MSSQL Server Reporting Services: The Authoring Phase: Overview Part II - Page 2

March 29, 2004

Returning to the Authoring Phase

At the end of Part I, we previewed our work in building a blank report, and then saved the report file as RS02_Authoring for easy identification. We will reopen the file and resume our exploration of report design procedures, focusing immediately on additional features within a continuing practice example. As you recall, we constructed RS02_Authoring, a simple tabular report from "scratch," using a manual example for our first exposure to authoring, versus a wizard-driven report, to enrich our overview with a far greater number of the aspects of Report Designer. At this stage, we will resume our progress within the layout of the report, and build upon our work to date.

Opening the Report from Part I

Let's first reopen the Report Project, and get to the Report File. We again launch Reporting Services' Report Designer, found in Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003.

1.  Click Start.

2.  Navigate to Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 in the Programs group, as appropriate. The equivalent on my PC appears as shown in Illustration 1.

Illustration 1: Getting Started in Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 ...

3.  Click Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 to initialize the application.

The Microsoft Development Environment [Design] opens.

4.  Select File --> Open --> Project from the main menu, as depicted in Illustration 2.

Illustration 2: Selecting a New Project

5.  Navigate to the location of project RS002-1, which we created in Part I (see the Creating the Report Project subtopic in the Creating the Report Project and the Report Files section).

When arriving at the location, we see two related files within the Open Project dialog, RS002-1.rptproj (the Project file), and RS002-1.sln (the Solution file), as shown in Illustration 3.

Illustration 3: Files Related to the Reporting Project

Projects and Solutions are containers in Visual Studio .NET for managing files. The objects that these containers hold are called Items.

A Project is made up of a set of files. Projects generally produce one or more output files when built, with the nature of the files depending on the type of Project. While many of the details surrounding Project file components relate more to Visual Studio .NET than to our current focus within the Report Designer, it is helpful to know that Report Projects (Visual Studio .NET projects that relate to Reporting Services) contain reports, shared data sources, and resources. Projects belong to Solutions, which contain one or more Projects, among other possible components.

NOTE: For more information about Visual Studio .NET and its components / processes, see the Visual Studio .NET Books Online.

6.  Click RS002-1.rptproj to select it.

7.  Click Open.

The Project opens.

The Solution Explorer pane, containing RS02_Authoring.rdl, is depicted in Illustration 4.

Illustration 4: The Report Definition File in the Solution Explorer Pane

RS02_Authoring.rdl is the Report Definition file in which our work from Part I is stored (in Report Definition Language, or "rdl").

8.  Double-click on RS02_Authoring.rdl, which appears within the Solution Explorer pane (the upper right corner of the Development Environment).

The Report Definition file for RS02_Authoring.rdl opens, defaulted to the Layout tab in front. The Design Surface is presented, as depicted in Illustration 5.

Illustration 5: The Layout Tab and Design Surface

The Design Surface of the Layout tab is, we recall, the central "palette" from which we started our blank report in Part I. We will begin here, as we have a few more Layout considerations to explore before moving on with the report.

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