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BlackBelt Administration: Linked Reports in Report Manager - Page 6

June 19, 2006

Customize a Report Parameter for Each Linked Report

Having created folders for each Sales Territory Group, we have established a basis for at least rudimentary access control, to limit each Sales Territory Group to only the Linked Report that we wish for its members to see. Our objective is to allow each group to enter only its designated folder, containing a Linked Report whose definition will include a restriction that allows it to present only the data from the Sales Territory Group whose members will be allowed access the parent folder.

We will limit the data returned by each report via the filtering effects of the new Sales Territory Group parameter, by taking the following steps.

1.  From the Home page of the Report Manager, re-enter the Europe folder we created earlier.

2.  Click the Properties icon, underneath the Edit column heading, to the left of the Sales Reason Comparison (Name column) Linked Report, as shown in Illustration 40.


Illustration 40: Editing Linked Report Properties ...

The Properties page for the Sales Reason Comparison Linked Report opens.

3.  Click the Parameters link, on the left side of the page (where it resides with other links), as depicted in Illustration 41.


Illustration 41: Click the Parameters Link on the Properties Page ...

The Properties – Parameters page for the Sales Reason Comparison Linked Report opens.

4.  Within the row for the SalesTerritorySalesTerritoryGroup parameter, using the drop-down selector in the Default Value column, select [Sales Territory].[Sales Territory Group].&[Europe], as shown in Illustration 42.


Illustration 42: Selecting a "Folder-Specific" Default Parameter

NOTE: If you notice that the selector does not appear to work – that is, it does not repopulate the Default Value box, then de-select the Has Default checkbox, click Apply, and then leave the folder by clicking the View tab, as if to execute the report. Return to the Parameters properties page (click the Properties tab and then the Parameters link, from the View tab), and re-select Has Default, which should be blank at this point. As if attempting to select a value in the Default Value box drop-down, click the downward arrow button. When the empty selector opens, type in the MDX qualified name ([Sales Territory].[Sales Territory Group].&[Europe], in this case), and it should repopulate the box when navigating out of the selector.

5.  Click the Hide checkbox to select it.

The checkmark appears in the Hide checkbox, and the Prompt User checkbox becomes automatically de-selected. Our new settings for the SalesTerritorySalesTerritoryGroup parameter appear as depicted in Illustration 43.


Illustration 43: Our New Parameter Settings ...

The effect here is to force a default Sales Territory Group of Europe, with no consumer option of changing this filter, for the Europe Sales Reason Comparison report.

6.  Click the Apply button to accept and save the modifications to the parameter.

We will perform this parameter modification for the other two Linked Reports next, within the context of their respective Sales Territory Groups.

7.  Return to the Home page via the breadcrumb trail in the upper left corner of Report Manager, once again.

8.  From the Home page of the Report Manager, re-enter the North America folder we created earlier.

9.  Click the Properties icon, underneath the Edit column heading, to the left of the Sales Reason Comparison (Name column) Linked Report, as we did within the Europe folder earlier.

The Properties page for the Sales Reason Comparison Linked Report opens.

10.  Click the Parameters link on the Sales Reason Comparison Linked Report Properties page that appears next, on the left side of the page (where it resides with other links), as we did within the Europe folder before.

The Properties – Parameters page for the North America Sales Reason Comparison Linked Report opens.

11.  Within the row for the SalesTerritorySalesTerritoryGroup parameter, using the drop-down selector in the Default Value column, select [Sales Territory].[Sales Territory Group].&[North America].

12.  Click the Hide checkbox to select it, as we did earlier.

The checkmark appears in the Hide checkbox, and the Prompt User checkbox becomes automatically de-selected, as before. With this Linked Report, we are forcing a default Sales Territory Group of North America, with no consumer option of changing this filter, for the North America Sales Reason Comparison report.

13.  Click the Apply button to accept and save the modifications to the parameter properties.

We have only to repeat similar steps for the remaining Pacific Sales Reason Comparison report.

14.  Return to the Home page via the breadcrumb trail in the upper left corner of Report Manager, as before.

15.  From the Home page of the Report Manager, re-enter the Pacific folder we created earlier.

16.  Click the Properties icon, underneath the Edit column heading, to the left of the Sales Reason Comparison (Name column) Linked Report, as we did within the Europe and North America folders earlier.

The Properties page for the Sales Reason Comparison Linked Report opens.

17.  Click the Parameters link on the Sales Reason Comparison Linked Report Properties page that appears next, on the left side of the page (where it resides with other links), as we did within the Europe and North America folders before.

The Properties – Parameters page for the Pacific Sales Reason Comparison Linked Report opens.

18.  Within the row for the SalesTerritorySalesTerritoryGroup parameter, using the drop-down selector in the Default Value column, select [Sales Territory].[Sales Territory Group].&[Pacific].

19.  Click the Hide checkbox to select it, as we did earlier.

The checkmark appears in the Hide checkbox, and the Prompt User checkbox becomes automatically de-selected, as we saw for the two Linked Reports earlier. With this Linked Report, we are forcing a default Sales Territory Group of Pacific, again leaving no consumer option of changing this filter, for the Pacific Sales Reason Comparison report.

20.  Click the Apply button to accept and save the modifications to the parameter properties.

21.  Return to the Home page via the breadcrumb trail in the upper left corner of Report Manager, once again.

We have completed setup of the Linked Reports, establishing folders to which we will limit access based upon the criteria of Sales Territory Group membership. In addition, we have restricted the data that each Linked Report retrieves and displays, through the addition of a hidden, default parameter filter to each, based, again, upon the intended Sales Territory Group audience. We will verify operation for expected results in the section that follows.

Verification: Test the Linked Reports for Expected Operation

As we have mentioned multiple times, we can restrict access to the folders with the most basic security available in Report Manager. This will then mean that, given access to only a single Sales Territory Group folder, members of a given Sales Territory Group can only see data that relates to their own respective group, thanks to the default parameter that we have "hard coded" into the associated Linked Report.

Far more elaborate strategies can, of course, be envisioned and enacted within an application as flexible as Reporting Services. This is even more the case within a scenario where we employ the integrated Microsoft BI solution as a whole, and can deploy security and myriad other features at various layers within the suite. I have recently deployed systems where reports are handled for large numbers of individual salespersons, as an example, using a similar approach, with Linked Reports at its heart, together with data-driven subscriptions, e-mail delivery, notification of various types, and other innovations that are supported within Microsoft enterprise BI. The possibilities are virtually limitless.

NOTE: For a hands-on introduction to data-driven subscriptions, see Managing Reporting Services: Data-driven Subscriptions, and External Data Sources for Subscriber Data, a member of my MSSQL Server Reporting Services series at Database Journal.

Let's do a quick inspection of the operation of our Linked Reports as we have deployed them.

1.  From the Home page of the Report Manager, re-enter the Europe folder we created earlier.

2.  Within the Europe folder, click the Sales Reason Comparison Report, as shown in Illustration 44.


Illustration 44: Click the Report to Execute from Inside the Folder ...

The Sales Reason Comparison Report for the European Territory Sales Group executes, and returns data as depicted in Illustration 45.


Illustration 45: The Sales Reason Comparison Report – Filtered for Europe

As is apparent, the report is restricted, as expected, through the use of the defaulted, hidden parameter that filters it to show only the data relevant to the European Territory Sales Group consumers. We have achieved the desired results and met the business requirements through the use of Linked Reports, each of which will be contained within a folder that will be restricted to the member consumers of the respective Sales Territory Group.

3.  Test the other Linked Reports as desired.

4.  Exit Report Manager when ready.

Conclusion ...

In this article, we introduced Linked Reports, a powerful administrative feature within MSSQL Server 2005 Reporting Services. We discussed the purpose and uses of Linked Reports, describing examples where they might provide versatile, yet conveniently maintained, "versions" of a core report to meet the requirements of multiple users or groups, allowing each to see only the data that management has deemed relevant to their functions. We discussed the general concepts, presented a basic business need for a hypothetical client, and then set about using Linked Reports to answer the requirements in a straightforward manner.

We accessed the sample Report Server project, AdventureWorks Sample Reports, and ascertained connectivity of the relevant shared data source. Next, we created a clone of an existing sample OLAP report, with which to perform our practice exercise, as a means of saving time. After making a small change to the clone report (adding a parameter for the Sales Territory Groups), we previewed the clone report to ascertain its readiness for deployment, before "publishing" it to a common folder within Report Manager.

Next, we created folders in Report Manager, to house Linked Reports for different consumer groups, and then created Linked Reports within each of the new consumer group folders, based upon the common source .rdl file. We then set a default parameter (hidden to the consumer at runtime) within each Linked Report to restrict the data returned and presented to the intended consumer group audience. Finally, we previewed a Linked Report to ascertain the effectiveness of our solution. Throughout the steps of our practice session, we discussed, at appropriate junctures, various settings and techniques involved in achieving our objectives.

» See All Articles by Columnist William E. Pearson, III

Discuss this article in the MSSQL Server 2000 Reporting Services Forum.

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