I think today was the first time I showed someone a practical use for the Report Explorer. I was shown a PDF export that had a short stray line along the left margin. The line didn’t appear in the preview mode or in the design mode of the report, but I have seen strange things happen with objects. I have seen objects located “below zero” on the design screen (so far left they are off the form), or hidden completely behind layers of other objects. So, I figured the quickest way to find it was to look in the complete list of the objects in each section – the Report Explorer. That way I could quickly see if there was a hidden object in the section without having to move anything.
You open the Report Explorer like you do the Field Explorer, through the ‘View’ menu (or using the tool bar). It gives you an object tree with a node for each section. As you expand each node you see a complete list of all the objects in that section, in the order they appear from left to right. There are three toggle buttons at the top that allow you to show or hide:
1) Fields and text objects
2) Graphic objects
3) Grid and subreport objects
To solve my problem I showed only the graphic category. I immediately saw an unnecessary box object that didn’t appear in either design or preview, but did show up in the PDF export. I deleted the object within the Report Explorer without even having to locate the object on the report. Problem solved.
The Report Explorer also comes in handy when you want to select all the field objects in a section without selecting the lines and boxes. You can hide all other objects and then select a range of fields by using the SHIFT keys. You can also see the complete names of objects which is helpful when you are working with long field names or a very crowded report.
Now that I have played with it I will probably find other uses for it. If you have found an interesting use of the Field Explorer, feel free to post a comment or Email me.