Getting Started with Reporting Services
SQL Server has a lot of great features and taking the time to find out what these features are and secondly taking the time to understand these new features is often time consuming and usually only done if there is a real pressing problem. I still run into these challenges and it amazes me that there is always some way to solve the problem with SQL Server. I think one of the greatest new add-ons to SQL Server is Reporting Services, but it still seems like a lot of people have not yet adopted Reporting Services. Microsoft even included Reporting Services features with SQL Server 2005 Express, so this is definitely something you should take the time to investigate. The big question though is how to get started.
As mentioned already, I think Reporting Services is one of the most useful additions to SQL Server and everyone should be using it to some degree. The ease of developing and deploying reports is amazing as well as the functionality that you get directly out of the box. There are always some features that you wish you had, but this is one tool that has just about everything you need.
Why use Reporting Services?
One of the main things that people always want is to see the data that has been collected in some summarized fashion. The more data you collect the more reports you need to develop. The ease of developing and deploying reports with Reporting Services alone should be a big reason to adopt this tool, but another great reason is that you have already paid for it. Reporting Services is part of the SQL Server license, so you might as well use it. Also, with SQL Server 2005 Express there are Reporting Services features that you can use at no cost.
In addition to having DBAs or Developers write reports, there are also better features in SQL Server 2005 to push this report development out to your end users, but you still control the what data they see and how tables are joined to ensure some kind of query optimization.
How to use Reporting Services?
Getting started with Reporting Services is really not that difficult. If you have designed reports in MS Access you can build reports with Reporting Services. In may be a little overwhelming at first and that is why the best approach to get your feet wet and to start using Reporting Services is to take the time to go through the sample reports and the tutorials that Microsoft put together.
The following is a summary of the tutorials that have been put together.
- Lesson 1: Creating a Report Server Project
- Lesson 2: Setting Up Connection Information
- Lesson 3: Defining a Query for the Report
- Lesson 4: Adding a Table Data Region
- Lesson 5: Previewing the Basic Report
For additional tutorials visit these pages:
- Adding Grouping, Sorting, and Formatting to a Basic Report
- Adding Parameters to a Basic Tabular Report
- Advanced Features Using Parameters
- Using XML Data in a Report
- Tutorials for Report Server Administration
- Tutorials for Ad Hoc Reporting
- Tutorials for Reporting Services Development
By going through the lessons you get a chance to use the new Business Intelligence Studio, but also get a quick way of understanding how to navigate through the tool.
Taking the time to go through the lessons will definitely give you a good sense of how to use Reporting Services, but it won't make you an expert nor will it give you insight into your data and how to setup things, but it will give you a jump start as to what is possible and hopefully will give you some ideas as to how this tool can be a great asset to your company.
- Take a look at the sample tutorials to get comfortable with Reporting Services
- Find a business user that has some interest in uncovering information from all the data that is collected and work them to define some reports they could use
- Start off with a small project or one concept to better understand the potential
- Take the plunge and use Reporting Services, why not it's free
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Article Last Updated: 2007-10-09