Verify Operation of the Template Report
Let's do a quick test to make sure our template is available as expected. We will begin the report creation process, where we will be presented with our template as an option, in the following steps:
1. Right-click the Reports folder in Solutions Explorer.
2. Select Add from the context menu that appears.
3. Click Add New Item from the cascading menu, as we did at the beginning of our practice exercise.
The New Item dialog appears. In its default, large icons view, we may have trouble discerning our template, especially if we already have other template reports in place.
4. Click the Small Icons button in the upper right corner of the dialog, shown circled in Illustration 27 (unless small icons are already displayed).
5. The New Item dialog view shifts to display small icons. We can now readily identify our new template, as we see circled in Illustration 28.
Illustration 28: Our New Template in the New Item Dialog Small Icon View
To proceed in creating a report that adopts the characteristics of our template, we have only to select it here (simply clicking it will do). We would then rename it, in the Name box at the bottom of the dialog, and proceed to create the report in the normal manner. New reports that we create in this fashion will bear all the attributes we have created in the template, saving time and helping authors to maintain a consistent look, and feel.
6. Click Cancel to abort the report creation process.
7. Exit Visual Studio.Net, when desired, saving changes as appropriate
Through the foregoing steps, we have met the requirements of the client in providing one of what will probably be many template reports to make internal report authors more productive. Templates provide many other advantages in the report creation process, as well. The sophistication of the objects that we can add to our templates can, obviously, allow us to accomplish far more than those we have examined in this introductory session; we will revisit further possibilities in future articles within the series.
In this article, we discussed advantages that accrue to users of template reports in Reporting Services, and then activated what we learned in an exercise where we undertook the creation of a basic template to meet the business needs of a hypothetical client. We created a blank report in Report Designer to use as the basis for our template, adding a header with an image file and company name. We then installed a footer, wherein we placed global variables to meet the stated business requirements.
We previewed the template report in Report Designer to ascertain that it met the expressed needs of the client. Next, we installed the template report in the appropriate location to ensure its easy selection, as a "built-in" option, in the creation of any report within Report Designer. Finally, we verified its operation in the initials steps of creating a report, where we noted its potential selection as the basis for a new report.
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