Interview with Jochen Bartlau on List & Label 21

November is the month which I used to mark combit on my calendar. This is because during this month Germany based combit usually releases their award winning List & Label 21. As expected, List and Label 21 was released with several new features.

List & Label 21 includes features such as nested tables, native aggregate functions, new web designer, HTML5 thumbnail viewer, scripting support, PDF export, digital signatures, conditional formatting in addition to enhanced drag and drop, color picker and default fonts.

With the help of List & Label 21, you will be able to consolidate errors in formulas and can be displayed in a single window. The latest release also includes auto recover which enables you to save projects automatically at user defined intervals.

In an exclusive interview, Jochen Bartlau, Head of Development, List & Label shared more information about the new features introduced in List & Label 21.

Can you share the benefits of nested tables?

List & Label 21 supports a new field type “table” which enables to nest tables. That means that it is now possible to list e.g. the belonging products with their revenues next to the category. The “master” column supports horizontal alignment to display centered text next to detail data. Nested Tables may contain sub-tables to clearly display 1:n:m relations.

What are the features of the new Web Designer included with List & Label 21?

Until version 21, specific plug-ins or ActiveX controls were used in order to display the Designer right in the browser. The new Web Designer is no longer dependent on a browser but comes as a standalone application that automatically talks to your web app. This enables direct and automatic access to server-side data sources – enabling real data preview. The data provider serves as a proxy, giving the design time experience you’re used to from the client.

How does a native aggregate function benefit software development?

The SQL, ADO.NET and object data providers allow CPU-intensive aggregations to be performed in the database system directly. After all, this is where aggregation belongs, resulting in a huge improvement in the speed of report execution.

Does cassandra have huge impact among developers?

We recognized a rising request for support – Cassandra clearly is a trending topic amongst developers and is listed in the DB-Engines Top 10 databases.


Can you share with us the benefits of PDF export?

The PDF export in List & Label 21 supports Type3 fonts as embedding option. Unicode and symbol characters are stored as Glyphs in this embedding mode. There’s no need to download font packages for your favorite PDF viewer anymore. The new embedding mode also often leads to smaller PDF result files. PNG files are now directly supported and embedded into the PDF. Before, they were converted to JPEGs. The new export also supports semi-transparency, giving you much better results especially if the background color is non-white. A further new feature is the support for combo boxes as form elements.

How does digital signature help developers?

The option for a digital signature allows you to sign your PDF with either a self sign or qualified certificate or even (through combit’s existing cooperation with signature software vendors) a pinpad and signature card. The realisation is simple: Choose the “PDF signature field” as button action in the Designer for your button form controls. This way you include a field within PDFs for your digital signature or digital certificate.

How does enhanced RTF export help developers?

The enhanced RTF export offers new possibilities for text in table cells that has been exported to RTF. It can now be rotated through 90° or 270° degrees. Furthermore it is possible to use a mix of portrait and landscape formatting. There’s also a support for PNG image format available.

Does conditional formatting help developers?

Indeed. It helps a lot and means the end of complicated conditions. The conditional formatting feature is one of the major new features of List & Label 21 and useful whenever you want to change properties depending on data. You can now define colors, font attributes, formatting, and frames for particular values. The formatting rules are combined easily accessible in one place. Of course formulas can still be used.

What are the benefits of enhanced colour picker?

The color picker got a new UI and is now more clearly structured and easier for developers and end users to handle. Plus: the button for the formula dialog has moved into the field.

What is the benefit of auto recover functionality?

With the new version 21, the Designer optionally saves the current project to a backup location. If the Designer hasn’t been closed properly (i.e. system crash, unexpected shutdown or even power outage) the last state can be easily restored. Next time the Designer is launched and an AutoRecovery file is detected during start up, you will be prompted to use the back-up copy. The interval for saving the project can be configured in the File > Options dialog.

Can you share with us the main advantages of ZUGFeRD electronic invoicing?

ZUGFeRD is a standard that gets increasing adoption in Germany. It’s a way to enrich PDF invoices with meta data, enabling direct transaction of PDF invoice files in ERP solutions. LL21 offers a direct support to create electronic invoices that conform to the ZUGFeRD standard. Previously, this was only possible using a third party library from our partner Intarsys. This library is still supported, though, but not required anymore.

Can you share with us the future roadmap of List & Label?

Right after the release of version 21 we started working on new features for version 22. We are steadily collecting feedback from our customers and get useful hints at what points we can do some fine-tuning. An important source of feedback is our new user innovation portal we’ve launched this spring. One field that offers space for innovation is visualization of data – be it in crosstabs or charts. We’ll likely put the focus of our first development sprint on this area.

Leave a Comment