Taking the Scary out of Monster Reports – this is the title for my latest presentation. For the past 4-5 years I have had one presentation on reporting services – Tips and Tricks of Reporting Services that has been presented at least 15 times. It discusses the joys of the dynamic features in SSRS that allow you to modify the report’s appearance and behavior by using data. But it was getting old – way old and it was time for another main line presentation. I must note – this was not the only presentation over that time frame – just the most well received.
I write reports for my clients. Recently, I saw a trend to more complicated reports or what I refer to as “Monster Reports”. I tend to cringe when I see these. They are very important reports to management. They usually mean that instead of digging to the bottom line of a number of reports – they have one report that encapsulates what they need to see.
I have noticed two directions for these reports. One has a lot of disparate data on the report while the other has a lot of disparate controls on the report.
The disparate data report is usually a report that combines the subtotal/total lines from a number of reports. A lot of time they look at fixed period(s) in time to display associated totals. But sometimes they get even more complicated by spinning in different columns within the multiple subtotal or they request charts to visualize one or two of the result sets. These can be a beast to create and maintain.
The disparate controls report has a similar challenge in that you are pulling back very disparate data – but the presentation is what differs so much with this one. You are attempting to wedge multiple charts, grids and potentially gauges on a single page – possibly more. They want is packed tight with few gaps. But they want it nice looking.
So the point of the presentation is to supply the attendees with a number of strategies to help make these “Monster” reports less “Scary” to tackle. So I will be posting a series of blogs over the next or so to go into a little more depth than the typical hour presentation will allow. My carrot to the attendees is that at the end of the presentation – they will have access to a series of RDLs that will allow them to start to monitor their Reporting Server Database. The idea for the topic was inspired by Jessica Moss (Blog | Twitter) who dids a presentation at PASS Summit 2011 entitled: Preventing the Oh, Poop! Reporting Situation. I liked that at the end of the presentation the attendee actually had something useful. So I built on what she supplied.
The next blog will be on the Disparate Data reports and the techniques I employ the tame them.