Feature Spotlight: Report Template Wizard

Ken Mizota

No forensic investigation is complete without a comprehensive report tailored to the intended audience. Whether the cases involve crime, civil litigation, or policy non-compliance, the end goal of an investigation is to share findings with others. EnCase Version 7 provides powerful tools to efficiently incorporate the findings of the investigation into a Report Template. While powerful, Report Templates can have a steep learning curve, and particularly in time-sensitive investigations, simplicity may be more desirable than power.

EnCase Version 7.10 adds the Report Template Wizard. You can quickly add a Bookmark Folder to the Report Template, specify metadata, perform basic formatting, and preview the report. The Report Template Wizard simplifies reporting while maintaining the power of Report Templates. Read on beyond the jump to learn more.

EnCase Report Templates enable a great deal of sophistication in how a report is tailored. Moreover, the templates are designed for re-use: Once you have a set of formats, sections and metadata of interest for a given case type, they’re intended to be used over and over again. However, there are times, especially in the heat of an investigation, where time is precious and Report Template modification can be more complex than desired. The Report Template Wizard has been built to make it faster and easier to perform basic reporting modifications directly from Bookmarks.

Simpler, Less Effort

Over the lifetime of EnCase 7, customers have consistently told me, “It’s too hard to add Bookmarks to my report.” EnCase v7.10 adds navigation directly from Bookmarks to Report Templates, and gives us access to “Add folder to report,” i.e., the Report Template Wizard.

You can also right-click on the Bookmark Folder you’d like to add to your report:

If you already have a Report Section ready for the Bookmark, you can quickly add it to an existing section (1). Or, you can add a new section (2).

Next, pick some basic formatting, like whether you want numbering of each item to restart at 1, or if you want to hyperlink from the report to a location with exported evidence. You can also preview my report here, but why not customize the metadata that you’d like to see for this Bookmark Folder.

The Customize metadata button launches a selection window with an integrated preview. In this view you can select fields from all of the available metadata fields in EnCase (1), set the display order (2) and see a live preview of how the Bookmark Folder will be displayed in your Report Section (3).

Once the selections have been made, and the Report Sections looks the way you want, the Report Template is updated automatically:

To make things even simpler, if you have a somewhat sparsely populated report, you can now hide empty sections i.e. those sections containing no Bookmarks or Notes.

I hope you find these new tools helpful in your next investigation. Whether your case workload is measured in hours or weeks, the EnCase 7.10 Report Template Wizard gives you greater efficiency. Let us know what you think in the comments, or reach me on Twitter @kenm_encase.

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