Executing R Scripts In SSRS

Tomaz Kastrun shows how to include R scripts (and visuals) in SQL Server Reporting Services:

Using the privileges of R language to enrich your data, your statistical analysis or visualization is a simple task to get more out of your reports.

The best practice to embed R code into SSRS report is to create stored procedure and output the results to report. To demonstrate this, we will create two reports; one that will take two input parameters and the second one to demonstrate the usage of R visualization.

It’s nice to be able to use R to create nice visuals and then import them in your SSRS report, and Tomaz shows how.

Documenting Reporting Services Installations

Craig Porteous explains the types of things you should document in SQL Server Reporting Services:

If you’re using Kerberos authentication with Reporting Services you’ll at least have to update the rsReportServer.config file with the correct authentication mode. Beyond that you have SPNs on your SSRS domain Service account to consider. This may be managed by your domain administrators but it’s still a good plan to back these up or check that someone is backing these up. It is too easy to clear SPNs or constrained delegation settings accidentally.

Having a backup will also give you a good reference point for building new environments. You can of course easily see SPNs from the command line using this command:


What this boils down to is, if you lost your Reporting Services installation today, could you get things back to the way they were?

Installing SSRS 2017

Dave Mason shows how to install Reporting Services 2017:

The SSRS 2017 installation media was easy to find and download from Microsoft. When I ran it, the installation process was simple. There were very few choices to make, and none of them were terribly important or impactful. Other than clicking “Next” buttons, the only choices and input required was to choose the SSRS Edition (or enter a product key), check the box to accept license terms, and choose an installation path (if you don’t want the default). It was so easy, it almost feels like a waste of time to post the screen shots. But since I have them, here they are:

Click through for a block of screenshots and more install info.  As for Dave’s question as the end, I think the only way you can have two versions of SSRS 2017 on the same instance is if you have Reporting Services and Power BI Report Server, and they’ll show up in Reporting Services Configuration Manager as SSRS and PBIRS, respectively.

Unable To Create The Certificate Binding

Hamish Watson walks through changing an expired certificate in SQL Server Reporting Services:

This blog post is around the situation where you have SSRS setup to use HTTPS and thus using a certificate and the certificate expires (or just needs replacing). We had caught the initial error via our Continuous Monitoring of the SSRS site — basically when the certificate expired we got an exception and alerted on it.

The client installed a new certificate but the issue arose where in Reporting Service Configuration Manager we went to use the new certificate but when we chose it we got this error:

We are unable to create the certificate binding

Read on to see how to get past this.

Reporting Services Project Gymnastics

Nate Johnson had a bad experience with Visual Studio-based SQL Server Reporting Services projects:

So, what have we learned?  Well, for one, this is a crappy situation born of poor in-product support.  I should be able to configure Solution-level shared Data Sources, use them in as many Projects (within said Solution) as I want, and have VS configuration management support them; bonus points for doing so with saved & encrypted credentials.  Ideally, when we check this into source-control, we’d check in the “DEV” environment flavor connection-configs.  Then, when the reports get deployed to the “PROD” SSRS server, the same globally shared Data Sources are already present (and they don’t get over-written, thankfully by default!), configured by the DBA with prod credentials, and nobody in the development pipeline needs to know said credentials.  Yay?

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Power BI Report Server Scheduled Refresh

Wolfgang Strasser covers Power BI Report Server’s scheduled data refresh ability in a two-part series.  First, he shows how to configure scheduled data refresh:

What needs to be added here is the fact that data refresh can be speeded up to 1 minute refresh intervals. (Which is much more often compared to 8 times for powerbi.com PRO users).

When you are done with the schedule configuration, save it and the definition dialog is updated with the plan information. The last data refresh timestamp plus the last status is also displayed.

Just like Reporting Services, data refresh happens via SQL Agent job.  Wolfgang then shows us what’s in the Power BI Report Server’s metadata database:

CAUTION: The PBIRS meta-database is a system database needed for successfully running PBIRS. Do NOT modify objects in that database – a non-functioning PBIRS could be the result!

The table dbo.SubscriptionHistory contains the history of data refresh actions. A SELECT on this table provides you with the following information:

  • Subscription metadata (SubscriptionID plus Type)

  • Execution runtime information (HistoryID, StartTime, EndTime, Status plus Message)

I’m pretty jazzed about this feature.

Replacing DAX PathContains With OR

Chris Koester shows the performance benefits of replacing the PathContains function in DAX with a simple OR operator:

This post shows how you can generate optimized multi-value DAX parameters in SSRS and achieve greater performance compared to the DAX PathContains function. This will be a short post that provides the SSRS expression to convert multiple SSRS parameters into a double-pipe delimited string for use in a DAX query. In other words, the goal is to use the DAX OR operator (||) instead of the PathContains function. I’m assuming the reader has experience with SSRS, so not all steps will be shown.

Read on for the example, which ended up being a 16X performance improvement.

Spelunking In The SSRS REST API

Chris Webb uses Power BI to look at the new SQL Server Reporting Services 2017 REST-based API:

And the online documentation for the API is here:


Interestingly, the new API seems to be OData compliant – which means you can browse it in Power BI/Get&Transform/Power Query and build your own reports from it. For example in Power BI Desktop I can browse the API of the SSRS instance installed on my local machine by entering the following URL:

This is something that SSRS has been missing for a long time.  I’m glad they’re introducing a real API.

An Analysis Of The Utility Of Power BI Report Server

Meagan Longoria has an after-action report of a proof of concept using Power BI Report Server:

In addition to managing to versions of Power BI Desktop, I also found myself mentally managing two sets of features. I was constantly asking myself “Can I do that in Power BI Report Server?”. Some of that is because PBI Desktop for Report Server is on a quarterly release cycle rather than monthly, so I had to remember if a feature I wanted to use was new (or in preview) and therefore not available in this version. The other part is trying to remember what you can and cannot do with a Live Connection. For example, you can make report measures, but you can’t use ad hoc grouping and binning.

We had several scenarios where users wanted to be able to group fields in multiple ways that changed somewhat frequently. Since we couldn’t use grouping and binning in Power BI Desktop to accomplish this, we set up an Excel data source in the SSAS Tabular model, and allowed users to change the groups there and refresh the Tabular model when finished. This could get rather unwieldy if you had lots of users who needed this kind of flexibility.

Ultimately, the customer considered it a success.  Read on for more details.

Reporting Services Versus Power BI Report Server

John White compares and contrasts SQL Server Reporting Services versus Power BI Report Server:

Power BI Report Server (PBIRS) was first introduced in May 2017. Based on SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), it brings the ability to work with Power BI reports completely on premises in addition to all the other capabilities of SSRS. Given this, it would be reasonable to conclude that PBIRS was the next version of, or a replacement for SSRS, but that is not the case. I have heard people state that SSRS is “going away”, but this is simply not the case. SSRS is still a core part of the Microsoft BI stack. So, what are the differences between the two platforms? The differences boil down to features, licensing, and update cadence.

If you’re in the BI/report writing space, you will want to read the whole thing.


March 2018
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