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Definition: report writer

Software that prints a report based on a description of its layout. As a stand-alone program or part of a file or database management system, it can sort selected records into a new sequence for printing. It may also support the printing of mailing labels. Once created, the report description is stored in a file for future use.

Reports Are Defined
A report is created by defining which data fields are placed into which print columns and entering text for the page headers. Key fields and numeric fields are selected for subtotals and totals. Whenever there is a change of data in the key field, a subtotal of the numeric data is printed, and a total is printed at the end of the report. Although there is no real programming required, mathematical expressions are often used; for example COLUMN 1 = FIELD A + FIELD B.

Developed in the early 1970s, report writers, also called "report generators," were the precursor to query languages. They were the first programs to generate computer output without having to be programmed.