MSSQL Server Reporting Services: The Authoring Phase: Overview Part II - Page 7

March 29, 2004

Formatting and Setting Properties

A point that I constantly make within the context of reporting engagements, as well as enterprise reporting classes and workshops that I give on a recurring basis, is that we are best served by resisting the temptation to format reports until the data is largely in place. This is because formatting is more efficient when performed as a single step; early formatting, such as setting column widths or establishing numerical formats, often has to be reworked as the report evolves, and a myriad of small steps, although easily accomplished at various times on their own, add significant time to the creation of the information product.

Let's perform a few formatting steps here, if only to provide an overview of their accomplishment within the Authoring phase. Keep in mind that we will delve much further into more elaborate concepts (such as conditional formatting) in articles where it makes sense to do so, and that we are only inspecting a sample of features in the overview articles. It should be evident with only casual perusal that the Properties dialogs that we examine (among many others) contain advanced features that meet and exceed those that are available in the enterprise reporting packages that have dominated the market to date.

NOTE: Expect to hear the shrill voices of the marketing arms of the dominant enterprise reporting vendors attempting to trivialize Reporting Services as "a low end solution." In this, as in myriad other features we will cover throughout our series, one can see readily that the capabilities of Reporting Services easily meet, and often exceed, their offerings.

This series will focus on these scenarios in future articles, and show how Reporting Services can match - indeed, overcome - the offerings of the "Big Sisters" in all material respects. My opinion is that, once the marketing arms of these outfits realize that the public is capable of performing revealing functionality comparisons, the next mantra will be that we need their products for "specialized" functions - in addition to Reporting Services. This will be the indicator that the inevitable "boutique" or "add on" play that I have forecast has begun in earnest.

1.  Click the Layout tab to return to the Design Surface.

2.  Right-click the cell containing the Line Total in the Detail row of the table (the middle row, fourth from the top, in the Line Total column).

3.  Select Properties from the context menu that appears, as shown in Illustration 30.


Illustration 30: Select Properties from the Context Menu

The Textbox Properties dialog appears.

4.  Select the Standard radio button, as appropriate, on the right side of the dialog.

5.  Select Number in the left list box underneath the radio button.

6.  Select the following from the number format options that appear in the right list box:

1,234.00

The Textbox Properties dialog appears as depicted in Illustration 31.


Illustration 31: The Textbox Properties Dialog for Line Total - Detail

While we will not be using the Name box in our practice in this article, we will see in subsequent sessions how we can name each component of the report for numerous purposes, and can reuse formats and other properties both within other reports as well as programmatically - all with great ease and efficiency.

7.  Click OK.

8.  Select the Properties dialog for the Line Total subtotal in the SubCategory Footer (created when we grouped on Product SubCategory earlier), the cell below the Line Total - Detail cell we formatted above.

9.  Select Standard: Number and the associated format exactly as we did for the previous cell.

10.  Click the Advanced button at bottom left in the dialog.

The Advanced Textbox Properties dialog appears, defaulted at the General tab.

11.  Click the Font tab.

12.  In the Weight selector, select Semi-bold.

13.  In the Decorations selector, select Overline.

The Advanced Textbox Properties dialog appears as depicted in Illustration 32.


Illustration 32: The Advanced Textbox Properties Dialog for Line Total - SubCategory Footer

14.  Click OK to close the Properties dialogs.

15.  Select the Properties dialog for the Line Total subtotal in the Category Footer (created when we grouped on Product Category earlier), the cell below the Line Total - SubCategory Subtotal cell we formatted above.

16.  Select Standard: Number and the associated format exactly as we did for the previous cell.

17.  Click the Advanced button at bottom left in the dialog.

The Advanced Textbox Properties dialog appears, defaulted at the General tab.

18.  Click the Font tab.

19.  In the Weight selector, select Semi-bold.

20.  In the Decorations selector, select Overline.

21.  Click OK to close the Properties dialogs.








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