Technical Writing

Using DevExpress® Website Reporting Extensions

For a project in my EH 603 (Editing for Publication) class, I will create a user guide for a reporting user interface (UI) application developed by DevExpress®

Overview

At my job as a technical writer supporting an Army agency, I am responsible for writing the user guide for a new website reporting application developed by DevExpress. The website provides reports for U.S. Army aviation senior leadership on the training and flight hour requirements for all Army aviation crewmembers. Since the EH 603 project requirements fall within the scope of this user guide, I plan to accomplish both my work and school objectives with this assignment.

The Army website contains personally identifiable information (PII) and is designated For Official Use Only (FOUO); therefore, I cannot write the user guide specifically for it.  Rather, I will use a sample website with data that can be presented in the same DevExpress reporting application and in the same manner as that to be used in the Army website: the functionality will be the same, but the data I use in this project will not contain Army aviation data.

DevExpress has a large variety of website reporting extensions, but the Army website will only incorporate two of them: the data grid and pivot grid extensions. Thus, the user guide for this project will only cover the operation of these two extensions. The data grid extension is used for displaying information from a traditional database in a grid-like table. The pivot grid extension is used for displaying data from an OLAP (online analytical processing) cube, which is a method of storing data in a multi-dimensional array form.

Research Methodology

The research for this project will include acquiring an understanding of how to incorporate DevExpress extensions into a website and how to operate both types of reporting grids.  The pivot grid is more complicated that the data grid, and requires a basic understanding of pivot tables and grids in order to explain how to display data in a meaningful way. The DevExpress website (www.devexpress.com) has a wealth of demonstrations and support information, and I expect to spend a good deal of time exploring their knowledge base.

DevExpress demonstrations can be reproduced in Microsoft’s Visual Studio software development application. In order to show the reporting functionality in screenshots, I will have to create a scenario in Visual Studio using one or more of the DevExpress demonstrations.  This will entail consulting with a software developer who is familiar with DevExpress and ASP .NET MVC websites (ASP .NET MVC is the software framework used to develop the Army aviation website).  Fortunately, I have access to a group of developers with this knowledge at my work.

Writing Methodology

Once I have a working sample website and a good understanding of the DevExpress extensions, writing a user guide explaining the reporting functionality will be relatively straightforward. I will present selected functions that are expected to be used within the Army website for both the data grid and the pivot grid, using data from a database provided with the DevExpress demonstrations.  Although the data is different than that used in the Army aviation website, the principles of displaying information in various configurations and in meaningful representations are the same.

DevExpress provides detailed documentation for their products; I will be writing a user guide with information that has already been created, but in a format consistent with the Army requirements for my website.  Although I have access to the DevExpress documentation, the user guide will be written in my own words.

Sources Consulted

Developer Express, Inc. (2017). DevExpress (Version 16.2.5.0) [Software]. Available from www.devexpress.com

Microsoft Corporation. Understanding OLAP Cubes (May 13, 2016). Retrieved from https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh916543(v=sc.12).aspx

OLAP Cube. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OLAP_cube

Pivot Table. (n.d.) In Wikipedia.  Retrieved March 24, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pivot_table