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Posted Jul 17, 2006

BlackBelt Administration: Linked Reports in SQL Server Management Studio - Page 8

By William Pearson

Verification: Test the Linked Reports for Expected Operation

As we have mentioned multiple times, we can restrict access to the folders with the most basic security available in Report Manager. This will then mean that, given access to only a single Sales Territory Group folder, members of a given Sales Territory Group can only see data that relates to their own respective group, thanks to the default parameter that we have "hard coded" into the associated Linked Report.

Far more elaborate strategies can, of course, be envisioned and enacted within an application as flexible as Reporting Services. This is even more the case within a scenario where we employ the integrated Microsoft BI solution as a whole, and can deploy security and myriad other features at various layers within the suite. I have recently deployed systems where reports are handled for large numbers of individual salespersons, as an example, using a similar approach, with Linked Reports at its heart, together with data-driven subscriptions, e-mail delivery, notification of various types, and other innovations that are supported within Microsoft enterprise BI. The possibilities are virtually limitless.

NOTE: For a hands-on introduction to data-driven subscriptions, see Managing Reporting Services: Data-driven Subscriptions, and External Data Sources for Subscriber Data, a member of my MSSQL Server Reporting Services series at Database Journal.

Let's do a quick inspection of the operation of our Linked Reports as we have deployed them.

1.  From the Home page of the Report Manager, re-enter the Europe folder we created earlier.

2.  Within the Europe folder, click the Sales Reason Comparison Report, as depicted in Illustration 47.

Illustration 47: Click the Report to Execute from Inside the Folder ...

The Sales Reason Comparison Report for the European Territory Sales Group executes, and returns data as shown in Illustration 48.

Illustration 48: The Sales Reason Comparison Report – Filtered for Europe

As is apparent (and expected), the report is restricted, through the use of the defaulted, hidden parameter that filters it to show only the data relevant to the European Territory Sales Group consumers. We have achieved the desired results and met the business requirements through the use of Linked Reports, which we have created and placed from within the SQL Server Management Studio. Each Sales Territory Group's report (displaying the respective Group's data only) is contained within a folder to which access is restricted, in turn, to the member consumers of the respective Sales Territory Group.

3.  Test the other Linked Reports as desired.

4.  Exit Report Manager when ready.

Conclusion ...

In this article, we introduced Linked Reports, a powerful administrative feature within MSSQL Server 2005 Reporting Services. We discussed the purpose and uses of Linked Reports, describing examples where they might provide versatile, yet conveniently maintained, "versions" of a core report to meet the requirements of multiple users or groups, allowing each to see only the data that management has deemed relevant to their functions. We discussed the general concepts, presented a basic business need for a hypothetical client, and then set about using Linked Reports to answer the requirements in a straightforward manner.

We accessed the sample Report Server project, AdventureWorks Sample Reports, and ascertained connectivity of the relevant shared data source. Next, we created a clone of an existing sample OLAP report, with which to perform our practice exercise, as a means of saving time. After making a small change to the clone report (adding a parameter for the Sales Territory Groups), we previewed the clone report to ascertain its readiness for deployment, before "publishing" it to a common folder within Report Manager.

Next, we created folders in Report Manager, to house Linked Reports for different consumer groups, and then created Linked Reports within each of the new consumer group folders, based upon the common source .rdl file. We performed these steps from within SQL Server Management Studio (in contrast to performing them from the Report Manager, the details of which we outlined in BlackBelt Administration: Linked Reports in Report Manager.)

We then set a default parameter (to be hidden to the consumer at runtime) within each Linked Report to restrict the data returned and presented to the intended consumer group audience. Finally, we previewed a Linked Report to ascertain the effectiveness of our solution. Throughout the steps of our practice session, we discussed, at appropriate junctures, various settings and techniques involved in achieving our 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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