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Posted Dec 19, 2005

Interactive Sorting Within Reporting Services - Page 6

By William Pearson

Verification: Preview the Report and Inspect Effectiveness of Interactive Sorting

Let's preview the report to inspect the results of our handiwork.

1.  Click the Preview tab.

RS024_Interactive Sort executes, and returns the data for the default Sales Order Number indicated atop the report. We note this time, however, the appearance of upward / downward pointing arrows, alongside the Item Number column heading, as shown in Illustration 22.

Illustration 22: Interactive Sorting is Enabled ...

Recall that we have established sorting based upon the Line Totals for each of the Item Numbers in the report. Clicking the "up" arrow should, therefore, sort the Item Numbers listed, by Item Total, in ascending fashion (they are not sorted at present).

2.  Click the upper of the two arrows.

The report reorders itself to sort as expected. We see the downward pointing arrow disappear, leaving the upper arrow in place to indicate that Item Number has been sorted. We also note that the Line Totals are, indeed, presented in ascending order, as depicted in Illustration 23.

Illustration 23: Ascending Sort Accomplished ...

We can just as easily sort in descending fashion, by clicking the upward pointing arrow that remains. The re-sort will occur, leaving the Item Numbers sorted by Item Total, this time in descending order.

We thus see that the interactive sorting capability accomplishes the intended ends, and allows us to meet the need as expressed by the information consumers. The flexibility of interactive sort support is extended in its allowance for selection of data region and scope for our sorts, as we have seen. Through this means we can meet varying needs of the organizations we support, limiting the desired sort actions to the data region containing the textbox upon which we enact the capability, or allowing us to extend the scope of our sorts to another set of data regions that we can choose as easily as we have done with the one in our practice example.

3.  Select Save --> Save All to save our work to this point.

4.  Select File --> Exit to leave Reporting Services, when ready.

Conclusion ...

In this article, we extended previous examinations of sorting capabilities to focus upon a popular feature within Reporting Services that supports a commonly encountered business need: the desire of information consumers to be able to perform ad hoc sorting for a given item or items within the report, based upon their own values or upon a corresponding value that appears in, say, another column of the report. As a part of preparing the backdrop for a practice exercise surrounding the setup of interactive sorting support, we created a copy of an existing sample report to leave the original intact for other uses.

The steps we took within the context of the clone report gave us a feel for what is involved in bringing the capability to perform interactive sorting to existing reports in our own environments. We emphasized that, with the introduction of interactive sorting, Reporting Services closes yet another of the few remaining gaps between itself and other, once dominant enterprise reporting solutions.

To set the stage for our discussion and practice session, we presented a business requirement based upon the needs of a hypothetical client. We prepared for our practice session by opening the Report Server project that contains the sample reports, and which, along with a set of other samples, ships with MSSQL Server 2005. From within the Business Intelligence Development Studio, where we opened the project, we then created a "clone" report, within which we performed the steps of our practice exercise.

Once we had aligned the underlying shared data source to our local sample database, we made the appropriate setting to support ad hoc sorting for a column within our report, based upon a value in another column. As we performed the necessary settings to enable interactive sorting within the report, we addressed the importance of scope within the properties. Finally, we verified the operation of our enhancements in a test of report operation.

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

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

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