About the Series ...
article is a member of the series MSSQL Server Reporting Services.
The series is designed to introduce MSSQL Server Reporting Services ("Reporting
Services"), with the objective of presenting an overview of its features,
together with many tips and techniques for real-world use. For more
information on the series, as well as the hardware / software requirements
to prepare for the exercises we will undertake, please see my initial Database Journal article, A New
Paradigm for Enterprise Reporting.
have stated since the charter article of the series, published about the time
Reporting Services was first publicly released, my conviction is that Reporting
Services will commoditize business intelligence, particularly in its role
as a presentation component within an integrated Microsoft BI solution. Having
been impressed from my first exposure to this exciting application, when it was
in early beta, my certainty in its destiny grows stronger by the day, as I
convert formerly dominant enterprise business intelligence systems, such as Cognos,
Business Objects, Crystal, and others, to the Reporting Services architecture. I
receive constant requests to conduct strategy sessions about these conversions
with large organizations in a diverse range of industries the interest grows
daily as awareness of the solution becomes pervasive. Indeed, the five- to six-plus
figures that many can shave from their annual IT budgets represent a compelling
sweetener to examining this incredible toolset.
assumptions underlying the series are that you have correctly installed Reporting Services, including current service
packs, along with the applications upon which Reporting Services relies, and that you have
access and the other rights / privileges required to complete the steps we
undertake in my articles. 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 the series, as well as
About the Mastering OLAP Reporting Articles
the first things that become clear to "early adopters" of Reporting
Services is that the "knowledgebase" for OLAP reporting with this
tool is, to say the least, sparse. As I stated in my article, Mastering
OLAP Reporting: Cascading Prompts, the purpose of the Mastering OLAP Reporting
subset of my Reporting Services series is to focus on techniques for using Reporting
Services for OLAP reporting. In many cases, which I try to outline in my articles at
appropriate junctures, the functionality of the reporting solutions of
well-established, but expensive, solutions, such as Cognos PowerPlay,
can be met in most respects by Reporting Services at a tiny fraction
of the cost. The vacuum of documentation in this arena, to date, represents a serious
"undersell" of Reporting Services from an OLAP reporting
perspective. I hope to contribute to making this arena more accessible to
everyone, and to share my implementation and conversion experiences as the
series evolves. In the meantime, rest assured that the OLAP potential in Reporting
Services will be yet another reason that the application "commoditizes"
more information about the Mastering
OLAP Reporting articles,
see the section entitled "About the Mastering OLAP Reporting
Articles" in my
article Ad Hoc
TopCount and BottomCount Parameters.
In my MDX Essentials series at Database Journal,
I recently published an article entitled Drilling
Through with MDX: The DRILLTHROUGH Statement, where I introduced drillthrough
concepts, and then focused on the use of the DRILLTHROUGH statement
within MDX. Nowhere is the concept of drillthrough more practical than
within a reporting application, and Reporting Services naturally leads the
report writer universe in enabling us to fully leverage MDX in reporting from Analysis
Services data sources.
As I mentioned in Drilling Through with
MDX: The DRILLTHROUGH Statement, practically anyone involved in business intelligence is
aware that multidimensional databases contain aggregated information to support
rapid query processing. The beauty of OLAP (Online Analytical Processing) is
that it stores high-level summaries for virtually instant delivery to our
reports and other applications summaries that can, indeed, be assembled
directly from an OLTP (Online Transactional Processing) system, but only after
it goes through the work of summing what might be millions (or more) transactions
to get the same results.
The downside to the
otherwise superior reporting scenario of OLAP lies within its very advantage: aggregation.
An important consideration within the realm of business intelligence is the
provision of the capability of selective focus. More specifically,
within the context of this article, the enterprise often needs to be able to
see the underlying transactions once he or she identifies a summary that raises
questions. An example might exist in the case of a real estate portfolio manager
who notes, while looking at monthly performance metrics for a group of
properties, that profit margins for a given property within the group seem
consistently lower than the rest, or perhaps that, over a three-year period, a
property's monthly profit has gradually trended lower, while others remain
stable. Because transactional data is not contained within the OLAP cube, the
manager needs a mechanism to present the underlying transactions (in this case,
the revenues and expense transactions) that make up the margins under
examination. This mechanism, to which the business intelligence community
refers as drillthrough, allows the property manager to see the
transactions that make up the margins, exposing, for example, the tenants,
vendors, services, and other entities involved within each, so that focused action
can be taken to ultimately control results.
The natively supported drillthrough
of MSSQL Server Analysis Services is manifested in the retrieval and
return of the underlying source's individual records the "details"
that combine to make up the value of the cell upon which drillthrough is
performed. As we saw in Drilling Through with MDX: The DRILLTHROUGH Statement, drillthrough from a client application can
be accomplished, in the most straightforward approach, through the passage of
the MDX DRILLTHROUGH statement to Analysis Services. Drillthrough
can mean different things in Reporting Services. The term "drillthrough"
can be used to describe two approaches to "drilling through":
establishment of a target report to which we "point" a primary
report (the point from which we wish to drill through), passing
parameters in a way to allow for selection of the underlying data. The
mechanism under the drillthrough effect is, therefore, a jump from the
primary report to another report. This is done via the Jump to report
designation within the Navigation tab underlying the report object
(often a value), from which we wish to trigger the drillthrough action.
report in place as a target of a Jump to action, similar to the above,
but with a significant difference: the Dataset query of the target
report will be identical, in the relevant aspects, to that of the primary
report, but with the MDX DRILLTHROUGH statement preceding the SELECT statement
of the primary query.
In this article, we
will explore using the latter of the two approaches, and leverage the DRILLTHROUGH
statement that we introduced in Drilling Through with MDX: The DRILLTHROUGH Statement. As a part of our discussion, we will:
business requirement based upon the needs of a hypothetical client, which we
will address with a drillthrough capability in Reporting Services;
our practice session by creating a project within Reporting Services,
and by creating a "clone" report (based upon an existing sample OLAP
report to save time), within which we will perform our exercises;
for a sample cube, upon which our hypothetical client's reports are based,
within Analysis Services;
configuration of Drillthrough to present the appropriate transactional
details to its intended users;
examine the syntax surrounding the DRILLTHROUGH statement;
Create a "target"
report that leverages DRILLTHROUGH;
Link the primary
report (our "clone" of the sample report) to the new target
Execute the drillthrough
action in the working example pair;
discuss concepts along the way, as well as the results we obtain within various
actions we take in our practice session.