What does Server actually do?

edited September 2002 in Server
Sorry for my ignorance, but even after reading the information, I'm trying
to work out what server does. If it's mainly for display of reports on the
web, doesn't one of the third-party addons cater for this?




  • edited September 2002

    1. Best answer is to download the RB Server Trial Edition and spend an
    hour or two running the demos.


    2. I would compare the approach you describe to using Delphi and
    TPrinter to write reports. Why use ReportBuilder when you can just write
    your own? :)

    After our vendor showcase at BorCon, a developer who had been trying to
    build a custom server solution told that me that the RB Server Edition
    was the most impressive thing that he had seen the entire week!

    3. For the developer the Server Edition provides a high performance RAD
    solution. That means huge cost savings on development time. That means
    greater performance than with a server solution that is cobbled
    together. For the end-user it means a higher quality client experience -
    that as much as possible duplicates the experience presented by a
    standard Windows application.

    a. Performance: The report application server can incrementally generate
    report pages on demand, cache session information, and automatically
    garbage collect sessions that have timed out. It can execute on the same
    machine as the WebTier or on a different machine. Thus you can offload
    processing from the web machine to report servers machine or to a farm
    of report server machines. If the report application server encounters a
    fatal exception the server will automatically be restarted.

    The WebTier handles management of web sessions, stores state information
    and enables page on demand generation of web pages and garbage collects
    web sessions. In addition the WebTier generates a very high quality web
    interface (i.e. HTML/Javascript) that will have to see to believe.

    b. Windows Client: If the remote client is a Delphi application, the
    Server Edition provides the same Report Explorer and Print Preview
    interface found in standard RB Applications. And it supports RB's
    AutoSearch feature that generates an ask-at-runtime dialog.

    c. Web Client: The RB WebTier is capable of generating an
    HTML/Javascript interface the duplicates the Windows client interface.
    When we showed this off at BorCon customers thought it was an ActiveX
    interface! And the Web client supports the AutoSearch feature as well.

    4. Customers who have tried to build server solutions know the value of
    what we are offering. Below is a quote that one of our customers posted
    to the general newsgroup yesterday. (Look for a post titled RB and ASTA
    if you want to read the entire message.)

    "..We created our own web reporting solution using ReportBuilder Pro
    almost exactly two years ago. At the time, there weren't any web report
    server products available (other than Crystal, and I won't even go
    Four developers (including myself) spent nearly a thousand man-hours
    hours to be exact) researching, designing, writing, and debugging our
    reporting system. That doesn't count the time our QA engineers spent
    testing it, which was probably another 400-500 hours..." ML

    R B S E R V E R E D I T I O N


    Server Edition Overview
    The Server Edition makes it easy to create and deploy report
    applications to the web. Using basic component configuration you can get
    a Windows service-based report server application up and running, a web
    application up and running, and have users previewing reports in a web
    browser in no time. And you can do it all without having to master
    multi-threaded programming, Windows Services, Windows Sockets, Windows
    System Tray applications, COM, I/O Completion Ports/Worker Thread Pools,
    XML, SOAP Services, ISAPI Thread Pools, XHTML, or JavaScript. Sound
    interesting? Then read on...

    1. ReportBuilder Services

    ReportBuilder Services is a Windows service designed to act as a host to
    a report server application. This two-piece architecture isolates a
    report server application in its own process, allowing it to be started
    and stopped from the service. By default, the service is configured to
    start automatically each time the server machine boots. Once the service
    is started, it launches the report server application. The service is
    also configured to automatically restart the report server application
    in the event of a crash.

    To install ReportBuilder Services, you simply run the included
    RBWinService.exe installation program. The program installs and starts
    the Windows service and deploys a server management application,
    accessible from both a system tray icon and a Start menu item. You can
    then access the management application and point the Windows service to
    the location of your report server application.

    2. Report Server Component

    The Report Server component implements a multi-threaded report server
    that can execute reports and deliver report pages to clients. You build
    a report server application by dropping a ReportServer component on a
    Delphi form, creating data modules which contain ReportVolume components
    (explained next) and compiling the application. And that's it; you can
    build an entire server application without writing any code. Once the
    application is built you can then use ReportBuilder Services to quickly
    and easily designate it as the official report server.

    The Report Server is implemented using an I/O completion port/worker
    thread architecture that optimally manages persistent report sessions to
    maximize performance and throughput. The server can generate reports
    incrementally (that is, page-by-page) in order to optimize response
    time. Pages are cached on the server and on the client to minimize
    network traffic. The amount of time that passes before a session expires
    (and the cache is cleared) can be controlled via the TimeOut property.

    3. Report Volume Components

    Report Volume components are used to register a collection of reports
    with the server. The server uses a report catalog to build and store the
    tree structure which forms as the various reports are registered.

    There are several types of report volume components, one for each of the
    ways that reports are most commonly deployed. For report templates
    stored in file directories or database tables, there is the
    ReportTemplateVolume. For reports stored in the Explorer database
    structure (i.e. RB end-user reports), there is the
    ReportExplorerVolume. For report archives stored in file directories or
    database tables, there is the ReportArchiveVolume. For reports stored
    on a Delphi form, there is the "behind-the-scenes" report volume
    object. The bottom-line: wherever or however your reports are deployed,
    there is a simple way to register them with the server, usually without
    writing a single-line of code.

    Report volumes are also dynamic; as you add reports to a designated file
    directory or database storage medium, the report server will
    automatically add or remove those reports from the catalog. Yes, this
    does mean that you can deploy reports to the server without bringing the
    server down.

    4. Windows Rich Client Components

    With one ClientReportExplorer, one ClientReport, and one line of code,
    you can build a full-featured Delphi reporting application which
    provides access to reports on a remote server. The ClientReportExplorer
    uses a Windows Explorer style interface to display a folder tree
    structure of available reports. The ClientReport makes it easy to
    preview and print. When previewing a report that requires search
    criteria, the AutoSearch dialog is automatically displayed and any
    search values entered are returned to the server. The report is then
    generated and pages are returned.

    5. WebTier Component

    When compiled as part of a web application, the web tier acts as a
    middle tier, providing access to a report server application from a web
    browser. A user may select reports from a folder tree structure, enter
    search criteria when applicable and preview report pages from the web
    browser. All of these capabilities are made possible via a zero-client
    application (100% JavaScript/XHTML) generated by the web tier. The
    zero-client is compatible with Netscape 4, Netscape 6, and Internet
    Explorer (5 and 6.)

    Designed to integrate seamlessly with Delphi's various web technologies,
    the web tier requires only a single line of code to compile successfully
    as part of an ISAPI DLL or Apache Shared Module. ASP is also a snap, as
    a single COM interface (easily generated with the help of Delphi's
    ActiveX support) is all that is needed to deploy the web tier as part of
    an Active Server Page.

    The web tier implements a sophisticated concept of "session", grouping
    all of the communications received from a single web browser under a
    single session object. In order to optimize performance, both the state
    of the session, and any report output generated for the session are
    cached. For example, assume a user previews report A, then report B,
    then returns again to report A. The web tier would manage all of this
    activity as a single session, and whenever possible, would return pages
    from the session cache, instead of re-requesting them from the report
    server application. The amount of caching which occurs, the TimeOut for
    a session and the frequency with which garbage collection is performed
    on expired sessions are just a few of the configuration options
    available on the web tier.

    Implemented as a set of Delphi classes, the WebTier consists primarily
    of objects which descend from TrsWebContentProvider. Web content
    providers communicate with the report server application, converting the
    response from SOAP/XML to native Delphi objects to XHTML/JavaScript,
    suitable for consumption by a web browser. The content providers
    included in the Server Edition make it easy to provide a complete,
    robust, and professional web reporting solution right out of the box.
    You can customize the HTML created by the web tier by creating your own
    content provider descendants.

    6. RB ISAPI Thread Pool

    The Server Edition includes a custom ISAPI thread pool, implemented
    using an I/O completion port/worker thread architecture designed to
    optimally manage incoming requests. The thread pool queues requests
    based on session, and can eliminate redundant requests. This greatly
    improves both throughput and performance, as the web tier passes only
    relevant requests through to the report server application.

    7. Server Farm

    The web tier can be configured to utilize any number of report servers
    to maximize scalability. This allows the web tier to scale gracefully as
    a greater number of users access reports. There are two load balancing
    options provided: Round Robin and Minimum Load. Round Robin simply
    steps through a list of servers, each time returning the next server in
    the list. Minimum Load checks the CPU usage of each server (based on a
    sixty second moving average), and returns the server with the minimum

    8. Documentation, Help & Examples

    The Server Edition Developer's Guide is provided in PDF format. The
    concepts behind the web server are covered, along with numerous
    step-by-step tutorials that guide you through everything from creating a
    report server application to deploying the web tier with a server farm.
    The online help is a reference for all of the components and major
    classes which make up the product. The help is integrated with the
    Delphi help and is accessible via the help menu or the F1 key. Numerous
    examples of report server applications, web applications and client
    applications are also provided.

    Best regards,

    Nard Moseley
    Digital Metaphors
  • edited September 2002
    "Nard Moseley (Digital Metaphors)" wrote in
This discussion has been closed.