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Posted May 27, 2004

MSSQL Server Reporting Services: Managing Reporting Services: Report Execution and Standard Subscriptions

By William Pearson

About the Series ...

This is the fifth 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.

Important: For information concerning the applications to which you will require access to benefit the most from our series, please see our initial Database Journal article, A New Paradigm for Enterprise Reporting.

For purposes of this and subsequent articles, we assume that you have uploaded the sample reports that ship with the current version of Reporting Services. For a detailed upload procedure, see Managing Reporting Services: Data Connection and Uploads, where we uploaded the reports to which we refer in this and subsequent articles.


In our last article, Managing Reporting Services: Data Connection and Uploads, we introduced Managing as the post-Authoring phase of the Reporting Services development life cycle. In beginning a set of Managing articles, we began by looking at data connections within Reporting Services. We set up a shared data source item for the sample reports set, both as practice and for supporting the reports for later uses within our series. We then practiced the upload process with each of the sample reports, to gain familiarity with the steps involved.

We then associated the sample reports with the new shared data source, for the purpose of returning the reports to a working status, as well as for the benefit of practicing a method of re-establishing connections to a data source, in cases where a previous connection has been deleted or altered. Finally, we verified each of the newly established data connections through initial report viewing, ensuring that each report brought back data as expected.

In this article, we will introduce two further considerations within the Managing phase of the reporting lifecycle: the execution of reports (including viewing options), and the creation and maintenance of standard subscriptions. We will review the process of running reports, partially touched upon in our last session, and then we will examine viewing reports from a web browser. We will then examine the steps involved in setting up a standard subscription as a means of delivering reports to information consumers.

The objective of this article is to continue our overview of Managing, and, as was the case in our previous article, the primary focus of the remaining Managing phase articles is central management of the reporting function, from the perspective of the objects that we can manage and the actions that we can perform with, and upon, those objects. We will return to most of the activities we touch upon here, just as we will return to many of the topics we explore within our other life cycle overviews, as we get involved in creating reports to accomplish illustrative business needs. As I stated in the Authoring overview, I intend to make this a series on enterprise reporting in the widest sense. Reporting Services presents a unified, common platform from which I can show the techniques and methods I have accumulated over the years to support robust and creative business intelligence, and I look forward to sharing the knowledge I have accumulated in the Business Intelligence arena.

A Return to the Managing Phase

As we discussed in the introduction for Managing Reporting Services: Data Connection and Uploads, once we have completed the Authoring phase of the report development life cycle, the next phase is Managing, where the report is processed and rendered, (assuming, of course, that the reports concerned are managed in the first place). We noted, in general, that publication of the new report definition to a Report Server designates it as a managed report, and that managed reports are associated with meta data, and have properties, that allow actions to be taken with them. Examples of these actions include scheduling (one of the items we partially expose in this article), linking to other reports, application of security, movement to various locations, and various aspects of file maintenance.

We discussed processing as taking place in a general sequence that includes extraction of the data specified in the report definition, and the subsequent marriage of data and report layout, prior to the presentation of the data. In this article, we will begin an examination of the generation aspects of the reports we have uploaded from Report Manager, and then the viewing of those reports both from Report Manager and from the browser interface, together with other operations we can perform within Report Manager.

Let's continue our overview of the Managing phase, and get a deeper look into this exciting area within Reporting Services. Because this article focuses on management of reports that are already designed (and in keeping with our objective to make articles "free-standing" with regard to readers being able to participate in each without having joined us in previous articles), we will continue to work with the set of report samples that accompany Reporting Services.

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