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Posted Feb 26, 2004

MSSQL Server Reporting Services: The Authoring Phase: Overview Part I - Page 4

By William Pearson

Creating the Report File

Creating the Report File is straightforward, and handled through the following steps:

10.  Right-click the Reports folder in Solutions Explorer.

11.  Select Add from the context menu that appears.

12.  Click Add New Item from the cascading menu, as shown in Illustration 6.

Click for larger image

Illustration 6: Select Add ---> Add New Item

The Add New Item dialog appears, as shown in Illustration 7.

Click for larger image

Illustration 7: The Add New Item Dialog - Initial View

13.  Click Report in the Add New Item dialog.

14.  Click the Open button at the bottom of the Add New Item dialog.

The design environment opens. We see the Data, Layout and Preview tabs appear. Our report has opened in Data View, as shown in Illustration 8.

Illustration 8: The Design Environment - Data View Tab (Compacted)

The design environment that we see is known as Report Designer. As is probably obvious, this is a busy place. Report Designer's strengths are legion, and include local report processing and report-rendering capabilities. This means that, from one central workspace, we can define layout, position content (with robust drag-and-drop functionality) and preview the end results of our efforts, as easily as we can use Print Preview to see what a Microsoft Word or Excel document will look like after printing.

Some will feel a bit intimidated at first blush - I have often heard from clients that some staff thought Crystal Reports (as an example) too much like "programming," when compared to other products such as Cognos Impromptu, which they thought far friendlier. While coding can be accomplished here, it is not required. But the capability to add functionality through coding, at the same point that drag-and-drop report authoring can take place, and to do so within a rich, controls-laden environment will likely lead more "standard" report writers to enthusiastically become at least sometime-coders, when they begin to see the power that they can assemble in this workspace. Moreover, the immense power of working from the Report Designer interface will win over many report authors with only a few report building experiences.

We will build a simple tabular report, to begin the authoring portions of our series, returning to do more complex reports in later articles. The idea now is to get a feel for the general steps, and to see how easy it is to replicate anything you can do with the current tools that are in place in your organization. (For that matter, migrating existing reports is significantly easier than one might expect.)

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