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Tag Building in Microsoft Excel, The Data Bin


This tutorial introduces the three most commonly used Windward tags: the two <ForEach> tags and the <out> tag.


After completing this tutorial you will have learned how to work with basic Windward tags.


After you have connected to a data source, you may begin adding tags, or placeholders for data, to your report template. When you look at a template, you usually can tell an item is a tag and not just a piece of text by its surrounding angle brackets < >.

There are ten standard tags and seven advanced tags in AutoTag. This tutorial introduces the three most commonly used tags: the two <ForEach> tags and the <out> tag.

Note: This tutorial covers both XML and SQL data sources, and the examples shown here use the sample data source Northwind. You can "play along" with this tutorial by using the Northwind XML file that ships with AutoTag. Or, you can follow these steps with your organization's own data sources, keeping in mind that your specific choices (data source location, server name, database name, data groups, etc.) will be different from what's listed here.


Open The Data Bin

In the Connecting to Data Sources tutorial, you learned how to place data sources into the Data Bin. (If you need a refresher on this topic, please refer to that tutorial.) Here we'll show you how to use the Data Bin to create tags.


Click the Data Bin icon. If the template has not yet been connected to a data source, the icon will be grayed out.

Drag a data group into the template



A data source includes both data groups and data subgroups.  A data group is a category of data and is represented by a box to the left of the icon; you can expand or collapse this group by clicking the + or – sign in the box. A data subgroup, also known as a child group, is one type of data, and it cannot be expanded.

In XML data sources, groups and subgroups are represented by the blue icon shown in the image above. In SQL data sources, groups and subgroups are represented by small tables.

To place tags into a report template, simply click a data group and drag it to the desired location in the template:






Understand the ForEach and out tags

Let's take a closer look at the table we created in the last step:




The above table consists of two types of tags. Tags are essentially commands that say to AutoTag, "When you run a report, grab whatever data I tell you, and place that data where I tell you." AutoTag knows what data to retrieve based on how the tag is written, and it knows where to place the data based on the tag's location in the template.

The <out> tag tells the template to go to the data source, grab a data subgroup and place it in the table.

The <ForEach> tags tell the template that when the report is run, it should run through a loop, retrieving each piece of data in every <out> tag between the two <ForEach> tags and placing all of that data in the table.

Note: Keep in mind that if you drag and drop a data subgroup instead of a data group, you're essentially creating an <out> tag with no <ForEach> tags. In that case, only the first entry in the data source will display when you run your report.

Clean up the table

Use familiar Excel commands, such as those in Excel's Home menu, to clean up the table. Change the font, add colors, reposition text, delete unwanted columns, and otherwise enhance the look of the table: 



View the output


After saving your file, click the desired report format icon from AutoTag's Output button. In this example, we chose to view the report as a PDF, and this is the result:



The Data Bin is great for creating simple <out> and <ForEach> tags. For more sophisticated tag creation, say hello to the Tag Builder.

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