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Nlatexdb Version 0.03
Database Access in LaTeX
Copyright (C) 2011 Robin H�ns, Integranova GmbH

    This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
    it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
    the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
    (at your option) any later version.

    This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
    but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
    MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  See the
    GNU General Public License for more details.

    You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
    along with this program.  If not, see <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.

    For more information see the web page http://www.hoens.net/robin


1. Why nlatexdb? The history...

A few years ago, I wanted to do database reports, and MS Reporting
Services appeared rather inconvenient to me. So I figured I'd use the
typesetting power of Latex, and I found latexdb by Hans-Georg E�er
(http://privat.hgesser.com/software/latexdb/). The idea was great, but
unfortunately I couldn't make it run under Windows, so I wrote a clone
in Ruby, called ratexdb.

At the time, Ruby had a convenient and powerful database access
package called DBI, so I really didn't have to write much code in
order to support a whole bunch of data sources. Great! In the next few
years, I fixed some bugs, added some nice features at the request of
helpful users (thank you!), -- and then I got a new computer.

I installed Latex, I installed Ruby, and it turned out DBI wouldn't
work any more. It seems that people have chosen than from now on DBI
shall be deprecated, there is a new thing called RDBI, and everybody
should use that. I tried it, it didn't work. It depended on some
packages, and those packages on some other packages, and I can't
really claim I had a good time installing all these packages.

So what did I do? Well, I had a good time rewriting the whole thing in
C# -- since my Ruby code was rather ugly anyway, I decided this time
I'd do it a bit more cleanly. Most of the code was written in a
delayed train, so thanks to the Deutsche Bahn for making this program
possible.


2. I know latexdb, and I'm in a hurry. What are the improvements over
   latexdb?

- You can connect to a wide variety of data sources, as supported by
  .Net DbProviderFactories.

- One executable only, one language. Works under Microsoft .Net 2.0 or
  above as well as under Mono.

- Latexdb writes a series of output files for nested queries. Nlatexdb
  writes one output file only, nested queries are done by recursion.

- Added the \texdbif{##query}{latex stuff} command: Include "latex
  stuff" only if the query returns at least one row. This is useful
  for table headings, which can be omitted if there is no data anyway.

- In database results, Latex special characters (\, _, $, &, #, {, }
  and %) are replaced by appropriate Latex commands.

- If variables are used in nested SQL queries, they are protected
  against SQL injection.

- The database results can be post-processed by regular expression
  search and replace.

- Nlatexdb allows command line arguments, which can be referenced in
  the Latex source by variable names ##1, ##2, etc.

- Added the \texdbcommand{database command}, which sends SQL commands
  directly to the database.

3. I know ratexdb. What are the differences?

- The command \texdbconnection has been replaced by
  \texdbconnectionnet{provider}{connectionstring}
  where provider is a database provider (e.g. "System.Data.SqlClient"
  for MS SQLServer, or "System.Data.OracleClient" for Oracle; calling
  "nlatexdb.exe -P" will give you a list of all installed providers)
  and connectionstring is the connection string.

- In ratexdb, variables came in one of three flavours:
  ##varname, $$varname, and &&varname. This doesn't exist any more.
  Nlatexdb, unlike ratexdb, knows whether we are in Latex or in SQL,
  and behaves accordingly.
  In fact, query or variable names don't even have to start with "##"
  any more (except for the command line variables, which are still
  called "##1", "##2" etc.), but it is still recommended to name them
  like this, so there is no danger of confusion.

- The parser has less restrictions (I hope). You can split all
  commands among several lines. You should only watch out that if a
  command has several blocks of braces, they follow each other
  immediately; so please always write "\texdbfor{##query}{Hello
  world!}", not "\texdbfor{##query} {Hello world!}".

- The Latex comment character "%" is honoured more or less correctly.
  So you can comment out your \texdb stuff, and nlatexdb should ignore
  it. "\%" will be recognized as no comment, but please don't write
  "\\%": The comment will not be recognized. Write "\\ %" or "\\%%" or
  something like that. That should work.


3. What do I need?

3.1. How do I install nlatexdb?

You don't. Just copy nlatexdb.exe from the bin\Debug path to wherever
you feel it's convenient. If you want to change the default settings
(see section 6 of this README), copy the nlatexdb.exe.config, too; but
you don't have to.

3.2. What else is required?

You need Latex (I used Miktex 2.9) and a .Net runtime version 2.0 or
above. Under Windows, install the .Net runtime if it isn't already
installed, available here:
http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?DisplayLang=en&id=19
Under Linux or MacOS, install Mono: http://www.mono-project.com

For using your favourite database, you might need to install an
appropriate database provider. Mono installs a whole bunch of database
providers. Microsoft .Net has fewer, but usually when installing a
database client, a DbPRovider is installed, too. Maybe you'll have to
add it to your machine.config or to nlatexdb.exe.config:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd0w4a2z.aspx


4. How do I use it?

It works almost identical to Latexdb. There is a very good tutorial of
Latexdb at http://privat.hgesser.com/software/latexdb/.

Here is a step for step description of how to use Nlatexdb.

4.1. Get the .Net runtime

Well, if you have Windows, not too old hopefully, you probably already
have it. If you don't, go to Microsoft and get it for free.

If you have Linux or MacOS, install Mono.

4.2. Get your DbProvider

You need an ADO.Net database provider for your database. Usually, if
you install a database, it will be installed automatically. If you use
Mono, a whole bunch of the most important database providers will be
installed by default.

Call "nlatexdb -P" to see a list of the known providers. Remember the
InvariantName of your provider.

If you are under Windows and you have never used a command-line tool:
Open a DOS box: Push <Windows-key>+R, type "cmd", and a black window
appears. Now find Nlatexdb.exe in the Windows Explorer, and drag&drop
it to the black window. Its complete path should appear. Add " -P" and
press Enter: The list of DbProviders will be shown. Or, like in the
old DOS days, use the "cd" command to move to the correct directory,
and just type "nlatexdb -P". A third possibility is to create a text
file called "getproviders.bat" with the following two lines:
nlatexdb -P
pause
If you double-click it, the black DOS box with the list of providers
opens for you to read.

4.3. Create your Latex input

Just write your normal Latex file with your favourite Latex editor.
There are a few examples in the examples directory.

If you use a wysiwyg frondend for Latex, it might get confused by the
unknown new commands. Therefore, you might add the following lines to
your file:

\newcommand{\texdbconnectionnet}[2]{}
\newcommand{\texdbdef}[3]{}
\newcommand{\texdbfor}[2]{#2}
\newcommand{\texdbforfile}[3]{#3}
\newcommand{\texdbif}[2]{#2}
\newcommand{\texdbcommand}[1]{}

Like this, Latex will ignore all the SQL stuff.

4.3.1. \texdbconnectionnet

Now, first you have to define the database connection. The syntax is:

\texdbconnectionnet{provider}{connectionstring}

where provider is the database provider you found out in 4.2.
Examples are:
"System.Data.SqlClient" for MS SQLServer
"System.Data.OracleClient" for Oracle
"Mono.Data.SQLite" for SQLite under Mono

The second pait of braces contains the connection string. This one
depends on the database you use. Search the internet for the correct
connection string of your database. There are whole web pages about
nothing but connection strings!


4.3.2. \texdbdef

Next, you define the SQL queries that you need. This works with the
\texdbdef command. It takes three parameters:
1. The name of the query
2. The SQL select command
3. The variable names for referencing the columns

This command works like in Latexdb. It may be split among more than
one line, with the exception, that a closing brace should be
immediately followed by the opening brace of the following block. So,
no line breaks or other white space between them.

Also, like in Latexdb, variables should be prefix free, to avoid
confusions.

There are some additions:

4.3.2.1. Reference to variables in SQL

Just like in latexdb, you can refer to the variables in nested SQL
queries as well. Unlike ratexdb, there are no different flavours to
worry about. The parameters will be added as DbParameters, no SQL
injection danger here. Also, in SQL no Latex special characters or
regex postprocessing will be done; these happen only in the Latex
part.

4.3.2.2. Regular expression postprocessing

When defining a variable name, you can append a series of
"/regexp/replacement" pairs. These replacements are performed when
inserting the value in the Latex file.

Suppose your table contains a column "gender", which contains a single
"m" or "f". But you'd like to see "male" or "female" in the Latex
result. You can refer to the variable like this:

\texdbdef{##sexample}{select gender from person}{##gender/m/male/f/female}

Another example: Say, the database contained timestamp values, which
were returned in this format: 2007-11-12 10:33:36.807000000

A bit too much information, isn't it? At least, we'd like to cut off
at the point. This is done by defining the variable like this:

##timestamp/(.*)\.(.*)/$1

(To be read: First any string, then a point, then a second string, to
be replaced by the first string only.)

(Note: In ratexdb the regex syntax was a bit different. E.g. referring
to a matched group was done with "\1", not "$1". Go figure.)

Regular expressions are a very powerful tool. If you don't know them,
look them up on the web.

The regular expression replace strings may contain Latex commands. The
special characters in these will not be replaced. For example:

\texdbdef{##sexample}{select sex from 
person}{##sex/\Am\Z/\textbf{male}/\Af\Z/\textbf{female}}

(Note the \A and \Z which stand for beginning and end of the
string. Without these, "m" would be replaced by "\textbf{male}" and
afterwards by "\textb\textbf{female}{male}"!)


4.3.3. \texdbfor

This works just like in Latexdb.

\texdbfor{queryname}{latex stuff} will connect to the database,
execute the query (previously defined with \texdbdef) and for each
returned row write the latex stuff to the output.

All variables defined for the query will be replaced by the values
read from the database. They can be used in Latex as well as in nested
SQL queries.

4.3.4. \texdbif

This is a new command that does not exist in Latexdb. It processes a
Latex block if the given query returns at least one row. This is
useful for tabular heads which should not even appear when there is no
data at all.

Here's an example:

\texdbif{##q3}{
\subsection*{File attachments}

\begin{tabular}{lr}
  Name & Size \\
\hline
\texdbfor{##q3}{##att_name & ##att_size \\ }
\end{tabular}
}

If there are no file attachments, the whole subsection will be
omitted.

4.3.5. \texdbforfile

Usually, nlatexdb writes only one input file. If you need to produce
multiple output files, the command \texdbforfile is just for you. If
not, disregard this section.

It takes three parameters:
\texdbforfile{queryname}{filename pattern}{latex stuff}

The queryname and latex stuff work just like in \texdbfor. The
filename pattern contains the paths for the output files. It should
contain at least one variable from the query to be inserted into the
file name (Otherwise the same file will be overwritten again and
again... not good).

Note that as opposed to \texdbfor, the "latex stuff" should contain a
complete Latex file, from "\documentclass" till "\end{document}".
Of course, this will definitely confuse any Latex frondend you might
use. If you rely on one of those, I hope you don't need multiple
output files.

There is a small, clarifying example for this in the "examples"
directory, called testfile.tex.

This command works fine with the arguments -l and -p for Latex
postprocessing. Each output file will be processed by Latex. But of
course, unlike the normal way, the resulting dvi/pdf won't be renamed
to match the input file name.

4.3.6. \texdbcommand

This allows to send non-query SQL commands to the database. It is
especially useful for "SET" statements. E.g. if you wish to access a
MySQL database in UTF-8 mode, you can add this line to the TeX file:

\texdbcommand{SET NAMES utf8}

Of course, this command is only allowed after the \texdbconnection,
otherwise an error is issued.


5. Invoking nlatexdb

nlatexdb is called like this:

nlatexdb [-l|-p] [-v] [-o filename] [-e encoding] [-h] [-P] 
  <texfile.tex> [par1] [par2]...

If you give the -l parameter, the resulting texfile1.tex is processed
with latex, and the resulting texfile1.dvi is renamed as texfile.dvi.

If you give the -p parameter, the resulting texfile1.tex is processed
with pdflatex, and the resulting texfile1.pdf is renamed as
texfile.pdf.

If you give neither of these, only texfile1.tex is generated.

If you don't like the name texfile1.tex, you can give a different
output file name using the argument -o <filename>.

By default, encoding of input and output file is set to CP-1252. You
can change it with the -e argument. E.g. "-e utf-8" sets it to UTF-8.
In this case, don't forget to add "\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}" to the
input file.

The -v argument turns on a rudimentary debug mode; some debug output
will be written to the standard console.

Behind the name of the .tex file, you can give optional parameters,
which can be referred to in the tex file as ##1, ##2 etc. This is
useful to generate a report for a special row, the ID of which can be
given on the command line. Of course only up to nine parameters are
possible, since the parameter names must be prefix-free.

6. Configuration

You can use the nlatexdb.exe.config file to change a few settings.
Currently there are the following possibilities:

The attribute "CmdLineArgumentVarPrefix" defines the prefix for
referencing the command-line arguments in the tex file. E.g. is you
set CmdLineArgumentVarPrefix="??", they will be referenced by ??1,
??2, etc.

The attribute "RegexSplitter" defines the character to separate the
variable names and the Regex search/replace pairs. By default this is
the character "/", but if you need it in one of your regular
expressions, you can change the splitter to something you don't need.

Similarly, the variables in the \texdbdef variable list are separated
by commas, but you can change that, too. Just change the attribute
"VariableSplitter" in nlatexdb.exe.config, if you need the comma in
one of your regular expressions.

But please, watch out you don't wreak havoc with these settings. If
you make them too crazy, you might not understand anything any more.

The <LatexCharReplace> section allows to add more characters to be
replaced by Latex commands. Thus, if the database contains characters
which will break Latex, you can add them here, so they will be
replaced by appropriate commands, like this:
<LatexCharReplace>
<add char="�" replace="\euro{}" />
<add char="�" replace="\ss{}" />
</LatexCharReplace>


7. Contact

Please, if you have a question, find a bug or like to propose an
improvement, contact me at robin@hoens.net.


8. Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Hans-Georg E�er for LatexDb.

9. Release history

2011-08-16 nlatexdb 0.03

Added variables RegexSplitter and VariableSplitter.

Added command \texdbforfile.

More debug output.


2011-08-16 nlatexdb 0.02

Compiled under Mono for .Net 2.0. Should be more platform-independent.

Added exe.config file for some configuration possibilities.

Renamed from natexdb to nlatexdb (turns out there is somebody calling
himself natexdb... no need to create name clashes)


2011-08-05 natexdb 0.01

Initial release.

Direc­to­ries

Name Notes
examples
nlatexdb

Files

Name Size Date Notes
COPYING 35147 2011-08-16 09:10
README 16641 2011-08-16 10:10
nlatexdb.sln 863 2011-08-12 11:17
nlatexdb.userprefs 1930 2011-08-16 10:15

Down­load the con­tents of this pack­age in one zip archive (153.8k).

nla­texdb – Database re­ports us­ing LaTeX and .Net (or Mono)

This is a com­pat­i­ble rewrite of LaTeXDB (by Hans-Ge­org Eßer) or ra­texdb (by this pack­age's au­thor) in C#/.Net. It works un­der Mono, too.

It is a pre­pro­ces­sor which per­forms SQL queries on a database and cre­ates LaTeX code for the re­sult­ing rows. Ra­texdb im­ple­ments a few im­prove­ments, e.g. reg­exp post­pro­cess­ing, com­mand-line op­tions, some pro­tec­tion against SQL in­jec­tion, re­place­ment of LaTeX re­served char­ac­ters.

Pack­age De­tailsnla­texdb
Ver­sion0.03
Li­censeGNU Gen­eral Public Li­cense
Copy­right2011 Robin Höns
Main­tainerRobin Höns
Topics ac­cess database for doc­u­ment con­tents
pre­pro­cesses source be­fore us­ing TeX
See also LaTeXDB
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