The first time I met Brian Larson was in late 2001. At that time, our company had been working on Reporting Services for about a year. We were looking for someone to help write the PDF rendering extension as we were extremely busy with the core reporting processing engine and server infrastructure.
I had known Martin Voegele, Brian’s coworker at Superior Consulting Services, from previous projects he had worked on for Microsoft. We contacted Marty and asked whether he and Brian would be interested in doing some work for a new product. The code had to be written in C# using the .NET Framework, both of which had been recently released. The catch was, as we were still over a year away from going public with Reporting Services, they wouldn’t be able to talk about any of their work until we had announced the product. They agreed and started working on the extension.
Brian and Marty worked for over six months on the project before it was completed. This was a lot longer than we initially thought because the rendering APIs were still evolving at the time and we were learning about the PDF format. Also, we had written only the HTML rendering extension since so much of the page-oriented sizing and absolute positioning logic was new. By late 2002, we had finished integrating the code. Brian and Marty moved on to other projects, and we focused on different areas of the product.
Around the same time, we had been quietly showing the product to a small set of partners and customers. Although Reporting Services was originally scheduled to be released with the Yukon release of SQL Server, feedback from the early demos told us that we had something special on our hands that customers wanted sooner, not later. We decided to package what we had and release the product as an add-on to SQL Server 2000. In February 2003, we formally announced the existence of SQL Server Reporting Services and began work to deliver the early release.
Since then, it has been a whirlwind of activity and excitement. We released the first beta of the product in April 2003 and followed up with a second public beta in October of that year. Our initial goal for the second beta was 1,000 customers. By the time we closed the beta, we had over 14,000 customers signed up to participate. The release of the product in January 2004 capped off three years of hard work and was the highlight of my professional career. I am very proud of the effort by the product team. Initial reaction to the product shows that we have exceeded many expectations.
As we wrapped up work on the early release and started working on Yukon, I was pleased to learn that Brian was writing a book on Reporting Services. Brian’s in-depth knowledge of the product makes him an excellent resource, and his practical approach will ensure you are able to leverage all of the product’s available features.
Reporting Services wouldn’t be the same product without the support of folks like Brian, our early adopters, and the thousands of beta testers. It’s been very gratifying to meet people who are doing amazing things with the product and pushing it in ways we never dreamed of. I encourage you to use the knowledge and techniques in this book to make Reporting Services work for you as well.
Group Program Manager
Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services