The first time I met Brian Larson was in late 2001. At that time, we 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 Marty Voegole, Brian’s coworker at Superior Consulting, from some previous projects he had worked on for Microsoft. We contacted Marty and asked whether he was 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 that we were still over a year away from going public with Reporting Services, so 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.
When it was finally complete, Brian and Marty had worked for over six months on the project. It took a lot longer than we initially thought as the rendering APIs were still evolving at the time and we were learning about the PDF format. Also, we had only written the HTML rendering extension, 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 other areas of the product.
Around the same time, we had been quietly showing the product to a small set of partners and customers. While Reporting Services was originally scheduled to be released with SQL Server 2005 (called “Yukon” at the time), 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 up 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.
We released the first beta of the product in April and followed up with a second, public beta in October. Our initial goal for the second beta was 1,000 customers. By the time we had closed the beta, we had over 14,000 customers signed up to participate. The release of the product in January of 2004 capped off three years of hard work and was the highlight of my professional career. I am very proud of our first version and the reaction to the product has exceeded my wildest expectations. In the first year of release, over 120,000 people tried out the product and there were over 20,000 posts on our public newsgroup.
Brian released the first edition of this book just as we wrapped up the work on the first release and started working on the SQL Server 2005 version. While the core architecture of the product hasn’t changed in the new release, there are lots of new features that you will want to take advantage of, especially the new Report Builder end user reporting tool. Brian’s in-depth knowledge of the product and his practical approach made the first edition of this book a success and I’m sure that this edition will help you to leverage all of the new features in this release.
Reporting Services wouldn’t be the same product without the support of folks like Brian, our early adopters, and the thousands of customers who answer newsgroup posts, write blogs, and generally share their product knowledge with others. 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 it work for you as well.
Group Program Manager
Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services