Learning SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services by Jayaram Krishnaswamy

Learning SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services

  • Author: Jayaram Krishnaswamy 
  • 536 pages  
  • Publisher: Packt Publishing (April 2009) 

Synopsis

I’ve read a few SSRS books in my day and I’ve got to say that this one holds its own.  It’s really hard to say which book covers which topics better than others, but this one has its strengths and weaknesses.  For example, this one explains something things in detail, but leaves other things to be explained by just examples.  One thing’s for sure though, this book doesn’t baby you.  I don’t think I would recommend this for someone who has never worked with reports before, but for even a moderately seasoned IT guy who’s had the same level of experience with reporting in general, I think this book would be stellar.  The coverage of report manager and report builder are some of the better I’ve seen and I definitely walked away with a thorough knowledge of those tools.

 I think the boon for this book really has to be its coverage of the off-road topics like the programming APIs and building reports in code.  These are both topics that just don’t get much love in many other books so it’s really good to see that even someone who’s been using SSRS for quite some time might actually get something out of this one too.  It really is amazing how many people work with SSRS every day and don’t even know that the APIs exist.

One thing I wish this book did, was even though it talked about the APIs and other programming methods, I wish he had discussed multi-server reporting farms.  SSRS has the ability to scale-out but it’s almost never covered by any books and I think that would have really put the cherry on top for me.  I’m not going to hold that against it though.  It’s just a nice to have.

So in all, I’m very pleased with this book and I would buy it for a friend who’s  looking to get involved with SSRS.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Discusses what SSRS is and how its competitors are.  Also discusses some add-in tools and then shows you how to install SQL Server and configure SSRS.  It also discusses getting the samples setup for this book.

Chapter 2

Discusses the different SSRS services and what they do.  Also the improvements from 2005 are detailed in the area of services as well.  It also discusses how reports are rendered, and some of the engine specifics of SSRS.  It’s not a deep discussion, but it’s good enough for most I suppose.  Then it goes into an overview of SSRS security and how to manage it in SSMS.  Now you get into a quick discussion of report manager and how to configure it.  Then it talks about model designer, what it is and where to find it.  Now we see a discussion of both versions of report builder.  Now an actually interesting discussion on extending SSRS comes up.  It talks about the different aspects you can extend using .Net.  Now comes a section on SSRS support in Visual Studio.  Now there’s a talk about the SSRS config file.  It doesn’t discuss it much, but it does have a nice table with all the options and what they mean.

Chapter 3

Let’s talk about report viewer controls.  It starts out showing the control and its properties in Visual Studio.  You even get a small discussion of the differences between the controls used for windows apps vs web apps.  Next is a hands-on exercise on using report viewer controls.  You also get to create a report using the report wizard.  Now you examine the RDLC file for the report to see what makes it tick.  After that there are more hands-on exercises.

Chapter 4

Here we start out talking about SSRS project and project templates in VS.  There are several quick discussions that follow next like data source creation, report designer, etc.  It then goes into some of the design tools and briefly shows you how to use them.  Sometimes I think it goes a little overboard in listing menu items because you can clearly see from the screenshot what the items are, so they don’t really need to be listed and explained separately in the book.  Ok, so it then finishes walking you through designing the report and deploying it to the server.  Then there are some more hands-on pieces followed by a tutorial of building a report model.  It ends with another hand-on for creating a report model and deploying it to the server.

Chapter 5

This chapter is all about report manager and how to work with it.  I’m not going to go into all the details because this is a big chapter, but suffice it to say that I can’t find anything you can do with report manager that isn’t covered here.  And there’s lot of lab practice too so you should b able to find your way around pretty well in report manager by the time you finish this chapter.

Chapter 6

Report builder is discussed here.  The style is meant to bring you up to speed from ground zero using report builder and it looks like this chapter brings you up to speed pretty well.  There are lots of screenshots, hands-on labs, and tutorials.  And again, I’m not going to go into every topic it covers, but it really looks like it gives the tool a good going through.

Chapter 7

Now you’re getting into the meat of things with report builder.  This chapter concentrates on a lot of good solid practice building different kinds of reports. 

Chapter 8

Now this is a chapter that covers something you don’t see in every SSRS book;  programming interfaces.  This is the stuff I like to see in a book because it shows the true power of the tool and it gives you the skills to take your environment to the next level.  It discusses and gives you labs on the URL access, WMI, web service API, etc.  This chapter isn’t for the weak-hearted as there’s a lot of coding, but I personally welcome stuff like this.  It’s about time to see a little higher learning from a book.

Chapter 9

Here it’s talking about creating crystal reports in Visual Studio.  I’m not really very interested in that so I pretty much just glanced through the chapter.

Chapter 10

This is another one of those interesting chapters in that it shows you how to create reports in code.  This is just something you don’t see everywhere.  It’s not a really long chapter but it’s purpose is to just introduce you to the topic, not to be a master thesis on it.

-Sean McCown, ITBookworm.com

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