Thursday, May 31, 2007
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I did not get it, to me it looked like just another way of accessing data over http. What's wrong with with WebServices and Datasets? So I popped the question to David while I was visiting last night. And I re-read the site on Astoria today because what he was telling me was much more of a compelling reason to start looking at the technology (or platform?). My data in the cloud, not having to worry about a server, a database, backup's, scalability etc. I like the idea, not for all data of course, but I can certainly see some applications. I hope they quickly get around to offering us a way to start exploring this. I'm beginning to like the cloud, now I need to figure out how I can make some money by making good use of it.
Keep us on our toes David!
Thursday, May 24, 2007
You were one of the lucky winners of the MOSSIG door prize last night. You have won a full version of Windows Vista® Business and a 60-day trial version of Microsoft® Office Professional 2007.
Isn't that cool?, not only do you get lots of free training and information, but people walk out the door with copies of Vista! Last night was all about Outlook Add-ins, Custom Task pane development (in Outlook and Word) and what Microsoft CRM looks like for an Office user. Very interesting presentations. You can download the ppt's at mossig.net in the Archive section.
The next meeting will be Wednesday the 27th of June 2007, read all about it in the next newsletter or on the Web Site.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Getting started with the SharePoint Reporting Services Add-in in SQL Server 2005 SP2
Update Jan 2008: MS has finally posted a good article about RS and SharePoint integration on msdn. SQL Server 2005 Integration with Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies Troubleshooting Integration with SQL Server 2005 and Microsoft SharePoint Technologies
After installing and configuring SQL Server 2005 SP2 and the Reporting Services Add-in for SharePoint your Office SharePoint Server can be used for delivering and managing Reporting Services Reports. This assumes you have installed Reporting Services in SharePoint integrated mode. This article won't be about installing and configuring SP2 and Reporting Services because that is described pretty well in the various readme's that come with SP2 and books on-line. This article will start with how to setup your document libraries, how to create data sources and reports and focus on how to create pages in your site that access those reports. We'll have a look at how to simply execute Reports but also how Filter web parts can provide parameter values and how you can use Business Data Catalog field values for filtering.
The target audience for this article is designers or developers that have some experience using SharePoint, Web Part pages and connectable Web Parts looking for a quick introduction in how to integrate Reporting Services Reports.
Installing the Add-in installs Reporting Services specific content types, what you will need to do is add these content types to a document library that you will use to store the actual Report Definitions.
In the Document Library settings first enable management of Content types in the Advanced Settings page of the Document Library Settings. After doing this you will have a section called Content Types and a link 'Add from existing site content types'.
Figure 1, Accessing Document Library Settings
Figure 2, Adding content types to Document Library
Click that link and on the following select the 'Report Server Content Types' from the top combo box, now add all content types, you screen should look like the figure 3.
Figure 3, Selecting the Reporting Services Content Types
Now click ok and your Document Library is ready to start storing, managing and executing reports. If you have created a Document Library with no other goal in mind, now would be a good time to delete the default Content Type (Doc) and make Report Builder Report the default. Strictly speaking if you are not going to allow users to build their own reports you do not need the Report Builder Model Content type.
Figure 4, Content Types for a Document Library after configuring it
Come release time you should be able to deploy Visual Studio Report Projects directly to a Reporting Services server in SharePoint integration mode. In the CTP build I found it less problematic to go through the deployment process manually and also gain the insight in the different pieces of the puzzle.
The first piece is a Data Source, you might have noticed this type of file as one of the available content types. Create a new Data source by opening the Document library and selecting Data Source from the 'New' dropdown in the toolbar.
Figure 5, Adding a DataSource Item
Fill out the fields just like any other Data source using a conventional connection string and the authentication method you would like to use. Click ok, this will save an. rsds file in the Document Library.
Next create a Report Definition file (.RDL) using the Business Intelligence Studio. Don't use the Content type Report Builder Report just yet, this will install and launch the user friendly Report Builder application but will rely on a previously uploaded Report Builder Model which we don't have yet.
After uploading right click the uploaded file and look at the various options. You'll see that the Add-in has all the Report Management options available on the RDL File Type.
Figure 6, New options added for the RDL Content Type
We can make the Report use the previously created Data Source by choosing Manage Data Sources. Click on the Data source, choose Shared Data source and point to the previously created Data Source file.
Figure 7, Modify the Datasource to use a Shared Data Source
Using a Shared Data Source is convenient because this will enable you to modify the connection settings for multiple reports in one place but you can obviously use custom Data Sources for each Report should you need that.
Clicking on the Report actually executes the Report by opening a new page containing a Report viewer control created specially for SharePoint (the RSViewerpage.aspx) another component installed by the Add-in.
Figure 8, A Report executed by simply clicking.
Now add another report that uses a Report Parameter.
Figure 9, Default Report with a Parameter
Figure 10, Configuring the Filter.
This (Figure 9) is what the default Report Viewer page generates for a Report with one Parameter. Using the connectable Web Parts infrastructure in SharePoint we can do a lot better. First of all we need to create a Web Part page that will show our Report using a Report Viewer Web Part. In a full blown site you probable have a specific Document library to create those kinds of pages in, or you create them using SharePoint Designer. For the Demo I have added the Web Part Page content type to our Document Library and created the page here in the same Document Library as the reports. Go ahead and open the page and choose Edit Page from the Site Actions. Click Add a Web Part and add the Reporting Services Viewer part from the miscellaneous category. Open the tool pane and open select the appropriate Report. Click Exit Edit Page and you will see pretty much the same Report View as in the previous version using the RSReportViewer page only this time the actual Report is nested in a Web Part. This means we can now add other Web Part that can communicate with our Report. You can for example opt for a 'Choice Filter' Web Part from the Filter category and configure it as demonstrated in Figure 10.
Next connect it to the Viewer Web Part using the context menu for the Web Part in Page Edit mode.
Figure 11, Connecting the Filter part to the Viewer
You can click the grey bar next to the Report to collapse the viewers' parameter panel as the parameter now gets the value from the filter part. If there are multiple parameters in a Report, SharePoint will show a popup allowing you to choose how to hook them up. Beware that you have allowed Popup's on the site you are configuring.
It is even possible to use a Filter Part that displays a list in SharePoint using a filtered view that provides the Report Name to the Viewer Part. Or use a Business Data Catalog filter to use a lookup from a Line of Business System to control Report Parameters. They all work pretty much in the same consistent way.
Mixing and matching the right Web Parts this way allows you to quickly build reasonably complex dashboards without any programming. Note that you can have one Filter Part controlling multiple Report Viewer part at the same time! Combining this with some of the other Web Part types allows you to build sophisticated dashboards. There are Web Parts for Analysis Services, Excel, KPI's and Business Data forms and lists. More than enough options to impress the boss or clients I would think.
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services Add-in for Microsoft
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 2
Just (b)logging this and letting the world know it can easily be done. If anyone has a need for the code they can contact me.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
It looks like there's still plenty of work for us and MS to get the message across.
Next week I will be presenting the technical session of the monthly Mossig meeting in Melbourne. It will be all about using Custom Task Panes (or Document Action Panes) in Word accessing live Line of Business data and inserting that into template and schema driven documents. I've got an interesting demo of context sensitive panes that show different options and data depending on where a user is in a document.
If this interests you don't be shy and come to our free meeting, just send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can order enough pizza's.
Using Word as an Automation server to insert data in a document is good enough for small documents that need a few data-elements. As soon as the amount of data grows or multiple documents have to be generated, the speed is generally not good enough.
Further more, while such a process is in progress the application is usually blocked and the user can only wait, or abort because they do not understand what is happening.
Using XML as the file format for generating Business Documents will deliver flexibility, scalability, and simplicity for the developer and End users alike.
This article presents a way to write the data part of documents without even starting Word, yet it will use Word for display and/or print and allow the users to alter the appearance of the documents without the need for developers. As long as the data and schema contains the information that is required, users have more or less complete freedom to apply formatting and layout as they need to. Documents like this can have several different appearances for different purposes. A user could decide to view the details of an order, or an overview of sales in that day all using the same generated XML data. Different kinds of views can be defined by developers or users or existing ones can be modified on the fly. The documents can be generated on a server without installing Word which is a big bonus. This is also a very convenient option for websites that let users download data or Word documents.
Read the full article here: http://www.voconversion.com.au/VoConversion/Article%20Archive/Generating%20business%20documents%20using%20XML%20and%20MS.mht