporting format that offers precise control over the positioning of every element of the layout of a report – down to the individual pixel level.
Typography, borders, colors, page size, tables – these elements and more are tightly controlled to build a high-quality report that meets rigorous technical specifications, so that key business data like diagrams and graphs are positioned and presented in the exact place they need to be.
With pixel-perfect reporting, it’s all in the details.
Pixel-perfect reports typically need to be designed to present critical information cleanly with no issue across multiple viewing platforms like print, PDF, Web browsers, and mobile. As such, they are most commonly used to accommodate and align with the uniquely stringent formatting standards of complex documents like regulatory papers or financial forms. Nothing can be misaligned or missed; all elements need to convey information the way the format demands.
Examples of types of content where pixel-perfect, banded reports are used include:
- Account statements
- Bills of Sale
- Budget reports
- Corporate letters
- Inventory lists
- Licenses and permits
- Tax invoices
In short, think of operational, formal documentation with a stricter level of formatting conventions than a standard ad-hoc report – a traditional file that is less free-form in its layout, and far more intricate in its requirements for precise positioning of key data.
Why is there a need for pixel-perfect reporting?
In an increasingly digital workplace where ad-hoc data reports are created and consumed online for faster insights, pixel-perfect reports are a traditional functionality request from our BI apps that is now less common, but still critical for many industries.
With pixel-perfect reporting, you typically need a way to:
- Rigorously control the formatting of a report exactly the way you want it
- Fine-tune the presentation and positioning right down to the individual pixel level
- Have it fitted onto an existing operational document template – with zero deviations
- All information accurately presented to so it can be printed and shared to spec
While you can now generate reports that look just as clean with faster modern BI solutions, the need here is more about being able to configure components individually with a fine-tooth comb.
But this level of standardization requires specialized software to get the exact layout, presentation and positioning of your reports down to precise measurements - and because it’s considered legacy, it’s often not included in new embedded analytics tools.
Can I use Yellowfin for pixel-perfect reporting?
Yes, you can – and it only requires a few easy steps that we outline further below.
Yellowfin specializes in tabular reporting and offers leading-edge analytics capabilities with rich visualizations that bring our customers’ data stories to life.
But like many other modern BI solutions, Yellowfin does not focus on the very niche, very specific requirements of pixel-perfect, banded reporting as an out-of-the-box feature.
However, we recognise there are customers that need pixel-perfect reporting, along with many other advanced analytics capabilities, from their chosen BI platform - which is why we support pixel-perfect, banded reports through a partner integration.
By setting up an simple integration with a third-party app that focuses on pixel-perfect reporting, you can use Yellowfin for your banded reports – while continuing to leverage unique analytical features like you would with any other type of report, including:
- Built-in data governance and security
- Threshold-based alerts and scheduling via Assisted Insights (AI)
- Seamless exporting to other file formats (Excel, PDF)
- Integration with third-party apps using our embedded analytics capabilities (via APIs)
- Combining pixel-perfect reports into interactive dashboards with other content
Yellowfin currently provides pixel-perfect reporting through integration with JasperReports, an external open source tool that specializes in generating pixel-perfect tabular reports. Many years ago we provided integration support for JasperReports so that a customer could build a banded report, and integrate it into their Yellowfin suite – and we’ve made this available for everyone to use.
So, how does it work? How can you generate banded reports with Yellowfin and Jasper?
Using Yellowfin & JasperReports for pixel-perfecting reporting – Overview
You’ll find loading JasperReports content into Yellowfin is as easy as any other app.
We’ve taken the time to create a short walkthrough video to take you through each step of integrating pixel-perfect reports into Yellowfin, which you can watch below.
If you can’t watch our video walkthrough, here’s a quick breakdown of the key steps:
- Load up Jaspersoft Studio (the community edition is free).
- Create a Jasper report under the ‘File’ tab.
- Select a template to use for the report. If you have custom templates, you can load them here – otherwise start with a blank canvas and build a bespoke report layout.
- Name your file; note that every JasperReport has its own jrxml file which you can drag and drop this directly into Yellowfin after.
- Select the desired data source you’d like to use for your JasperReport; if you have not created one yet, click on ‘New’ and create it with the guided wizard.
- If you’ve selected an existing data source, you will have access to the database schema and tables. In Jaspersoft, you’d normally write the SQL query at this step to grab the data that you need for a pixel-perfect report, but with a Yellowfin integration, you can instead quickly look at the columns and data you need in a Yellowfin report first to copy the SQL query straight away simply by clicking the 'View SQL' button at the bottom.
- Paste the SQL query into Jaspersoft and click next, without a need to write it from scratch – all you need to know here is the data that will power the Jasper report
- Select dataset fields (columns, etc) and click finish – you’re done with the data stage.
- You’re now in the design phase – here you can modify layout and move elements around to how you want the banded report to look and the data to be formatted to spec.
- At the bottom, you can click the ‘Preview’ tab to see how the final version of the JasperReport looks like before saving. Every JasperReport has its own jrxml file.
- Once you’re in Yellowfin, all you need to do is click on the plus button to create a new report; from here, toggle ‘Advanced Authoring’ and select ‘Jasper Reports’ from the drop-down menu for Author Method.
- Select the Data Source – this would be your created pixel-perfect JasperReport. Drag and drop the jrxml file into the window to upload it, and then click on ‘Create Analysis’.
- Your JasperReport is now uploaded in Yellowfin – here you can leverage all the metadata within the JasperReport and pump the data from the data source, through the metadata into the Yellowfin report – everything will look exactly the same in YF.
Once you've saved your file, now you’re ready to begin extending your banded report with Yellowfin’s many helpful analytical features – which we detail below.
4 benefits with Yellowfin pixel-perfect reports
Unsure what integrating JasperReports pixel-perfect reports with Yellowfin brings?
Other than keeping all your data analytics and BI needs in one place, our advanced feature-set can elevate your pixel-perfect reports with several unique benefits.
#1 - You can leverage advanced analytical features with your pixel-perfect reporting
With pixel-perfect JasperReports able to be seamlessly loaded into Yellowfin, you can now take advantage of the platform’s full suite of capabilities as normal – that includes automated business monitoring with Yellowfin Signals, data stories with Yellowfin Data Storytelling, low-code, no-code embedded dashboards everyone can use, and data discovery with Assisted Insights (AI). Because banded report software tends to be highly specialized, you don’t typically have this level of capability available to enhance your pixel-perfect reporting – unless you’re with Yellowfin.
#2 - You can export all your pixel-perfect reports to other file types fast and easy
#3 - You can embed your pixel-perfect reports into interactive dashboards
Take full advantage of extensive dashboard capabilities and embed your pixel-perfect JasperReport with a simple drag-and-drop. The report can be re-sized and positioned amongst all other YF content, without special formatting required beforehand.
#4 - You can unlock enhanced collaboration and sharing for your pixel-perfect reports
Yellowfin has several in-built sharing tools to help teams collaborate on their data and discover insights together. Multiple users can edit reports together, share alerts for when a new event may occur, engage in discussion which is displayed as comments alongside the report, and use it to create community data stories with rich visualizations in a blog style format. These same sharing features can be utilised for your pixel-perfect reports, all through a simple integration.
Why use Yellowfin for pixel-perfect reports?
While pixel-perfect reporting is generally not an out-of-the-box feature that the majority of modern BI solutions offer, the simplicity of using API connectors to connect Yellowfin with specialized third-party applications that do focus on banded reports makes this previous problem increasingly moot.
This integration means you can still have all the benefits of the latest analytics capabilities of Yellowfin with your Jasper-created banded reports, and fast.
Ultimately, using dedicated software like JasperReports for creating pixel-perfect reports can only be further enhanced by integrations with Yellowfin.
Your users get the best of both worlds – a specialized program to create this niche format of banded reporting, which can then be easily imported into Yellowfin and extended in its potential with Yellowfin’s advanced analytical features.
Elevate your pixel-perfect reports with contextual analytics
Learning the in’s and out’s of Yellowfin? See what else Yellowfin has to offer to extend and enhance your pixel-perfect reporting in our 2 minute video.