Using HTML inside ForNAV reports

Earlier this week I was conducting a Reports ForNAV training in Bremen. As I was showing my students ForNAV multilanguage labels with HTML formatting we started talking about the other features that ForNAV has regarding HTML. My students suggested that it would be useful if users could write their own HTML code, save it in a blob field and then display it in a report. That is perfectly possible! In this blog post I use a Dynamics 365 Business Central Cloud ForNAV report with a per tenant extension but this will work with an On Prem Extension or plain old C/Side just as well. So, how does HTML work in a ForNAV report?

A while ago I was working with another ForNAV customer who wanted a flag for every item on a catalogue report so customers could see the origin of that item. We ended up with a simple ForNAV text box with this source expression:

Annotation 2019-10-17 205301

That results in a report that looks like this:

Annotation 2019-10-17 205451

So that is fun right? No messing about with saving images anywhere, just instant prettyness in our report. But we wanted something a bit more intricate, something we can use across multiple reports. Yes I know ForNAV has a template function. Please indulge my love of coding.

First thing I did was to create an extension with three objects, a table with the blob fields, a page to edit the blobs, and a standard ForNAV sales invoice. You can find the extension on my github page. I won’t go into detail here as it is pretty standard stuff.

I then used an online HTML editor to create a simple report footer text. I wrapped that in the HTML doctype labels and saved it in my new HTML blob table. Please note the %1 text I use as a placeholder for my company name. Yes, I could have created a nice ReactJS WYSIWYG HTML editor on my page but I really wanted to get this blog post out. Maybe later.

<p style="text-align: center;"><span style="background-color: #00ff00;">We at %1 do so enjoy your custom</span>. <strong>Please</strong> come back and spend <span style="color: #ff0000;">more</span> cash.</p>

Next step is to get this blob field and use it as a source expression in ForNAV. To do that I first added the record in the Records property of the report. To do this open the properties of the ForNAV report and drill down into the Records property and add the tables you want to get data from.

Annotation 2019-10-17 210857

The next step is to get the record from Business Central. For that we write some JavaScript code in the ForNAV OnPreReport trigger.

HTMLBlobRED.Get(1);
HTMLBlobRED.CalcFields('HTML');

decodeBase64 = function(s) {
var e={},i,b=0,c,x,l=0,a,r='',w=String.fromCharCode,L=s.length;
var A="ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/";
for(i=0;i<64;i++){e[A.charAt(i)]=i;}
for(x=0;x<L;x++){
c=e[s.charAt(x)];b=(b<<6)+c;l+=6;
while(l>=8){((a=(b>>>(l-=8))&0xff)||(x<(L-2)))&&(r+=w(a));}
}
return r;
};

The decodeBase64 function is needed because in Business Central Cloud I get the content of a blob field as a base64 string.  In On Prem situations this is not needed.

Finally I created a new text field in a footer with this source expression:

decodeBase64(HTMLBlobRED.HTML).replace('%1', CompanyInformation.Name);

What this does is it decodes the base64 string in my blob field and in the resulting string it replaces the %1 placeholder with the CompanyInformation.Name field which is part of the dataset of this report.

The result is this:

Annotation 2019-10-17 213021

Some final thoughts. In this example I used a new ForNAV report that is part of my extension. That is not strictly necessary. The records property in a ForNAV report can access all installed extension tables without the need for dependencies. I just wanted a complete stand alone example set so I chose not to use the phenomenal ForNAV Report Pack.

Full disclosure, I do work for ForNAV as a freelance trainer/consultant. They have not encouraged nor paid me to write this blog. I write about products and technology that I love working with and I love working with and wholeheartedly endorse ForNAV.

About the Author René Brummel

My driving force is the will to learn. Every day brings its unique challenges, my goal is to rise to each challenge and learn from it. My professional expertise is the streamlining and optimization of business processes. My experience ranges from software development (I know AL, C/AL, C#, .NET, JavaScript, ReactJS etc) and implementation to business processes optimization, project management, training, and coaching. At the heart of what I do lies my vision, “sustainable change comes from conscious choice, made out of free will”.

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