Sunday, August 17, 2008


Extensibility in SQL Server Integration Services and SQL Server Reporting Services is achieved by writing custom code inside your package or report. SSIS provides a great interface by using Visual Studio for Applications (2005) or Visual Studio Tools for Applications (2008), lightweight versions of the Visual Studio IDE. When you create a script task or component, you can write code using intellisense and error squiggles. SSRS, on the other hand, does not provide any IDE for writing custom code. If you want to create VB functions, you have a notepad-like window without colors, intellisense, or any error handling.

In comes SnippetCompiler, an application that allows you to write and compile snippets of code. You can download the executable here: The current version allows code in both VB.NET 2.0 and C# 2.0. A .NET 3.5 version is in Alpha release and can be downloaded from the same location. Keep in mind that if you minimize the application, it becomes an icon in the system tray instead of showing up on the task bar.

I use this application when I write all of my custom code, especially in Reporting Services. It allows me to ensure my syntax is correct, as well as keep consistent formatting before copying the code into my package or report. I hope you find this tool useful as well!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Display Top N Rows

In SQL Server Reporting Services, you can dynamically limit the number of rows that are displayed in a table or a matrix. Here are the steps to create a sample report showing this.

1. Create a DataSource connecting to the AdventureWorksDW database and a DataSet with the following query:
SELECT DimEmployee.FirstName, DimEmployee.LastName, SUM(FactResellerSales.SalesAmount) AS SalesAmount
FactResellerSales ON DimEmployee.EmployeeKey = FactResellerSales.EmployeeKey
WHERE (FactResellerSales.OrderDateKey = 20011001)
GROUP BY DimEmployee.FirstName, DimEmployee.LastName

2. Add a report parameter named “NumberPpl” of data type integer.

3. Add a table to the body of the report with the data fields of firstName, lastName, and salesAmount. Sort by the column salesAmount from ‘Z to A’.

4. Set the Filters option of the table as shown below. (This is where the real work is happening!)

5. Preview the report, modifying the value for the parameter NumberPpl to see the number of rows change. It should look similar to the reports below.

Version: SQL Server 2008 RC0

Friday, August 8, 2008


Those of you who visit my blog directly may notice a new image labeled "WorldMaps" on my right-hand side bar. WorldMaps, introduced to me by Andrew Duthie, stores statistics about visitors to any website. By signing up for an account and adding the tracking device on your page, you can keep track of the number of hits, different IP addresses, visitor locations, and more. For an example of what WorldMaps can provide, click on my world image, which will link to a page with my statistics.

For other statistics of interest, I also use Feedburner. While I'm happy with the information they've provided, there is something about seeing my visitors’ locations visually that speaks to my Business Intelligence side ;) I definitely recommend you take a look at WorldMaps!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Overlapping SSRS Report Items

After converting your SQL Server Reporting Services reports from 2005 to 2008, you may notice a difference in the way the report looks. One possible reason for this difference is the change in the way overlapping report items are rendered.

In both SSRS versions, the message in the Output window is similar to: "[rsOverlappingReportItems] The text box ‘Textbox2’ and the text box ‘Textbox1’ overlap. Overlapping report items are not supported in all renderers." In Reporting Services 2005, these textboxes would display in an overlapped fashion, often causing the text within both textboxes to be unreadable. In Reporting Services 2008, however, the second textbox shifts, so that it appears the textboxes are vertically next to each other. This allows you to always read the text in both textboxes.

The new overlap rendering functionality is included in the "Soft Page-Break Renderers", including the Report Preview window, HTML, MHTML, Word, and Excel. Taking a look at the report in the Report Preview pane will give you a pretty good idea of how the report will look in HTML. I did not find this to be the case for the "Hard Page-Break Renderers", including Acrobat (PDF) format.

If you do have overlapping report items, the item to the "front" of the report will be rendered above the item to the "back" of the report. You can take advantage of this by right-clicking on the item and selecting either the option "Bring to Front" or "Send to Back" for the desired result.

For more information on how rendering works in SSRS 2008, I would recommend visiting this page:

Versions: SQL Server 2005 SP2, SQL Server 2008 RC0