20 Oct 2008

What's new in SQL Reporting Services 2008

On Saturday I did a 20min (which is basically nothing) presentation on what is new in SRS 2008 at Dev4Devs! The feedback I have gotten has been very positive and I personally learnt more about what it takes for me to present well. That said some people asked me afterwards about the slides and content I used and the reality is that I didn’t have a single slide! The truth was Eben indicated when I volunteered that developers don’t like slides, so I took it as a challenge and did all my “slides” in SRS! For those who couldn’t attend, here is the run down on what I covered!

Introduction

The first “slide” was really about what I was covering and also some of the user groups out there! I must say sorry to Craig for leaving out www.sadeveloper.net. For those wanting the links to the groups they are:

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For the Designers

Building the slide also gave me the platform for the first section, what  is new for designers! So switching to edit mode I was able to demo the fact that textboxes can now contain rich text, so the entire of the title and agenda was a single textbox with different font styles and positioning. Below that you can see the communities worth supporting with two different colours! In SQL 2005 you were limited to a single font configuration per textbox so to do the above in 2005 would have take 7 textboxes!

Next I showed off the new design surface improvements which make it no longer feel like a annoying grid but a real smooth surface. There is also enhancements like the guide lines which snap you to other design elements and the distance tooltips which show your distance from other elements (see below).

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I then showed off my favorite feature, UNDO and REDO. I know it seems small but the UNDO in 2005 reloaded entire reports and took forever to do, now there is a real instance UNDO!

We’ve been Robbed

Next I went into what had been taken out… sort of Smile First was the data tab (missing highlighted in red below) which has moved to it’s own window. It feels so much slicker there! And then I spoken about the fact Table, Matrix and List were gone and what the table, matrix and list tools are now! I won’t retell the story on that because Teo Lachev has a better description at his blog.

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Pretty Pictures

From there I moved into showing off the new Dundas based charting and gauge controls which make your reports look super slick and demo'd why gauges are great for showing multiple pieces of data at the same time (in my demo the distance and time of my exercising):

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The Boring Slide

Lastly I ended with a “slide” on things I couldn’t demo but are noteworthy and I included a smiley rating scale on how noteworthy they are:

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  • No More IIS: SRS 2008 no longer requires IIS to run! It actually has it’s own web server and this means that not only does it scale better, it also is a true middle tier application.
  • Memory Management: Because SRS 2008 is in charge of everything now and not needing IIS, you can limit how much RAM is used!
  • Data Driven to SharePoint: You can now use a data driven subscription (i.e. one which is based on data in the DB) to publish to SharePoint.
  • Support for Teradata: A lot has been said on this, so I assume it is important (I saw some heads nod when I spoke about it in my talk), but as I have never used Teradata it got the confused smiley.
  • Per page rendering: This is big, it no longer renders the entire report at once. Now it just renders a page at time! Great for those massive reports.
  • Custom and forms based authentication: A really great feature for hybrid environments! Also combined with no more IIS those Kerberos issues between CRM and SRS should be a thing of the past!
  • Export to Excel: In my series on complex report building, the last part mentioned the horror that was exporting to excel and how sub reports generated ugly grey blocks! Well that is no longer the case. YEAH!
  • Export to CSV: Has been improved to export just data. I did point out that there is limitations (like values from gauges will not be included if you use CSV) so be careful.

I lastly mentioned a new tool, called Report Builder which is an 18Mb download and gives an Office (ribbon bar) experience to building 2008 reports. It is really great in that it has low overheads (no Visual Studio requirements), it has all the design surface features I mentioned at the start and it is very easy to get up and running. It does require a full SRS server to be available if you want to run the report, so no preview mode like in SQL BI Studio. That said it is great for power users and I see the real value coming in the future when you need to work with old reports and don’t want to install old versions of Visual Studio, like we have to with 2003 and 2005! I mentioned on Saturday it was RC1 status, we’ll it seems that was a lie because at 3:30am Saturday they released the RTM version!!!! For more and to download it (it’s free) see: http://blogs.msdn.com/robertbruckner/archive/2008/10/17/report-builder-20-release.aspx

Finally thanks for Eben and Ahmed for arranging the event and EVERYONE who attended!

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15 Oct 2008

S.A. Architect - LINQ Drilldown

One of the perks of being a registered member of S.A. Architect is that when the ATC team at Barone Budge and Dominick run a training session we keep a seat open for a community member. Coming up at the end of this month is my first full day session *gulp* which aims to cover LINQ. Being the shameless self promoting type, I thought I would do a little blurb on what you can expect if you, said S.A. Architect member, decide to join us.

Remember attendance for this one member is FREE! First you come to our excellent collab centre where you will have your own PC to work on for the day (sorry, can’t take it home with you) and I will be taking you through 28 HANDS ON labs during the day! Most are small labs (sub < 15min) so don’t worry about leaving late. Mindful that you are here for the full day, you get a free hot lunch (always cool) and I promise to personally guide you to the vending machines (snacks and coke) which will be free too! You will also take home a printed copy of the manual created for this session. I am waiting for the final proof to be developed but I suspect it will be about 200 pages in length in the end! Next I will be asking questions during the day (to see who is sleeping) and for prizes there the stress balls. I am hoping we will have a few t-shirts left after Rhodes to give away to people answering questions too. Lastly you get to meet some very smart people and do some networking!

Before it sounds like this is super special for my session, most of this (lunch, snacks, prizes, networking) is available at most of the full day sessions we run!

This is a session for someone who knows nothing of LINQ and we will start at the basics and go through to some level 300 stuff in the end. You do need to know basic C# (if you know what I mean by saying: add the using System.Data.Linq, you will be fine). The day will cover:

  • The Problem which LINQ solves
  • LINQ Architecture
  • Implicitly Typed Variables
  • Use LINQ to Objects to get and sort data and understand what is happening using the basic LINQ program.
  • Anonymous Types
  • LINQ Query Execution
  • Anonymous Methods and Lambda Expressions
  • LINQ Query Operators
  • LINQ to XML
  • LINQ to SQL

So if you are interested, first register at S.A Architect. Then let Willy know you wish to attend! Dates/times etc… can be found here!

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15 Oct 2008

Dev4Devs - This Saturday

A few weeks ago I posted about the Dev4Devs event coming up, well it is this Saturday! I will not only be attending but I will also be doing a presentation on what’s new in SQL reporting services (SRS) in 2008! It will be a nice quick level 100 to 200 demo of the new stuff.

I also saw on Eben’s post that two of my absolutely favorite presenters are speaking, namely Rudi Grobler (he is speaking on what’s new in 3.5 SP 1 for client development) and Brent Samodien (he is speaking on consuming ASP.NET data services using AJAX… which I hope means he will show ADO.NET Data Services, will have to wait until Saturday to find out).

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