Perhaps the phrase “Green IT” and various variations of same is over-used, however I suspect that its prevalence does cause us to think “green”, even if we’re sick of doing so. When I chose “Application Design for Green Reporting” perhaps you wondered why I might have chosen such a title. Good question 🙂
Seriously though, my reasoning is simple – and that is my belief that we as developers can and should do everything we can to ensure an appropriate use of resources – and in those resources I would include not only the obvious paper, but also disk space (since inefficient disk usage may result in the need for added disks, and thus more energy used).
Saving paper is certainly the easiest way to design for green, and we as developers have the opportunity to affect paper usage in a dramatic way – those steps may include:
- Offering on-screen views in lieu of paper
- Offering ability to print to a document such as PDF
- Designing reports using minimal header and footer margins
- Working with users to ensure ALL data printed is used
- Working with different font sizes to reduce paper needs
- Reviewing sub-total lines, are they used or just there because…?
- Reviewing page breaks – Are ALL page breaks required?
- Printing to PDF documents is great, but … here is an area where disk usage should be considered and an appropriate way to maintain (delete) out-dated or no longer needed “printouts”
- Margins in general require review with a critical eye. Header and footer areas should contain only information useful to the users. Use one liners wherever feasible.
- If a report will be going only to a laser printer, pages required for printing a report can sometimes be significantly reduced by going from two-lines per record to a single line per record – all with the same information only by changing to landscape mode
- A proper mix of font sizes can also significantly reduce paper use, while at the same time ooften producing a much more readable report!
- I have found many an opportunity to eliminate sub-total lines which has resulted in great paper savings
- Page break review might be a situation such as providing an alternative to printing the report with a page break at each customer change – or not. Providing an option rather than forcing the page break can make a hugh difference. Make the default to the “green” choice of no page-break.
How many pages have you saved today?