Dan English's BI Blog

Welcome to my random thoughts in regards to Business Intelligence, databases, and other technologies

Archive for June, 2009

Microsoft Reports using RDLC

Posted by denglishbi on June 25, 2009

After working with Reporting Services since the beta product when it was code named ‘Rosetta’ I finally got my first look at using the Microsoft reporting feature that is part of Visual Studio.  I have used the Crystal Reports option within Visual Studio in the past, so I was familiar with the development environment.  The Microsoft local report files that are available for you to use within your .NET applications, Windows or Web based, are Reporting Service reports with the exception that they are RDLC files.

Some of the things that are different compared to creating Reporting Services server based reports are the following:

  • Does not require a Report Server to be running and available
  • You can connect reports to .NET datasets or business objects
  • You use the Microsoft Report Viewer control to display the reports
  • Does not support report parameter prompting
  • You do not get a preview mode when designing the reports
  • Does not support all of the SSRS server based report features
  • Allows for exporting to PDF and Excel only

It definitely took me a little while to get familiar with creating RDLC reports since I have been using SSRS 2008 and developing server based reports for so long.  I missed having the preview option, but you can preview the data if you are using a .NET dataset.


The other thing that threw me for a loop was the configuration of subreports and drillthrough (jump to report navigation) reports.  In order to get subreports and drillthrough report options to work this required you to setup additional event handlers.  Initially when I was setting this up I was like ‘yeah, you can do subreports and drillthrough…no problem’.  Then I actually setup the reports and tried to get these features to work and I was like…hmmm, not as straight forward as I expected.  I guess I have really been taking the whole Report Server for granted over the years.

Luckily there is an outstanding web site that is available that explains everything about the Report Viewer control and provides really nice code examples to take a look at – http://gotreportviewer.com.

The thing to remember though is that if you want to use the local report option within Visual Studio is that this product gets released prior to SQL Server being released.  That means that when you hear about new Reporting Services features like tablix, advanced visualizations, rich text support, etc. that these will not be available to you in Visual Studio 2008.  This version currently supports the SSRS 2005 features.  The next version of Visual Studio 2010 will have the updated Report Viewer control that will support SSRS 2008 features, but then when SQL Server 2008 R2 comes out you will not have those new features like the mapping capabilities.  Other features that you will not have access to would be subscriptions, report execution history information, and ad-hoc reporting capabilities.

For a complete list of the differences of the RDLC vs. RDL take a look at this online documentation – Reporting Services and ReportViewer Controls in Visual Studio.  There are a couple of minor things I found that were either incorrect or missing in the documentation like Report Server no longer requires IIS with SSRS 2008 and also the fact that it now includes Microsoft Word rendering capabilities.

If anyone talks about ‘Microsoft Reports’ in the future I will now know what they are referring to.  I found it mentioned in the online documentation here – Microsoft Reports.  I never knew what people meant when they said that before.  I was always like ‘do you mean Reporting Services?’  Maybe they did, but I guess either way it is a form of Reporting Services.

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PASSMN June 16, 2009 Monthly Meeting

Posted by denglishbi on June 3, 2009

The next PASSMN Minnesota SQL Server User Group meeting is coming up.  The meeting is on June 16 from 3:00 PM to 5:15 PM.  You can visit the local site to get registered at http://www.mnssug.org or click the link to Register Here.

This month the topics are:

Analysis Services Dimension Creation Best Practices (Speaker: Brian Larson, Superior Consulting Services)Having dimensions that are well structured and function efficiently is key to having performant cubes and an important factor when encouraging users to use cubes for ad hoc reporting and interactive analysis. This session will look at best practices to observe when designing and creating dimensions in Analysis Services.

Brian Larsonhas 24 years of experience in the computer industry and 20 years’ experience as a consultant creating custom database applications. He is the Chief of Technology and BI Practice Manager for Superior Consulting Services in Burnsville, Minnesota, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner. Brian is a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD) and a Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA).

Brian served as a member of the original Reporting Services development team as a consultant to Microsoft. In that role, he contributed to the original code base of Reporting Services. Brian has presented at national conferences and events, including the SQL Server Magazine Connections Conference, the PASS Community Summit, and the Microsoft Business Intelligence Conference, and has provided training and mentoring on Reporting Services and business intelligence across the country. He has been a contributor and columnist for SQL Server Magazine. Brian is the author of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services and Delivering Business Intelligence with Microsoft SQL Server 2008, both from McGraw-Hill Professional.

Disks, Real and Virtual and What is Important for SQL Server (Speaker: James Lorenzen, Xiotech Corporation)

  1. Introduction
  2. A brief history of Hard Drives
    1. How Moore’s Law applies
    2. The performance impact of large disks (Greater than 1 terabyte)
    3. Why bigger is not always better
  3. Storage topology – DAS, NAS, and SAN
    1. Definitions
    2. Where they fit in a data center
  4. Type of disks and interfaces available today
    1. More acronyms – SATA, SCSI, IDE, SSD, etc.
  5. Where the different disks fit, performance and capacity
  6. RAID Definitions
    1. Why it came about
    2. RAID Levels (0 through 50, or so)
  7. How SQL Server uses the storage
    1. The SQL Server file types
    2. The performance requirements of the different file types
  8. Questions

James Lorenzenis a Technical Marketing Engineer at Xiotech Corporation. He is Xiotech’s database specialist with over 25 years of database experience, fifteen years of that working with relational databases, SQL Server and Oracle. At Xiotech, James has focused on how to configure the database storage on a SAN to achieve the best possible performance from the SQL Server database. Prior to joining Xiotech, James has worked as a DBA for various companies both as consultant and dedicated Database Administration Manager. James has presented at user group meetings, covering database configuration on SAN storage.

Just a reminder that the group meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month.  If you are in the area and available to attend please join us and stop by and say ‘Hi’.

Posted in Training | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Magenic Webinar Business Dashboards Follow-up

Posted by denglishbi on June 2, 2009

Sorry for the delay on this posting in regards to the webinar presentation that I did last week, Magenic Webinar May 28 – Business Dashboards.  The recording has been made available on the Magenic site here in the Seminars and Webcasts – Presentations recording area.  If for some reason you run into an issue when click on the webinar link you might need to try a different browser (like Firefox), or if you are still unable to access the recording contact Magenic at info@magenic.com.

We had close to 60 people attend the live webinar and some good follow-up questions at the end.  Some how my Agenda slides got marked as hidden in the presentation and I apologize for that.  I should have uploaded the presentation as a handout too within LiveMeeting and I will make a mental note of that in the future.

I was using the Microsoft BI VPC version 7 for the demos.  If you are interested in downloading that to take a look at that you can check it out here – Microsoft Business Intelligence VPC Release 7.1.  That posting includes the links for release 7 and 7.1 downloads.  Some of the demos that were in 7 were removed in 7.1 and this VPC environment is still utilizing SQL Server 2005.  If you want to see what is included in the VPC you can check out this posting – Microsoft Business Intelligence VPC Release 7.


If you were unable to attend the presentation you can download and check out the recording here – Seminars and Webcasts – Presentations.

Thanks to everyone that attended and please let me know what you thought so I can look at making adjustments for my future presentations.

Posted in Business Intelligence | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »