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Introducing Microsoft Reporting Services

  • April 5, 2005
  • By Teo Lachev
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1.3.2 The Report Server database

When you install RS, the setup program creates the Report Server database. This database is implemented as two physical SQL Server 2000 databases: The Reporting Services Configuration Database, ReportServer, hosts the report catalog and metadata. In this section, we'll take a closer look at each.

The Reporting Services Configuration Database

The Reporting Services Configuration Database, ReportServer, hosts the report catalog and metadata. As we mentioned earlier, in order for a report to be available to the end users, its report definition file must be uploaded (published) to the catalog.

If you open this database in the SQL Server Enterprise Manager, you will be able to deduce the purpose of most of its tables. For example, the Report Server Configuration Database keeps the catalog items in the Catalog table, the data source information in the Data-Source table, and so forth. Note that querying the report catalog directly is discouraged by Microsoft. Instead, the recommended way to access the report catalog is through the Report Server APIs. Microsoft also discourages you from making data changes directly to the catalog. The reason behind this is that Microsoft may change the catalog schema in the future but will maintain backward compatibility through the Report Server API.

As you may recall, RS can be deployed in a load-balanced cluster environment. In this deployment model, the Report Server database is shared among all nodes of the cluster.

The Reporting Services Temporary Database

The RS setup program also creates a second database, ReportServerTempDB, which is used by RS for caching purposes. For example, once the report is executed, the Report Server saves a copy of the report in the ReportServerTempDB database.

DEFINITION Report caching describes the Report Server feature of keeping the report intermediate format in the Report Server database for a certain duration.

We'll return to the topic of report caching in chapter 7.

The Adventure Works 2000 sample database

Finally, if you install the RS samples, the setup program installs a sample database called AdventureWorks2000. This database is also used by other Microsoft products, such as Commerce Server and Notification Services.

The AdventureWorks2000 database includes a much more "realistic" sales ordering database model than the SQL Server sample databases, Northwind or Pubs. You will quickly realize this by surveying the data held in the more than 60 tables. We'll work with this sample database in section 1.7, where you'll have a chance to create a report using RS.

1.3.3 The Report Manager

Implemented as an ASP.NET web application, the Report Manager performs two main tasks: report management and requests for reports. You can think of the Report Manager as an application fagade that communicates with the Report Server via the Report Server APIs. From the Report Server perspective, the Report Manager is no different than any other client application.

Report management

Users familiar with SharePoint Portal Server will find the Report Manager similar to this product both in terms of user interface and purpose. As you can with SharePoint, you can use the Report Manager to create folders, upload resources, manage subscriptions, and set up security.

For example, figure 1.4 shows that I used the Report Manager to navigate to a folder AWReporter and to retrieve a list of the catalog items under this folder. You can click on a report link to run a report or access and change the report properties.

In case you're wondering where the items shown in figure 1.4 come from, we will create them in the next few chapters when we discuss the report-authoring process.

Keep in mind that in RS you work with virtual folders. Neither the folders nor the report definition files actually exist in a file system. Instead, they exist in the Report Server Database as metadata, but they appear as folders and items when you access the Report Server through the Report Manager.

Requesting reports

Sometimes, building a reporting application might be overkill. Or small companies might not have the IT resources to do so quickly or simply cannot afford the effort. In such cases, the Report Manager can be used as a reporting tool. Users can navigate to the Report Manager portal and request reports on the spot, as figure 1.5 shows.

Even better, users can use the handy toolbar, which the Report Server generates automatically, to perform various report-related tasks, including specifying parameter values for reports that take parameters (more on this in chapter 3), paging, zooming, and exporting the report to different formats.

Click here for a larger image.

Figure 1.4 Users can use the Report Manager portal to generate or manage reports.

Click here for a larger image.

Figure 1.5 Small organizations that don't need to create report-enabled applications can use the Report Manager to request reports. This figures shows the Employee Sales Freeform with Chart report generated in HTML.

Now that we've had a 100-foot view tour of the major building blocks of RS, the next installment will take a peek under its hood to see how it processes, renders, and delivers reports.

More to Come

The rest of this sample chapter will appear on our website starting April 20th.

About the Author

Teo Lachev has more than 11 years of experience designing and developing Microsoft-centered solutions. He is currently working as a technology consultant with the Enterprise Application Services practice of Hewlett-Packard. Teo is a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer and Microsoft Certified Trainer. He lives in Atlanta, GA.

About the Book

Microsoft Reporting Services in Action
By Teo Lachev

Published July 2004, Softbound, 656 pages
Published by Manning Publications Co.
ISBN ISBN 1932394222
Retail price: $49.95
Ebook price: $25.00. To purchase the ebook go to http://www.manning.com/lachev.
This material is from Chapter 1 of the book.

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