Rev Up "i" Reporting with SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services

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Take advantage of the excellent reporting capabilities that Microsoft brings to the table.


Originally introduced as an add-on to SQL Server 2000, SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is a stable product currently in its third version with SQL Server 2008. This article offers a high-level overview of SSRS and explains how to create reports against a DB2 for i data source. If your organization has significant reporting needs, SSRS could be a great fit.


Why Use SQL Server Reporting Services?


There are plenty of products on the market that can report from DB2 for i data, including Microsoft Access and Excel, Crystal Reports, Cognos, New Generation's NGS-IQ, and DB2 Web Query to name a few. All of these products have their pluses and minuses in terms of features, usability, quirks, and cost, and SSRS is no exception. Rather than do a complete comparison of these products, here are some potential compelling reasons to use SSRS.


·  First, if your organization already owns SQL Server 2005 or 2008 standard edition or higher, then it also owns SSRS. (The free SQL Server Express editions can also run Reporting Services; however, there are some limitations).

·   Second, SSRS is a popular reporting platform and therefore has plenty of available technical resources in terms of information on the Web and personnel. Owning a stable and popular product has implications for developer job security as well as long-term cost of ownership.

·  Third, the product is browser-based and loaded with features, including drill-downs, the ability to generate reports in multiple formats (PDF, Excel, TIF, etc.), and a full-featured report history, scheduling, and distribution module.

·  Fourth, developers are provided with many features, including connectivity to many data sources, a report designer within the familiar Visual Studio IDE, pre-built controls, the ability to leverage .NET components (such as existing business logic), and a Web service-based API that will allow other applications (including iSeries applications) to interact with the reporting engine.

·  Fifth, Reporting Services is designed to work with other Microsoft products, such as Sharepoint.

·  Sixth, since this is a product by behemoth Microsoft, be assured that Microsoft has the resources to endow future versions with additional features.


Configuring SSRS


Reporting Services, including configuration, is a huge topic, so I'll say at the outset I will not be able to do the topic justice. The SQL Server books online (see resources below) already cover how to install and configure SSRS. I'll give a brief overview here.


SSRS is usually initially configured during the install of SQL Server. However, if you skipped that step or need to change something, you can still use the Reporting Services Configuration Manager utility to do the configuration. Among other things, this utility is used to configure SMTP email for report distribution, the URL to the report server, and the database name that is used to store the information about the deployed reports.


SSRS can be configured in a variety of ways. Two possible options are shown below. Option A involves installing the SQL Server Database Engine itself and the SQL Server Reporting Services Engine on different computers. Separating the Report Server from the Database Engine is useful in a heavily used reporting environment where running the database engine and the report server may be too much for one server.


Figure 1: You can run the SQL Server Database Engine and Reporting Services on separate servers.


A second configuration, shown below, has the Database Engine and the Report Server installed on the same server.



Figure 2: Or you can run the SQL Server Database Engine and Reporting Services on the same server.


SSRS can query from the SQL Server database engine, but it can also query data engines that have an ODBC or OLE DB provider, such as Oracle, DB2, or MySQL.


With respect to writing reports against DB2 for i, there is an additional question that should be addressed: where should the reporting data be stored--on SQL Server or within DB2?  Depending on the resources available, SSRS can query DB2 directly. Alternatively, it is a common practice to download and stage current DB2 data in SQL Server and then just let SSRS query SQL Server.



Tutorial #1: Building Sample Reports


I'll breeze through some quick examples of how to create a report using SQL Server 2008 Standard edition or higher and Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS). BIDS is actually a copy of Visual Studio that is installed with SQL Server, and although I will refer to BIDS through the remainder of the article, BIDS and Visual Studio are interchangeable. BIDS simply adds some "Business Intelligence" project templates that allow developers and administrators to work with special SQL Server features such as Reporting Services.


There are some prerequisites and assumptions for this tutorial:


·  The reader knows the basics of using Visual Studio/BIDS and has familiarity with SQL.

·  The report data will be queried directly from DB2.

·  An instance of SQL Server 2008 and SSRS is installed and configured. My SQL Server is installed on my local machine as the default instance. (Readers with named instances will have to adjust the example.)

·  A development machine (can be separate from SQL Server) with BIDS is installed.

·  Some V6R1 SQL examples are used, so some users may need to make appropriate substitutions.

·  The Reporting Services machine will also need IBM's System i Access installed (formerly known as iSeries Access and Client Access), including the ODBC driver component. If you prefer, the optional OLE DB providers (IBMDA400 and IBMDASQL) can be installed as well, although I have not tested them for this application.

·  Readers who have Visual Studio/BIDS 2005 or one of the Express products can do their best to follow along, although there will be some differences.

·  For the data in this tutorial, I've created a DB2 for i schema named ADVWORKS08 (requires V5R3 or higher) that contains a few tables exported from the SQL Server AdventureWorks2008 sample database. AdventureWorks is a free sample database available to SQL Server users and is covered under the Microsoft  Public License. You can download the converted sample data for this project.



Creating a Report Project


You should have a copy of Business Intelligence Development Studio in your SQL Server program folder. BIDS (aka Visual Studio) is the tool for building Reporting Services reports. Microsoft is trying hard to allow developers to use one development environment to do all their coding, business intelligence, user interface design, etc. If it is not installed on your development machine, BIDS is found under the Shared Features section of the SQL Server installation process.


To create a SSRS project, open BIDS and choose File > New Project. In the New Project window, choose Business Intelligence Projects in the left pane. In the right pane, the Business Intelligence templates will appear. Choose the Report Server Project Wizard template and assign the project a name and folder location.


You now have a project container that will ultimately house all of your data source and report definitions. As a guideline, I create one SSRS project for each set of related reports. If I need a set of reports for inventory management, a set for sales, and a set for purchasing, I create a separate BIDS project for each. It doesn't have to be done this way as it mainly depends on how you want to deploy your reports, who you want to have access to them, and how you want them grouped for presentation to the user community.


The first thing to add to your SSRS project is a data source. A data source is simply the "connector" that will allow SSRS to query a database, XML file, OLAP server, or whatever. The most popular data source connections are SQL Server, Oracle, ODBC, and OLE DB connectivity, although more options are available. A data source can be local to a report, or it can be defined as a Shared Data Source, which can be re-used by multiple reports. Typically, I create one shared data source to a DB2 ERP system that can be used by several SSRS reports.


Once you've established one or more data sources, it's time to create a report against the sources. Either you can generate a report from scratch by dragging and dropping various toolbox controls onto the report canvas, or you can have a little help by letting the Report Wizard assist in the report generation. There are several controls available to use on a report, including the familiar textbox, label, and image controls. Additionally, SSRS has some specialized reporting controls, including the list, table, matrix, and subreport controls.  Incidentally, when using a table, list, or matrix control in SSRS  2008, you're actually using a new underlying control (aka "data region") called a tablix. 


Creating a Shared Data Source


Let's start by defining a data source to DB2 for i. To do this, we'll need to add a new "shared data source"  to the project (a shared data source can be used by more than one report in a project). Choose Add New Item from the Project menu. The Add New Item window appears:




Figure 3: Create a new data source to DB2 for i. (Click images to enlarge.)


Select the Data Source icon as the template and click Add.


The Shared Data Source Properties window appears.



Figure 4: Choose the data source properties.


Assign a name to the source (I called mine DB2i), select ODBC as the type, and fill in the ODBC connection string to your System i. You can simply modify the string I have below:




If you're using SQL Server Express, you will not have options to connect to an ODBC or OLE DB data source; you can only connect to a local SQL Server! This is where you'll need to be creative in reporting DB2 data. You'll need to either download data from DB2 into SQL Server first or use a programming technique such as linked servers or a CLR table function to get data directly from DB2.


Next, click the Credentials option in the left pane. Specify a user name and password. It's a good idea to create a "reporting user" that has read-only access to data. If security is an issue, you'll want to use a user profile that has no explicit access to the data and then create DB2 stored procedures to retrieve the data on behalf of the user profile using adopted authority.



Figure 5: Change the credentials.


Click OK. The data source is ready to use.


Now we'll create two sample reports based on this connection: a tabular report and a matrix report.


Tutorial #2: Creating a Tabular Report with Drill-Down Enabled


This example illustrates how to create a common tabular (i.e., table-based rows and columns) report design--including report breaks--and how to enable drill-down functionality that allows a user to show and hide detail data.


This objective of the report is to retrieve clothing product sales data from the DB2 data source and summarize it by product within product subcategory. Additionally, we'd like to be able to drill into a product to see the order detail underlying the total.


To add a report within BIDS, click Add New Item from the project menu.



Figure 6: Add a new item.


Choose Report Wizard from the available templates and assign your report a name. Notice the extension is .rdl, which stands for report definition layout (RDL) which is actually an XML file. This sample report's name is "AS400 Product Sales by Subcategory.rdl."


When prompted for a data source, choose DB2i (defined in the prior step) from the list. Click Next.


On the Design the Query screen, paste in the following query text that retrieves information from the sales and product tables:


    SELECT soh.OrderDate AS Date, 'SO'||VarChar(soh.SalesOrderId) AS ORDER,

           pps.Name AS Subcat, pp.Name AS Product,

           SUM(sd.OrderQty) AS Qty,

           * OrderQty, 0.0)) AS LineTotal

      FROM SalesPerson sp


 SalesOrderHeader AS soh ON sp.BusinessEntityID = soh.SalesPersonID


 SalesOrderDetail AS sd ON sd.SalesOrderID = soh.SalesOrderID


 Product AS pp ON sd.ProductID = pp.ProductID


 ProductSubcategory AS pps ON pp.ProductSubcategoryID = pps.ProductSubcategoryID


 ProductCategory AS ppc ON ppc.ProductCategoryID = pps.ProductCategoryID

  GROUP BY ppc.Name, soh.OrderDate, soh.SalesOrderId, pps.Name, pp.Name, soh.SalesPersonID

    HAVING ppc.Name = 'Clothing'    /* HAVING clause is optional */

Your "design the query" window should look something like this:



Figure 7: You've begun to design your query.


Click Next.


On the Select the Report Type wizard step, choose Tabular report. Click Next.


On the Design the Table wizard step, all of the columns from your query appear. Distribute the "Available fields" (i.e., query columns) into the "Display fields" column on the right as follows:



Figure 8: Now, you're designing your table.


The "displayed fields" sections are as follows:


·   Page--The page-level fields in a table will be displayed at the top of the table. By default, a page break will be generated whenever the values in the columns specified in this section change. Place the SUBCAT (subcategory) field here because you want to start a new page whenever the subcategory changes. To do this, click the SUBCAT field on the right and then click the Page button to move it to the Page section.

·   Group--The group section controls how the detail fields are grouped in the table. For RPG and COBOL folks, a group is synonymous with a control break. Place the PRODUCT column in this section to introduce a product-level break on the report.

·   Details--As the name implies, Detail fields are displayed for every row in the data source. The order of these fields is important as the wizard will place the fields on the report from left to right in the order specified. You can always change them after the fact in the report designer, but it's easier to let the wizard do it correctly the first time. Place the DATE, ORDER, QTY, LINETOTAL fields in this section.



Click Next.



On the Choose the Table Layout step, choose the Stepped Layout option and check the Include Subtotals box and the Enable Drilldown box. The stepped vs. blocked layout option is an aesthetic choice, while Include Subtotals will make the wizard do the chore of adding a subtotal line to the table. The Enable Drilldown option will allow the dynamic expansion and contraction of detail rows within a group.


Click Next.


On the Choose the Table Style step, choose a color scheme that appeals to you (or better, is close to your business logo colors, if possible). In this example, I chose Forest, which is mostly varied shades of green.


Click Next.


On this Completion step, the wizard will give you a summary of everything selected during the wizard's collection process. At this point, the wizard is done and you only need to click Finish. Optionally, you can click the checkbox to preview the report.


Formatting the Report 

If you chose to preview your report, you can see that the wizard's initial generation is nice, but there are still quite a few rough edges to smooth out. Here's what the initial report looks like in preview mode:



Figure 9: Your initial report looks like this.


Notice that in the BIDS report designer, there are two tabs at the top: Design and Preview. The Design tab allows changes to be made to the report definition, and the Preview tab shows you what the report will look like. Please note that the Design tab must be selected in order to follow the following instructions. When in design mode, you'll see the table control, which should have four rows: Heading, Grouping, Detail and Total.


Initially, the report has the following characteristics:

  • The page-level subcategory is shown just below the report title at the top of each page.
  • Because drill-down is enabled, the report initially shows only the summary lines by Product (which we chose for the grouping of our table). However, clicking the plus symbol (+) next to each product will expand the report to show the underlying order detail rows.
  • The summary rows by product contain summations for quantity and order line value and are displayed at the top (i.e., first line) of the group, not at the bottom.
  • Once the report is set up, innumerable things can be done in terms of formatting, linking to other reports, etc. I'll step through the basics of formatting some report columns and creating a few simple expressions. When writing SSRS expressions (addition, concatentation, .NET functions, etc.), the VB.NET syntax is used.

Some things need to be changed to spiffy up the report:

  • Change the report margins because the defaults are a one-inch border all around the page. Choose Report Properties from the Report menu. In the Report Properties box, change all margin values (left, right, top, and bottom) to .4" (four tenths of an inch).
  • The body of the report needs to be wider so that the report columns can be bigger (without wrapping text).
  • Choose the Properties window from the View menu. At the top of the Properties window is a drop-down box that has a list of all the report controls and sections. Choose the Body option from the list. Locate the size property and expand it by clicking the plus symbol (+). For the width, enter 6.84375in, and for the height, enter 1.7in. These values are somewhat arbitrary; their exact value usually depends on what you need on your report. Make the product column bigger so we don't have to see the wrapping. Select any box in the first (product) column (to do this, click twice on any text box in the first column of the tablix/table control.) Press F4 to open the properties window, locate the size property, and change the first value, which is the width, from 1in (the default) to 2.85in. Alternatively, you can drag the right side of the column to make it bigger within the designer. The exact width usually isn't an issue; just make it big enough for the content to fit.
  • Change the column headings to mixed case to improve readability. Clicking three times on each of the column heading boxes will allow you to modify the text.
  • Create aggregate expressions that will allow the first date within the group and number of orders to show up in the group summary line (which are currently blank). By default, the Report Wizard will not do any automatic aggregations on columns such as Date (Date data type) and Order (VarChar data type). But you can still show information in these boxes. For example, to show the first order date in the current Product group, you need to add an expression to the date text box on the group row. The group row for Product is distinguishable from the detail row because it contains a reference to the Product field. The detail row's product column is blank.
  • Click twice on the date text box in the product summary row to select it. Then, right-click the date box and choose Expression from the context menu. Enter the following expression:


    The First function will take the first date value it encounters in the current group's data. The Fields collection is a built-in collection that provides access to all columns in a report's data source(s). Please note that the field names are case-sensitive.


For another example, let's place the number of orders within the product group in the Order text box on the product summary line.

Click twice on the order text box in the product summary row. Then, right-click the Order field box and choose Expression from the context menu. Enter the following expression:


When complete, the date and order columns will no longer be empty on the summary rows.

  • Add a Subcategory total line to tally the entire results for each subcategory of clothing. To show the subtotals for the entire subcategory, locate the Row Groups window at the bottom of the designer window. Click the arrow next to the product row group and then choose Add Total > After to create a total line after each product group. Shown below is a picture of this step.


Figure 10: Add a Subcategory total line.


A new row will appear at the bottom of the table control. Select the first column's text box of the new row and choose Expression. Enter the following expression:

="Total for " + Fields!SUBCAT.Value

Likewise, enter these expressions for the following cells on the total line:





Line Total


Finally, make the total line's font bold by clicking the total line's row handle (to highlight the entire row) followed by the Control+B key sequence.

  • Format the date and line-total columns. Select two date column cells on the product summary line (in green) and the detail line (white). Hint: hold the Shift key down to select consecutive cells.



Figure 11: Format the date and line-total columns.

Press F4 to open the Properties window. Find the Format property and enter the following value: dd-MMM-yy. This is known as a format expression and will cause a date such as April 1, 2009 to be formatted as 01-Apr-09.


Select all three of the line total cells (summary, detail, total) and then Press F4 to bring up the Properties window. Locate the Format property and enter the following format expression to make them display currency: '$'0.00;('$'0.00).


When all the changes are made, preview the report again to behold an attractive report. After the next report creation tutorial, I'll discuss how to deploy the report so users can access it. AS400 Product Sales by


Tutorial #2: Creating a Parameterized Matrix Report

The purpose of this report example is to show the power of the matrix report wizard and to demonstrate how to pass a parameter to a report. A matrix report is used to pivot data on a given axis.


For example, if you have a list of parts that failed inspection stored like this in the database…




Number of Rejected Parts

Bike Chain



Bike Chain




…and you want it to pivot data about the quarter column so that it is displayed in a report like this…



Quarter 1 Rejects

Quarter 2 Rejects

Bike Chain




…you would use a matrix report.


This sample report is intended to list all products in a given parameterized category, show all vendors that sell the product, and show how many products were sent back to the vendor. To see if the vendor is improving or not, the number of rejected products is pivoted by quarter. In other words, each quarter in the data set will be displayed in its own column on the report. Because of this, keep in mind that if pivot values are not controlled in the query or limited by the data itself, a matrix report can potentially contain an unruly number of columns. To illustrate, if you're displaying data for the past 10 years and want to pivot data by year and month, you'll get 120 columns.


If you're a visual person and need to see what the report is supposed to look like, Figure 16 later in this article shows a picture of the final report.

Now, using BIDS, let's create the report, step by step, using the report wizard.


Choose Add New Item from the Project menu.


In the templates window, choose the Report Data Wizard option and assign the name "AS400 Product Rejects by Vendor.rdl."


Click the wizard's intro page and choose DB2i as the shared data source.


Click Next.


In the Design the Query wizard step, paste the following query:


Select POD.PurchaseOrderID,Ven.Name As VendorName,

       PRD.ProductId,PRD.Name ProductName,

       CAT.Name As CategoryName,SUBCAT.Name As SubcatName,

       Coalesce(Color,'N/A') As Color,Size,Class,Style,

       Varchar_Format(OrderDate,'YYYY-Q') As Order_Quarter /* V6R1 Required */,


From PurchaseOrderDetail POD

Join PurchaseOrderHeader POH On POH.PurchaseOrderID=POD.PurchaseOrderID

Join Vendor VEN On VEN.BusinessEntityID=POH.VendorID

Join Product PRD On PRD.ProductID=POD.ProductID

Join ProductSubcategory SUBCAT On SUBCAT.ProductSubcategoryID=PRD.ProductSubcategoryID

Join ProductCategory CAT On CAT.ProductCategoryID=SUBCAT.ProductCategoryID

Where RejectedQty<>0


The above query uses the Varchar_Format function to extract the year and quarter. If you're not on V6R1, you'll need to create an expression to do this extraction.


Click Next.


In the Select the Report Type step, select the Matrix option.


Click Next.


On the Design the Matrix step, choose the following display fields:



Figure 12: Design your matrix.


  • Page--The page section works the same as the table report type. However, page-level summarizations aren't required for this report, so it'll be left blank.
  • Columns--This contains the field(s) from the query that will serve as the basis for pivoting data. Choose the ORDER_QUARTER column, which will cause the report to dynamically generate a display column for each quarter encountered in the query result set.
  • Rows--This section contains the field(s) that the report will group on. We want to show all products, followed by each vendor that sold the product, followed by the number of rejects in each quarter. When SSRS creates the matrix, it will create a row for every distinct combination of products and vendors. Add the ProductName and VendorName fields to this section.
  • Details--This section holds the data that is to be aggregated on the report. In our case, we want to aggregate the number of rejects recorded, so add the REJECTEDQTY field to the detail section.


Click Next.


On the Choose the Table Style step, choose a color scheme. In this example, I chose "Slate."

Click Finish.


The wizard has just given us a functional report that is doing quite a bit behind the scenes to serve our purpose. However, reports are rarely generated against an entire data set. Instead, a date range or some other criteria is applied against the data source to limit the volume of data.


Adding a Report Parameter

A new requirement of this report will be to add a parameter that will allow the user to view the rejected products for all categories or for one specific category. When the report is requested, the default will be to display "All Categories," but the user will have the option to override it with a single category. When running the report, we desire SSRS to present a prompt that looks like this:



Figure 13: Choose to display all categories or a single category.  


To begin, bring up the Report Data window by choosing Report Data from BIDS's view menu. This helpful window will show built-in fields, defined parameters, images, and data sources in your SSRS project. The window should look similar to the one shown here:



Figure 14: Report Data shows your SSRS project's built-in fields, defined parameters, images, and data sources.


The good news is that, when prompting for a parameter, Reporting Services can allow a user to select from a list of values. The bad news is, in this sample database, the CategoryIDs are actually incremental numbers. We don't want the user to have to select a number, so we will need to show the user the list of category names in the ProductCategory table and pass the corresponding CategoryId number behind the scenes to the database query. So before defining our parameter, let's define a query to get all the category names from the database for SSRS to show the user. To do this, right-click on the DB2i data source in the Report Data window and choose Add Dataset.


When the dataset window appears, assign a name of "Category," choose DB2i as your data source, and enter the following SQL in the query property:

Select ProductCategoryId,Name From ProductCategory

Union All

Select *

From (Values(Cast(Null As Int),'All Categories'))

       As Dummy (ProductCategoryId,Name) /* V6R1 Required */


The second SQL statement generates a "dummy" one-row result set that has a CategoryId of NULL and a name of 'All Categories'. This row with special NULL value CategoryId is required so we can give the user the option to pick all the categories (more on this in a minute). Again, we're defining this query to pull a list of all the categories to present to the users when they're prompted to pick a Category value.


The query again was written for V6R1, using the new FROM VALUES clause. Prior to 6.1, the second portion of the query after the UNION ALL should look like this:


Select Cast(Null As Int) ProductCategoryId,'All Categories' Name

Now that we have the category names available, let's define the parameter for the report. Go back to the Report Data window, right-click on the Parameters node, and choose Add Parameter. On the Report Parameter Properties dialog, enter Category as the name and Choose a Category as the prompt. The parameter name can be referenced in queries and report expressions, and the prompt text is what the user will see when the report is run. Finally, choose "integer" as the data type and check the "allow null value" option. In this case, when the user selects a null value, we want to show all the data. NULL provides a way to allow this special case.


Next, to populate the parameter with a list of available choices, choose the Available Values option in the list of options on the left side of the window. Select the option Get Values from a Query, choose Category as the dataset (this is the query we just defined in the prior step), choose ProductCategoryId as the value field, and choose Name as the label field. The value will be an integer, and the label is what the user actually sees in the drop-down list.


The next step is to change the base report query to accept the ProductCategoryId report parameter (i.e., picked by the user) so the database query retrieves only the desired category. In the Report Data window, right-click on DataSet1 (the default dataset generated by the wizard) and choose DataSet Properties. Change the query property's SQL WHERE clause to look like the following:


Where RejectedQty<>0

And (Cast(? As Int)=Subcat.ProductCategoryId

   Or Cast(? As Int) Is Null)


The question mark (?) is a parameter marker, and each marker represents a value that will be given to the query statement at run time. In our sample, both parameter markers represent the same information: the ProductCategoryId the user selects when running the report. (Unfortunately, DB2 for i ODBC calls do not allow named parameters like SQL Server does.) Two parameters are required because there are two tests being done: a NULL test and a table column comparison.


Next, Reporting Services will need to know what value to give these parameter markers when it submits the query to DB2. To do this, assuming you're still in the Dataset Properties window, click on the parameters option (in the left pane). If the query has no syntax errors, there should be two parameter entries in the parameter list, both with question marks in the name fields. For each parameter, select the report-level parameter [@Category] from the drop-down list. The figure below shows what the screen should look like. Click OK when done.



Figure 15: Choose your query parameter values.


Remember, this linkage simply takes the Report parameter called @Category (Reporting Services adds the initial @) and passes the value the user selects to the parameter markers in the query. It is conceivable that you may have multiple parameter markers against multiple columns in a query, so just remember when filling in the parameter linkage that the parameter markers will be populated in the order they appear in the SQL from top to bottom, left to right.


Click OK to close the Dataset Properties windows. The query will now be parameterized based on the report parameter value the user chooses.


Turning our attention to report formatting, other than resizing the columns (so more can fit across the page) and changing the margins to .4", there wasn't much else to do. A preview of the report looks like this:



Figure 16: Now your report looks like this! Much better!


Notice that the parameter presentation at the top of the report includes our label Choose a Category and our default selection of All Categories. Also, our rows are composed of product/vendor combinations, and our columns are composed of the quarters in the dataset. The RejectedQty is summarized in the detail section by product, vendor, and quarter.

I should mention one more design convention. It's a good practice to add a report footer that displays things like page numbers, report name, etc. There is an internal collection of report fields within SSRS that contains this information. In the report designer, choose Add Page Footer from the Report menu. Then simply add text boxes at the desired footer location and assign an expression to them. Shown below is the Expression window. Notice that in the lower portion of the window, there are Category and Item lists that assist with expression building.



Figure 17: Build your expressions here.


For example, when you select Built-in Fields in the Category box, you'll see a number of useful fields that can be referenced on a header or footer, such as PageNumber, UserId, etc. Also, the Fields category will display the list of fields in your report's data source(s). Take time to study the available options.


Here is a hodge-podge of notes about the reports we've done and SSRS in general:


  • Depending on the number of dynamic columns generated, matrix reports are not always conducive to printing. However, they may be good candidates for exporting to Excel.
  • Don't count on matrix reports to render correctly within browsers other than Internet Explorer.
  • When changing a complex report, sometimes it's easier to edit the RDL file (XML format) directly. To do this, right-click on your report definition in the Solution Explorer and then choose the View Code option.
  • For some reason, you cannot put fields from a data source on a report header or footer section (without resorting to a hack of some sort).
  • There is an import facility that converts MS
    Access reports to SSRS.


Deploying the Report


At the end of the day, when your reports are ready for prime time, BIDS provides an easy way to deploy the reports. But first, you'll need to configure the project's properties so that it knows where to send the report definitions and data sources. Choose Properties from the BIDS Project menu. A window will appear with four deployment options:


  • Overwrite target data sources--This Boolean option defaults to false. It will prevent BIDS data sources from overwriting existing data sources on the report server. This is done so that a test data source used by a developer doesn't get deployed to a live report server. If you'll be using test data sources in BIDS, you'll want to leave this false on most occasions.
  • TargetDataSource folder--This is the name of the folder where data source definitions are pushed. The default is Data Sources.
  • TargetReportFolder--This is the name of the SSRS folder to house the project's reports. If the SSRS folder doesn't exist, it will be created. Since these are AdventureWorks reports, it would be appropriate to call the folder AdventureWorks. You may desire to create an SSRS folder for each department that requires reporting.
  • TargetServerURL--This identifies the URL of the SSRS instance to host the reports. The default is http://servername:port/ReportServer/. I have SSRS installed locally on my PC so the deployment address is http://localhost/reportserver. The virtual directory and report can be overridden in the Reporting Services Configuration Manager, which is found in the SQL Server Configuration subfolder. If you didn't set up Reporting Services, your SSRS administrator can supply this deployment URL.



Figure 18: Configure Reporting Services.


If you have only one SSRS instance, you'll probably need to configure these only once in your project. If you have multiple SSRS instances (say, one for test and one for production), then you may need to tinker with these options.


Now that BIDS knows the requisite SSRS info, simply choose "Deploy project name" from the BIDS Build menu. If there are no errors, BIDS will show a "succeeded" message in the Output window.


Once deployed, your users will need to know the URL of the report server to access the reports. In general, you'll give the users the
following URL: http://servername:port/Reports/.


Again, assuming the default on my local machine, the URL is http://localhost/Reports/. The initial view will show the users a list of Reporting Services folders (such as AdventureWorks). Clicking on the folder name will reveal reports published to that folder, as shown below.



Figure 19: Users see a list of Reporting Services folders.


Here are a few noteworthy items about this Web interface:

  • The My Subscriptions option will allow a user to schedule (i.e., subscribe to) report distribution. For example, the user can have the "Sales By Subcategory" report emailed in PDF format once a month.
  • The Report Builder option is a Smart Client application that allows users to build their own reports. For the most part, only Internet Explorer and Firefox are supported (and Firefox may need the .NET Smart Client Add-On).
  • Site Settings allows security and schedule assignments to be made. It also controls the SSRS archiving feature, which keeps snapshots of various reports for historical purposes.

Reporting the Conclusion

SSRS is a full-featured reporting package that can report from just about any data source, including DB2 for i. In addition to a powerful reporting engine, SSRS contains a great report scheduler and report archiving mechanism. Empower decision-makers with real-time access to the data they need in the format they want using SSRS.



Here is a compilation of some important information on Reporting Services to round out your understanding of the product.


Installation of Reporting Services for SQL Server 2008


Reporting Services Overview

Michael Sansoterra is a DBA for Broadway Systems in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He can be contacted at







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    SB PowerTech WC Generic

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    Experts’ fears surrounding the risks associated with poor configuration were recently confirmed by the 2016 State of IBM i Security Study. Published annually, the results reveal most Power Systems lack adequate security controls and auditing measures.
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    - How the IFS is configured
    - Common IFS security mistakes
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    - Tracking user activity

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    SB PowerTech WC Generic

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    SB PowerTech WC Generic

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    SB PowerTech WC Generic

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    - Build one application for all platforms, including Apple and Android
    - Extend the life and reach of your IBM i (aka iSeries, AS400) platform
    You’ll see examples from customers who have used our products and services to deliver the mobile applications of their dreams, faster and easier than they ever thought possible!
    Watch this Webinar Now!

  • Profound UI: Unlock True Modernization from your IBM i Enterprise

    SB Profound PPL 5491

    Modern, web-based applications can make your Enterprise more efficient, connected and engaged. This session will demonstrate how the Profound UI framework is the best and most native way to convert your existing RPG applications and develop new modern applications for your business. Additionally, you will learn how you can address modernization across your Enterprise, including databases and legacy source code, with Profound Logic.
    We will demonstrate how Profound UI:
    - Goes beyond simple screen-scraping to truly modernize your RPG applications
    - Uses RPG Open Access and your own RPG code and development talent to modernize
    - Supports rapid development with an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop Designer
    - Integrates with our on-the-fly modernization, mobile development, and Enterprise Modernization solutions

  • 5 New and Unique Ways to Use the IBM i Audit Journal

    SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericHigh availability for IBM i has been a hot topic in 2017, jumping 20% from our 2016 survey to take the #2 seat on IT priority lists just behind cybersecurity. And no surprise with these two topics so closely tied to your most valuable asset: your irreplaceable business data.
    With major airline outages last year and the recent ransomware attacks, you must be asking yourself: am I doing everything I can to protect my organization’s data?
    Tune in as our panel of IBM i high availability experts—Tom Huntington, Matt Staddler, and Cole Ragland—deliver lively discussion around the top high availability issues of today, including:

    • Why companies don’t test role swaps when they know they should
    • Whether high availability in the cloud makes sense for IBM i users
    • Why some organizations don’t have high availability yet
    • How to get high availability up and running at your organization
    • High availability considerations for today’s security concerns

    There are no do-overs when it comes to your data. Once it’s gone, it’s gone...unless you have a data replication layer in place to protect it. Learn the value of these strategic solutions and how you can implement them in a hurry—watch now!


  • Profound.js 2.0: Extend the Power of Node to your IBM i Applications

    SB Profound WC 5541In this Webinar, we'll demonstrate how Profound.js 2.0 enables you to easily adopt Node.js in your business, and to take advantage of the many benefits of Node, including access to a much larger pool of developers for IBM i and access to countless reusable open source code packages on npm (Node Package Manager).
    You will see how Profound.js 2.0 allows you to:

    • Provide RPG-like capabilities for server-side JavaScript.
    • Easily create web and mobile application interfaces for Node on IBM i.
    • Let existing RPG programs call Node.js modules directly, and vice versa.
    • Automatically generate code for Node.js.
    • Automatically converts existing RPGLE code into clean, simplified Node.js code.

    Download and watch today!


  • Make Modern Apps You'll Love with Profound UI & Profound.js

    SB Profound WC 5541Roses are red, your UIs are green...It's time to make your apps proud to be seen!
    Whether you have green screens or a drab GUI, your outdated apps can benefit from modern source code, modern GUIs, and modern tools.
    Profound Logic's Alex Roytman and Liam Allan are here to show you how Free-format RPG and Node.js make it possible to deliver applications your whole business will love.
    In this webinar, you'll learn how you can use both Profound UI and Profound.js to:

    • Transform legacy RPG code to modern free-format RPG and Node.js
    • Deliver truly modern application interfaces with Profound UI
    • Extend your RPG applications to include Web Services and NPM packages with Node.js

    This webinar will include a live product demonstration and Q&A with the presenters.

    Download and watch today!

  • 2017 IBM i Marketplace Revealed


    IBM i is one of technology’s best-kept secrets, with little information available about what IBM i users are doing on this server. Even companies that use this technology struggle to explain to their own teams what IBM i stands for and who else is using it.
    The IBM i Marketplace Survey—now in its 3rd year—was designed to solve this problem. Watch this on-demand webinar for the exclusive results of the 2017 survey. IBM i Champion Tom Huntington is joined by a panel of technology experts to discuss year-over-year trends and new insights. The panel will discuss:

    • What other platforms do you run alongside IBM i?
    • What programming and Open Source languages are you using?
    • What are your top IT issues?
    • What version of POWER and what OS level is most prevalent?
    • Are you expanding your usage of IBM i?
    • Is IBM i a good ROI?

    The expert panel will provide industry insight and comments about the results. When the webinar concludes, you’ll get access to the full results.

  • Accelerating Programmer Productivity with Sequel


    Most business intelligence tools are just that: tools, a means to an end but not an accelerator. Yours could even be slowing you down. But what if your BI tool didn't just give you a platform for query-writing but also improved programmer productivity?
    Watch the recorded webinar to see how Sequel:

    • Makes creating complex results simple
    • Eliminates barriers to data sources
    • Increases flexibility with data usage and distribution

    Accelerated productivity makes everyone happy, from programmer to business user.

  • Business Intelligence is Changing: Make Your Game Plan


    Everyone wants a piece of your business data. But keeping up with data access requests in the era of constantly growing data is a challenge. As a result, your IT department can be overwhelmed, inundated, and constantly needing to play catch-up.
    It’s time to develop a strategy that will help you meet your informational challenges head-on. Watch the webinar to learn how to set your IT department up for business intelligence success in 2018.
    You’ll learn how the right data access tool will help you:

    • Access IBM i data faster
    • Deliver useful information to executives and business users
    • Empower users with secure data access

    Ready to make your game plan and finally keep up with your data access requests?

  • Controlling Insider Threats on IBM i


    Let’s face facts: servers don’t hack other servers. Despite the avalanche of regulations, news headlines remain chock full of stories about data breaches, all initiated by insiders or intruders masquerading as insiders.
    User profiles are often duplicated or restored and are rarely reviewed for the appropriateness of their current configuration. This increases the risk of the profile being able to access data without the intended authority or having privileges that should be reserved for administrators.
    Watch noted security expert Robin Tatam as he discusses a new approach for onboarding new users on IBM i and best-practices techniques for managing and monitoring activities after they sign on.

  • Don't Just Settle for Query/400...


    There’s a better way to run your queries. With an advanced query tool like Sequel Data Access, you can deliver the IBM i data your organization needs quickly and efficiently—without the hang-ups.
    In this session, we’ll address common frustrations with Query/400, discuss major data access and distribution trends, and help you understand what to look for in a more advanced query tool.
    Plus, you’ll learn how a tool like Sequel lightens IT’s load by:

    • Accessing real-time data, so you can make real-time decisions
    • Providing run-time prompts, so users can help themselves
    • Delivering instant results in Microsoft Excel and PDF, without the wait
    • Automating the query process with on-demand data, dashboards, and scheduled jobs
    • Watch the webinar and learn why you shouldn’t just settle for Query/400.


  • How to Manage Documents the Easy Way


    What happens when your company depends on an outdated document management strategy?
    Everything is harder.
    Capturing documents means scanning and filing—which takes you away from tasks that actually matter to the business. Managing documents means sorting through an endless sea of shared folders or filing cabinets—and sometimes documents can’t be found. Distributing documents means following a frustrating, manual process for routing documents internally and sending them to vendors and customers.
    You don’t need to stick with status quo anymore.
    Watch the webinar to learn how to put effective document management into practice and:

    • Capture documents faster, instead of wasting everyone’s time
    • Manage documents easily, so you can always find them
    • Distribute documents automatically, and move on to the next task


  • Lessons Learned from the AS/400 Breach


    Get actionable info to avoid becoming the next cyberattack victim.
    In “Data breach digest—Scenarios from the field,” Verizon documented an AS/400 security breach. Whether you call it AS/400, iSeries, or IBM i, you now have proof that the system has been breached.
    Watch IBM i security expert Robin Tatam give an insightful discussion of the issues surrounding this specific scenario.
    Robin will also draw on his extensive cybersecurity experience to discuss policies, processes, and configuration details that you can implement to help reduce the risk of your system being the next victim of an attack.

  • Monitor VIOS (and AIX) from Your IBM i


    Virtual I/O Server (VIOS) runs on AIX and allows you to share input/output resources across logical partitions. The health of your VIOS server is critical to the performance of all your Power server partitions, so monitoring it is a must.
    Our 2017 IBM i Marketplace Survey Results uncovered a cool trend: an increasing number of IBM i shops are running AIX instances alongside IBM i on Power Systems servers. We like to see these systems playing nicely together on the same server, though it does shine a spotlight on shared resources.
    During this 30-minute recording, our experts demonstrate the new VIOS and AIX monitoring capabilities in Robot Monitor. You’ll learn about:

    • The top AIX metrics that impact VIOS
    • Real-time monitoring with dashboard displays
    • Threshold and notification options
    • Identifying trends to better allocate resources

    With VIOS/AIX running alongside IBM i, you need visibility into your entire Power environment.
    Watch now to see how Robot Monitor can get you there!



  • Overwhelmed by Operating Systems?


    You’re responsible for looking after Windows, Linux, AIX, and VIOS, but you worry that you don’t understand their complexities well enough to make your job effective—or easy.
    No problem! Simplify the management of multiple operating systems and applications without becoming experts in each area.
    In this 30-minute recorded webinar, our experts demonstrate how you can:

    • Manage multiple platforms from a central location
    • View monitoring results in a single pane of glass on your desktop or mobile device
    • Take advantage of best practice, plug-and-play monitoring templates
    • Create rules to automate daily checks across your entire infrastructure
    • Receive notification if something is wrong or about to go wrong

    This presentation includes a live demo of Network Server Suite and shows how easy monitoring multiple operating systems and applications can be using point-and-click technology.


  • Real-Time Disk Monitoring with Robot Monitor


    When IBM i disk space pulls its notorious disappearing act, you don’t have time to waste figuring out how the trick is done. You need to know when disk space starts to disappear and where it has gone before system performance and productivity start to suffer.
    Looking behind the curtain to keep a close eye on disk space—especially in a multi-partition environment—can have its challenges, but every good admin can have an ace up their sleeve. Our experts will show you how Robot Monitor can help you pinpoint exactly when your auxiliary storage starts to disappear and why, so you can start taking a proactive approach to disk monitoring and analysis. You’ll also get insight into:

    • The main sources of disk consumption
    • How to monitor temporary storage and QTEMP objects in real time
    • How to monitor objects and libraries in real time and near-real time
    • How to track long-term disk trends

    Start seeing through the sleight of hand and get instant visibility into disk usage. Add advance warning of potential threats and—abracadabra!—you’ll reduce the risk of disk space depletion and curb the sudden flurry of activity to clean things up.


  • Stop Re-keying Data Between IBM I and Other Applications


    Still following manual processes for extracting and transferring data across platforms? You’re not alone. Many business still depend on RPG for their daily business processes and report generation. And that leads to a lot of manual effort.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if you could stop re-keying data between IBM i and other applications? Or if you could stop replicating data and start processing orders faster? Or what if you could automatically extract data from existing reports instead of re-keying?
    It’s all possible. Watch this webinar to learn about:

    • The data dilemma
    • 3 ways to stop re-keying data
    • Data automation in practice

    Plus, you’ll see a demonstration of how data automation software from HelpSystems will help you finally stop re-keying data.


  • Survey Results: 2018 Top Cybersecurity Risks and Mitigation Strategies


    Protecting your organization from cyberthreats has never been more important—or more difficult.
    IT pros have many tactics to choose from, but time (and budgets!) are not unlimited. The key is prioritizing risks and identifying the most effective ways to mitigate the danger.
    In 2018, HelpSystems surveyed more than 600 IT and cybersecurity professionals to find out what security exploits loom largest and what strategies they’re turning to for protection.
    In this on-demand webinar, our team of cybersecurity security experts analyzes results. You’ll learn about:

    • Security strategies your peers are most interested in implementing
    • How managers and executives prioritize security
    • Who is responsible for cybersecurity at organizations around the world
    • Where IT pros turn for assistance with security

    You'll also get practical tips for using this data to drive cybersecurity conversations at your organization.


  • The Top Five RPG Open Access Myths....BUSTED!


    When it comes to IBM® Rational® Open Access: RPG Edition (also known as RPG Open Access), there are still many misconceptions - especially where application modernization is concerned!

    In this Webinar, we'll address some of the biggest myths about RPG Open Access, including:

    • Modernizing with RPG OA requires significant changes to the source code
    • The RPG language is outdated and impractical for modernizing applications
    • Modernizing with RPG OA is the equivalent to "screen scraping"

    This Webinar features IBM i expert Alison Butterill, and Profound Logic’s Brian May and Alex Roytman.


    Watch the On-demand Webinar Now!

  • Time to Remove the Paper from Your Desk and Become More Efficient


    Do your users keep paperwork on their desk until it's processed?
    Are people constantly removing documents from filing cabinets?
    What happens when your company depends on an outdated document management strategy?
    Too much paper is wasted—approximately 1,000 pages per month per worker.
    Attempts to locate documents in endless filing cabinets drive your employees crazy.
    And distributing documents to customers, vendors, and business partners is expensive and takes up far too much time.
    These are just three common reasons why it might be time for your company to implement a paperless document management system.
    Watch the webinar to learn more and discover how easy it can be to:

    • Capture
    • Manage
    • And distribute documents digitally

    Plus, our experts will provide a live demonstration of how implementing a document management solution will quickly solve your paper-based problems, so you can be more

  • IBM i: It’s Not Just AS/400


    IBM’s Steve Will talks AS/400, POWER9, cognitive systems, and everything in between

    Are there still companies that use AS400? Of course!

    IBM i was built on the same foundation.
    Watch this recorded webinar with IBM i Chief Architect Steve Will and IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington to gain a unique perspective on the direction of this platform, including:

    • IBM i development strategies in progress at IBM
    • Ways that Watson will shake hands with IBM i
    • Key takeaways from the AS/400 days


  • TRY the One Package That Solves All Your Document Design and Printing Challenges

    SB CYBRA PPL 5382

    Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Why support 5 different products, when you can do it all with MarkMagic?

    - Drive over 450 different printer types.
    - Create invoices, statements, checks.
    - Set dynamic rules that transform output on the fly.
    - Conditionally distribute via Email, fax, or PDF.
    - Integrate with your current applications in minutes.
    - Preview printing on screen.
    - Native System i, Windows, AIX, Linux.

    Try MarkMagic today for free

  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413

    Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable.
    Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution.
    Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits.
    Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413

    Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution.
    Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Keep your critical applications and data available. Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413

    The thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution.
    Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413

    For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. brKey features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • MS Office Connector for Query/400...FREE Trial!

    SB NGS PPL 5130

    NGS' Qport Office enables Windows users to run IBM Query/400 queries to:
    - Create and update Excel spreadsheets and Access databases
    - Create Word documents
    - Send to Windows screen and PC printers
    No query conversion is required. Works with i5/OS V5R1 & above. Installs in minutes!
    If you don’t have a budget to replace IBM Query/400, but want your users to have one click enhanced output of their queries.... Request the online license agreement and product download instructions today!
    Offer good through December 31, 2016.

  • Control and Monitor User Access from Desktop PCs (ODBC, FTP)

    SB PowerTech 5422

    Protect your company by monitoring network traffic to your IBM i servers with the industry-leading exit program, PowerTech Network Security.
    Without visibility into IBM i's exit points, your users could be viewing, changing, or even deleting sensitive data—and you wouldn’t know!
    Network Security lets you monitor and control access to over 30 exit points, including:

    - ODBC
    - FTP
    - DDM
    - Remote command
    - Fileserve (mapped drives to IFS)
    It’s easy to set up custom access rules and get notified in real-time when security events occur.
    Stop “back door” access today. Try Network Security free for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429

    More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. Managing the complexities of today's operating systems, business applications, and networks challenges even the most knowledgeable IT professionals. The cost to an enterprise of unplanned downtime, loss of human expertise during sick leave or vacation, and system/application or environmental failure can be devastating. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center (and staff) efficiency.