View Full Version : Slow report generation


Bob Wilson
11-28-2000, 12:42 PM
I have been using Alpha 5 v1 for a while and am experiencing extremely slow report generation. Could anyone give me some insight into set generation or report structure. I am using Pentium III 486s and some reports take over 5 minutes. Help.

11-28-2000, 02:18 PM
There are a variety of things that can influence the speed of report generation, from the way you have the reports set up to how full the hard drive on your machine is.

In terms of report elements, lines, boxes, and other graphic objects seem to really slow things down. Summary fields in headers slow things down. Lots of calculations done at report generation time slow things down.

Want to sort some of it out? Make a copy of your report and start deleting an element at a time and see what difference it makes.

I'm sure there are other factors as well...

Melvin Davidson
11-29-2000, 04:45 AM

In addition to Paul's comments, another major factor is if you are reporting against a SET vs. a single Database (db).

SET's that have many related child records take much longer as the report accesses the master record and then has to fetch all related child records, which, as you can see, multiples the time by a factor of x. If there is more than one child db, than it becomes more complex.

I hope that is of some help,

Bob Wilson
11-29-2000, 09:31 AM
I appreciate your input. However, my concern is that if you produce a form on the screen which has all the relevent information and you simply summarize the data and reformat the presentation the time should be the same. If I pull up a specific record in a set for project, customer and production it displays in form view instantaneously. For example, if I want to see production on a set of orders I can pull up the form view and all the information is there. However, if I want a report on these orders by date range it can take a minute. I can actually look at all the records I want in form view manually quicker than I can generate a report.

Melvin Davidson
11-29-2000, 12:03 PM
One more side note.

Don't forget to check off: Optimize complex reports
under Print time optimizations in Report Proerties!

11-29-2000, 02:00 PM
So the question is why generating a report is so much slower than viewing the same records through a form on the screen?

The Alpha routines for generating reports tend to take more time than some competing programs. I don't know why that is. I know that the more grouping levels and summary fields and child sets you have the slower it runs, and I believe that Alpha only fetches a single record at a time when viewing through a form but prepares the entire report (reading through all the records and calculating all of the summary fields) before sending any part of it to the screen or printer.

One thing that might help if you are running a report on a subset of records in your database is to run a query to select the records you want to limit the number the report generator has to process and then printing the report rather than letting the report generator filter for the records you want or some other method. You might try having your records indexed in the order the report needs prior to sending the report to the printer rather than letting the report generator order them (I haven't tried that to see if it makes a difference or not).

I know some other products have nearly instantaneous report generation, but on the flip side, they don't offer the same capabilities in reporting, either.

Bob Wilson
11-30-2000, 10:16 AM
I have tried the query and indexing of the set to match the report groupings without significant increase in speed. This system was written for me by someone else who is no longer in my employ. I am not that well versed in Alpha 5 but have significant programming experience. The associated problem with the slow run time is the lock out of the data bases during the running of the reports. I would think there is a way around this but don't have the time to pursue. I run the business and only touch the Alpha 5 as a necessity.

I suppose I should either convert to another or look to some outside help. These weekly reports are killing us.

Thanks for your help.

Bob Wilson
11-30-2000, 10:17 AM
I have but thank you.

Bob Wilson
11-30-2000, 10:19 AM
Is converting to a newer version practical and would it help.

11-30-2000, 11:05 AM
I don't recall that there was a significant difference in report generation speed as A5 was updated. I don't work on a network so someone who does may be better able to address your concern.

You might want to investigate other products, but I'd do some careful evaluation before I jumped. I know there are other products that have faster report generation speed but you'd give up some of the advantages Alpha Five has to gain that speed in reporting. You have to balance the strengths of various products against your needs. There may be something out there that comes closer.

You may want to post a question on the v4 forum asking about report generation speed on a network in v4 and see what kind of response you get. Make sure to include the information that the report generation speed problem for you is related to network lockout while the report is generated.

Which raises an interesting thought. Perhaps when you need to run the report you could copy the database data to a standalone copy of the application and run the report from there while the network continued to run. If I understand you correctly, it's the lockout that's the problem and this would avoid that problem.

11-30-2000, 06:56 PM
If you have your A5v1 manual laying about, page 13-32 explains Setting Print Options. It offers two options that may effect printing speed: Optimize Complex Reports, which has already been suggested, and Don't Lock Database, which the manual says "enables other users or sessions to access the database or set. The report normally locks the database to assure accuracy; while the report prints, the underlying data cannot be changed. If you want to be able to change the data, even while it is being used by the report, check this box."

I don't know what the ramifications of doing that would be. You might experiment and see. The manuals for newer versions don't mention these options, so there may well be substantial differences in how the program handles these situations.

By the time you get to version 4, one of the new features was network optimization which speeds performance over a network. I don't know what it would do for your situation.

Another thing you may try if the speed of your printer is any part of the bottleneck is simply printing to a file. The program saves a file that is formatted with all the proper printer codes and all you have to do is copy the file to the printer to get a printout.