Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services is an exciting product. Never has there been a product with so much potential for sharing business information with such ease of use and at such a reasonable price. Anyone who has ever struggled to find a way to efficiently share database information across an enterprise will see a reason to be delighted with this product.
Now I will admit that I may not be unbiased when expressing this opinion. I did have the opportunity to create a small piece of what has now become Reporting Services. But my excitement goes beyond that.
The main reason I get excited about Reporting Services is because I have been a database application developer for 15 years. I have fought with various reporting tools. I have struggled to find a way to efficiently share data between far-flung sales offices and their corporate headquarters. I have researched enterprise-wide reporting systems and started salivating when I saw the features they offered, only to have my hopes dashed when I looked at the licensing fees. I have shaken my fist at the computer screen and screamed, “There must be a better way!”
With Reporting Services, there is. During the past year, my colleagues and I at Superior Consulting Services have had the opportunity to incorporate Reporting Services into custom database solutions. We have worked with a number of organizations, helping them get up to speed on the product. We have seen how quickly and easily Reporting Services can improve the data analysis and data distribution capabilities within an enterprise.
At one client, we began implementing Reporting Services on Monday morning. By Wednesday afternoon, reports were being e-mailed around the company. Information was being shared as never before. On Thursday morning, the president of the company emerged from his office to see what all of the hoopla was about. As he stared at a newly created Reporting Services report, he began saying things like, “So that’s why we’re having a problem in this area” and “Now I see why our end-of-months totals went that direction.” That is enough to make even the most cynical data processing professional sit up and take notice!
This book is designed to help you and your organization achieve those same results. As you work through the examples in this book, I hope you have several of those “ah-ha” moments. Not only moments of discovering new capabilities in Reporting Services, but also moments of discovering how Reporting Services can solve business problems in your organization.
This book is meant to be a hands-on process. You should never be far from your Reporting Services development installation as you read through the chapters. The book is based on the philosophy that people understand more and remember longer when the learning takes place in an interactive environment. Consequently, most of the book is based on business needs and the reports, code, and configurations you will create to fulfill those needs.
The book is dedicated to offering examples that demonstrate complete solutions. I have tried to stay away from code snippets as much as possible. There is nothing worse than seeing five lines of code and knowing they are exactly the solution you need, but being unable to implement them because you do not know what code is supposed to come before or after those five lines to make the whole thing work. With the examples in this book, along with the supporting materials available from the book’s web site—www.osborne.com—you should always see a solution from beginning to end and be able to turn around and implement that solution to fulfill your organization’s business needs.
I have also tried to have a little fun in the book when appropriate. That is why the business scenarios are based on Galactic Delivery Services (GDS), an interplanetary package delivery service. (You might call it the delivery service to the stars.) While GDS is a bit fanciful with its antimatter transports and robotic employees, the business needs discussed will ring true for most organizations.
I hope you find this book to be a worthwhile tool for getting up to speed on Microsoft’s exciting new product. I hope you get a chuckle or two from its GDS examples. Most of all, I hope the book allows you to unlock the potential of Reporting Services for your organization.