SSRS Training Resources

I’ve been asked to provide links to some useful resources for learning about SQL Server Reporting Services. Below are a list of my favorite blogs, books, and other sites to learn from.

A quick disclaimer, some of the links below are by co-workers or other people I have an affiliation with, financial or otherwise. That’s because I’m lucky enough to work with some of the best people in the field. Also, in the case of the books I’ve linked to the Kindle version where possible, mostly because I’m a Kindle junkie. There are paper versions of the books, and you are free to buy from your favorite retailer.

Books

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services Step by Step – A great beginner book, loaded with good examples.

Pro SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services – This book goes much more in-depth with SSRS, delves into many advanced topics.

Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services Recipes – 2008 or 2012 version of book. This is a great book, especially if you are doing Business Intelligence reporting. Note Amazon says the 2008 version is no longer available in the US, but I’m betting you can find it in your local bookstore or from other retailers. The 2012 version is available for pre-order.

Applied Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services – Great book, like the book above covers many aspects of SSRS including BI reporting. Note Amazon only sells the paper version, you can also get it in PDF format direct from the publishers website.

Professional SQL Server 2012 Administration – I mention this book because I wrote the chapter on SQL Server Reporting Services. I don’t go deep into creating reports, although I briefly cover Report Builder. I do go into configuring SSRS and how to do scale out deployments, the total chapter is around 50 pages.

Blogs

Paul Turley – Paul is an active blogger and fellow Microsoft MVP. He is also co-author of the Reporting Services Recipes book I listed above.

Tep Lachev – An active blogger, Teo is not only a good resource for SSRS but for other BI tools such as PowerPivot. He is also author of the Applied Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services book, listed above.

Videos

Pragmatic Works Webinars – On our website we have a big catalog of past webinars (all of which are free to watch), many of which focus on SSRS.

Pluralsight – Pluralsight has an extensive catalog of courses, including some great SSRS content. It’s subscription bases so there is a modest fee (starts at $29 US per month last I checked) but well worth it for the training you can get. There’s also a free trial.

For a quick link direct to this post, you can use http://bit.ly/arcanessrs

SSAS Training Resources

I’ve been asked to provide links to some useful resources for learning about SQL Server Analysis Services. Below are a list of my favorite blogs, books, and other sites to learn from.

A quick disclaimer, some of the links below are by co-workers or other people I have an affiliation with, financial or otherwise. That’s because I’m lucky enough to work with some of the best people in the field. Also, in the case of the books I’ve linked to the Kindle version where possible, mostly because I’m a Kindle junkie. There are paper versions of the books, and you are free to buy from your favorite retailer.

Books

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services Step by Step – This is a great beginners book. If you are starting at ground zero, this is the book to start with.

Professional Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services 2008 with MDX – If you are looking for one book that has everything, this is it. It’s a huge book that covers pretty much everything you need to know about SSAS.

Expert Cube Development with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services – There’s one book that is universally hailed as the “experts’” book, and this is it. Be warned, this is not a beginners book. Don’t try to tackle this until you’ve had at least a little SSAS experience. But it should definitely be on your “must buy” list at some point.

Blogs

Devin Knight – My coworker Devin posts about all aspects of SQL Server BI, but his SSAS posts are ones I often refer back to, or refer others to, when learning SSAS concepts.

Marco Russo – Marco’s blog is a great source of in depth SSAS content. He’s also one a co-author of the “Expect Cube. . .” book listed above.

SSAS Info – This last link isn’t exactly a blog, but more like a blog aggregation site. It’s very useful though, and should be on your list of regularly read sites.

Videos

Pragmatic Works Webinars – On our website we have a big catalog of past webinars (all of which are free to watch), many of which focus on SSIS. 

Pluralsight – Pluralsight has an extensive catalog of courses, including some great SSAS content by Stacia Misner. It’s subscription bases so there is a modest fee (starts at $29 US per month last I checked) but well worth it for the training you can get. There’s also a free trial.

SQL Share – This site takes a new twist on videos, in that each video is very short and very focused on one specific task. 

 

For a quick link direct to this post, you can use http://bit.ly/arcanessas 

Using TFS2010 with Visual Studio / BIDS 2008 and SQL Server Management Studio

When I come to a customer site, I often have to help them get setup with TFS (Team Foundation Server) 2010, Microsoft’s source code control / ALM (application lifecycle management) system. This is so they can work with their BIDS (Business Intelligence Developer Studio) projects as a team, giving the added benefit of source code control. I’ve had to do this often enough I wanted to record the steps for my own use, and hopefully others too.

Installing the TFS 2010 tools for Visual Studio / BIDS 2008

First off, thanks to Derek Miller for covering most of the steps involved in his blog post http://derekjmiller62.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/using-tfs-2010-with-bids-2008/. I won’t go into the detail he did, but will summarize into these basic steps.

1. If you haven’t installed Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1, do so by downloading it and installing.

2. Next, you will need to install the Visual Studio 2008 Team Explorer.

3. After installing Team Explorer, you will have to go back and reinstall VS SP1 (from step 1). Don’t skip this step! Team explorer has some older components that overwrite the SP1 components, and you will have reinstall them.

Now this next part I really haven’t seen anywhere else and was a real pain to find, and thus is the main reason for this post. During the SP1 install, we often see “Visual Studio SP1 Installation Failed”. Checking the error log, buried deep you will find “Returning IDOK. INSTALLMESSAGE_ERROR [Error 2902. An internal error has occurred. …”

When you see this, go to your Control Panel, and then to Add Remove Programs. Look for a program called “Microsoft Visual Studio Web Authoring Component” and uninstall it. This is actually installed as part of the Office suite, and you don’t really need it since you likely have much more powerful web authoring tools, or since you are doing BI development won’t be doing an web development in Microsoft Office.

After uninstalling it, SP1 should then install, and you are ready for step 4.

4. Install the Visual Studio Team System 2008 SP1 Forward Compatibility Update for Team Foundation Server 2010. That probably took you longer to read than it actually will to install. After installing, it may prompt you to reboot. Even if it doesn’t ask you should reboot anyway, we’ve seen a few times when we weren’t able to connect until we rebooted.

After that you should be able to go into Visual Studio and go to Tools, Connect to Team Foundation Server. If you still have problems connecting, I will refer you to Derek’s post where he describes some registry entries you can try. So far we haven’t found them necessary, but you may.

Installing the TFS 2010 Tools

Note that there is one big limitation to using TFS 2010 with VS2008. You can connect to a TFS site and upload your solutions and projects, but you can’t create a new team site with VS2008. To do so, you will need the VS2010 shell with the TFS components, a free download.

Installing TFS 2010 for SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS)

Now that you have BIDS all setup to work with TFS, it only makes sense to make your SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) also work with TFS. Joseph Jun has a great blog post that goes into all the nitty gritty of how to do this. The short version though, is after you install the TFS 2010 tools in the step above (and they are a prerequisite) you need to install the Team Foundation Server MSSCCI Provider 2010.

After the install, you should see a new Source Control menu option under the File menu in SSMS. From here you can launch the TFS 2010 management shell or open an existing SSMS project / solution. If you have a solution you need to add, simply right click on the solution in the Solution Explorer window and pick Add to Source Control.

Visual Studio Database Projects

Note that if you are using Visual Studio Database Projects, any SQL Server 2008R2 development must be done in Visual Studio 2010. VS2010 is already setup to talk to TFS 2010. If you are using VS 2008 database projects to build a SQL Server 2008 (non-R2) database, then with the steps above you should be good to go for checking in your database project into TFS.

And away we go!

And with that you should be setup to manage your BI Development in Team Foundation Server 2010. It’s a lot of work, but well worth the effort. Using TFS will let your BI staff work as a team to develop projects. Additionally you have the benefit of source code control, something invaluable in the case of package corruptions or needing to track history.

Task Factory–File Properties Task

My last video on the Task Factory Compression Task was well received, so I thought I’d build on it with a video on the File Properties Task. It’s a cool little tool that will grab any of the various attributes associated with a file. If you want to see more about Task Factory, you can head on over to my employers website, Pragmatic Works.com

PASS Summit 2011 Community Choice–I need your help!

Throwing out  call for help from all my friends in the tech community. My “Project Juneau” (next version of “Data Dude") session is up for a community choice slot at this falls SQL PASS summit. Five of the twenty sessions in the list will be picked for slots at this falls PASS Summit.

I would appreciate your help in getting selected! I know there are a lot of great names on the list, and so it’s a tough choice, but if you’ve seen my sessions on Data Dude (Visual Studio Database Projects) you’ll know what a powerful tool it is, and how the changes in the next version will make it even more so.

While you are there, you should also consider sending a vote for a few of my friends and co-workers. Mike Davis and Adam Jorgenson are doing a “SSIS vs T-SQL: Loading a Data Warehouse” session, and  Jorge Segarra (the infamous SQLChicken) is up for “Policy-Based Management in a Nutshell”.

You can vote at: http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2011/SummitContent/CommunityChoice.aspx 

Deadline for votes is July 20th, so as the old saying goes “day don’t delay, vote today!”

If you are already a PASS website member voting only takes a few seconds. My session is easy to find, it’s the very first one on the list.

If you’re not a PASS member it’s quick and easy to join. Totally 100% free, just fill in the form and not only will you be able to vote for sweet little old me, but have access to great training videos and other information. And just because you may be a .Net developer don’t overlook the usefulness of good SQL Server resources. Understanding the power of SQL Server can make a huge difference in the performance of your application.

And if all that wasn’t enough to convince you, then I’ll resort to a shameless plea. It just so happens today is my birthday, and a vote for my session would make a great gift. You don’t even have to wrap it!

Data Dude Webinar for Pragmatic Works

Just wanted to let everyone know I’ll be doing my first webinar for Pragmatic Works this Thursday, June 9th 2011. It will be at 11 am Eastern time.

I’ll be doing an introduction to “Data Dude”, Visual Studio Database Projects. We’ll cover such things as generating a project from an existing database, using the safe refactoring tools, and generating sample data. There’s no cost, and I hope you can join us live so I can answer any of your questions. If you can’t, then we’ll be recording the session for later viewing. To register, jump on over to our website and register:

http://pragmaticworks.com/Resources/webinars/Default.aspx

If Data Dude isn’t your thing don’t worry, there are lots of upcoming webinars. Next week Brian Knight is doing an intro to MDX session, and Ben Evans will be doing one on Data Driven Website Design. There’s also a nice selection of already recorded past webinars available for instant viewing. And like I said, it’s all free. How cool is that!

SQL Rally – Data Dude for Devs and DBAs

I’m at SQL Rally today, presenting a spotlight session on Visual Studio Database Projects, aka Data Dude.

While the slide deck is not overly large, I did want to pass it along. You can download it from here.

Here are some of the topics we’ll be covering

–Creating a project

–Refactoring

–Deployment

–Data Creation

–Schema Comparisons

–Data Comparisons

–Unit Testing

If you are mostly interested in the links, here they are:

SQL Name Game – My example on how to generate Sample Data – http://arcanecode.com/2009/04/02/sql-server-sample-data-the-sql-name-game/

Data Dude Blog – http://blogs.msdn.com/gertd/default.aspx

VS Database Development Tools Forum – http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en/vstsdb/threads

VS Development/Database Edition Home – http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/vstudio/dd408380.aspx

Finally, here are the tools we’ll be using, along with links to previous versions:

Visual Studio for Database Professionals “Data Dude”

Included with VS2010 Premium and higher

Included with VS2008/2005 Professional and higher

2008 GDR2 – http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=BB3AD767-5F69-4DB9-B1C9-8F55759846ED&displaylang=en

•2005 DB Pro Addon – http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=7de00386-893d-4142-a778-992b69d482ad&displaylang=en

BI Documenter

When I came to work for Pragmatic Works, I was naturally given the opportunity to use their (well our now) tools. Of all of them I think BI Documenter is my favorite. Boy is this thing complete.

Of course, like some of the other SQL Server documentation packages it will do a great job of reverse engineering an existing relational database. BI Documenter will output either HTML or a compiled help file (CHM) file. It places your database structure into a drill down tree, with all the expected bits and pieces. Tables, columns, stored procedures, functions, all with the code needed to create it.

It doesn’t stop there though. Got Analysis Services? Not a problem. It will generate the same drill down structure that you are used to seeing for a standard SQL Server database. Cubes, Measures, Dimensions, KPIs, Calculations, complete with all the meta data and MDX you could ever want.

Of all the features though, the absolute coolest is it’s support for Integration Services. You can point it at either your SSIS server, or to a file store, or just to the directory with your solution. Here’s a sample that uses the package from my Intro to SSIS presentation:

image

Not only does it provide detailed info (it appears below the pic) but it will also reproduce the graphical flow! And if that wasn’t cool enough, you can drill down into the other executable parts, such as the data flow.

image

 

Here’s a small sample of the details:

image

It doesn’t stop there either, providing complete support for SSRS as well. Just point it at your Reporting Services server and away it’ll go!

Now, I realize this sounds a lot like a commercial, and since I now work for Pragmatic Works probably more so. Bu I just think this is an awesomely cool product, I can think of a lot of uses for it too. Providing turn over documentation, running it weekly to create version snapshots so you can track changes to your SQL Server, providing reference material for developers, and probably a zillion other things I haven’t thought of. (If you have thought of some, by all means leave a comment, would love to hear how YOU are using this.)

I’m sure I’m not doing the product justification, so if you want to see some video demos head on over to http://pragmaticworks.com/ for more info. And again, I apologize if this sounds like a commercial but I am blown away by how cool this product is so I just had to share.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I do work for Pragmatic Works, and received my copy of this really cool software as a result of my employment.

Visual Studio Database Project Course

I’ve recently completed another course for Pluralsight, this one is on Visual Studio Database Projects. In it, I cover how to reverse engineer an existing database, then the many options you can configure for deployment. I then cover data comparisons, schema comparisons, and pre/post deployment scripts.

One of the most powerful features of Visual Studio is the data generation tools which give you the ability to generate vast quantities of realistic, predictable test data. Finally, I cover how to unit test your database code.

While I use Visual Studio 2010 and SQL Server 2008 R2 in the course, everything I teach is applicable all the way back to Visual Studio / SQL Server 2005, so even if you are still on an older version of your development tools the lessons you learn here can still be applied.

Deep Fried Arcane

At TechEd last year I was interviewed by the Deep Fried Bytes guys, along with another great SQL guy Denny Cherry. The topic of our interview was What Should Developers Know About SQL Server. (Click the link for the show.)

In the interview we cover SQL Server Full Text Search, SQL Server Service Broker, and SQL Server Integration Services. And if you listen, you’ll hear about my favorite deep fried food!

Data Warehousing / Business Intelligence at Pluralsight

It’s been another busy month, and I’m pleased to announce my two newest modules were published today on Pluralsight. If you’re not familiar with Pluralsight, they are a training company that has a vast library of training videos.

The description of my new course can be found here:

http://www.pluralsight-training.net/microsoft/olt/Course/Toc.aspx?n=intro-dwbi-course

There are two modules, the first is an introductory session for DW/BI. It’s primarily slides, by the end you’ll have a grasp on the arcane terms around Business Intelligence such as facts, dimensions, surrogate keys, OLAP, and more.

The second module is an overview of the Microsoft tools for doing DW/BI. It starts with the Adventure Works Lite database. From there a data warehouse is built, on top of which an analysis services cube is created. Finally a report will be generated off the cube that meets a specific business need.

Along the way attendees will get to see Visual Studio 2010 Database Projects, along with the SQL Server toolkit: SQL Server Integration Services, SQL Server Analysis Services, and SQL Server Reporting Services. Attendees will also get a look at SQL Server Management Studio.

Enjoy!

Visual Studio Database Developer – Data Dude at SQL Saturday 21

On Saturday August 21, 2010 I will be presenting “Visual Studio Database Developer Edition – Data Dude” at the Nashville SQL Saturday #51. This looks to be a great event, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

My slide deck is downloadable from this link: DataDude.pdf

In my presentation I also used some data from a previous post to generate data. That post has detailed information on how to generate sample data, and can be found here: http://arcanecode.com/2009/04/02/sql-server-sample-data-the-sql-name-game/

Thanks to everyone who attended, hopefully after my presentation you’ll have the same passion for Data Dude that I do.

Report Headers and Footers

Note, before getting started with this lesson there are some prerequisites you should know about. Please read my post Getting Started with SQL Server 2008 to ensure you have everything setup correctly, otherwise you will be missing objects required to get the code here to work correctly.

A common feature to most reports are headers and footers that describe the report, and supply additional information such as the page numbering or print date. In this lab we’ll look at ways to customize the header and footer.

We’ll start by creating a basic report, then adding the headers and footers to it.

Step 1. Add the report

As with our other reports, right click on the Reports branch in Solution Explorer, pick Add New Report, and (if you haven’t already disabled it) click next to move past the welcome screen.

Step 2. Set the data source.

Pick the Contoso shared data source, or setup a new source to Contoso, and click Next.

Step 3. Setup the query.

In the query builder, we’ll be using one of our views. Enter this SQL statement:

SELECT [FiscalYear]
      ,[ProductCategoryName]
      ,[ProductSubcategory]
      ,[Region]
      ,[TotalAmount]
FROM [ContosoRetailDW].[Report].[V_SubcategoryRegionTotalsByYear]

and click next.

Step 4. Set the format.

For the report type we’ll use the simple Tabular format, so just click Next.

Step 5. Determine field placement in the report.

To keep this simple we’ll not use any groups on this report, so just put all report fields into the Details section. You can do it in one easy step by clicking on the top most item (FiscalYear), holding down the shift key, and clicking the bottom item (TotalAmount). This will select all of the fields, just click the Details button to move them. Then click Next.

Step 6. Select the formatting Style

Once again we’ll go with Corporate for the style and click Next.

Step 7. Name the report.

Finally we’ll give the report a name of “Regional Sales by Subcategory Headers and Footers” and click Finish.

Step 8. Format report columns

To make the report a little easier to read, expand the width of the columns and format the Total Amount as Currency. (See the previous labs if you don’t recall how to accomplish this.)

Previewing the report shows our data. There’s a lot of it, so let’s say we are the sales manager and we want to apply filters so we are only looking at pieces of our sales.

Step 9. Add a header area.

To add a header area to the report, simply right click anywhere outside the report body and select “Add Page Header”.

Step 10. Add a title.

A blank, white canvas should appear above your report body. Here you can create a header. Go to the toolbox, and drag in a Text Box. In it enter “Regional Sales Report”. Click on the text box and grab the sizing handles to enlarge it. Sometimes this can be a little tricky, if you click inside the text box it assumes you want to enter or edit the text and puts you in edit mode. You have to click right on the edge of the text box area to make the sizing handles appear.

Now add some visual impact. Either right click to access the fonts or use the toolbar above the design area. Make the font bold, and bump it up a few sizes, 16 generally works well.

Step 11. Add page numbers.

Drag another text box into the area. This time instead of static text we’ll use an expression to put in page numbers. Position the text box in the upper right corner of the report.

Right click on the text box, and in the pop up menu pick “Expression”.

In the expression builder you have a blank slate, only the beginning = is supplied for you. Similar to Excel, all expressions must start with an = sign.

The expression builder is very full featured and powerful, you can do a lot of complex things with it. It uses a VB.Net like language. In this lab though we’ll do something similar and concatenate some static text and build in variables to form a Page x of xx expression.

After the = sign enter “Page “ then an ampersand “&”. Page is simply static text, and the & will be used to join together our return value.

In the lower half of the Expression dialog you will see a Category and Item area, these are designed to make it easier to build expressions. Click on the “Built in Fields” Category. On the right the Item area will populate with the valid fields. Click on PageNumber.

Return to the upper area where it says “Set expression for Value” and after the page number type in & “ of “ & . Then go back to the Item list and click TotalPages. Your Expression dialog should now look like:

clip_image002

Click OK to close the Expression builder.

Step 12. Format the page number.

Select the text box for the page number by clicking on the edge, then using the toolbar right align the page number box. Page numbers are typically quite small on the header, so let’s bump down the font to 8 point.

Step 13. Resize the header.

In this example our header isn’t very large, but when we added it SSRS gave us a considerable amount of space. Let’s resize this to something more appropriate.

Hover over the dotted line between the header and report body with your mouse. It should turn into the up/down sizing handle. When it does, click and drag it up.

As an alternative, you could click in the empty area of the header, then in the Properties pane of VS/BIDS enter an explicit Height value. This is useful for situations where you have specific requirements that the header must be of an exact size. This often occurs with things like pre-printed forms or paper with the letterhead already printed on it.

Step 14. Preview the header.

OK, all done with this part. Switch to the Preview tab to see the header in action.

clip_image004

Step 15. Add the footer.

Working with footers are identical to working with headers. Start by right clicking in an empty spot in the design area and pick “Add Page Footer”.

Step 16. Add content.

Drag a text box onto the footer. Expand it to take up the entire width of the report, then enter the Expression dialog as you did before, right click and pick Expression from the menu.

It’s common for a business to want to copyright their intellectual property, so enter this as your expression:

="Copyright " & Year(Now()) & " ArcaneCode."

Hint: If you select Common Functions, Date & Time in the Category area of the Expression builder, you’ll see many common functions. When you click on one helpful hints will appear to the right.

Since we have a lot of unused space, we’ll again shrink the footer like we did the header. This time though hover over the bottom of the footer to make the resizing mouse icon appear, then drag it up to shrink it.

Step 17. Test in the Preview pane.

Once again, return to the Preview tab, scroll down and the footer should look something like:

clip_image006

Other ideas.

The things you can do in the header and footers are nearly infinite. Images, such as your corporate logo can be used. Trademarks, warning notices of intellectual property, print dates, the report name and URL, and the list of parameters used to generate the report are all common things that may appear in the header.

Interactive Sorting in SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services Reports

Note, before getting started with this lesson there are some prerequisites you should know about. Please read my post Getting Started with SQL Server 2008 to ensure you have everything setup correctly, otherwise you will be missing objects required to get the code here to work correctly.

Often users want the ability to sort the data in various ways. They have gotten used to tools like Microsoft Excel that let you sort on column headers. Fortunately this is a fairly simple ability to implement in SQL Server Reporting Services. Let’s start by creating a base report. (Note this is the same basic report we’ve used in other posts.)

Step 1. Add the report

As with our other reports, right click on the Reports branch in Solution Explorer, pick Add New Report, and (if you haven’t already disabled it) click next to move past the welcome screen.

Step 2. Set the data source.

Pick the Contoso shared data source, or setup a new source to Contoso, and click Next.

Step 3. Setup the query.

In the query builder, we’ll be using one of our views. Enter this SQL statement:

SELECT [FiscalYear]
     , [ProductCategoryName]
     , [ProductSubcategory]
     , [Region]
     , [TotalAmount]
  FROM [ContosoRetailDW].[Report].[V_SubcategoryRegionTotalsByYear]

and click next.

Step 4. Set the format.

For the report type we’ll use the simple Tabular format, so just click Next.

Step 5. Determine field placement in the report.

To keep this simple we’ll not use any groups on this report, so just put all report fields into the Details section. You can do it in one easy step by clicking on the top most item (FiscalYear), holding down the shift key, and clicking the bottom item (TotalAmount). This will select all of the fields, just click the Details button to move them. Then click Next.

Step 6. Select the formatting Style

Once again we’ll go with Corporate for the style and click Next.

Step 7. Name the report.

Finally we’ll give the report a name of “Regional Sales by Subcategory” and click Finish.

Step 8. Format report columns

To make the report a little easier to read, expand the width of the columns and format the Total Amount as Currency. (See the previous labs if you don’t recall how to accomplish this.)

Step 9. Apply sorting to the column headers.

Here’s where the magic happens. Right click on the first column of the report header, which should be Fiscal Year, and pick Text Box Properties.

clip_image002

In the Text Box Properties dialog, first navigate to the Interactive Sorting area. Next, check on “Enable interactive sorting on this text box”.

Under “Choose what to sort” we’ll take the default of details. If we wanted to sort our groups, we could have picked the Groups option then picked the name of a group.

Next in the “Sort By” pick the FiscalYear field. Your dialog should now look like:

clip_image004

Click OK to save.

Repeat this step for the other columns, selecting the data associated with that column in the “Sort by” area.

Step 10. Preview your work

You should now be able to switch to the Preview tab. At the top right of each column you will now see a set of tiny up/down arrows, which when clicked will cause the report to sort by that column.

image

SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services and the “Select All” Parameter Issue

Note, before getting started with this lesson there are some prerequisites you should know about. Please read my post Getting Started with SQL Server 2008 to ensure you have everything setup correctly, otherwise you will be missing objects required to get the code here to work correctly.

In yesterday’s post, “Adding Query Parameters to SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services Reports”, we looked at how to add a Query Parameter to a report dataset. The steps hide a potentially fatal issue though: “Select All”. When you allow the user to select more than one parameter, they can also select all of them. Behind the scenes SSRS converts this to a long delimited list. Thus the query, when sent to the server, looks like:

SELECT [FiscalYear] 
     , [ProductCategoryName]
     , [ProductSubcategory]
     , [Region]
     , [TotalAmount]
  FROM [ContosoRetailDW].[Report].[V_SubcategoryRegionTotalsByYear]
 WHERE [Region] IN ('Armenia', 'Austrailia', 'Canada', 
                    --Rest of long list goes here

If you are certain beyond a doubt that you will only have a limited number of items in the list, then this is a nonissue and you can stop reading this now. However, what if you have a potentially unlimited or even just very large number of items in the list? Then you can easily exceed the buffer length SQL allows for a query string and cause a fatal error. Working around that requires several steps.

Step 1. Add a count dataset

First, we need an additional dataset, whose purpose is to count the number of items in the dataset used to supply values to the parameter list. In this example it will count the number of rows in the Region dataset.

Start by right clicking on the Contoso branch of the Report Data window and pick “Add Dataset”. Name it RegionCount, and give it a Query of:

SELECT COUNT(*) AS RegionCnt
  FROM [ContosoRetailDW].[Report].[V_Regions]

That’s all you need here, just click OK to close.

Step 2. Add an Internal Parameter

Next we need to add a parameter that will hold the result of the RegionCount Dataset. Right click on the parameters branch of the Report Data window and chose to add one. When the dialog appears start by giving it a good name, here we can use RegionCnt.

Now in the Data type, change it to an “Integer” since a count will always be an integer.

This parameter is one we never want the users to be able to see or change. Thus under parameter visibility “Visible” isn’t a good choice for us. That leaves us with “Hidden” and “Internal”. Hidden parameters are not visible in the user interface; however they can be updated when you call a report via its URL. Again, this is not a desirable option for us. Thus we will use Internal, which is similar to a private variable, only for use within the report.

clip_image002

Once you have the properties filled out click OK to close.

Step 3. Add the Query Parameters to the report dataset.

Now we fix our @pRegion parameter that we use in our SQL statement.

Right click on the main report dataset, pick dataset properties, and then go to the parameters area. If it already exists go to the @pRegion parameter (it should, but if not create it). Now we will need to change its value, and we’ll use an expression to do so. Click on the fx button to the right of the parameter value drop down and enter the follow text:

=iif(Parameters!Region.Count>=Parameters!RegionCnt.Value, "SELECTALL", Parameters!Region.Value)

The iif is pretty obvious. The RegionCnt.Value represents the number of items from the RegionCnt parameter, which came from the SELECT COUNT query. The Region.Count represents the number of items the user selected in the drop down. If they picked SELECT ALL, then all of them will be checked.

Thus, if the number of items checked is equal to or greater than the number of possible items it will return SELECTALL as the value (which we’ll use as a flag in just a moment). Otherwise it will simply return a list of the items selected.

Just to be clear, there’s nothing magical about “SELECTALL”, it’s just a string that makes it obvious what the purpose is. You could have used “ALL”, “allrows”, or “ArcaneCode”. Just as long as you use the same value here and in the SQL query, which you’ll see next.

Now we need to fix our SQL statement. While still in the Dataset Properties window, go back to the Query area and update your SQL Query to read:

SELECT [FiscalYear] 
     , [ProductCategoryName]
     , [ProductSubcategory]
     , [Region]
     , [TotalAmount]
  FROM [ContosoRetailDW].[Report].[V_SubcategoryRegionTotalsByYear]
 WHERE ( ('SELECTALL' IN (@pRegion)) OR ([Region] IN (@pRegion)) )

The first part of the WHERE clause will check to see if our SELECTALL is in the @pRegion parameter, which it will be if the user did a Select All in the parameter drop down in the user interface. If so that portion of the WHERE evaluates to true and all rows are returned. Otherwise it then checks the Region against the specific list returned in @pRegion.

Not Foolproof

Be aware that this solution is not foolproof. If the user has a long list of items and picks all but one item in the list the potential is still there to overflow the SQL query string buffer. In that situation you should reconsider the use of that column as a parameter, finding another means to limit the report. You could also use the expression language to check the length of the items selected (in this case Parameters!Region.Value) and if the length is too long either truncate it or replace it with the SELECTALL value.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 93 other followers