assume, for purposes of our practice exercise, that we are practitioners in
today's harried business environment, and are faced with providing management
with options for making our reports "better, stronger, and faster,"
preferably, of course, at minimal or no cost. (The budget has been impacted
negatively this year because management has engaged high-priced consultants to
provide options for lowering overall IT costs by off shoring).
currently upsizing our application databases to MSSQL Server 2000, and decide
to "test upsize" the reports to the Reporting Services platform, as
well. We are well aware that the import feature in Reporting Services may not
result in a perfect duplication of all reports, complete with existing
functionality. The way we see it, anything not automatically converted is
probably a good case for examination for enhancement anyway. We can easily
adapt the reports to function within the context of Reporting Services, delivering
rapidly upgraded information products with a little process improvement as a
will convert a complete set of cloned reports, and then investigate any
incompatibilities - managing "by exception" any rework that is
appropriate, and creating a list of the tasks involved as an automatic
byproduct of the process. Sound too good to be true? Let's do it!
we will launch Reporting Services' Report Designer, found in Microsoft
Visual Studio .NET 2003.
the Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 in the Programs group, as
appropriate. The equivalent on my PC appears as shown in Illustration 12.
Illustration 12: Navigate to the IDE in Microsoft Visual
Studio .NET 2003 ...
Once we enter the IDE, we will need to create a
project to house the new imports. Beginning from the Start page, Projects
tab, we will take the following steps:
--> New from the main menu.
from the cascading menu, as shown in Illustration 13.
Illustration 13: Creating a New Project
Project dialog appears. We note the appearance of Business Intelligence
Projects as an option in the Project Types tree, as shown in Illustration
14, indicating an installation of Reporting Services (the folder was
added by the installation of Reporting Services, as it established the Report
Designer in Visual Studio .NET).
Illustration 14: The New Projects Dialog, with Business
Intelligence Projects as a Project Type
Click Business Intelligence Projects in the Project Types list, if necessary.
Project in the Templates list.
Navigate to a
location in which to place the Report Project files.
following into the Name box, leaving other settings at default:
The New Project
dialog appears, with our additions, as shown in Illustration 15.
Illustration 15: The Completed New Projects Dialog
new project appears in the Solution Explorer (upper right corner
of the Visual Studio .NET interface), as we see in Illustration 16.
Illustration 16: The New Project Appears in the Solution
have now created a Report Project, and are ready to import the
reports in the MS Access database that we have prepared, converting each to a Reporting
Services .rdl file in the process.
the Reports folder in Solutions Explorer. The Reports
folder, together with the Shared Data Sources folder, was automatically
put in place when we created the new project in our last steps.
Reports from the context menu that appears.
Access ... from the cascading menu, as shown in Illustration 17.
Illustration 17: Select Import Reports ---> Microsoft Access
The Open dialog appears.
the location where you placed the OrgReports.mdb database file we
prepared for this exercise.
The Open dialog appears, with OrgReports.mdb, as
depicted in Illustration 18.
Illustration 18: The Open Dialog, Showing OrgReports.mdb
within the dialog.
Click the Open
button at the bottom of the Open dialog.
Access window opens (MS Access 2003 users will likely see the warning dialog
appear - if so, simply click Open), and the reports begin processing
immediately. We see the reports appear in the Reports folder of the Solution
Explorer, as shown in Illustration 19.
Illustration 19: The Imported MS Access Reports in the
NOTE: As we can see, the new reports are placed
into the folder where we request their import via right-click. The new reports
become .rdl files, with no obvious means of distinguishing them from
reports that may already exist in our Reports folder, if we are
importing them into an existing Project. This is one reason to set up an
"intermediate" Project to contain the reports, as we have done
in this article, at least until they can be tested, etc., and are ready for "admittance
to the general population" of reports. (I once called this folder "Ellis
Island," for obvious reasons ...).
Even if we are using an existing Project, it is often
a good idea to create a folder within the reports folder, named in a way
that allows identification of the newly converted files, so as to prevent
confusion if names are similar to those in development in an existing project,
etc. Once cleared of exceptions detailed in the Task List and otherwise
tested, and perhaps renamed to fit our Reporting Services naming conventions,
they can be easily moved to another project, etc., before publication /
deployment in the routine manner.
Our reports are now in place and ready to be verified for