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Posted Feb 26, 2004

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

By William Pearson

Designing the Report Layout


We have put a query in place to designate the dataset from which the report will select the data it presents. We now need to turn to the physical Layout of the report.

The prospective Layout of a report is another consideration in the business requirements gathering phase, regardless of the platform upon which the report is being constructed. We will assume, for the purposes of our example that we have obtained a sketch from the information consumers, showing the desired arrangement of the data that will appear in the report. Meeting with the satisfaction of the intended audience in this regard is a significant focus; the arrangement that they specify is likely based upon an existing report or other design that has worked for them before, and which presents the information in a manner that makes it easy to use.

1.  Click the Layout tab.

The Layout tab presents the Design Surface, as depicted in Illustration 15.

Illustration 15: The Layout Tab and Design Surface

The Design Surface of the Layout tab acts as a central "palette:" from here, we start our blank report. It is on the Design Surface that we add Data Regions, define the report Layout and perform other steps in our creation efforts. As we can readily see, a blank report contains no data, layout specifications, graphical or style elements, or other components. When we start with a blank report, it is really blank.

Creating a blank report affords us complete control in the design and creation process, which is typically the best, and often the only, way to write an enterprise-grade report. After we assemble the basic reports set (with underlying datasets and other components) in our "toolbox," we can reuse them with a flexibility and ease that is unparalleled by the proprietary enterprise reporting systems of the (recent) past.

2.  Click the Toolbox icon, atop the Report Designer window, (see Illustration 16) to open the Toolbox, as necessary.

Illustration 16: The Toolbox Icon

The Toolbox appears to the left of the Layout tab.

3.  Click Table, within the Toolbox.

The Toolbox, with Table icon selected, appears as depicted in Illustration 17.

Illustration 17: Toolbox, with Table Icon Selected

4.  Click on the design surface (a small table icon will appear in place of the usual mouse pointer).

The Report Designer renders a three-columned table, straddling the Design Surface, as shown in Illustration 18.

Illustration 18: The Table Appears on the Design Surface

5.  Select the Fields tab, below the Toolbox (shown in Illustration 19).

Illustration 19: Select the Fields Tab to Raise the Fields Window

The Fields window opens, replacing the Toolbox, to the left of the Design Surface, as shown in Illustration 20.

Illustration 20: The Fields Window

The fields we captured in our SQL query appear in the Fields window, for easy selection into our report.

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