Report Groups and Web Site Generation
Generating Web Reports and Standard Reports
Two of the major features in DMB, are the ability to generate groups of reports in a single command and the ability to generate a league web site with a single command. These two capabilities are related because you can use report groups to tell the web site generator what you want to see on the site.
Before we describe how these new features work, let's take a moment to review the reporting capabilities in the current version of the game. Those capabilities form the foundation upon which the new features are built.
Diamond Mind Baseball includes a large number of standard reports, including league standings, game results, leaderboards, registers, injury reports, and more. There are 46 of them in version 11, and many customers find that these reports meet most or all of their needs.
Virtually all DMB reports are customizable. You can start with any standard report, change its structure (add columns, delete columns, reorganize the columns into sections) and save it as a custom report. When you do that, the custom report can be used just like a standard report.
When you generate a standard report or a custom report, DMB pops up an options window that allows you to specify the content of the report -- what leagues or teams or players you'd like to see in the report along with any options supported by that type of report. For example, for a leaderboard report, you choose which league to report on, how many players you'd like to see listed in each category, the minimum playing time needed to qualify, and so on.
In the current edition of Diamond Mind Baseball, you can also create memorized reports. A memorized report defines both the structure and the content. In other words, you can save the settings you would ordinarily specify in the options window. When you generate a memorize report, DMB doesn't need to ask you for the options, so it produces the report immediately.
When you generate a large group of reports with a single command, you don't want to be asked to enter the options for each report. That would almost defeat the purpose of generating a group of reports at once. Memorized reports, therefore, are the logical foundation for a report group because they already contain all of the options information needed to generate the report immediately.
As a result, the process of defining a group of reports begins with the creation of the memorized reports you wish to include in the group. Creating a memorized report is very easy. Begin with either a standard or custom report, choose the options, and when the report appears on the screen, click on the Memorize button and supply a name for this memorized report. You can do this in a matter of seconds.
When your memorized reports have been created, you can choose the "Report groups" command, create a new group, and add these memorized reports to that group. You choose which reports are in the group and the sequence in which they appear.
When the report group is generated, you choose whether to send the reports directly to a printer or save them in one or more files on your hard disk. The files can be in plain-text format or HTML format. And you have complete control over how many files are created, which reports go into which files, and where on your hard disk the files are stored.
Add it all up and you have almost complete control over your report groups. Because the memorized reports in the group can be based on standard reports or custom reports, and because every report has a set of options specific to that type of report, you control the structure and content of every report in the group. And you have a lot of control over how the group is organized and generated.
Web site generation
The web site generator also provides you with a lot of flexibility. You specify whether you want to generate a site for an organization (two related leagues) or a single league. You specify up to three report groups, one for any organization reports you wish to generate, one for league reports, and one for team reports.
We've already created a standard set of memorized reports and report groups for each of these three levels, so you'll be able to generate a comprehensive league web site without having to set anything up first.
However, if you want to have some control over the content of your site, you can do that by substituting your own report groups for the standard ones. In this way, you can remove any reports you're not interested in and add memorized versions of your own custom reports.
The web site generator optionally includes any boxscore files that have been saved for your league.
To tie everything together, the generator produces an index page for the organization (if applicable), each league, and each team. Each of these index pages includes links to the others and links to every report that was generated for that organization, league or team. In addition, if your report groups include game results reports, those reports contains links to the boxscore/scoresheet/gamelog file for each completed game.
The generation process is fast, too. As part of our testing, we generated a web site for an organization (two leagues, thirty teams) that had played a few weeks of the season. The web site, which consisted of approximately 250 reports and 300 boxscore files, was generated in about 40 seconds on a computer with a 1.6 MHz processor.
Enhanced HTML support
In version 8, HTML support was very basic. The game took the plain-text version of the report and wrapped the HTML page header and page footer tags around it. It worked, it was fast, and it produced small files that loaded quickly, but it wasn't the most attractive presentation.
In version 9, we present all of the statistical reports as formatted HTML tables instead of plain text. (The boxscore files remain as plain text.) This approach allows us to use color and more attractive fonts to make the reports easier to work with. These colors and fonts are specified in a cascading style sheet that we are providing with version 11 and which will automatically be generated when you generate DMB reports in HTML format.
We don't plan to provide any tools within the game that would allow you to customize this style sheet, but if you have the requisite HTML knowledge, you can let DMB generate the standard one and then replace it with one of your own. In that way, you'll be able to choose fonts and colors that suit your tastes.
Other reporting enhancements
To make it easier to work with reports of all types, we've combined the three report selection windows into one. In version 8, there were three separate menu commands, one for standard reports, one for custom reports, and one for memorized reports. To generate a report, you first had to remember which type it was, choose the relevant command, and then browse a list of reports of that type.
In version 9, all three types of reports are combined into a single selection window so you can work with all of them in one place. The version 11 edition of the selection window, and the new selection windows for report groups and web site generator options, also remember what you did the last time you interacted with them, and default your selections accordingly the next time in. This saves time and promotes consistency.
We used these tools to generate a league web site with the results of the series between the 1962 Mets and the 2003 Tigers that we simulated (in August, 2003) for ESPN.com. This site shows how the league and team pages are linked to each other and to the reports and boxscores on the site.
As we noted above, we provide a standard set of report groups to control the web site generation process. Those groups contain more reports than you'll see on this sample site, but some of those standard reports (current injuries, batting and pitching registers) didn't apply to a simulation like this one, so we left them out.
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