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Posted Aug 30, 2004

MSSQL Server Reporting Services: Master Chart Reports: Pie Charts in Reporting Services

By William Pearson

About the Series ...

This is the eighth 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 presenting an overview of its features, together with many tips and techniques for real-world use. I will also use the column as a vehicle for sharing my conviction in Reporting Services' 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 many of the articles in this series, it is assumed that you have prepared security to allow "power user" status in virtually every regard. For details on the specifics of the adjustments necessary to quickly allow full freedom to complete the exercises in this and subsequent articles, as well as important assumptions regarding rights and privileges in general, please see earlier articles in our series, as well as the Reporting Services Books Online.


Reporting services enables us to present both summarized and detailed data in colorful, easy-to-read charts of various types. The Master Chart Reports subset of MSSQL Server 2000 Reporting Services series will demonstrate how to create chart reports of various types, and how to use the abundant features contained in Reporting Services that enable us to use them to make report data more meaningful and easier to understand. We can choose from a number of chart layouts and types within the Reporting Services chart data region options. (A data region is an area on a report that contains data from a data source that is repeated. The types of data regions are list, matrix, table, and chart.)

We can also format chart objects in a host of ways, drill down to see the details behind the graphical summaries, combine chart reports with other types of reports, , and leverage myriad other options in the powerful Reporting Services tool set.

While the Books Online give step-by-step instructions for assembling charts, in some cases (in a handful of tutorials of somewhat limited scope), this digital documentation focuses more on definitions and purposes of fields and settings than on building a specific kind of report from scratch. This non-linear approach is often great for context-sensitive help, when we need a reminder or have a question regarding "what exactly does the system want in this field?" or "what are my options here?" and so forth. This sort of documentation is usually quite helpful from the perspective of a report author who already has a general idea of the steps involved in creating a report. However, the issue with a non-linear documentation system, and an issue that has become more and more pervasive, as applications have evolved documentation to online formats, is that it does not necessarily provide a quick means of learning overall, start-to-finish procedures, before homing in on specific setting options of interest. All information is, in effect, contained in a general pool, organized only in a multidirectional, hyperlink manner.

The focus in most of my articles is a full set of, albeit sometimes simple, procedures that are designed to underlie a more in-depth study of specific property settings and so forth in subsequent articles. My objective is to allow a reader to complete a report, or a report component, in a manner that is insulated from non-linear distractions.

In this article, we will begin our exploration of chart reports with an examination of the humble pie chart. While virtually all of us have interacted with these kinds of charts before, (if not in the context of report authoring, then almost certainly as an information consumer), we will find that the pie chart item in Reporting Services is both feature-rich and easy to use. The various chart types in Reporting Services have different properties (and different dialog boxes, as a result) because of a wide array of features. The pie chart is a good place to begin a review of the chart types, because it contains many of the basic features common to most chart types, but not an effusive number that are highly "pie-chart specific."

In this session we will:

  • Create a chart report in Report Designer;
  • Create an underlying dataset;
  • Locate a Chart Item on the new report;
  • Populate the chart item with the required data.
  • Practice the use of the Data Label property;
  • Modify the palette for the chart report we create;
  • Examine other properties we can select for the pie chart.
  • Preview the report to verify its operation.

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