SQL Reporting – How to Add Excel and Word Reporting to Your Own Application – An Innovative Approach

To experience the awesomeness of OfficeWriter, I suggest you here to download the tool and work along with this blog post.

The OfficeWriter API is a .NET library by SoftArtisans that makes it easy for developers to add Excel and Word reporting and document processing to their own applications. OfficeWriter allows users to take data from any data source and turn reports into dynamic, visual presentations. Without requiring Microsoft Office on the server, OfficeWriter is optimized for high-performance, scalable server use. The .NET API integrates with business applications, including those in SSRS and SharePoint.

Why use OfficeWriter’s API with SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)? The default rendering extensions for Reporting Services deliver flat, static output. In order to render for multiple extensions such as HTML and PDF, the basic report design in SSRS cannot accommodate specific features, such as multiple worksheets in Excel. This also means that certain features like charts cannot be dynamic in the output because not all of the rendering extensions in SSRS support Excel charts. Therefore, charts are exported as images. Additionally, until SSRS 2008 R2, there wasn’t a default rendering extension for Word. Before SSRS 2012 there was no means of exporting to XLSX or DOCX. Using OfficeWriter for Reporting Services corrects these limitations, allowing end-users to design reports in Excel and Word and make use of many specific features in those applications.

How Creating a Report in SSRS with OfficeWriter Works:

OfficeWriter fits into SSRS with two parts. First, the OfficeWriter Renderer is a server-side rendering extension for Excel and Word, providing Excel and Word features beyond the built-in SSRS export options. Second, the OfficeWriter Designer is a client-side add-in for Excel and Word, which allows users to design reports that utilize the OfficeWriter rendering extensions.

Designing a Report

The RDL file contains information about connecting to data sources, queries, as well as report design information. The OfficeWriter Designer adds its own data and design information to the report, which will be used by the OfficeWriter Renderer to export the report. The Designer sections off a part of the RDL for storing this information separately from the rest of the RDL file. In particular, the Designer saves a binary copy of the Excel or Word template file to the RDL and information about binding the report data to that Excel or Word template file.

Exporting a Report

When the report is exported using the Renderer, Reporting Services retrieves the data from the queries and data source locations stored in the RDL. It passes this data along to whichever renderer was selected for exporting the report. The OfficeWriter Renderer loads the copy of the Excel or Word template file and binds the data from Reporting Services to the template. The Renderer is actually using ExcelTemplate or WordTemplate to bind the data to produce the output.

In the new release of OfficeWriter, the new .NET Designer was introduced. The .NET Designer has better platform support (i.e. 64-bit Office) than the previous designer, moving from dependence on COM and VBA to being written entirely in .NET/C# using VSTO.

At the start of 2014 SoftArtisans also plans to release a major version upgrade; OfficeWriter version 9 is set to be released early next year with PowerPoint capabilities and a calculation engine for ExcelWriter, among other new features to provide more options for building reports through your own business applications.

The Big Difference

With the OfficeWriter renderer on the other hand, the charts will be native Excel charts with live data. Let’s see the difference in the following screenshots: “Product Sales Report.xlsx” generated using the OfficeWriter renderer in SSRS Click here to download a free trial visit.

To learn more about how OfficeWriter’s Excel Export functionality compares to that of SSRS visit here. 

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQLAuthority News – 5 days of SQL Server Reporting Service (SSRS) Summary

Earlier this week, I wrote five days series on SQL Server Reporting Service. The series is based on the book Beginning SSRS by Kathi KellenbergerSupporting files are available with a free download from thewww.Joes2Pros.com web site. I just completed reading the book – it is a fantastic book and I am loving every bit of it. I new SSRS and I also knew how it is working however, I did not know was fine details of how I can get maximum out of the SSRS subject. This book has personally enabled me with the knowledge that I was missing in my knowledge back.

Here is the question back to you – how many of you are working with SSRS and when you have a question you are left with no help online. There are not enough blogs or books available on this subject. The way Kathi has written this book is that it attempts to solve your day to day problem and make you think how you can take your daily problem and take it to the next level.

Here is the article series which I have written on this subject and available to read:

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQL SERVER – Data Sources and Data Sets in Reporting Services SSRS

This example is from the Beginning SSRS by Kathi Kellenberger. Supporting files are available with a free download from the www.Joes2Pros.com web site.

This example is from the Beginning SSRS. Supporting files are available with a free download from the www.Joes2Pros.com web site.

Connecting to Your Data?

When I was a child, the telephone book was an important part of my life. Maybe I was just a nerd, but I enjoyed getting a new book every year to page through to learn about the businesses in my small town or to discover where some of my school acquaintances lived. It was also the source of maps to my town’s neighborhoods and the towns that surrounded me.

To make a phone call, I would need a telephone number. In order to find a telephone number, I had to know how to use the telephone book. That seems pretty simple, but it resembles connecting to any data. You have to know where the data is and how to interact with it.

A data source is the connection information that the report uses to connect to the database. You have two choices when creating a data source, whether to embed it in the report or to make it a shared resource usable by many reports.

Data Sources and Data Sets

A few basic terms will make the upcoming choses make more sense. What database on what server do you want to connect to? It would be better to just ask… “what is your data source?” The connection you need to make to get your reports data is called a data source.

If you connected to a data source (like the JProCo database) there may be hundreds of tables. You probably only want data from just a few tables. This means you want to write a specific query against this data source. A query on a data source to get just the records you need for an SSRS report is called a Data Set.

Creating a local Data Source

You can connect embed a connection from your report directly to your JProCo database which (let’s say) is installed on a server named Reno. If you move JProCo to a new server named Tampa then you need to update the Data Set. If you have 10 reports in one project that were all pointing to the JProCo database on the Reno server then they would all need to be updated at once. It’s possible to make a project level Data Source and have each report use that. This means one change can fix all 10 reports at once. This would be called a Shared Data Source.

Creating a Shared Data Source

The best advice I can give you is to create shared data sources. The reason I recommend this is that if a database moves to a new server you will have just one place in Report Manager to make the server name change. That one change will update the connection information in all the reports that use that data source.

To get started, you will start with a fresh project. Go to Start > All Programs > SQL Server 2012 > Microsoft SQL Server Data Tools to launch SSDT. Once SSDT is running, click New Project to create a new project. Once the New Project dialog box appears, fill in the form, as shown in. Be sure to select Report Server Project this time – not the wizard.

Click OK to dismiss the New Project dialog box. You should now have an empty project, as shown in the Solution Explorer.

A report is meant to show you data. Where is the data? The first task is to create a Shared Data Source. Right-click on the Shared Data Sources folder and choose Add New Data Source.

The Shared Data Source Properties dialog box will launch where you can fill in a name for the data source. By default, it is named DataSource1. The best practice is to give the data source a more meaningful name. It is possible that you will have projects with more than one data source and, by naming them, you can tell one from another. Type the name JProCo for the data source name and click the Edit button to configure the database connection properties.

If you take a look at the types of data sources you can choose, you will see that SSRS works with many data platforms including Oracle, XML, and Teradata. Make sure SQL Server is selected before continuing.

For this post, I am assuming that you are using a local SQL Server and that you can use your Windows account to log in to the SQL Server. If, for some reason you must use SQL Server Authentication, choose that option and fill in your SQL Server account credentials. Otherwise, just accept Windows Authentication.

If your database server was installed locally and with the default instance, just type in Localhost for the Server name. Select the JProCo database from the database list. At this point, the connection properties should look like.

If you have installed a named instance of SQL Server, you will have to specify the server name like this: Localhost\InstanceName, replacing the InstanceName with whatever your instance name is. If you are not sure about the named instance, launch the SQL Server Configuration Manager found at Start > All Programs > Microsoft SQL Server 2012 > Configuration Tools. If you have a named instance, the name will be shown in parentheses. A default instance of SQL Server will display MSSQLSERVER; a named instance will display the name chosen during installation.

Once you get the connection properties filled in, click OK to dismiss the Connection Properties dialog box and OK again to dismiss the Shared Data Source properties. You now have a data source in the Solution Explorer.

What’s next

I really need to thank Kathi Kellenberger and Rick Morelan for sharing this material for this 5 day series of posts on SSRS. To get really comfortable with SSRS you will get to know the different SSDT windows, Build reports on your own (without the wizards),  Add report headers and footers, Accept user input,  create levels, charts, or even maps for visual appeal. You might be surprise to know a small 230 page book starts from the very beginning and covers the steps to do all these items. Beginning SSRS 2012 is a small easy to follow book so you can learn SSRS for less than $20. See Joes2Pros.com for more on this and other books.

If you want to learn SSRS in easy to simple words – I strongly recommend you to get Beginning SSRS book from Joes 2 Pros.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQL SERVER – Create a Very First Report with the Report Wizard

This example is from the Beginning SSRS by Kathi Kellenberger. Supporting files are available with a free download from the www.Joes2Pros.com web site.

What is the report Wizard?

In today’s world automation is all around you. Henry Ford began building his Model T automobiles on a moving assembly line a century ago and changed the world. The moving assembly line allowed Ford to build identical cars quickly and cheaply. Henry Ford said in his autobiography “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”

Today you can buy a car straight from the factory with your choice of several colors and with many options like back up cameras, built-in navigation systems and heated leather seats. The assembly lines now use robots to perform some tasks along with human workers. When you order your new car, if you want something special, not offered by the manufacturer, you will have to find a way to add it later.

In computer software, we also have “assembly lines” called wizards. A wizard will ask you a series of questions, often branching to specific questions based on earlier answers, until you get to the end of the wizard. These wizards are used for many things, from something simple like setting up a rule in Outlook to performing administrative tasks on a server.

Often, a wizard will get you part of the way to the end result, enough to get much of the tedious work out of the way. Once you get the product from the wizard, if the wizard is not capable of doing something you need, you can tweak the results.

Create a Report with the Report Wizard

Let’s get started with your first report!  Launch SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) from the Start menu under SQL Server 2012. Once SSDT is running, click New Project to launch the New Project dialog box. On the left side of the screen expand Business Intelligence and select Reporting Services. Configure the properties as shown in . Be sure to select Report Server Project Wizard as the type of report and to save the project in the C:\Joes2Pros\SSRSCompanionFiles\Chapter3\Project folder.

Click OK and wait for the Report Wizard to launch. Click Next on the Welcome screen.  On the Select the Data Source screen, make sure that New data source is selected. Type JProCo as the data source name. Make sure that Microsoft SQL Server is selected in the Type dropdown.

Click Edit to configure the connection string on the Connection Properties dialog box. If your SQL Server database server is installed on your local computer, type in localhost for the Server name and select the JProCo database from the Select or enter a database name dropdown.

Click OK to dismiss the Connection Properties dialog box. Check Make this a shared data source and click Next.

On the Design the Query screen, you can use the query builder to build a query if you wish. Since this post is not meant to teach you T-SQL queries, you will copy all queries from files that have been provided for you. In the C:\Joes2Pros\SSRSCompanionFiles\Chapter3\Resources folder open the sales by employee.sql file. Copy and paste the code from the file into the Query string Text Box. Click Next.

On the Select the Report Type screen, choose Tabular and click Next.

On the Design the Table screen, you have to figure out the groupings of the report. How do you do this? Well, you often need to know a bit about the data and report requirements. I often draw the report out on paper first to help me determine the groups.

In the case of this report, I could group the data several ways. Do I want to see the data grouped by Year and Month? Do I want to see the data grouped by Employee or Category? The only thing I know for sure about this ahead of time is that the TotalSales goes in the Details section. Let’s assume that the CIO asked to see the data grouped first by Year and Month, then by Category.

Let’s move the fields to the right-hand side. This is done by selecting Page > Group or Details >, as shown in, and click Next.

On the Choose the Table Layout screen, select Stepped and check Include subtotals and Enable drilldown, as shown in.

On the Choose the Style screen, choose any color scheme you wish (unlike the Model T) and click Next. I chose the default, Slate. On the Choose the Deployment Location screen, change the Deployment folder to Chapter 3 and click Next.

At the Completing the Wizard screen, name your report Employee Sales and click Finish.

After clicking Finish, the report and a shared data source will appear in the Solution Explorer and the report will also be visible in Design view.

Click the Preview tab at the top. This report expects the user to supply a year which the report will then use as a filter. Type in a year between 2006 and 2013 and click View Report.

Click the plus sign next to the Sales Year to expand the report to see the months, then expand again to see the categories and finally the details. You now have the assembly line report completed, and you probably already have some ideas on how to improve the report.

Tomorrow’s Post

Tomorrow’s blog post will show how to create your own data sources and data sets in SSRS.

If you want to learn SSRS in easy to simple words – I strongly recommend you to get Beginning SSRS book from Joes 2 Pros.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQL SERVER – Installing SQL Server Data Tools and SSRS

This example is from the Beginning SSRS by Kathi Kellenberger. Supporting files are available with a free download from the www.Joes2Pros.com web site.

If you have installed SQL Server, but are missing the Data Tools or Reporting Services

Double-click the SQL Server 2012 installation media. Click the Installation link on the left to view the Installation options. Click the top link New SQL Server stand-alone installation or add features to an existing installation.

Follow the SQL Server Setup wizard until you get to the Installation Type screen. At that screen, select Add features to an existing instance of SQL Server 2012. Click Next to move to the Feature Selection page. Select Reporting Services – Native and SQL Server Data Tools. If the Management Tools have not been installed, go ahead and choose them as well.

Continue through the wizard and reboot the computer at the end of the installation if instructed to do so.

Configure Reporting Services

If you installed Reporting Services during the installation of the SQL Server instance, SSRS will be configured automatically for you. If you install SSRS later, then you will have to go back and configure it as a subsequent step.

Click Start > All Programs > Microsoft SQL Server 2012 > Configuration Tools > Reporting Services Configuration Manager > Connect on the Reporting Services Configuration Connection dialog box.

On the left-hand side of the Reporting Services Configuration Manager, click Database. Click the Change Database button on the right side of the screen.

Select Create a new report server database and click Next.

Click through the rest of the wizard accepting the defaults. This wizard creates two databases: ReportServer, used to store report definitions and security, and ReportServerTempDB which is used as scratch space when preparing reports for user requests.

Now click Web Service URL on the left-hand side of the Reporting Services Configuration Manager. Click the Apply button to accept the defaults. If the Apply button has been grayed out, move on to the next step. This step sets up the SSRS web service. The web service is the program that runs in the background that communicates between the web page, which you will set up next, and the databases.

The final configuration step is to select the Report Manager URL link on the left. Accept the default settings and click Apply. If the Apply button was already grayed out, this means the SSRS was already configured. This step sets up the Report Manager web site where you will publish reports. You may be wondering if you also must install a web server on your computer. SQL Server does not require that the Internet Information Server (IIS), the Microsoft web server, be installed to run Report Manager.

Click Exit to dismiss the Reporting Services Configuration Manager dialog box.

Tomorrow’s Post

Tomorrow’s blog post will show how to create your first report using the Report Wizard.

If you want to learn SSRS in easy to simple words – I strongly recommend you to get Beginning SSRS book from Joes 2 Pros.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQL SERVER – Determine if SSRS 2012 is Installed on your SQL Server

This example is from the Beginning SSRS by Kathi Kellenberger. Supporting files are available with a free download from the www.Joes2Pros.com web site.

Determine if SSRS 2012 is Installed on your SQL Server

You may already have SSRS, or you may need to install it. Before doing any installation it makes sense to know where you are now. If you happened to install SQL Server with all features, you have the tools you need. There are two tools you need: SQL Server Data Tools and Reporting Services installed in Native Mode.

To find out if SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) is installed, click the Start button, go to All Programs, and expand SQL Server 2012. Look for SQL Server Data Tools


Now, let’s check to see if SQL Server Reporting Services is installed. Click the Start > All Programs > SQL Server 2012 > Configuration Tools > SQL > Server Configuration Manager


Once Configuration Manager is running, select SQL Server Services. Look for SQL Server Reporting Services in the list of services installed. If you have both SQL Server Reporting Services service and SQL Server Developer tools installed, you will not have to install them again.

You may have SQL Server installed, but are missing the Data Tools or the SSRS service or both. In tomorrow blog post we will go over how to install based on where you are now.


Tomorrow’s Post

Tomorrow’s blog post will show how to install and configure SSRS.

If you want to learn SSRS in easy to simple words – I strongly recommend you to get Beginning SSRS book from Joes 2 Pros.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQL SERVER – What is SSRS and Why SSRS is asked for in many Job Opening?

This example is from the Beginning SSRS by Kathi Kellenberger. Supporting files are available with a free download from the www.Joes2Pros.com web site.

This will be a 5 day blog post in getting started with SSRS. Today will show the importance of SSRS in the business.

Why is SSRS asked for in so many job openings?

If you talk to an SSRS expert it’s very clear to them exactly why companies really need this invention and how it saves time and adds business value. You don’t have to be an SSRS expert to know its value or to start using it. For example you don’t have to be an airline pilot to know the usefulness of modern transportation. Even the people who don’t know how to run SSRS but need the reports can tell you why that is needed. This blog post will go into why SSRS is an important invention by showing how it improves the usage of information in your company.

Before SSRS there has always been a need for a company to benefit from the use of its own information. Excel spreadsheets have been a popular way to do this for a long time. With SSRS you can still use this solution and gain many other options too.

A friend of mine told me a story about doing database work in the 90s for a major company and how he wished SSRS was available back then. The Vice President of the marketing channel would often come to him just before an important meeting with the board of directors. He often needed to show how certain product sales were performing over time. All this information was in the database so it was my friend’s job to get the information out and organized into a medium the VP could use. This medium was usually Excel. The VP often had meetings all over the world where he showcased this Excel report.

The solution to get the VP to him anywhere he was in the world was an Excel file attached to an e-mail. This worked pretty well but with some drawbacks. One time my friend sent the wrong file in the e-mail. A few minutes later my friend realized his mistake and sent another frantic e-mail to VP. This one was saying to ignore the last e-mail and use this newer one. Would the VP see the correct e-mail in time?

If SSRS had been available, my friend could have created a solution that let the VP run the report any time he wished. The report could have been published to the company intranet where the VP could run it from any of the offices he happened to be traveling to that month. There is a fair amount of work up front to develop and publish the report, but once that work is completed, the report can be reused as many times as needed. My friend could even be on vacation for the first day of the monthly and the VP can get his real-time report.

Not only could the report show the most recent data, the VP could choose to view reports of previous months with just a few clicks. The deployed SSRS is user friendly, and can also be configured to protect reports from being run by the wrong people.

Tomorrow’s Post

Tomorrow’s blog post will show how to know if you already have SSRS installed.

If you want to learn SSRS in easy to simple words – I strongly recommend you to get Beginning SSRS book from Joes 2 Pros.

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)

SQLAuthority News – Download SQL Server 2005 Report Packs – SQL Server Sample Reports – Report Templates

Note:   Download SQL Server 2005 Report Packs by Microsoft

SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services is a comprehensive, server-based reporting solution designed to help you author, manage, and deliver both paper-based, ad hoc, and interactive Web-based reports.

Each report pack consists of a set of predefined reports, a sample database, a readme file, and an End User License Agreement (EULA). You can use these sample reports as templates to quickly author and distribute new interactive reports.

Report Pack contains following sample reports

  • SQL Server 2005 Integration Services Log Reports
  • SQL Server 2005 Report Pack for Microsoft Dynamics Axapta 3.0
  • SQL Server 2005 Report Pack for Microsoft Dynamics Navision 4.0
  • SQL Server 2005 Report Pack for Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains 8.0
  • SQL Server 2005 Report Pack for Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains 9.0
  • SQL Server 2005 Report Pack for Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS)
  • SQL Server 2005 Report Pack for Financial Reporting

Download SQL Server 2005 Report Packs

Abstract courtesy : Microsoft

Reference : Pinal Dave (http://blog.SQLAuthority.com)