Banner Reporting Solutions 

Answering the frequent question: Which Reporting Tools to use with Banner?  
  by Bruce Knox  bknox @t     Oracle Database Programmer/Analyst                                       Copyright 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017     last updated 03/16/17               

Copyright 2002 Cision Studios  Mad Tea Party

              "Your first Banner Committee Meeting?"

Public and Professional Projects of Bruce Knox





Bruce Knox 2007 CES Directory Photo  News:

March 16, 2017 Evisions Conference and Ellucian Live at Orlando

I will attend both conferences.

March 25, 2016 Evisions Conference and Ellucian Live at Denver

I will be attending but not presenting at both conferences.

Our upgrade to Windows 2012 VM (Server) R2 tossed our default printer assignment which made our scheduled Argos direct to printer reports fail. One more thing to check with an OS upgrade.

Note that Windows 2012 R1 supports only IE 10 which failed to support the Help function from MAPS. IE 11 works fine but was available only with R2. I have been using FireFox for my MAPS maintenance to workaround this problem for anything required to be done on the server. My Desktop Windows 10 use with MAPS/Argos/FormFusion/IntelleCheck continues to work well. With Windows 10, I have been using the Edge browser with no current problems.

September 23, 2015 ABUG Conference at UALR.  Windows 10 Edge Browser with Argos presentation

 July 17, 2015 Windows 10 has released and apparently is a bit more secure now: Windows 10 is officially released now and my remote connections to our test Evisions server are being blocked by it. Probably because it has a different external IP than the on-campus IP.  I have not found the option in Windows 10 to allow this exception and it is not giving an error message. Just a page not found. I am expecting this to be resolved after we take the production Evisions environment to the non-Java based application launcher. Our production servers have both internal and external IPs. The test server is only accessible to me via VPN.

July 16, 2015  Windows Defender which is packaged with Windows now. Installing applications with file extensions such as .exe requires adding the file as an Exception.
They have been updating Defender frequently (more than once a day is not unusual). This is easy to use and has caused me no problems other than blocking
the new Evisions Launcher which is an exe file.

Windows 10 has the Widows 8 type tiles, but they are not so intrusive. They are hidden until you click no the Start button (which is an image of a stylized Window now)
and even then the tiles are somewhat transparent by default. Some of these are active (RSS type scrolls but including images) for news, weather, stocks, movies, music,
and all that stuff you wish our users would never touch on their work PC. I added Update and Java Config to my small corner section of the tiles.

The new Windows Edge Browser works very well as long as you don't need Java or any other plugin. I have Chrome, Firefox, NotePad++, and FileZilla installed. All work well.
IE 11 is installed and will run INB. I have not used it much.

The new Evisions Java-less Launcher app has been released today and I will be installing it soon. After the Fiscal Year End closes, I will be switching from our Java Launch to the new one.
Our test Evisions server is using it now. This is a MAPS options, but it is one or the other. The new Launcher is based upon Microsoft .NET Framework version 4.5 which we have tested.


July 6, 2015 I have a test version or Argos running on a Windows 2012 VM.

Using the Microsoft .NET Framework version 4.5, I have tested it using Parallels for Mac VMs for Windows 7 and Windows 10 using both Chrome and Firefox.
Windows 7 installed the Argos client easily using Chrome. With Windows 10, Chrome refused to allow the Evisions setup.exe download from my server to be used.
Firefox allowed the download and after the client was installed by Firefox, then Chrome would use the installed client too.
I have not been able to find a way around this with Windows 10 other than using Firefox to do the install. Chrome is no longer the easy to use no-issues Browser.

I tested with both IE 11 and Edge on the Windows 10 client (just running, not installing). Both work; this is Preview Build 10162 and MS has started making
IE 11 more difficult to locate since Edge is the new default browser.

May 22, 2015 I have a Windows 10 Preview connecting to our Evisions products (MAPS/Argos).  Using IE 11, it works fine after installing Java 8 update 45.  The new MS Browser, Project Spartan, does not support client side Java, so testing with it will be delayed.

January 31, 2014  We have production Evisions products (MAPS/Argos/FormFusion/IntelleCheck) running on Windows Server 2012 HyperV VM. 

My public and professional life has been dominated by technical projects, most of which have included computer programming or the management of computing projects. 

This site joins most of them together:

Tools, References, Methods, and Programmer Help for the Banner Startupis now:
BannerTools   is about Oracle SQL*Plus and UNIX Banner Reporting, and mostly contains command line code or scripts written for Oracle 9i/10g most useful for control,  reporting, and business intelligence.

BannerArgos  is about Evisions'
Argos, Ad Hoc Reporting. 

BannerAccess  is about MS Access Reporting.

BannerAPEX  is about Oracle Application Express Notes and Projects.

BannerScripts  is a code and presentation repository, password from bknox @t

Arkansas Sales Tax and Tax Rebates Report
Approval Notices email
Direct Deposit email
PO Scripts
csv file extract example - (PO Imaging Index Information)
Batch Journal Voucher Scripts
Fund Table Changed Notice
How To Create a new SQL Pass-Through Query for MS Access Reporting
NETC 2005 Making Life Easier for Users
Summit 2006 e~Print - Innovative Ways We Use It - (includes fully automated month end reporting)
ABUG 2006 e~Print - Innovative Ways We Use It  - (slightly different than the Summit presentation)
Standard Objects for BannerAccess - (.mdb)
Saved Objects for BannerAccess Class Patches - (.mdb)
Argos related objects in the scripts repository:
maps_users.sql  - MAPS Users for creating MAPS Accounts from Banner
access_to_argos.shl- MS Access SQL to Argos Oracle SQL
table_to_argos.sql - Collecting Table and Record Selection Criteria
table_to_v_view.sql- Generate Oracle View Create Script
Table Descriptions for Argos Use.txt - Extension results from table_to_argos.sql
Argos - Moving into the Community - Summit Presentation (ppt)
Argos Tech Track - Argos Pre-Summit (ppt)
Argos Admin and Security Track - Argos Pre-Summit (ppt)
ABUG 2007 Argos - Moving into the Community - (ppt)
Argos Pre-Summit 2008 Presentation  - How your Oracle DBA or Programmer Can Improve Your Argos Reporting! (ppt)
Banded Report Standard DataBlock and Report - This is the Bonus Object included in the Pre-Summit 2008 (ppt)
Current Record Set or Special Views  - This is the code to create the Oracle Views referenced in the Argos Pre-Summit 2008 (ppt) 
TN_Summit_2008_Argos-Moving_into_the_Community.ppt- TN Summit 2008 (ppt)
How Your DBA or Database Programmer Can Improve Your Argos Reporting - TN Summit 2008 (ppt)
Backup MAPS/Argos Server command script - Copy Argos Automated Backup to an Alternate Server
Backup MAPS/Argos Server log example - Backup log file example
Backup MAPS/Argos Server Check Backup- Sends email from Argos with Log File attached
Summit 2009 - Argos - Moving into the Community (ppt)
Argos pre-Summit 2009 - Argos - Moving Rapidly into the Community (ppt)
ABUG 2009 - Moving Rapidly into the Community (ppt)
Argos pre-Summit 2010 and ABUG 2010 - Enabling Functional Users with Argos (pptx)

PL/SQL UPDATEEasy to use Logic allows selectively Updating Columns in one Table from Another.

e-mailNotices (Simple SQL solutions for complex Banner Reporting Issues)

Oracle Dates  (Simplifying Oracle's powerful date handling functions for use with Banner)

Oracle Notes  (Collection of FoxPro to Oracle Backend Conversion Notes) 

UNIX Permissions  (Elegant but Confusing UNIX file permissions)

mail attachments  (Creating email with a text message and an attachment from standard UNIX or Linux)

Formatted Documents  (Creating Rich Text Format files from a UNIX or Linux server)

Wiki Notes  (just a brief introduction)

ePrint is a Ellucian product that is frequently used by Banner sites.  e~Print was the old name; ePrint is the new name. (But, not e-Print or ePrints.)

ePrint is a secure, web-based, report server. It runs on Linux (Red Hat Enterprise) and is most often completely supported by the Ellucian ePrint group. You can do the Linux maintenance yourself if you want, but SunGard does a very good job of support for ePrint  and support is bundled into the product's annual maintenance.

IMO, ePrint works best for plain text reports which be secured by Fund/Orgn (a.k.a., Banner Security) with individual pages served to the users. The served plain text pages are displayed as PDF or Text. The PDF file display gives the user the ability to print from their PC without the server knowing the Printer being used.

While one can store html, pdf, or many other file types in ePrint, these lose the Fund/Orgn security by page.

We use ftp to send reports from our Banner server to the ePrint server. (Both servers are inside the our FireWall; sftp could be used if needed.) We refresh our "Daily" reports every hour from a cron run script on the Banner server (AIX).

ePrint does not run Oracle, so the usual SunGard reluctance to keep Linux current for Oracle servers is not a factor.  We just (spring 2009) replaced our original ePrint server which had run without issues for over five years. The ePrint folks had been urging us to upgrade for months.

The ePrint software migration was done remotely after we locally installed Red Hat (about 40 minutes once you have the huge downloaded image from Red Hat).
Ellucian recommends that we use Red Hat Enterprise Linux for the OS.  Be sure to get the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Academic Server Edition which has a very serious discount for education.  This version is unsupported by Red Hat, but for ePrint your OS support is already bundled into the ePrint annual maintenance.  You download the ico file and burn it to a DVD.  ePrint provides step by step instructions for how they want the server to be installed.
The ePrint folks moved the old box' data files, switched our new box's name and IP to the old. Our only problem was with the new Dell box requiring a F1 to continue to boot (strange option for a box sold as a server).

Banner Reporting makes up a large part of my current job.  Reporting today is done in many different ways.  While this may still include traditional paper reports or archived report images of them, increasingly, reporting is moving away from these formats.

A report today may be little more than the Subject of an email or a single screen of information.  Finally, long after promised, the industry is moving to exception reporting which has started to replace many traditional reports.

“Which Reporting Tools to use with Banner?” is perhaps the most Frequently Asked Question posed on the Ellucian (a.k.a., SCT) Banner Listserv. 

SQL*Plus is our preferred tool for Programmer created reports or processes.  SQL*Plus is the command-line interface to Oracle and therefore is available to every Banner site.  It provides fast interactive development, the ability to readily format and paginate, and PL/SQL is always available from SQL*Plus if needed.

Other than being required for some Banner provided code, COBOL is most useful for generating reports with complex totals or control break logic.  There is nothing wrong with this enduring language other than the fact that it is not free and few new programmers are learning the language.  COBOL is compiled and SQL Code run in COBOL is much faster than the same code run in SQL*Plus.  All the problems associated with developing in a compiled language are still with COBOL.

For Banner Reporting, C is about the same as COBOL without the extensive formatting that is a built-in part of COBOL.  C's greatest advantage is that most new programmers have been introduced to it.

My Oracle programming is still mostly from command line using SQL*Plus.  SQL*Plus is powerful, easy to use and to extend.  The key to rapid development in any language is a repository of working code. 

For example, I "coded" a rather complex new report in about ten minutes using a report program generator that I wrote once and have used dozens of times to save hundreds of hours of writing the same basic report code again and again.  In ten seconds, I had the report structure done.  Report headings, footers, pages numbered, primary in-code documentation completed.  I grabbed an organization directory table I had previously built to model our management structure, added an In-Line View created for another task giving us our state budgeting job titles from SunGard Higher Education's Banner database and it was all done but making it pretty. 

But, the real promise of database systems is giving non-IT end users powerful Ad Hoc reporting.  A promise that has been hard to realize until recently.

BannerAccess is a collection of Predefined SQL Pass-Through Queries connecting MS Access to Ellucian's Banner (Oracle) Database product.  We have successfully used BannerAccess for over seven years.  Now we are moving to replace the MS Access part of this tool with Evisions' Argos, a web based Ad hoc reporting tool.  BannerAccess will continue to be documented on the BannerAccess site since there are a number of people using that site for a reference.

I developed BannerAccess to give a simple to use Ad Hoc reporting tool to our functional end-users of Banner.  This tool used pre-defined Queries to make Banner Tables appear less daunting as well as making them easier to combine into more complex reporting objects.  BannerAccess uses SQL Pass-Through Queries to make efficient use of the underlying Oracle database in Banner.  BannerAccess is easy to use right up to the point of needing real parameters in a Pass-Through Query.  At that point one must use Visual Basic to code the parameter logic that would make the Query run efficiently.   And, that is its major shortcoming: functional users are very unlikely to ever write this Visual Basic code.

BannerArgos is my newest major programming tools project.  Using Argos instead of MS Access enables BannerArgos to easily surpass BannerAccess.  Creating parameter based Queries in Argos are simple and I believe our functional users will make good use of them.  BannerArgos will be documented on the BannerArgos site.

Argos Presentations:
  Admin and Security - Argos pre-Summit 2007 Admin and Security Track
  MS Access Conversion - Argos pre-Summit 2007 Tech Track
  Moving into the Community - ABUG Conference 2009
  My New Favorite Old Argos Feature (pptx) - Evisions Conference 2013 Presentation

Banner Reporting Sites:
      Calvin Deiterich's
Argos Reporting  ( the content of Calvin's site has been included in with the permission of Calvin )
      Zach Heath's Banner Reporting Blog was my scripts and presentations repository.
The current scripts and presentations repository contains the files above.

This is a personal site maintained by Bruce Knox ( bknox at ) documenting University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service Information Technology  projects. 

Use this information and these scripts at your own risk.
As a condition of using these scripts and information from this site, you agree to hold harmless both the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service and Bruce Knox for any problems that they may cause or other situations that may arise from their use, and that neither the Extension Service nor I will be held liable for those consequences.  The scripts and information are provided "as is" without warranty, implied or otherwise.  Limitation of liability will be the amount paid to the University of Arkansas specifically for this information. (It was free:)

Any University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture website Disclaimer terms found in conflict with terms of this disclaimer shall over ride and replace the conflicting terms found herein.

Other personal pages/sites that I have maintained:
the website for the openMosix(Open Source) Project hosted on Logo.
Note:  The openMosix Project officially closed March 1, 2008.  The source code and mail lists archives will continue to be available on SourceForge as reference materials.  Archive Links are:  FAQ  HowTo  Wiki  SourceForge

Most of the works of art on my pages other than the Extension banner
Book Dragon copyright 2006 J. Wilson Spenceare used by permission of J. Wilson Spence.

http://betwinx.comis my personal site.  betwinx?  This site is largely oriented to Oracle Reporting Solutions in the context of generating bespoken reports from Ellucian's Banner product. 
(I maintain a number of special topic pages with links from this primary site.)                             

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