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Posted Mar 29, 2004

MSSQL Server Reporting Services: The Authoring Phase: Overview Part II

By William Pearson

About the Series ...

This is the third article of the series MSSQL Server 2000 Reporting Services. The series is designed to introduce MSSQL Server 2000 Reporting Services ("Reporting Services"), with the objective of giving a preview of its features, as well as sharing my conviction in its role as a new paradigm in enterprise reporting. As I advise clients on a more and more frequent basis these days, this is the future in a big way. I hope you will consider my input valuable, and that you will investigate closely the savings and advanced functionality that will soon be available to anyone with an MSSQL Server 2000 (and beyond) license.

Note: In addition to the installation of Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services, Version 1.0, together with Microsoft Visual Studio.NET (required to access Report Designer for report creation), Service Pack 3 updates are assumed for MSSQL Server 2000, MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services, and the related Books Online and Samples.

Images are from a Windows 2003 Server environment, but the steps performed in the articles, together with the views that result, will be quite similar within any environment that supports MSSQL Server 2000 Reporting Services, MSSQL Server 2000 and MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services ("MSAS"). Any Microsoft Office components that appear within the series are members of the MS Office 2003 suite, but previous versions will work similarly in most instances


In our last article, The Authoring Phase: Overview Part I, we began an overview of the first of the main phases of the enterprise reporting life cycle. We introduced the article with observations surrounding the objectives of the MSSQL Server 2000 Reporting Services series, as well as the objectives of the initial phase overview articles, and then discussed the Authoring phase in general. We began an exploration of the steps involved in creating a blank report, mentioning in passing the general ways of creating reports, each of which we will revisit numerous times in later articles.

After introducing the Authoring phase, we began a practice example in which we set out to create a basic tabular report. First, we created the Report Project to house the Report File, which we created next. Within the Report File, we established a Data Connection, and then built a simple SQL query to use against our specified data source, the AdventureWorks2000 sample OLTP database. We then designed the report Layout, and, finally, added data from the dataset resulting from our query.

We are now ready to pick up where we left off, and undertake the remaining steps of our initial walkthrough of the Authoring phase. We will complete our exploration of the general Authoring process, within the remaining activities of the hands-on practice example we began in Part I, rejoining the tabular report as we saved it, and taking the following steps:

  • Perform modifications to the layout of our existing report, RS02_Authoring;
  • Perform Grouping within the report;
  • Modify the underlying Dataset for the report;
  • Filter the Dataset;
  • Add Subtotals and a Total;
  • Set Properties and Formats for illustrative report components;
  • Preview our work, throughout the article, to confirm the effects of our activities.

As we mentioned in the first half of this two-part article, our intent is to perform an overview of Authoring. We will return to various activities we touch upon here, as well as to many of the topics we explore within the subsequent two phase overviews, as we get involved in creating reports to accomplish illustrative business needs. I intend to make this a series on enterprise reporting in the widest sense. I have wanted to do this for years as a BI consultant, but never had a unified, common platform from whence I could show techniques and methods to support robust and creative business intelligence. Before the advent of Reporting Services, we would have had to introduce multiple tools to accomplish sophisticated solutions in many cases, but those scenarios are now a thing of the past.

A new era in enterprise reporting has dawned, as industry and analysts alike will soon proclaim. Stay tuned - it will happen sooner than many appreciate, and the exceptional benefits to analysts and other information consumers will become the new standard.

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