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

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.

Introduction

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.

William Pearson
William Pearson
Bill has been working with computers since before becoming a "big eight" CPA, after which he carried his growing information systems knowledge into management accounting, internal auditing, and various capacities of controllership. Bill entered the world of databases and financial systems when he became a consultant for CODA-Financials, a U.K. - based software company that hired only CPA's as application consultants to implement and maintain its integrated financial database - one of the most conceptually powerful, even in his current assessment, to have emerged. At CODA Bill deployed financial databases and business intelligence systems for many global clients. Working with SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase and Informix, and focusing on MSSQL Server, Bill created Island Technologies Inc. in 1997, and has developed a large and diverse customer base over the years since. Bill's background as a CPA, Internal Auditor and Management Accountant enable him to provide value to clients as a liaison between Accounting / Finance and Information Services. Moreover, as a Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) - a Certified Public Accountant recognized for his or her unique ability to provide business insight by leveraging knowledge of information relationships and supporting technologies - Bill offers his clients the CPA's perspective and ability to understand the complicated business implications and risks associated with technology. From this perspective, he helps them to effectively manage information while ensuring the data's reliability, security, accessibility and relevance. Bill has implemented enterprise business intelligence systems over the years for many Fortune 500 companies, focusing his practice (since the advent of MSSQL Server 2000) upon the integrated Microsoft business intelligence solution. He leverages his years of experience with other enterprise OLAP and reporting applications (Cognos, Business Objects, Crystal, and others) in regular conversions of these once-dominant applications to the Microsoft BI stack. Bill believes it is easier to teach technical skills to people with non-technical training than vice-versa, and he constantly seeks ways to graft new technology into the Accounting and Finance arenas. Bill was awarded Microsoft SQL Server MVP in 2009. Hobbies include advanced literature studies and occasional lectures, with recent concentration upon the works of William Faulkner, Henry James, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Honoré de Balzac, and Charles Dickens. Other long-time interests have included the exploration of generative music sourced from database architecture.

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