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List & Label 18 with Touch, Top-N-Reporting and In-memory Databases

by Anand Narayanaswamy on Jan 23, 2013 |

List & Label 18 recently released by combit GmbH includes several performance improvements such as optimal multithreading behaviour and in-memory databases. It provides support for Windows 8 touch gestures with which users can make use of panning or two finger zoom.

With the help of Top-N-Reporting, cross tables can be sorted according to the results column with the ability to restrict the number of rows to be printed. The product also includes a wizard using which you will be able to configure data source and other parameters in a WinForm application in addition to native 64 bit PDF export.

List & Label 18 includes support for ribbon, jQuery mobile HTML export, multipage preview, new barcodes, back side printing, NuGet, cross page export including integration with Amazon Web Services and Visual Studio 2012.

In an exclusive interview to InfoQ, Jochen Bartlau, Development Manager, List & Label 18 (LL18) shared the various aspects and features of the product in detail.

InfoQ: What makes LL 18 different from other competing products?

List & Label integrates seamlessly and tightly into the application and becomes an integral part of it. xCopy deployment is a breeze and no additional database drivers need to be installed. A page is treated as a page, not a combination of different cryptic reporting bands, making it easy and intuitive for the end user to work with the royalty free Designer.

Our vivid user base is an extraordinary source for innovations. Many of the product's features were implemented as direct response to user requests. Due to the flexibility of the product, the word "impossible" has been abandoned.

InfoQ: What is the benefit of Amazon Web Services integration with LL 18?

Cloud computing is still one of the top buzzwords these days. However, beyond the hype there's a lot of real use in putting applications into the cloud - think load balancing, easy scalability and reliability.
Using List & Label in AWS applications is just as easy as in fat client WinForms applications. And the best thing about it is - all reports are easily interchangeable, whether you use them from Azure, AWS, ASP.NET or WPF/WinForms.

InfoQ: We came to know that LL 18 provides NuGet support? How is this new development benefit developers?

NuGet makes it easy to equip your application with existing 3rd party components. For List & Label, this means all required dependencies are automatically added to the application, making the creation of setup project really easy. Additionally, the automated update check makes sure our users don't miss an important new service pack or feature update.

InfoQ: Do you think back side printing is a demanding feature among developers?

Actually, this was a very frequent demand in our yearly customer survey where we try to see which features might benefit our users most. Obviously, this was caused mainly by end user requests.

InfoQ: How does back side printing benefit from the end user angle?

In many countries, it is common or even legally required to have the terms and conditions on the back side of an invoice sheet, for example. This is something that wasn't possible to do for the end user so far - it had to be solved programmatically. To my knowledge, List & Label is the first report engine that offers this feature.

InfoQ: Can you elaborate on Top-N-Reporting?

This is a powerful new feature for our crosstab object. An example: besides ordering sales data by revenue (i.e. put the top seller on top of the crosstab) you can now filter the crosstab to only display the top 5 sellers. This provides a quick and powerful overview of your data.

InfoQ: Is it possible to use MySQL as backend with LL18 application?

Our flexible DataProvider concept allows binding to any data source. For MySQL, we even host an open source project that has the source code for our MySQL support. This way, our users can support the latest MySQL release as soon as it becomes available without needing to wait for us to provide the support for it.

InfoQ: Is it possible to build Windows Store apps with LL18? Does LL18 provide support for Windows Phone 8?

As we're heavily relying on the Windows OS infrastructure, we can support neither Windows RT nor Windows Phone directly. However, this isn't a huge restriction in reality, as hardly anyone would want to design a report on a portable device.
For printing, you can easily put your reporting application on a server and use one of our many export formats like PDF. We're even shipping a sample for a touch optimized, self-service reporting web app with version 18.

InfoQ: Is it possible to build applications with LL 18 for mobile devices such as Android Jelly Bean based Tablet PCs?

In principle, the answer is the same as for Windows Phone - put up a web app that does just what you need. In version 18, we also introduced support for jQuery mobile as output format, making it easy to browse even nested data on mobile devices like tablets or smartphones.

InfoQ: Does LL 18 provide support for QR Barcode scanner?

QR codes can be printed since a couple of years with List & Label, long before the hype began. Our barcode support is cutting edge usually, currently we're supporting more than 50 barcode formats.

InfoQ: Do you provide free version of LL 18?

A free, fully functional trial version is available that allows to test our product for 30 days. We also provide pre-sales support services to help developers get going.

InfoQ: How do you use social media to leverage LL18?

We're hosting and contributing to a range of open-source projects like Redmine Reports, a reporting support with a fully fledged report designer for the popular Redmine ticketing system using List & Label.

At the combit website, you’ll find a comfortable, free online barcode generator available to anyone who quickly needs a barcode for their business cards or similar. We inform our community via Facebook, Twitter and Google+ about these and other projects. As combit is Premier Visual Studio Industry Partner, we’re having access to Microsoft’s social channels, too.

InfoQ: Can you share with us the future roadmap for List & Label? What developers can expect from LL19?

We'll stick to what made us successful in the last few years - providing a new release on a yearly base, enhancing on what is there already and putting in some new stuff to support trending topics in the IT.
Listening to feedback of our users and not bloating the product with yet another feature that looks nice on a checklist. Although it's a bit early in the version cycle, things we'll probably be looking at are additions to the charting functionality and the addition of more interactivity to our reports.

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long time... by Mark N

I haven't used this product for ever (10+ years). It was good at the time. But with the advent of pdf generation tools and opensource reporting tools, I moved on. That and, from what I can tell, it does not support the platform I mainly use.

Re: long time... by Anand Narayanaswamy

Can you let me know which platform you are using?

I will touch base with the vendor to see if they can support it in the next version.

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