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

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.

Overview

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.
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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