Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services Recipes: for Designing Expert Reports

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Learn to design more effective and sophisticated business reports

While most users of SQL Server Reporting Services are now comfortable designing and building simple reports, business today demands increasingly complex reporting. In this book, top Reporting Services design experts have contributed step-by-step recipes for creating various types of reports.

Written by well-known SQL Server Reporting Services ...

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Learn to design more effective and sophisticated business reports

While most users of SQL Server Reporting Services are now comfortable designing and building simple reports, business today demands increasingly complex reporting. In this book, top Reporting Services design experts have contributed step-by-step recipes for creating various types of reports.

Written by well-known SQL Server Reporting Services experts, this book gives you the tools to meet your clients' needs

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470563113
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 4/5/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 648
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Turley is a business intelligence solution architect and manager for Hitachi Consulting. He is a Microsoft MVP and Certified Trainer. He designs solutions and teaches classes on SQL Server technologies to companies around the world. Paul is the author of several books, including Professional SQL Server Reporting Services (2000/2005/2008).

Robert M. Bruckner is a technical lead with the Microsoft SQL Server product team. His core area of responsibility is the development of the report processing engine of Reporting Services. Robert frequently shares Reporting Services tips on his popular blog at

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Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services Recipes

for Designing Expert Reports
By Paul Turley Robert M. Bruckner

John Wiley & Sons

Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-470-56311-3

Chapter One

Business Reporting Paradigms

In the world of business, we use a lot of different styles and types of reports. To appreciate how pervasive reports are in the world of business, in different organizations, and in our day-to-day lives, we must first define what a report is. Any formatted output of data from a database or any other type of data source could be called a report. Some types are obvious and may include sales reports, end-of-period summaries, trend analysis, and comparisons. These are some traditional report styles. Reports are used in all areas of business and practically every business function involves printing, displaying, browsing, or using some other method to present data to business leaders, workers, service providers, customers, inspectors, analysts, and others for a variety of reasons. Reports, in many different forms, are everywhere.

Less traditional report types that may be used in different business scenarios include things like product labels, name badges, routing tags, invoices, claim forms, request forms, government documents, and shipping manifests. You probably have types of reports that are unique to your specific business or industry that outsiders aren't even aware of. To provide a better understanding about the various functions that reports perform, this chapter explores different types of reports. Chapters 2 and 3 will review the basic building blocks of report design and development that you will need to know to apply the report design recipes in this book. We expect that you already have some hands-on experience with SQL Server Reporting Services but we will review the basics as a quick refresher.

For the purpose of simplicity, we will group all of these report types into general categories. You will no doubt be able to identify some of your own unique reporting requirements but they generally fall into one of the following major categories:

* Process and operational support

* Business intelligence and analytical reports

* Application integration

* Forms, labels, and letters


Day-to-day business processes require reporting solutions to keep business working. Nearly all businesses and organizations today rely on operational data stored in some kind of database. Although there are some proprietary, special-purpose databases used to support certain types of business, more than ninety percent of all data is stored in a relational database system on a standard product platform such as Oracle, SQL Server, IBM DB2, or SyBase. These systems capture transactions as they occur, and records are stored at the detailed transactional level to support real-time processes.

Consumer business has many common examples. A point-of-sale transaction is captured in a local database at the store or POS terminal and may be replicated to a regional or central database. Of course, the sales receipt is a report generated directly from this transactional data. Similarly, banking transactions record every debit, credit, and adjustment made to an account. Transactional records may be recorded every time you use your cellular phone, swipe your key card at work, go to the gym, send a tweet, post a comment on Facebook, or visit a secure web site.

Report Types

Operational reports are some of the most commonplace in the business and consumer world but they also exist in many specialized scenarios. In working with several different consulting clients to migrate their reporting solutions to a new platform or toolset, we often ask them to identify the operational reports from analytical and decision-support reports. Inevitably we identify a gray area of reports in each category. These may be reports that aggregate and group details for analysis from operational data stores or analytical reports that include some level of operational detail.

Putting the exceptions aside for the time being, let's take a look at some of the more common and a few of the less common types of operational reports.

Sales Orders, Invoices, Manifests, and Inventory Forms

The items in this category are usually not referred to - or even thought of - as reports. Specialized software is typically used to input and process orders. These may be for general use in a retail or commercial wholesale operation or they may be for specialized applications, such as a medical laboratory or an electronics assembly plant. Although the basic structure of an order or invoice may be similar, the specific components may be adapted to meet specific business needs. An invoice usually contains a header, specific sections for the seller and customer's contact, and billing and shipping information, followed by a tabular section of line items. Each item typically has a product code, description, price, quantity, and other information that may be specific to the business process or industry, such as weight, cost, discounts, freight, tax, or shipping cost.

These types of reports have a relatively simple design but are also usually integrated into a custom application, rather than selected from a report menu on a central server. Some order forms may be printed on stock forms and other companies may print the entire form on blank paper. Figure 1-1 shows a typical sales order report with a customer and shipping details header, repeating line items, summary totals, and a footer area containing contact information.

Template Forms

In the past, most forms were preprinted with blank lines for typed or hand-written information. Modern printers have made it much easier to produce highly formatted forms all at once on blank paper rather than using fill-in-the-blank forms with preprinted logos, borders, and detail lines. However, certain applications call for printing on standard forms for a variety of reasons. It may be cheaper to use lesser-quality printers or black ink/toner printers with multi-colored forms. Some forms require duplicate copies produced with impact printers. Or, perhaps the process has yet to be modernized. In the medical insurance claim business, for example, some of these traditional standards were highly influenced by a thriving pre-printed forms industry.

Whatever the reason, these forms can be quite challenging because each character must be printed in a specific location. Often, getting the report character spacing and size to line up is only half the battle because these forms are highly-dependent on the printer and paper dimensions such as the margins and gripper space. Reports that are designed to provide some latitude for margins and character positioning make it easier to adjust the report itself rather than to rely on printer settings.

In recent years, most of the industry-standard preprinted forms have been replaced by all-at-once reports that print on standard sized blank paper. Less expensive, high quality printers have made this more feasible for small businesses but it has created more demand for sophisticated reporting tools capable of producing pixel-perfect reports and forms.

Tabular and List Reports

Tabular, row-based reports have been common for so long and many variations of this design have become commonplace. The green bar-style report, shown in Figure 1-2, uses a shaded background for every other row to make it easier for users to differentiate and follow each row visually.

Grouped reports add more information to the tabular layout with grouped bands, headers, and footers. Color has become more important in report design, and different background colors are often used to differentiate not only each row but the group bands and other related elements. This report type uses different background colors for the table header and two group bands, and then a light color for alternate row shading. A simple example is shown in Figure 1-3.

Sometimes it may be more important to differentiate group values rather than the detail rows. In the example shown in Figure 1-4, the Category values use alternating shading bands.


A product catalog is a common layout used to group categories of products and then provide details in an ordered list. A catalog report must be easy to read with bold headings and group descriptive text. Figure 1-5 shows a continuous report using a repeating list area for product category and subcategory groups and containing a description block and product image in the group header. The groups include a tabular region for product details.


Label reports are usually simple in layout but have a few unique characteristics. A rectangular data region is repeated across rows and columns on the printed page. The size and position of the data region must be aligned to the standard label sheet with relatively precise margins and column spacing. Figure 1-6 shows a multi-column list report formatted to fit a standard label sheet.

The greatest challenge is to easily produce labels in a variety of standard sizes and dimensions. The label industry, led by a few well-known companies and influenced by dozens of generic label form producers, has managed to produce hundreds of "standard" sheet label formats.

Activity Summaries

The line between operational and analytical reporting is not simply that one is at the detail level and the other includes groups and summaries. There is a lot of business value in rolling up details into groups and aggregating measures into summary totals. Even when these summaries are compared across different business dimensions, such as time or geography, these comparisons can be performed appropriately using operational data. The most significant difference between operational and analytical reporting is the approach taken to get to the result. If these summaries are performed within an operational scope (such as a single manufacturing plant or within a finite period of time) and the results should be easy reconciled back to the details, then this is an extension of operational reporting. However, if the results are for enterprise-wide comparisons, long-term trend analysis, and corporate decision support, you will be met with significant challenges trying to run these reports with operational data sources.

Summary reports on occasion will evolve to include components of truly analytical reports and, when that happens, it's important to consider whether they should be migrated to a business intelligence reporting model. The paramount question to consider is whether the report exists to support a specific business operation within the scope of that group, department, and leadership.

Status Reports

The term "status report" means different things to different people but the common theme is that this type of report is used to provide concise results that are comparable over periods of time. It's important to understand the needs of the person who will use the report and the message it should convey. A common report may be for a team leader to get the status for a project or task. This should typically summarize data points to a standard indicator at the end of a time period or project phase, relative to some goal or objective. For example, is the project on schedule, behind schedule, or ahead of schedule? Is the application component development completed or incomplete? These simplified results are typically broken down by tasks, stages, or responsibilities for comparison over each reporting period to measure progress.

Status reports can vary in sophistication but most are fairly simple. Figure 1-7 shows an example of a Top 10 report of ranked values, which is common in many business scenarios where leaders may want to see the best producing items.


The concept and purpose of business intelligence (BI) is much more than just reporting. BI solutions help business leaders make critical decisions. A complete BI strategy involves financial forecasting and strategic approaches to the way resource investments are planned, managed, and measured. A business intelligence methodology prescribes the rules and standards for defining business targets and the success factors for measuring actual metrics against those targets. Reporting is a big part of that process. After defining business metrics and the rules for measuring success - and of course, gathering all of the necessary data, different report types are used to analyze current and historical data to evaluate correlations and trends.

Analytical reports tend to be more concise and graphical than operational reports. Traditionally, column and line charts dominated the desktops of business analysts but a new breed of reports plays the role of BI dashboard components. There are a variety of standard metaphors for indicating goals, status, and trends. Sometimes an array of simple pie charts or needle gauges is an effective method to convey the state of things in the business enterprise. However, as user reporting needs have become more sophisticated (as have many business users) there is an ever-increasing need to add more useful information to business reports while keeping reports easy to read and manageable.

Report Types

The style of reports used in a BI solution range from common tabular and chart reports to particular report styles with graphical indicators, symbols, arrows, and progress bars. BI defines a lot more than just a style of reports; other types of business data systems can include dashboard and scorecard report styles.

Dashboards and Scorecards

By definition, a dashboard is a collection of reports or report elements and gauges that convey the state of related key metrics. At a glance, a dashboard reflects the health of the business. Report actions allow users to drill down or drill through to more specific details and assess the status of each metric across different dimensions, such as time periods or geographic regions. A business scorecard is a specific style of dashboard-type report that helps business leaders measure key performance and success values relative to goals and business plans. Aside from the style and layout of reports, business scorecards conform to a standard process for planning business growth and measuring success.

Although dashboards and scorecards may not be limited to business intelligence solutions, the need for them may suggest that eventually a full BI solution should be developed to support all the business reporting requirements.

Dashboard design is often a balancing act between simplicity and usability. The goal is to give business users the information that they need, based on universally understood metrics, measures, and performance indicators. That information must be delivered at the right level of detail so the users can make important decisions and take action on the most critical issues affecting business performance.

Pivot Table and Matrix Reports

Known within different products as a cross-tab, pivot table, or matrix, this type of report groups data on both the rows and columns axis, showing aggregated values at each intersect point. Pivot reports are very useful for ad-hoc analysis. For larger volume result sets, drill-down features can allow results to be aggregated at higher group levels within axis hierarchies and allow users to expand each branch to expose more detail at lower group levels. See Figure 1-8.


Chart reports provide a varied range of visualization options. Aggregated data is presented graphically and plotted on a linear two-dimensional or three-dimensional grid, in circular pie slices, or a radial plot space. Combinations of chart types may be combined to make comparisons and to correlate graphical data displays. In Figure 1-9, a Pareto chart employs a column chart type to range categories in descending order while a line chart type shows cumulative values.

Simplicity is often the best choice. A basic pie chart displays proportional values with an optional legend (see Figure 1-10). Pie charts can also display data point values and/or point labels over each slice or with callout labels. Pie or donut charts can have bold visual impact when exploded, extruded, or embossed 3-D options are added.

Although common chart types like the pie and donut display data in a simple, easily readable format, they may not be the best choice when more sophisticated users need a lot of information presented with the most effective use of screen space.


Excerpted from Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services Recipes by Paul Turley Robert M. Bruckner Copyright © 2010 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents





Process and Operational Support 2

Report Types 2

Sales Orders, Invoices, Manifests, and Inventory Forms 2

Template Forms 3

Tabular and List Reports 4

Catalogs 6

Labels 6

Activity Summaries 7

Status Reports 8

Analytical Reporting 8

Report Types 9

Dashboards and Scorecards 9

Pivot Table and Matrix Reports 9

Charts 10

Maps 14

Interactive Reports 15

Application Integration 17

Report Integration into Applications 18

Desktop Applications 18

Web Applications 19

Portal Content 19

ReportViewer Control 20

Installing the Reporting Services Samples and SQL Server

Sample Databases 21

Server Reports 22

HTML Viewer 23

Report Viewer Control 23

Reporting Services Processors and Extensions 23

Report Caching 24

The HTML Rendering Extension 25

The CSV-Rendering Extension 25

The XML-Rendering Extension 25

The Image-Rendering Extension 26

The PDF-Rendering Extension 26

The Excel-Rendering Extension 26

The Word-Rendering Extension 26

Summary 26


Using Report Builder 30

Formatting and Sample Values 31

Data Sources 31

Datasets and Queries 32

Designing Queries 33

Dataset Best Practices 36

Filtering Data 37

Using Stored Procedures 38

Reports and Report Objects 39

Report Body 39

Headers and Footers 40

Aggregate Functions and Totals 41

Adding Totals to a Table or Matrix Report 42

The Tablix 43

Static and Dynamic Columns and Rows 43

Summary 44


Tabular and Matrix Reports 45

Defining Table Groups 45

Group Expressions and Options 46

Formatting Table Values 48

Matrix Reports 51

Sorting Options 51

Sorting in the Query 51

Sorting in a Group 52

Interactive Sort 53

Adding Headers and Footers 53

The Low Down on Drill-Down 54

Report Navigation Essentials 54

Reports with Multi-Level Groups and Drill-Down Actions 54

Standard Terminology 54

Drill-Down 55

Creating a Drill-Down Report 59

Drill-Through Reports 60

Navigating to a URL 62

Report Navigation Summary 62

Charting Basics 63

Series and Category Axes 63

Polar and Radar Charts 65

Shape Charts 65

Bar Charts 65

Gauges 67

Scales 67

Pointers and Markers 67

Ranges 67

Radial Gauges 68

Linear Gauges 68

Maps 69

Map Gallery 69

ESRI Shape Files 69

SQL Server Spatial Data 69

Using Parameters 69

Creating a Parameter List 70

Modifying and Formatting MDX Queries 72

Multi-Value Parameters 73

Cascading Parameters 74

Report Parameters 75

Expressions and Custom Code 75

Calculated Fields 76

Conditional Expressions 76

Using Custom Code 78

Using Custom Code in a Report 78

Using a Custom Assembly 79

Formatting Report Data 80

Introduction to Dynamic Formatting 81

Designing Multicolumn Reports 81

Summary 82


Green Bar Reports 85

Designing the Report 85

Alternate Row Colors in an SSRS 2000 or 2005 Matrix 90

Final Thoughts 92

Credits and Related References 92

Alternate Background Shading for Table Groups 93

Designing the Report 93

Designing the Report for Reporting Services 2005 98

Final Thoughts 98

Credits and Related References 99

Nested Group Green Bar Effect 100

Designing the Report 100

Final Thoughts 104

Credits and Related References 104

Creating Dynamic Groups 105

Designing the Report 105

Final Thoughts 114

Credits and Related References 114

Hiding and Showing Columns in a Table 115

Designing the Report 115

Showing and Hiding Group Headers 120

Final Thoughts 120

Horizontal Table 121

Designing the Report 121

Designing the Report for Reporting Services 2005 124

Final Thoughts 124

Credits and Related References 124

Resetting the Page Number Based on Groups 125

Designing the Report 125

Final Thoughts 127


Creating Sparklines 131

Designing the Report 131

Sales Trends 131

Final Thoughts 137

Credits and Related References 138

Cube Dynamic Rows 139

Designing the Report 140

Final Thoughts 147

Credits and Related References 147

Cube Metadata 148

Designing the Report 148

Adding MeasureGroups (for Cube/Perspective) 151

Adding Other Cube Metadata 153

Final Thoughts 161

Credits and References 162

Cube Browser 163

Anatomy of the Reports 165

Cube Browser 165

Cube Browser Metadata 166

Cube Browser Member 167

Behind the Scenes 167

Cube Browser 167

Report Body 173

Restricting Rows and Columns 174

Swap Actions 175

Titles 176

Footer Information 179

Final Thoughts 182

Credits and Related References 184

Australian Sparklines 185

Designing the Report 186

Preparing the Data and Adding Extra Controls 187

Building a Full-Sized Australian Sparkline 197

Adding the Australian Sparkline to a Table 201

Final Thoughts 203

Credits and Related References 203

Angry Koala Cube Browser 204

Anatomy of the Reports 205

r100 - Angry Koala Cube Browser 206

r101 - Angry Koala Graph 207

r102 - Angry Koala Driver 208

r103 - Angry Koala Member 210

Behind the Scenes 210

Angry Koala Cube Browser 210

Report Body 219

Restricting the Number of Rows and Columns 220

Swap Actions 220

Titles 220

Report Footer Info 220

Final Thoughts 221

Credits and Related References 221

Bullet Charts 222

Designing the Report 222

Final Thoughts 226

Credits and Related References 227

Synchronizing Groups, Charts, and Sparklines 228

Designing the Report 228

Final Thoughts 232

Credits and Related References 232


Chart Custom Color Palette 235

Designing the Report 236

Custom Legends 237

Final Thoughts 238

Credits and Related References 238

Chart Keywords 239

Designing the Report 239

Final Thoughts 241

Credits and Related References 242

Column Chart with Goal Threshold Line 244

Designing the Report 244

Adding Dynamic Color 249

Final Thoughts 249

Creating a Personal Report Card 250

Designing the Report 250

Final Thoughts 259

Customizing Gauges with Images 260

Designing the Report 260

Final Thoughts 263

Credits and Related References 263

Exception Highlighting with Gauges/Bullet Graphs 264

Designing the Report 264

Final Thoughts 267

Credits and Related References 267

Grouped Pie Chart Slices 268

Designing the Report 268

Final Thoughts 271

Growing Bar and Column Charts 272

Designing the Report 272

Final Thoughts 275

Credits and Related References 275

Histogram Chart 276

Designing the Report 276

Final Thoughts 278

Credits and Related References 278

Linear Regression Line 279

Designing the Report 279

Final Thoughts 285

Creating a Multi-Series Multi-Y Axis Chart 286

Designing the Report 286

Credits and Related References 292

Pareto Chart 293

Designing the Report 293

Final Thoughts 296

Credits and Related References 296


Conditional Linking 299

Designing the Report 299

Final Thoughts 304

Credits and Related References 304

Drill-Through for a Multi-Level Matrix Report 305

Designing the Drill-Through Target Report 305

Designing the Drill-Through Source Report in 2005 309

Designing the Drill-Through Source Report in 2008 315

Final Thoughts 317

Credits and Related References 317

Drill-Through Report Link Breadcrumbs 318

Designing the Report 319

Final Thoughts 325

Dynamic Pivoting as a Matrix Replacement 326

Designing the Report 326

Final Thoughts 330

Using a Document Map Table for Navigation 331

Designing the Report 331

Final Thoughts 337

Credits and Related References 337


Creating a Report Server Usage Report 341

Designing the Report 343

Final Thoughts 346

Rotating Report Dashboard 347

Designing the Report 347

Final Thoughts 351

Credits and Related References 351

Updating Data From a Report 352

Designing the Report 352

Final Thoughts 358

Offline Reporting Using the Report Viewer Control 359

Designing the Report 359

Computer Requirements and Prerequisites 362

Wiring Up the Report 363

Programming the Code-Behind 365

Final Thoughts 372


Creating a Calendar Report 375

Designing the Report 375

Final Thoughts 382

Credits and Related References 382

Creating Mailing Labels 383

Designing the Report 383

Final Thoughts 390

Credits and Related References 390

Barcodes 391

Designing the Report 391

Fonts 392

Custom Report Items (Barcode Components) 393

Final Thoughts 399

Credits and Related References 399

Currency Translation 400

Designing the Report 400

Final Thoughts 406

Custom Aggregation 407

Designing the Report 407

Designing the Median Report in SSRS 2005 407

Implementing the Report in SSRS 2008 409

Final Thoughts 414

Credits and Related References 414

Dynamic (Conditional) Page Breaks 415

Designing the Report 415

Designing the Report for Previous Versions of Reporting Services without the PageBreak.Disabled Property 418

Final Thoughts 419

Excel Worksheet Naming And Page Naming 420

Designing the Report 420

Final Thoughts 424

External Image Sources 425

Designing the Report 425

Creating the ASP.NET External Image Source 430

Final Thoughts 438

Language Localization 439

Multi-cultural Considerations 439

Designing the Report 440

Creating the External Resource Lookup with .NET 441

Final Thoughts 446

Credits and Related References 446

Page Running Total 447

Designing the Report 447

Final Thoughts 453

Renderer-Dependent Layout and Formatting 454

Designing the Report 454

Final Thoughts 459

Creating a Checkbox List to Show Existing Records 460

Designing the Report 460

Final Thoughts 463

Using a Checkbox List to Select and Deselect Records 464

Designing the Report 464

Using the Checkbox Report for Parameter Selection 472

Final Thoughts 473

Using the Map Wizard 474

Designing the Report 474

Final Thoughts 478

Credits and Related References 478


Multiple Criterion Report Filtering 481

Designing the Report 481

Filtering in the Query 484

Using Code to Build the Query String 485

Filtering in the Dataset 487

Samples 488

Final Thoughts 488

Credits and Related References 489

Using Multi-Value Parameters with a Stored Procedure 490

Designing the Report 490

Final Thoughts 495

Using Multi-Value Parameters with a Subscription Report 496

Designing the Report 496

Final Thoughts 505

Parameterized Top Values Report 506

Designing the Report 506

Top Value Reports for Cubes 510

Final Thoughts 512

Cube Restricting Rows 513

Designing the Report 513

A Better Way to Interact With a Report Parameter 518

Final Thoughts 521

Creating Custom Sorting Reports 522

Parameterizing Custom Sorted Queries 523

Designing the Report 523

Parameterizing the Order By Clause 530

Custom Sorting in Tablix Groups 533

Using the Interactive Sort Feature 535

Creating a Custom Interactive Sort 536

Final Thoughts 542

Credits and Related References 543

Filtering User-Specific Report Data 544

Designing the Report 544

Final Thoughts 550


Using aWeb Service as a Data Source 553

Designing the Report 553

Final Thoughts 560

Credits and Related References 560

Reporting on SharePoint List Data 561

Preparing the Sample Data 562

Designing the Report 564

Designing the Report in 2008 R2 570

Final Thoughts 573

Credits and Related References 573

Dynamics AX Report Wizard 574

Designing the Report 574

Final Thoughts 581


Hangman Game 585

Reviewing the Report 585

Final Thoughts 589

Credits and Related References 590

Sea Battle Game 591

Reviewing the Report 592

How It Works 593

Final Thoughts 599

Credits and Related References 599


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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2015

    Not a bad book, but I didn't finish it...

    SQL Server Reporting Services is a complex tool that can perform many difficult tasks -- but it also requires a great deal of experience and knowledge to accomplish some of these tasks. This book does explain SSRS to a great extent, but be prepared to spend time reading and working through many of the examples shown in order to gain the experience needed to utilize this functionality.

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