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Category: Reporting Services

Analysis versus Reporting and Power BI

Rob Collie thinks about industry movement between analysis and reporting. Part one gives us some backstory:

Excel was about to make a large investment in BI-related capabilities, and the powers that be had selected me to lead our part in it. I was excited, but now I needed a crash course in “what the hell is BI?” I was given multiple tutors, and they all were quick to introduce the concept of Analysis versus Reporting. The “versus” seemed to be pretty important. It wasn’t an “and” – no, the “versus” was chosen deliberately in these sermons. You see, these were Two Very Different Things.

I struggled mightily to grasp this difference. I was told that interactive things like PivotTables were Analysis tools – NOT Reporting tools! Reports were something completely different. “But,” I pointed out, “they’re called ‘Insert PivotTable Report’ on the Excel menu today!” (This was Excel 2003). “Yeah,” said the mentors, “…we might want to fix that.”

Part two explains why analysis and reporting are both important:

Another “meta characteristic” of paginated reports is that they TEND to display details rather than aggregations. EX: specific transactions rather than emergent trends. In paginated reports, you’re MORE likely (but not guaranteed!) to be looking at “raw” rows of data from the original database, whereas in a Power BI report, you’re more likely (but again, not guaranteed!) to NOT be seeing raw individual rows, but rather intelligent aggregations of MANY rows. But either way, more detail means you’re more likely to need multiple pages.

Rob’s right on the money. And I’m looking forward to part three of the series.

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Switching Between Solution and Folders Views with SSRS Projects

Elizabeth Noble deals with a head-scratcher:


This past week, I made the goal of automating the deployment of our first SSRS report at work. I created the report and after adding the report to source control, my Object Explorer looked like the image below.

I added my solution to source control and synced the project up to Github. However, when my colleague tried to clone the repo and open the Report Project, they saw an image like the one below.

Click through for the images (which really tell the story) and how you can fix this problem.

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Tips for a Smooth Power BI Report Server Experience

Josh Crittenden has a few tips for people installing Power BI Report Server:

As is the case with any enterprise BI product, careful planning and consideration of how the technology will be leveraged should be made up-front. This will help avoid speed bumps during implementation and ensure a smooth ride as you roll out your BI and analytics solutions. Whether you’ve been working with PBIRS from day one, or are starting to use the platform for the first time, the goal of this post is to showcase tips and techniques that you can turn around and apply in your own environment.

Additionally, for those of you considering a hybrid Power BI implementation (Power BI service and Power BI Report Server), we will compare specific features of each platform below.  

Read on for the tips.

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Adding Time Zone-Adjusted Report Execution Times

Brett Powell shows how you can display a report’s execution time in a particular time zone:

For reports being viewed by users around the world, simply modifying the footer text box expression to note that this time is UTC may be a sufficient. However, for many paginated reports the users are all in one time zone and some of these users may ask to have the time zone conversion handled within the BI solution. The example in this post targets this scenario.

Even if the report serves users in multiple time zones, it’s technically feasible to leverage the UserID global field and a simple user to time zone mapping table to provide a local report execution time to all users. However, I tend to think most projects would not want to commit the time/resources for this logic – UTC date/time is what the users would get.

If you do need local report execution time, Brett has you covered.

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Upgrading SQL Server Reporting Services to 2017

Alexandre Hamel walks us through the new process for upgrading SQL Server Reporting Services:

In the past, we could run the SQL installer to do an in-place upgrade of SQL server including the SSRS instance to a newer version. As of 2017, SSRS is a separate install from SQL server, so this is no longer possible. In fact, if you do an in-place upgrade of SQL 2014 to 2017 for example, you will see a warning that SSRS will be uninstalled. Before proceeding with the SQL upgrade, follow these steps to upgrade the SSRS instance.

It’s not as easy as it was before, but Alexandre takes us through the step-by-step process and even includes some notes on how to roll back your upgrade attempt if necessary.

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Troubleshooting Chrome + Reporting Services Issues

Wayne Sheffield walks us through troubleshooting a few issues with using Reporting Services in Chrome:

I was recently working with a client with a SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) issue. Their company has standardized on using Google Chrome for the browser. However, they were running into issues when using Google Chrome with SSRS reports.

The first issue was that they were receiving a log in prompt to the SSRS server when browsing to it. The second issue was the infamous Kerberos Double-Hop issue. If you’re not familiar with the Kerberos Double-Hop architecture, check out this link: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/archive/blogs/askds/understanding-kerberos-double-hop.

I still have bad memories of trying to get Mozilla and (much earlier) Chrome working with Reporting Services. Ugh.

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Uploading Multiple RDL Files to SSRS

Stuart Ainsworth shows us how to push several SSRS reports at a time:

My QA folks have a problem; development has been working on migrating a bunch of reports from a legacy 3rd-party application to SQL Server Reporting Services. Development has finished their “sprint” (*cough* waterfall), and handed over 52 reports to QA, and told the to load them into their QA server. The problem? The web interface only loads 1 report at a time.

Me, being the DevOps guy that I am, thought “well, that’s just silly; there has to be a way to upload all of the reports at once, rather than clicking on some silly buttons over and over again”.

Read on to see what Stuart did next.

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Troubleshooting Slow Power BI Report Server Reports

Jamie Wick helps us figure out why that Power BI Report Server report is loading so slowly:

Troubleshooting “slow” reports in PowerBI Report Server (or SQL Server Reporting Services) can be an arduous task. End users are often unable to provide detailed (or reliable) data that a report took longer to load today than it did the last time it was run. Even if a user states that the report is now taking 10 seconds longer to load, that additional time needs to be attributed to a specific step in the report generation process before it can be improved/fixed.

In the report server database (ReportServer by default) there is a view (ExecutionLog) that can provide detailed statistics about each execution of a report. Note: ExecutionLog3 view is the newest/current version and the ExecutionLog and ExecutionLog2 views are for backwards compatibility. By default the execution log entries are retained for 60 days.

The view that Jamie shows also works for SQL Server Reporting Services reports, so it can help there as well.

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Finding SSRS Log Files

Rudy Rodarte explains where you can find SQL Server Reporting Services log files:

After many years working with SQL Server Reporting Services, I’ve gotten myself into a few situations where I had to examine the SSRS log to see what was happening with data sources, subscriptions, and other, unique SSRS particulars. For a time, I thought that the regular SQL Server Error Log was enough. But experience has taught me that there is much more information inside of the SSRS log file than the SQL Server Agent and Service logs. But, you must know where to look to find the SSRS Log file.

Those logs often contain good information.

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Displaying SSRS Usage Stats Through Grafana

Alessandro Alpi takes queries to view SQL Server Reporting Services data and visualize it in Grafana:

One of the problems that often occur in our organization as well as some of our customers, is to get immediate feedback about usage statistics of reports. Usually, the request of creating reports is out of control and some of them are executed only “that time” and not anymore. In the worst-case scenario, many of them aren’t executed at all and some of them could become even overlapped or duplicated.

Therefore, it is important to know the usage statistics, user by user and report by report, to make the reader aware of them, let him interpreting the values of the same query in multiple ways and graphical layouts. While this is not possible with a tabular format (unless you export the values using any external tools such as Excel) it is simpler when it comes to a dashboard.

And that’s where Grafana excels.

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