How to use the “FRX” editor in the FastReport .NET designer

FastReport .NET report templates are stored in frx files, and their internal format is based on XML. This allows to edit the report manually in any text editor.

Usually this is not used, but it is needed sometimes. For example, when searching for errors in a report that are difficult to detect in the designer. These can be objects with negative coordinates. In fact, this object is outside the page and you can’t see it in the designer. Of course, it can be found in the report tree, but you will have to go through all the objects. In the text editor, it is much easier to find coordinates with a minus sign. Sometimes the report file can be damaged and the designer will not open it at all. At first glance, you can settle this annoying problem only by creating a new report, which in turn can take a very long time. But you can try to open the file in a text editor and edit the report manually.

Some users want to edit the report's XML directly in the designer. It certainly won't help when the report is badly corrupted that it does not open. But it is very convenient when you want to immediately see changes in the report designer. After all, when using a third-party editor, you need to make changes to the text, save the file, go to the designer and upload the report template.

That’s why we have added a new tab "FRX" to the report designer. Here you can make changes that will immediately be reflected on the report pages. When changing pages and report objects in the usual way (using the designer), all changes are also instantly shown on the FRX tab. Also, there is syntax highlighting like on the Code page.

The "FRX" page displays the entire XML text of the report. Here is an illustrative example of the contents of the "FRX" tab for an empty newly created report:

Sample of the FRX tab content for an empty report

The text of this report is small and consists of only a few lines, since there is almost nothing in the report.

The second line contains a description of the report properties (date of creation and modification, script language, etc.). The following is an empty Dictionary, but this section describes database connections, report parameters, variables, totals etc. Then there are descriptions of the report pages, in this case there is only one page. The page describes the properties of the page itself and its bands. The descriptions of the bands, in turn, may contain descriptions of the objects located on them.

By default, this tab is disabled and is not displayed in the designer, since not everyone will use it. You can enable it in the designer settings. To do this, go to the "File" menu, then select "Options" at the bottom of the appearing list, then go to the "FRX Page" tab. When enabled, the tab will be displayed at the bottom of the designer, to the left of the Code tab. In addition to enabling and disabling the tab, here you can set the width of the tab character (two spaces by default), as well as to replace tab characters with spaces.

“FRX” page options

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