Alchemex
Tips and Tricks
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Table of Contents
Creating and Linking a Report ............................................................................ 1
To copy a report ...................................................................................... 1
To create and link the Report ...................................................................... 1
Copying, Pasting and Renaming Reports ................................................................ 5
To create a new report from an existing report .................................................... 5
Importing Reports .......................................................................................... 8
Exporting Reports ......................................................................................... 11
Add-In Modules: Intranet/Internet Integration Module .............................................. 13
Add-In Modules: E-mailing functions.................................................................... 16
Hiding and Showing Reports ............................................................................. 20
To hide a report: ....................................................................................... 20
To show a hidden report .............................................................................. 21
Scheduling a Report ....................................................................................... 22
Scheduling a Report using the Windows Scheduler ................................................... 24
GoTo Container ............................................................................................ 28
Run Macros ................................................................................................. 30
Creating new Macros from Excel ..................................................................... 30
Use of an Aggregate Function ........................................................................... 32
Add or Remove Aggregate Filters ....................................................................... 33
Working with PR1 files .................................................................................... 36
Creating a PR1 file ..................................................................................... 36
Associating a PR1 file with Alchemex ............................................................... 36
Debugging Reports ........................................................................................ 38
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Things to Keep in Mind .............................................................................. 40
Using Excel Formulae in Data Expressions ............................................................. 41
Using the Integrated Financial Report “Type D” Drill-down ........................................ 43
Cannot find the Drill-Down Account Toolbar? ...................................................... 44
Drill-Down .................................................................................................. 45
Hide Zero Rows ............................................................................................ 47
Report Writing Methodology ............................................................................. 49
Copying, Deleting and Renaming Data Expressions ................................................... 51
Renaming a Data Expression .......................................................................... 51
Copying a Data Expression ............................................................................ 51
Deleting a Data Expression ............................................................................ 51
Renaming and Moving Data Connections ............................................................... 52
Renaming a Data Connection ......................................................................... 52
Moving a Data Connection ............................................................................. 52
Timeout Settings .......................................................................................... 53
In the Alchemex Administrator Tool: ............................................................. 53
Using the PLConfig Tool ............................................................................ 53
Run All Reports in Folder ................................................................................. 54
Locking/Unlocking a Report ............................................................................. 55
Using an Excel Workbook as a Data Source ............................................................ 57
Naming the Data Ranges............................................................................... 57
Creating a new connection ............................................................................ 58
Report Process Overview ................................................................................. 60
How are reports created in Alchemex? .............................................................. 60
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Proxy Server Settings ..................................................................................... 61
Copy Proxy Settings .................................................................................... 61
Add the proxy to Alchemex ........................................................................... 63
To use a named proxy server with prompted proxy logon: - .................................. 63
To use a named proxy server no prompt logon.................................................. 64
To use a connection to the Alchemex Update server directly (default option). ........... 64
To use your internet connection default settings for connections: - ........................ 64
Protecting the Output Book .............................................................................. 65
Find and Replace .......................................................................................... 68
Compacting MetaData .................................................................................... 70
MultiSelect Picklists ....................................................................................... 73
Add Dataless Report....................................................................................... 75
Problems with Excel when Running Reports ........................................................... 77
Excel Frozen............................................................................................. 77
System Variables .......................................................................................... 78
Custom System Variables .............................................................................. 78
System Variable Format ............................................................................... 79
Considerations when using System Variables in Reports .......................................... 79
Listing Available System Variables ................................................................... 79
Configuring the Alchemex Rendering Engine .......................................................... 80
Design ....................................................................................................... 85
Getting Support ............................................................................................ 87
Other Support ........................................................................................... 87
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CREATING AND LINKING A REPORT
It is entirely possible to customize the look and layout of the Alchemex Standard Reports.
Although these reports are designed to encompass the needs of most business organizations,
you may want to change the appearance (colors, text style, etc.) to reflect your company
image, and perhaps change the order or inclusion of columns to suit your company processes.
These changes can be saved for the next time you run the report.
Creating Excel templates enables the user to create a template from an open Excel workbook
and link it to an existing report so as to standardize the output format of the chosen report
for every run instance in future.
Note: If you are unsure of making changes to any of the Standard Reports, you should create a
copy of the report before you make any changes.
Alchemex users must make a copy of a report in order to edit the standard reports.
To copy a report
1. Open the Alchemex Report Manager.
2. Right-click the report you want to copy and select Copy.
3. Right-click on the report folder in which you want to paste the copy and select Paste.
The copy of the report is renamed as Copy of and the original report name.
To create and link the Report
1. Open the Alchemex Report Manager.
2. Select and run the report you want to customize.
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3. Make the changes to the report; ensure that Sheet1 (where Alchemex puts the Raw
Data) and Sheet2 (where Alchemex puts the report parameters) are unchanged.
4. After completing the changes, leave the workbook open and go back to the Report
Manager.
5. Right-click on the report for which the changes were made and select Create and Link
Template.
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6. Select the workbook with the changes in the window that appears.
7. Click OK.
8. When prompted with the following message, click Yes to link the workbook. Clicking
No will not link the workbook.
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9. When prompted to specify the template name, change the name of the template.
Doing so ensures that the original template is not overwritten with the copy
10. Click OK.
Once the template has been successfully linked, a message is displayed.
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COPYING, PASTING AND RENAMING REPORTS
You can copy and paste a report, at any stage, in the report manager. These functions are
useful in Alchemex because all the Master reports are locked and you need to make a copy of
these master reports. Use the copy, paste, and renaming methods so you can create new
reports from an existing report and therefore not corrupt the master report.
You may have a sales report that shows a customer analysis on sales; however, you want to
create another report that shows sales analyzed by Reps. You can create a copy of the
original report, and then rename the copy to Sales by Rep, and then customize the new Sales
by Rep report. You have the benefit of re-using all the containers and expressions in the
original report without having to create them from scratch.
To create a new report from an existing report
1. Open the Report Manager.
2. Right-click on the report you want to make a copy of; e.g. Sales Master
3. Select Copy to copy that report to the Clipboard.
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4. Now paste the copied report onto a folder.
5. Select a folder. You can choose the same folder that contains the original report or a
different folder.
6. Right-click on the selected folder and select Paste.
7. Rename the newly copied report. By default, the report‟s name is Copy of <report
name>.
Note – You can use the short-cut keys of Ctrl+C to copy the report, and Ctrl+V to paste
instead of using the menus.
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Right-click on the report and select Rename to give the report a different name. You
now have an exact duplicate of the original report that will obtain its data from the
same place, and deliver it in the same format, until you make any changes to this new
report.
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IMPORTING REPORTS
Reports can be exported from one system and imported into another. The export function
creates a compressed file with an .al_ extension which can be imported into other systems.
The uncompressed version of the file will create a file with the extension .alx
Report export files (.alx files) and compressed export files (.al_ files - version 3.5 and later)
created using the Export Report facility can be imported into Alchemex. Using this facility,
Reports can be created in one Alchemex system and distributed to other Alchemex systems.
1. Right-click on the Home object in the Object window and Select Import Report or
click on Tools, Import Report.
2. Select the report to be imported (with the _al extension) and click Open
3. In the Import Report window, select the Target Connection (Administrator)
4. Then select the Report Destination (the folder)
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5. Click Import
6. Click OK.
7. Double-click on the Sales Reports folder to refresh.
Below is a list of the information that is supplied to you for an import and a description
of each element:
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Report Name
Created By
Company
Report Container
Source
The original name of the Report in the Source
Alchemex System
The Company that created the Export File
The Source Container for the Report in the Source
Alchemex System
Creation Time
The Date and time that the Export File was created
Original Template
Name
The name of the Report Template in the Source
Alchemex System
Template File Size
The size (in bytes) of the Report Template File
Original
Connection Name
Export Library
Version
Import Library
Version
The name of the Source Data Connection in the
Alchemex Source System
The Version of the Export Program Library used to
create the export file
The Version of the Import Program Library being used
to perform the import
Target Connection
The Connection that you have selected as the Source
for the new report that will be created by the import
Target Connection
Type
Report Destination
The Source Connection Type of the Connection that
you have selected as the Source for the new report
that will be created by the import
The Report Manager Folder into which the new report
will be imported
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EXPORTING REPORTS
Reports can be exported from one system and imported into another. The export function
creates a compressed file with an .al_ extension which can be imported into other systems.
The uncompressed version of the file will create a file with the extension .alx
1. From the Object window, right click on the desired report and select Export Report or
click on Tools, Export Report.
2. Select the Export folder when prompted.
3. Click Save.
You will get a message to confirm your Export Succeeded.
4. Click OK.
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To import a Report into Alchemex from an export file see Importing a Report.
Note: If you are running a Third Party Developer License of Alchemex then it is possible for
you to protect your export files. See Exporting Reports with Protection in the user's guide for
more details.
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ADD-IN MODULES: INTRANET/INTERNET INTEGRATION MODULE
The following Add-in Function is available:
Function
Description
Use When
Facilitates the publishing of Use when you wish to
PublishSheet a sheet in the report to html generate static reports for an
and to a specified location. Intranet or Internet.
1. Select the report you want to publish to a website.
2. Check Show Advanced option on the properties tab.
3. Select Run Add Ins.
4. Select an Add-In Function
5. From the Choose an Add-in Function box
6. Select an Add-in Library
7. Select an Add-in Library module
8. Select an Add-in function (Publish sheet). Select OK
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9. Specify function parameters.
10. Name, the name of the sheet to publish (Pivot)
11. Fully qualified path, (with filename & extension) for the HTML file. Example:
\\myserver\intranet\reports\ThisReport.htm
The Add-In function should now appear in the reports Run Add-Ins property field.
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Whenever this report is run, the Add-In will now be executed.
To edit the parameters of an Add-In function that has been specified already, simply press the
Add-In Function Builder button next to the Run Add-Ins box on your report properties and
select the function that you wish to edit, then follow the same steps as above.
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ADD-IN MODULES: E-MAILING FUNCTIONS
The following Add-in Functions are available:
Function
MailSMTP
Description
Emails a file via SMTP.
Use When
Use when you want to email a
report on completion.
1. Open your Report Manager.
2. Select the report that you want to setup for e-mailing automatically once it has been
run.
3. Select the check box to Show Advanced Properties of a report – it is at the bottom of
the properties tab window.
4. Select the button to Run Add-ins - this will be listed in the properties window of the
report.
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5. Select the option to Specify a New Add-in Function and select OK.
6. A box will appear as follows
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7. Select the Add-In Library, and Add-in Library Module as shown above. Select the Add in
Function, click OK.
8. A box will pop up asking you to enter all the relevant details for emailing – see below
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This will include details about your mail SMTP server which you must get from your
Mail administrator, as well as the „from‟ and „to‟ addresses. To send to multiple e-mail
addresses, use a colon in between addresses. Ensure that when you give the report a
name that you include the “.xls” extension as well. Scroll down on this window to see
more available options.
9. When you have entered your details, select OK and you will see that a string has been
added into the Add-Ins box in the properties window of your report.
10. Execute the report, and it will automatically be e-mailed to the selected recipients.
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HIDING AND SHOWING REPORTS
It is handy to be able to hide reports that do not need to be run separately, but only as union
reports. This will give your object window a neater look.
To hide a report:
1. Select the report in the Object window of the Report Manager, under Properties select
Show Advanced.
2. Under the properties tab, select the option Report Hidden.
3. Refresh your object window view by double clicking on Home at the top of the screen
4. Now the report will not show in your list of available reports.
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To show a hidden report
1. Select the Home object in Report Manager.
2. Select Show Hidden Reports from the Tools menu.
3. Refresh you object window by double clicking on Home at the top of the screen. You
will now be able to view your hidden reports.
Please note that access to make changes to a report, will not be available on the reports
making up a union report. These reports have a black arrow next to them in the object
window. Access is available to the reports with blue lines next to them.
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SCHEDULING A REPORT
Alchemex reports can be run unattended, from Operating System batch files or under the
control of external scheduling software(such as the Microsoft Windows Scheduler or the
Microsoft SQL Server Agent). This can be useful when you have certain reports that you need
to run on a regular basis.
When reports are run unattended they are automatically closed on completion. Scheduled
reports must use the Generate Output File in the Advanced report or the Retain All Run
Instances option to be useful. See Advanced Report Properties for more information.
Typically reports that are scheduled will have the Generate Output File property set so that
the unattended reports are saved to a specific location. Set this property under the Advanced
options on the Report Properties tab. Click here for more details.
To generate the command to schedule a report run:
1. Open the Report Manager.
2. Select the report you wish to generate a schedule command for.
3. Click on the Schedule Icon
4. If the report expects parameters then you will be prompted to enter these. Enter any
necessary parameters and click OK.
5. A message box will then appear that will display the syntax for the running the report.
Additionally this text will be placed on the windows clipboard so that it can be pasted
into the application or batch file that will be controlling it. An example is shown
below.
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When reports are run unattended the information that is usually sent to the Process Monitor
window is redirected to a log file. You should review this log file to make sure that your
reports are running as expected. The log file is named BICoreUnattend.log and can be found
in the Intelligence folder which is a sub folder of the Alchemex Installation folder.
You can view this log file in a text editor application such as Notepad.
The file can also be opened directly from the Administrator. To do this open the
Administrator and choose the Menu item Tools > Open Log File.
The application returns a process exit code for the scheduled report to indicate Success (0) or
Failure (1) allowing the calling process to check the result of a shelled report.
To view an example of how to schedule a report using the Windows Scheduler click here.
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SCHEDULING A REPORT USING THE WINDOWS SCHEDULER
1. Select the report that you wish to schedule in the Report Manager.
2. Click on the Schedule Icon
on the toolbar or right click on the report and choose
Generate Scheduler Command.
3. If the report expects parameters then you will be prompted to enter these.
4. A message box will then appear that will display the syntax for running the report.
5. Additionally this text will be placed on the windows clipboard so that it can be pasted
into the scheduled task command field.
Reports that are Scheduled are closed on completion and therefore must use the Generate
Output Advanced report or the Retain Run Instances option to be useful. See Advance Report
Properties for more information.
1. Open the Windows Control panel and then open the Administrative Tools, Task
Scheduler item.
2. From the menu choose Action, Create Task.
3. The Create Task window will appear.
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4. Give the task a meaningful name.
5. Click on the Actions tab..
6. Click New.
7. Under Program/script, paste the command from the clipboard.
8. Click OK,
9. Confirm the arguments specified by clicking Yes.
This Task pane is shown below:
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10. In the When running the task, use the following user account box enter the user
name that should be used to run the report under (for domain user accounts use the
format domain_name\user_name) . The user name must be a valid account on the
domain or local machine with sufficient privileges to run Alchemex.
11. To set the Schedule for the Task click on the Triggers Tab.
12. Click the New button.
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13. When you have set the schedule options click the OK button.
It is important to understand that the user account that is used for the scheduled report
must have sufficient permissions to access all the necessary resources to run the
Alchemex report. It is best to log on to the machine that will be running the scheduled
report as that user and test that the report can be run interactively under the user account
before using the account for scheduled reports.
For more information about how Alchemex reports are scheduled and checking log file
information please click here. For more detailed information on the windows scheduling
options see the Windows Help files.
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GOTO CONTAINER
The Data Container that a report is running from can be viewed from within the Report
Manager module. This makes it easier to identify the source container to which tables or
expressions must be added should the reports running from this container need updating.
Step by step process:
1. Double click the report.
2. Double click Source container.
3. Right click the report.
4. Click Goto Container in Administrator Tool.
5. The following dialog box will appear asking if you would like to open another instance
of the Administrator.
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6. Click Yes.
7.
Your container that the selected report is running from will now be selected in the
Administrator.
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RUN MACROS
If a report template that you have created contains macros that you wish to use each time
the report is run, then type the names of the macros you wish to run in the "Run Macros on
Completion" property of your report.
To do this, enable the Advanced Options Menu on the Report Manager Interface by checking
the Show Advanced
check box.
Type the name of your Macros in the "Run Macros On Completion" property field and click on
the Apply button.
The Macros in your report template that have been specified will now be run every time that
the report is run.

If there is more than one macro that needs to be run then separate their names with
semi-colons.

If a Macro takes parameters then place these in brackets after the macro name in a
comma separated list.

Macros will always run after any Add-Ins should you have any Add-Ins placed in the
"Run Add-Ins" property.

Combine macro names and Add-Ins in the same property to ensure the correct order
thereof when running the report. Example: To have a macro run before an Add-In,
place the macro name in the "Run Add-Ins" property before the Add-In.
Creating new Macros from Excel
1. Open your Report Manager.
2. Select the report that you want the macro to run in, run the report or open the Excel
template.
3. Create the macro you want to run automatically, ensuring that in your macro you
specify which sheet you need the macro to work in. (This will help by forcing the
macro to select the correct sheet even after you Create and Link the workbook with a
different active sheet)
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4. Once you have created and tested your macro, save the template back or create and
link the workbook back to the report.
5. Highlight the report in which you have created the macro, under the Properties tab,
tick the Show Advanced option at the bottom of the screen.
6. In the advanced options list that is now available, locate the Run Macros on
Completion option.
In the text box type the name of the macro you created.
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USE OF AN AGGREGATE FUNCTION
Reports can end up rendering huge data volumes, and result in lengthy run times and
therefore causes performance issues?
There are many scenarios that could cause this but by far the most common one is the
absence of aggregate function use in reports.
Simply put, an Aggregate is to bring together or to collect into a mass or sum. Examples of
aggregates are SUM, MAX, MIN & COUNT.
Solution:
1. Launch Alchemex Report Manager.
2. Navigate to the Columns Tab and take a close look at the fields you have included in
your report. Now identify all the fields that your report will ever need to show and
then delete the superfluous ones.
3. Identify all your VALUE fields and apply an Aggregate to each of them. The most
common aggregate being SUM.
What you have done by aggregating is as follows –
You now have a report that groups your results by the remaining fields e.g. Customer Name
and then sums your VALUE fields (i.e. Sales amount excl VAT) accordingly.
Thus instead of having a report that renders each and every transaction line item from your
source Transaction Table into “Sheet1”, you now have a report that only renders the exact
required data. You have effectively tuned your report for speed.
This simple practice will dramatically reduce runtime and result in, for example, a 5 minute
report now running out in a matter of seconds.
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ADD OR REMOVE AGGREGATE FILTERS
Adding or removing Aggregate Filters enables the user to refine or limit the rows of data that
will be displayed in the report based on aggregation criteria (equivalent to a HAVING clause in
SQL).
To add or remove Aggregate Filters from your report, select the report where you want to
add or remove Aggregate Filters and then click the Aggregate Filters Tab.
Add filters:
1. Click on the Add button
The Choose Filter Field dialog box will appear.
2. Select the Filter Field you would like to add to your report and click OK.
3. The Choose Comparison Method dialogue box will appear.
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4. Choose your comparison method and click OK.
The Enter Comparison Value dialog box will appear.
5. You may now either:

Enter your Comparison Value in the field provided, or

Use the lookup button
OK.
to view a selection Comparison Values, and click
Note: The Lookup facility will only be available if it has been enabled in the
Administrator for this expression. See Add Data Expressions.
6. Use the Select System Variable button
to view a list of System Variables
Note: For further information about System Variables see System Variables.
7. The new Aggregate Filter should now appear on the Aggregate Filters Tab with a
default Aggregate Function of Count. To change the Aggregate Function select the
Aggregate Filter and on the Toolbar select the Properties button. Select the
Aggregate Function and click Apply.
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To remove filters, in the Properties Window, select the Filters that you would like to remove
and click the Remove button.
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WORKING WITH PR1 FILES
A .PR1 extension denotes a file created using Alchemex software . A PR1 file allows a report
to be run from a shortcutwithout needing to use the Report Manager Interface. To use PR1
files they need to be created using the Report Manager Interface and then associated with the
Alchemex.exe program under the windows operating system.
Creating a PR1 file
To create a PR1 file select a report in the Object Window and click on theCreate .PR1 icon
You will be prompted to select a location and name for the new .PR1 file.
Associating a PR1 file with Alchemex
When you double click on the .PR1 file you have created, Windows will prompt you to choose
a file to "Open With...".
Browse to the Alchemex.exe program and click OK.
The report associated with the .PR1 file will be launched.
If you want to permanently associate .PR1 files with Alchemex.exe then check the option
Always use this program to open these files and click on OK.
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DEBUGGING REPORTS
The Report Manager has two tools for assisting in Debugging reports. To switch the Report
Manager into one of the debugging modes right click Home and click Switch Output Mode.
The following dialog box will appear.
The available options are:

Excel
This is the Alchemex default mode and is the mode in which Alchemex reports are run
out to Microsoft Excel.

Screen
This mode runs the Data extraction stage of a report and then simply outputs it to
screen. All of the usual Excel data rendering functions are ignored (i.e. no template is
used and no macros are run).

Screen (SQL Debug)
Like the Screen mode above this mode runs the Data extraction stage of a report and
then simply outputs it to screen. Additionally when running a report the SQL query
that is generated by the report for the Data extraction stage is intercepted by a SQL
Debug window. This window allows the raw SQL statement to be viewed and tested.
1. If you choose the Screen (Sql Debug) option, the SQL Debug window will pop up with
the SQL code that gets passed to the ODBC driver.
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You can go through the SQL code to try find the problem, and then make the
relevant changes to the container (Administrator) of the report (Table joins,
Field expressions . . .) or to the Report (Report Manager) itself (Filters,
Aggregate Functions . . .)
NOTE: You will not be able the edit the SQL code in the Debug mode, you have
to correct / make changes to the Container or Report directly.
From the SQL Debug window you can
Test SQL – Test the SQL code to see if it runs out successfully or not
Continue – To see what the raw data will look like in a Data output window
2. If you choose the Screen option, the raw data window will pop up with the raw data
before it is passed to excel.
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You can now easily go through the raw data, sorting fields by clicking on the field
headings.
Things to Keep in Mind

When you open the Report Manager it defaults the Output mode to Excel every time,
regardless of the state you closed the Report Manager in.

In a networked environment of Alchemex, the Output mode you select will only be
affective on the PC it was set on.
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USING EXCEL FORMULAE IN DATA EXPRESSIONS
There are two ways of using Excel Formulae in Data Expressions. You can either choose to add
an Excel Formula from the add data expression field or you can add a normal data field and
then change its properties to an Excel Formula.
To add an Excel Formula from the Add Data Expression window:
1. Once you choose Excel Formula you are prompted to type in name for the expression
as shown below:
2. Type in a name then click OK. The following screen displays, prompting you for the
Excel formula:
3. Type in the formula, then click OK.
The other method in creating Excel Expressions is as follows:
1. Add a data expression by using the normal method (see Adding Data Expressions).
2. On the properties window of the new data expression, change the Expression Type
from a Data Field to an Excel Formula.
3. In the Expression Source field, type in the correct syntax for the expression type
chosen, then click the apply button. An example of what the properties window should
look like is shown below.
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Here the standard Excel CONCATENATE function has been used to combine the contents of
the two Data fields ProductName and Category and with a dash in between them. Note that
the formula does not begin with an Equal sign. Alchemex allows the names of Columns to be
used in the Excel Formulae through the way it applies named ranges to the raw data sheet in
a report. Where the word ProductName has been used then the report is resolving this
through a named range for that column. The Data Expressions ProductName and Category
must be included as Display Columns in your report for this Excel Formula Data Column to
work.
For more information on understanding how Alchemex applies Named Ranges to its data area
see the topic How Data is Rendered. For further information on the Excel Functions that can
be used refer to your Microsoft Excel Help file.
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USING THE INTEGRATED FINANCIAL REPORT “TYPE D” DRILLDOWN
The Alchemex Financial Report gives you the ability to drill-down on Income Statement and
Balance Sheet figures, thus enabling you to view the balance content at transactional level.
Using the Drill-Down Account Feature:
1. Click on any part of the row containing the account you want to interrogate. This
could be from either the Income Statement or Balance Sheet.
2. On the Drill-Down Toolbar, (On the left of the Excel 2003 < screen and under the AddIns tab of Excel 2007 select Drill-Down.
The Ledger Transaction Details sheet will be displayed reflecting the transactions for
the selected account. The drill-down feature does not allow for the selection of a
month to drill-down to, it will always show all transactions that were extracted as per
the date range that was selected at the time of running the report. If your data sets
are large it is best to run the ledger transactions out for 1 month only, i.e. the current
month.
3. To go back to the worksheet you were viewing before you "drilled down" click the
"Back to last sheet" button on the Drill-Down toolbar.
Note: The Drill-Down feature relies on the account number being available in Column
A. Column A can be hidden, but if deleted it will prevent the operation of the drilldown feature
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Cannot find the Drill-Down Account Toolbar?
1. Press Alt-F8 (or Select, Tools, Macro, Macros, from the menu bar)
2. Select the macro named "Build Drill-Down toolbar”
3. Select the Run button to run the macro.
4. The toolbar should now be visible again.
OR
1. Save the workbook, Close it then open it again.
.
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DRILL-DOWN
The Drill-Down tool allows Alchemex to interrogate data directly from within your Excel
reports. A common scenario might be, where one high level Alchemex report needs to drill
down to line level transactional Data in other reports. As a fast interrogation method the
Drill-Down tool allows individual Alchemex reports to be executed with parameters based on
Excel Cell values. These reports render their data directly to a fast grid style window rather
than to a new Excel Report. From this screen the user may then choose to dump the data into
Excel via the data screen menu. In this form a Alchemex report definition is being used as the
source for an Ad-Hoc data enquiry.
1. To use the Drill-Down tool locate the Report Tools menu on your standard Excel Menu
Bar. Select the Drill-Down Menu. Menu is shown below:
The Drill-Down tool will appear. To Execute a pre-configured Drill-Down simply Double
Click on it or select it then click the Execute Button.
2.
To configure a Drill-Down select the Drill-Down and click Edit. The Configure Drill-Down window will
appear. This window is shown below.
3. To Add a Drill Down click the Add button and follow the same process outlined below.
Note: A Drill Down definition set is contained within an Excel Book or Template. If you
change or add a Drill Down definition in a Report you should link it back to your Report
in the Report Manager to keep the changes.
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The Properties of a Drill-Down Definition are listed below:

Drill Down Defined Code: A unique code for the Drill-Down within the Excel
Book

Drill Down Descriptive Name: A meaningful name used to identify the Drill
Down

Report ID/Code: The Alchemex Report ID to use for interrogation. The Report
ID of a report is listed on the property window of a report in the Report
Manager.

Source Sheet: The Source Sheet used to interrogate from. This is the sheet
that has the parameters for the report. This must be the Excel Worksheet name
OR the word ActiveSheet for the drill down to work from any sheet in the
Workbook.

Report Parameter Columns: A semi-colon delimited list of the column numbers
or names used to define where to obtain the report parameters from.
As an interrogation tool the data will most likely not be needed in your Excel report
and once viewed the window can be closed.
If you wish to analyse the data in Excel however, then use the Data to Report Workbook
provided to transfer the data into Excel. A number of options are provided for this.
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HIDE ZERO ROWS
The Hide Zero Rows tool is an add-in which can aid in the analysis of data. Specifically the
tool allows rows within a selection to be hidden based on a zero value in a specified column.
This can be particularly useful when viewing financial type reports.
1. To use the tool select the Hide Zero Rows option from the Report Tools menu within
Excel.
2. Choose the Range to perform the operation on, and the Column that contains the
value to check for zeros. Then click OK. See the window below.
The Rows within the Row Range that have a Zero value in the Column specified in the
Column with Values box will be hidden.
Note: If the function is reused on an overlapping range with hidden rows already then
the rows are unhidden before performing the operation.
3. To unhide hidden rows in a range use Excels standard Unhide function. To do this
select the row range that includes the hidden rows to unhide then Right Click and
choose Unhide.
Tip: Should you wish to hide zero value rows but only when based on a certain
condition, then using a normal excel formula, create another column containing the
formula based on the condition which will result in specific rows being zero, then
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configure that column as the Column with Values in the Enter Ranges for Hiding
Zeros screen.
Example: To hide a Year to date column of values but only if there was no movement
in the other monthly columns. In this case using the Year to Date column as the
Column with values would not work.
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REPORT WRITING METHODOLOGY
1. Always ensure you understand your reporting requirements in detail
2. Create a simple layout in MS Excel and confirm this is the layout required
3. Identify that all the information you would like in your report is available in the
database.
4. Check if you have existing containers that can satisfy the requirements for this report
5. If you do have containers: Make the necessary changes to the container and run the
data in Excel
6. Modify the workbook and the layout as required.
7. Create and link the new template
8. If you don‟t have a container: Create a new container defining the required fields for
reporting
9. Create a new report linked to this data and run into MS Excel
10. You can also create individual and then union reports to consolidate unrelated data
The diagram below graphically represents this process:
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COPYING, DELETING AND RENAMING DATA EXPRESSIONS
Renaming a Data Expression
Field names in databases are often difficult to interpret. Using user-friendly names enables
you to understand the field's contents more easily. For example we are unable to tell from
the expression name whether the expression refers to a customer name or salesman name.
Changing the expression: Name to Customer Name makes the expression less ambiguous.
1. Right-click on the data expression to be renamed.
2. Select Rename. The Rename dialog box is displayed.
3. Enter the new name and click OK. The new name is displayed.
Copying a Data Expression
You are able to create special expressions, for example, formulas and SQL expressions from a
copy of existing data expressions. An existing expression is copied and changed to a special
expression.
1. Right-click the expression and select Copy.
2. Right-click on the data container and select Paste. The copy of the expression is
pasted below the container.
3. Right-click the expression and select Rename.
4. Enter the new name in the Rename dialog box and click OK.
Deleting a Data Expression
Once you have created a data expression you might find that you no longer require the
expression in your container. You are then able to delete the data expression. A data
expression can only be deleted if it is not being used in a report, in the case that it is being
used in a report, you would need to remove it from the report and then delete the expression
from the data container.
1. Right-click on the expression.
2. Click Delete.
3. Click Yes to confirm the deletion.
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RENAMING AND MOVING DATA CONNECTIONS
Renaming a Data Connection
Once you have created a data connection you are able to change the name of the data
connection at any time.
1. Select the Data connection.
2. Edit the connection name in the Connection Name property field and click Apply.
Or
1. Right-click on the data expression to be renamed.
2. Select Rename. The Rename dialog box is displayed.
3. Enter the new name and click OK. The new name is displayed.
Moving a Data Connection
You are able to move a data connection from one connection object to another. This will
obviously only work if the connections are of the same type.
1. Select the Data connection.
2. Right-click and select Move to.
3. Select the connection type and click OK.
4. Click OK.
5. Right-click on the connection and select Check/Test.
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TIMEOUT SETTINGS
When running Alchemex reports on large sets of data you might need to adjust timeout
settings. This allows you to increase the time allowed before the user would receive a
timeout error message.
There are 2 ways to resolve a timeout error:
In the Alchemex Administrator Tool:
1. In the Object window, select the desired container
2. On the Properties window, select Show advanced
3. Go to Timeout Enquiries after (seconds)
4. Increase the number of seconds here.
Using the PLConfig Tool
1. Go to PLCONFIG.exe under folder.
2. Execute the file.
Note: that if it gets changed inside the Administrator, it is only for that container. Under
PLCONFIG it is for ALL the containers.
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RUN ALL REPORTS IN FOLDER
The Run Report Batch facility allows users to run a sequence of reports one after the other
from top to bottom.
The option Run Report Batch aborts the batch of reports if any of the reports return no data.
The second option Run Report Batch (Mode 2) will run all reports regardless of there being
no data for any of the reports.
Note: The run sequence will always be top to bottom so it is important to name your reports
in a way that will ensure that the report you want run first is at the top of the batch.
For example: if you have an existing group of reports in a folder which will not run in the
sequence that you would like, then rename your reports numerically viz:

Report Name = 1. (First Report)

Report Name = 2. (Second Report)

Report Name = 3. (Third Report) and so on until you have the reports running in the
sequence that you would like.
Once you have named your reports in sequential order, select the folder that contains your
reports, right click and select Run Report Batch or Run Report Batch (Mode 2).
Alchemex will automatically run each report in sequence.
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LOCKING/UNLOCKING A REPORT
Locking freezes the properties of a report so that it cannot be modified. Users can then only
run the report. To lock a report, select the report that you want to lock.
1. Click the Lock button
to lock your report. You will be promoted for an unlock
password and the report properties will immediately be unavailable
2. Click the Unlock button
to unlock your report, the report properties will
immediately be available upon entering the unlock password set in step 1.
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USING AN EXCEL WORKBOOK AS A DATA SOURCE
In order to use an existing Excel Workbook as a data source for a report, the data needs to be
organized into named ranges.
Naming the Data Ranges
1. Open the workbook in Excel.
2. Make sure that the data is stored with accurate headings so that when expressions are
added, the data remains meaningful.
3. Select the data required for report writing purposes by highlighting it.
4. Select Formulas, Define Name.
This range will now be available for selection when you add new data containers within the
Administrator module.
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Creating a new connection
A new connection type has been added to the Administrator tool for connecting to Excel
workbooks as the source data, via an ODBC connection. To add a new data connection to an
Excel workbook, you will need to ensure that you have selected the applicable data in Excel
and have named the range prior to adding the connection within the Administrator tool.
1. Open the Administrator.
2. Select the ODBC driver for Excel.
3. Click on the Add Icon
which will display the Connection Info window.
4. Name the connection and specify the Excel workbook that you will be accessing. If
the workbook has been protected, you will need to add the relevant user id and
correct password.
5. Click Add.
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6. Test the connection by clicking the Check/Test button
mouse and selecting Check/Test
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, or by right clicking the
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REPORT PROCESS OVERVIEW
How are reports created in Alchemex?
The process of creating a report requires that you use the Alchemex Administrator to create a
connection to a data source. The Alchemex Report Manager is then used to create the report
and link it to an Excel template. The following figure summarizes the entire process of
creating a report using the Administrator and the Report Manager module:
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PROXY SERVER SETTINGS
Alchemex makes use of the Internet for various functions including Serialisation, Software
Updates and Community downloads. If your available internet connection is via a Proxy Server
you will need to customise these settings.
If you need to update Alchemex, but access to the internet is via a proxy server, you need to
add the Proxy to Alchemex.
Firstly, make sure of your Proxy Settings. The best way to eliminate any errors is to copy
your proxy settings from Internet Explorer.
Copy Proxy Settings
1. Open Internet Explorer
2. Select Tools
3. Select Internet Options
4. Select the tab Connections
5. Then select LAN Settings
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6. Under Proxy server, highlight and copy the proxy settings.
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7. Make a note of the Port Settings.
Add the proxy to Alchemex
1. Open Alchemex Administrator.
2. Click on File
3. Select Configure Internet Connection.
4. Under Properties select the drop down arrow, and then select PROXY
5. Select Apply
6. Under Proxy Server Address and Port, paste the Proxy as copied from Internet
Explorer.
7. Add a colon i.e. :
8. Add the port no.
9. Select OK.
You may also change your Alchemex Internet Connection settings in the ALCHEMEX.INI file.
These changes can be made by editing the ALCHEMEX.INI file directly with a standard text
editor.
Examples of the Alchemex Internet Connection Settings are shown below: -
To use a named proxy server with prompted proxy logon: ProxyServer=cache.lupus:8080
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AccessType=PROXY
AccessAuthenticate=YES
NB. Note that when specifying a Proxy Server the name (or IP address) must be specified and
then followed by a single colon (:) character and then the Port Number.
To use a named proxy server no prompt logon
(note user and password stored in the INI file which may breach security requirements in an
organisation): ProxyServer=cache.lupus:8080
AccessType=PROXY
AccessAuthenticate=YES
ProxyUser=joebloggs
ProxyPswd=mypassword
To use a connection to the Alchemex Update server directly (default option).
This option assumes that you have a direct connection to the internet.: AccessType=DIRECT
To use your internet connection default settings for connections: AccessType=DEFAULT
AccessAuthenticate=YES
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PROTECTING THE OUTPUT BOOK
When using Alchemex, it might be necessary to protect the Microsoft Excel file from being
edited by unauthorized persons.
When you have protected the Microsoft Excel workbook the following occurs:

When attempting to edit anything on the sheet, the below message will appear:
This applies to data input and formatting changes.

The only available worksheet right click options are View Code, Unprotect Sheet and
Select All Sheets.
In Alchemex Report Manager, select the relevant report,
1. Under Properties, select Show Advanced.
2. Select Protect The Output Book.
3. Select Apply.
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4. As soon as it is applied, a field called Output Book Protection Password (Randomly
Selected if Blank) will become available, we recommend that you enter your own
password into this field so that you are able to unprotect the output book at a later
stage if required.
5. Insert a password, taking note that this field is case sensitive
6. Run the report as normal.
7. Notice that no changes can be made to the Microsoft Excel Workbook
8. To unprotect the sheet, select the sheet and then select Unprotect Sheet.
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9. The following screen will open:
10. Insert the password and select OK
The worksheet is now unprotected and can be edited.
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FIND AND REPLACE
The Find and Replace feature in the Administrator lets you change all instances of a name
change, for example a table name that has changed.
1. Open the Administrator and right click on the affected container.
2. Select Find and Replace
3. Enter the existing table name under Find What and the new name under Replace
With.
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4. Tick all expressions you would like to effect and also select what to include in the
replacement by selecting the relevant tick boxes.
5. Select OK
6. Confirm by selecting Yes.
7. The following screen will confirm that the find and replace was successful.
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COMPACTING METADATA
Compacting your MetaData occasionally can result in improved system performance.
Depending on your usage levels it may be desirable to do this more often.
1. Select File
2. Then select Compact Metadata
3. A message that Alchemex must shut down will appear.
4. Select Yes.
5. The Maintenance Utility will then open.
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6. Select Compact SVD.
7. A Confirm message box will open.
8. Select Yes
9. The Alchemex Maintenance Utility window will be populated with commands as it gets
executed.
10. When it has completed, a message will appear, asking you to delete the backup file
after verifying that Alchemex is working correctly.
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11. Select OK
12. The backup file can either be deleted or kept as an additional backup.
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MULTISELECT PICKLISTS
MultiSelect PICKLISTs allow reports to pull information from more than one source and
consolidate it into one report. The underlying data must be structured identically for this to
work. MultiSelect PICKLISTs are configured in the same way as ordinary PICKLISTs except that
the keyword PICKLISTM must be used instead of PICKLIST.
When you run a report that references a connection with a MultiSelect PICKLIST you will be
prompted to select the Data Sources of interest, Select these and click OK. The report will
consolidate the data from the selected Data Sources into one report.
The third syntax that is supported for Picklists is the PICKLISTA (standing for "Picklist All")
syntax. This syntax has the effect of using PICKLISTM but with the user automatically
selecting all the Picklist entries at report run time. Use PICKLISTA where you have like data in
disparate data sources and always want the information from ALL the sources brought into
the report without being prompted.
Note that when the data is rendered to the raw data sheet in Excel (the first sheet in the
workbook), the data set from each data source will be listed on the raw data sheet as one set
beneath the other. The data is not consolidated in any way.
Example:
PICKLIST=<PromptText>;<DESCRIPTION_1>::<TECH_INFO_1>;<DESCRIPTION_2>::<TECH_INFO_2
>;<DESCRIPTION_n>::<TECH_INFO_n>
So in the Access Database (*.mdb) Property enter:
PICKLIST=Where is Your
Data;Office::X:\Data\Filofax2002.mdb;Online::Z:\Data\Filofax2002.mdb;At
Home::C:\Data\Filofax2002.mdb
The user will then be supplied with a PICKLIST titled "Where is Your Data" and with the three
choices Office, Online and At Home.
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ADD DATALESS REPORT
Alchemex allows a user to Add a Dataless Report for the purpose of consolidating data from
various sources. The Dataless report does not access any database but rather activates an
Excel workbook that contains Macros designed to consolidate information from workbooks
that you have stored previously in other reports. The Dataless report will usually contain some
advanced bespoke Macros which will perform a consolidation or reconciliation of some type.
The Dataless Report is not to be confused with the Picklist Functionality. Picklists allow you
to consolidate data from same and disparate databases.
Typically you will link your Dataless report to an Excel workbook that contains macros that
references other workbooks that store your information.
To create a Dataless report:
1. Right click on the Report folder.
2. Select Add Dataless Report.
3. Enter a name for the Dataless report in the dialog box and select OK.
4. Notice the Report button
, indicating that it is a Dataless Report.
5. You will then need to link the Dataless report to an Excel book that contains the
functional macros.
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To do this: Open the Excel workbook, then from the Report Manager, use the create
and link template function to link the workbook as a template file.
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PROBLEMS WITH EXCEL WHEN RUNNING REPORTS
Excel Frozen
When Alchemex runs a report out to Excel it takes control of Excel and prevents user
interaction with Excel. If a report runs into rendering problems it is possible that Excel can be
left locked.
To release Excel:
1. In the Report Manager Module, select the Home object
2. Right click and select Unlock Excel or click the
key on the toolbar.
Excel will now be unlocked and user interaction will be allowed again.
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SYSTEM VARIABLES
System variables can be used with Parameters and Filters to dynamically determine a
comparison Value at report Run Time. An example of this is where a report is run and
expected to return data for the current day. In this example a Filter could be set on the
report for a Date field and the filter comparison value (or comparator) could be set to the
system Variable @DATE@. When the report is run the system variable @DATE@ in the filter
comparator will be replaced with the current date.
To select a System Variable when adding a Filter or Parameter click the System Variable
button
on the Enter Comparison Value screen.
The Select System Variables screen (shown below) will appear. Select the required System
Variable and click OK.
Custom System Variables
Note that the set of available System Variables defined can be extended by adding Custom
System Variables to the Alchemex.ini file under the section [GlobalSysVars]. These Custom
System Variables are hard coded values in the Alchemex.ini file and cannot contain script
logic. Each Variable must be added on a separate line under the section and must also be
added to the comma separated list defined in the Active key under the [GlobalSysVars]
section. An example of two Custom System Variables defined in the Alchemex.ini file is
shown below. With this example the System Variables @FINYEARSTART@ and @FINYEAREND@
will be available to all reports in the Alchemex system.
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[GlobalSysVars]
Active=@FINYEARSTART@,@FINYEAREND@
@FINYEARSTART@=01 March 2004
@FINYEAREND@=28 February 2005
System Variable Format
System Variables must always be prefixed and suffixed with a single @ symbol and must
contain no other occurrences of an @ symbol. System Variable names must be unique. System
Variables that do not comply to this format will not be recognized by Alchemex.
Considerations when using System Variables in Reports
It should be noted that Custom System Variables are defined in the Alchemex.ini file. Due to
this the set of Custom System Variables will vary from site to site. If Custom System Variables
are used on a report intended for distribution then the same definitions will have to be
created at the destination sites. Ordinary System Variables are available to all Alchemex sites
without the requirement to create them. This means that Reports intended for distribution
should avoid using Custom System Variables where possible.
Listing Available System Variables
To obtain a list of all available system variables (Standard and Custom) select the Alchemex
Home object in the Report Manager and from the Tools menu choose Show System Variables.
A list of all available System Variables will be displayed.
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CONFIGURING THE ALCHEMEX RENDERING ENGINE
The Alchemex data rendering engine can be configured to include or omit certain steps in the
rendering process.
Note that these changes are global and affect how all your Alchemex reports run. The default
settings should only be changed if there is a specific reason for the change. Usually these
settings are only changed when trying to isolate problems for slow running or problematic
reports.
To change configuration settings Launch the Administrator. Select the Alchemex Enterprise
object in the Object Window and on the Tools menu click Configure Excel Output Engine.
The screen shown below will appear:
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Toggle on or off the required settings and then click OK. Each setting corresponds to a step
performed by the Alchemex rendering engine. Switching the setting off will stop that step
from running for all reports until such time that the setting is set back on.
An explanation for each option is listed below:

Refresh Add-In Links - Refreshes links in Excel to Add-In libraries. This option is
necessary when functions are used in your workbooks that are outside of the standard
Excel function set (e.g. functions in the Analysis Toolpak add-in).

Write Book Summary Information - Writes report summary information to each
workbook.

Refresh Pivot Table Data - Refreshes Pivot Table data for all pivot tables in a report.

Name Ranges and Update Excel Formulae - Applies Alchemex standard Name Ranges
for data columns and data ranges as well as updating formulae which might reference
Named Ranges. N.B. Do not switch this option off if any of your reports use Named
Ranges or Alchemex Excel Formulae type expressions defined in your Data Containers.

Force Book Recalculation – This option instructs the workbook to recalculate all
formulae after data has been rendered. If you switch this option off then your reports
will have to be manually recalculated by the user. It is best not to turn this option off.

Allow Running of Add-Ins - This step runs the Alchemex Add-in functions defined on
reports. Only switch this option off for debugging purposes.

Allow Running of Template Macros - This step runs the Template Macros defined on
reports. Only switch this option off for debugging purposes.

Allow Autoformatting of Data Sheet - This step facilitates the automatic formatting
of raw data sheets, e.g. column widths.

Allow Retaining of Run Instances - This step facilitates the saving of report instances
at run time.

Allow Run Instance Auditing - This step facilitates the saving of report audit instances
at run time.

Allow Output File Generation - This option allows reports to be saved to a specific
location.

Take Tight Control of Excel - Allows Alchemex to take tight control of Excel while
running a report. This is to stop a user from causing problems with a report while it is
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running. Switching off this option could cause your reports to be unreliable and is not
recommended. Use this option for debugging problematic reports only.

Take Tight Control of Workbook - Allows Alchemex to take tight control of the Excel
Workbook for a report while running a report. This is to stop a user from causing
problems with a report while it is running. Switching off this option could cause your
reports to be unreliable and is not recommended. Use this option for debugging
problematic reports only.

Allow Book to Close on Completion - This option allows reports to be closed on
completion automatically. This option is generally used for reports which have been
set to run unattended.

Automatically Activate Reports - This option allows Alchemex to activate reports on
completion, for example, you want to run a number of reports in sequence on a
monthly basis, so set a command in the properties of the first report to automatically
run the next report as soon as it has run, and so on.

Lock Windows when Locking Workbooks - This option can be used to select the way
you wish Alchemex to Lock Workbooks when the "Protect the Output Book" option is
used on a report. Leaving the option on will cause Workbook Windows to be locked as
well as the Workbook Data and structure. Switching it off will only lock Workbook data
and structure and not the actual Workbook Window.

Forces Reports to Abort if no data returned - This option can be used to configure
the way in which a report that obtains no data during its "Data In" phase continues. If
this option is set on then the report will abort, saving some time. If the option is set
off then the report will continue to run but with no data.

Allow Render Delays for User Cancel - This option is used to allow a user the option
of canceling a report while it is running data into Microsoft Excel. This option,
although useful, significantly slows down the data out phase of a report run. Switch
this option off to speed report execution time. If you have problematic reports that
need the user cancel facility then this option should be checked on.

Refresh Excel Formulae in Raw Data - If Excel formulae are used in a container and
then in a report, it can come through uncalculated or with errors. Selecting this option
will force Microsoft Excel to recalculate these.

Maintain Pivot Cache Cube Connections - For cube reports this instructs Excel to
keep a database connection to the cube open while the book is open so that each drill
down in the pivot table does not need to reconnect to the cube. If this option is off
(the default) then Excel reconnects to the cube on each Pivot query.
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
Attempt repair Colorless Charts in Excel 12 - Some templates that were created in
Microsoft Excel 2003 or earlier versions lose their colors when run out into Microsoft
Excel 2007 due to a change between versions. This option attempts to run out the
reports and repairing the chart colors.

Allow Running of Hook - A workbook generated by the running of a report, can be
customized by an external dll.
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DESIGN
The Design feature allows you to format an Excel template that is attached to a report
without having to run the report with all the data coming though . It is only active for reports
that have an attached template.
1. In the Report Manager Module, Select the report you would like to make design
changes to, and right click on the report and select Design or, Select the Design Icon
from the Toolbar.
2. The following message box will open:
Select Yes. Your Template will then open
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3. Make your desired changes and save the workbook/template.
For example, add company logos, change font, color etc. You can then create and link
your newly designed template. These changes will then be included in your template
when you next run this report.
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GETTING SUPPORT
The Alchemex Help Files have been written to provide maximum information and assistance
to all Alchemex users. Every effort has been made to make Alchemex easy to understand and
use. The comprehensive help files can be accessed by pressing the F1 button in your
Alchemex software. If you still need assistance with your installation, please contact our
Alchemex Team on 0861 102 302. For further assistance, please contact:
sales@alchemex.com
Sales
Website
www.alchemex.com
BI Community - Find product videos and a comprehensive
knowledgebase and documentation
http://alchemex.ning.com
Knowledgebase - Repository of support articles and help files
www.alchemex.com
Online Academy – Offering you specialised Excel and Alchemex
www.alchemexacademy.com
training to enhance your reporting skills
Trial Software - A complete installation of the Alchemex
reporting software for you to evaluate over the next 30 days
www.alchemex.com
Support – No luck from self-help websites? Email your
questions, comments or problems
support@alchemex.com
Customer References
www.alchemex.com
If you know of anyone who will benefit from using Alchemex - Please contact or email Sales.
Other Support
For more information about obtaining support please contact your Certified Alchemex Dealer
or Call Centre
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