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Posted Jun 23, 2004

MSSQL Server Reporting Services: Managing Reporting Services: Data-driven Subscriptions, and External Data Sources for Subscriber Data - Page 11

By William Pearson

Verify the Results of the Data-Driven Subscription

Seeing is believing, right? Let's take a quick look at the report files that our labors have produced.

1.  Go to the file shares that we designated as the Path in the SubscriberDetails table that we created in preparation for the Data-Driven Subscription we created above.

We see, in each of the subscriber folders we created, that a file of the specified type has been placed, as shown in Illustration 42.

Click for larger image

Illustration 42: The Report Files, as Generated and Stored (Composite Presentation)

2.  Click / double-click the files, as appropriate to your PC's settings, to open them for examination, as desired.

The files open, and present the appropriate rendition of the report, assuming that the program(s) with which each file type can be associated is onboard the PC we are using. Note that the image file is a .tif extension that opens in many image editors and graphics packages.

Keep in mind that interactivity is, of course, lost when we choose to deliver reports in this manner, but this is still a very popular option for distribution, depending upon the need. We do, however, obtain a "drilled view" in Excel automatically (an example partially appears in Illustration 43), which many find useful.

Illustration 43: The Excel Rendition of Our Subscription (Partial View)

We note that the parameters, too, have been passed correctly in the results that we obtain. Further, the formats appear to be intact, a scenario that many of us will find pleasantly surprising after years of suffering under less amiable circumstances with the "Big Sisters." (As I stated in my previous article, I have heard, over the years, hundreds of individuals complain about issues with this particular capability in their experiences with Business Objects, Cognos and the rest of their older generation enterprise reporting family. This is only a tiny, symbolic vestige of the advantages that Reporting Services promises those organizations that convert!)

While our exposure to Data-Driven Subscriptions has focused on the creation of a Data-Driven Subscription, with delivery via File Share, it is important to remember that, as with standard subscriptions, far more can be accomplished with Data-Driven Subscriptions, including the following:

  • Creation of a subscription to deliver reports via e-mail to individuals and / or groups (this is the "typical" use of subscriptions - and, unfortunately, the only type for which any hands-on, procedural documentation has been published, at this writing);

  • Bypass of browser viewing and delivery of reports to file shares for alternative viewing (similar to the example we performed in this lesson), both for individuals and for groups. This is often an effective strategy in the case of large reports that might be time consuming to load in a browser, etc. It might also offer options for remote users and other consumers "outside the organization," to which perhaps we would prefer to "push" selected data, rather than allowing them access to corporate networks, etc.

  • Consumer selection of various file formats for offline viewing (which would then be entered into the subscriber database);

  • Automated report archiving, established via file shares.

Summary and Conclusion ...

In this article, we continued our introduction to the Managing phase of the Reporting Services development life cycle, and introduced the topic of Data-Driven Subscriptions. First, we devoted time to preparation of a sample subscriber data source, to illustrate in detail the types of contents we might house in such a source to support our Data-Driven Subscriptions. We then completed preparation steps, and discussed conditions that must be in place before establishing a Data-Driven Subscription, as a prelude to beginning our hands-on creation exercise.

Next, we focused upon the setup and operation of a straightforward Data-Driven Subscription, throughout our setup of the subscription, with delivery via Report Server File Shares. We discussed the abundant options within this powerful capability, as well as the details of the steps we took to bring it to fruition. Throughout our session, we covered several settings in more detail than we can easily find in existing documentation. Finally, in our concluding comments, we discussed additional capabilities and uses that Data-Driven Subscriptions offer Reporting Services practitioners and consumers in meeting their analysis and reporting 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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