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Dynamics NAV RDLC Report Converter

With Document Creator comes the Classic Report Converter module. The converter enables us to convert classic reports to modern Document Creator (DCR) reports. A blog about the classic (2009) converter can be found here. Several partners and customers did ask us if it is possible to convert RDLC reports to Document Creator format. As of today, it can be done!

The new DCR 3.29 (Beta) version ships with a new RDLC converter. In this blog we will take a look on how to convert RDLC reports.

Report Converter

A big difference compared to the classic converter is that the NAV report object already exists in your current NAV installation. No export/import or modifications to the existing NAV report object is needed. The RDLC converter just creates a new Custom Report Layout record of type Document Creator. The conversion process is done in a few easy steps (clicks). Let me walk you through that process with a few screenshots:

Open NAV 2015/2016/2017 and navigate to Document Creator/RDLC Report Conversion.

RDLC Report Layout Conversion - navigation

Select “Add RDLC Reports”. A selection report is started to select the reports you want to convert:

Add RDLC reports to convert

In this example we select reports 301, 311 and 5970. Click OK and the reports are added to the conversion page. Select all the reports you want to convert and click “Convert RDLC Layouts”. The conversion process starts:

RDLC Report Layout Conversion - process start

The conversion is finished within seconds. The first 2 reports are converted without any errors or warnings. Let’s have a look at Report 301. Click “Edit Layout (with data)”, the designer is opened and click Preview to show the result:

Converted RDLC Layout Report 301 Vendor - preview

This looks quite the same! On the left side we have the DCR-Layout and on the right side the original RDLC-Layout.

Back to the conversion page. The last report (5970) has conversion warnings. The conversion process has a few stages, and if a step is succeeded the checkbox will be checked. You can always restart the conversion and the converter will then start with the first step that is still unchecked.

The following stages before conversion apply:
• Report Exists – Existing NAV Report Object is available.
• Report Compiled – Existing NAV Report Object is compiled.
• Has RDLC Layout – Existing NAV Report Object contains a build0in RDLC layout.

The following stages during conversion apply:
• New Layout (BLOB) – New Report Layout is created and stored in a BLOB field.
• New Layout Created – New Custom Report Layout for the new report is created.

Click on the red Yes label in the column that indicates that there is a warning:

Dynamics NAV - Warning Scope of expression

“First” statement is ignored. This not necessary in Document Creator since we have data-bound headers and footers.

The conversion is now completed!

RDLC Report Layout Conversion - status completed

A closer look

Now let’s take a closer look at how everything is converted. In the conversion list page select report 311 and click on “Edit Layout (with Data)”.

As you can see in the image below. All fields are converted, as well as tables, totals and VisibleExpressions (RDLC: Hidden property).

Converted RDLC Layout Report 311 Vendor - top 10 list

RDLC can contain code-behind specific functions. These functions are also converted and used. If you click in the left bottom on the Code tab the functions are shown:

Document Creator - converted functions

Besides what we have now demonstrated, there are many more smart conversions on elements like groups and totals. We see that the DCR development team is really committed to continuously optimize and improve the converter, so that in the end minimal modifications are required.

Conclusions

The RDLC converter does a great job for you, though it is not possible to convert everything. RDLC reports can have complex reports with tables in tables and complex groupings and nesting’s which cannot be converted for a 100%. The converter can give you a head start on making more easily, maintainable, DCR reports.

The conclusion as stated in the Classic Converter Blog also applies here; the main goal of Document Creator is to provide a user friendly and time saving report designer. Also the converter is a real time saver! As with most IT systems and processes, with converting NAV reports its also ‘Garbage in, Garbage out’. So although the RDLC report converter does a great job, one still has to consider rebuilding those reports that were developed on really bad-practices. We all know they exist. Previous NAV versions simply allowed way too much rubbish and spaghetti. If you want to build reports from scratch, DCR provides us with a good set of template layouts, shipped with the installation package. You can use them as a starting point. Building your layouts this way, makes that you get future proof reports which are optimized for speed. Even when working with the converter as much as possible, I still advise everyone to build a few reports from scratch, just to get a better understanding of the whole DCR system!

 

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