Third-party tools from Microsoft partners are also available

One key feature of Reporting Services is that it allows multiple data sources to be used within a single report, a unique capability that allows for truly robust reports. Creating the layout Regardless of the design surface (Visual Studio or Report Builder) that you use, you have many report items in the toolbox of report controls available to you for building reports. Some of these items are independent items meaning that they re not associated with a particular data source. Examples of these report controls include the Textbox, Line, Rectangle, and Image report items. Rectangles can be used to group other report items or to add page breaks. Other report controls organize data for presentation and are known as data regions. Examples of these report controls include the List, Table, Matrix, Chart, and Subreport controls. Tables are used for tabular displays; matrix report items are excellent at creating cross tab reports; subreports act as containers for other reports; and charts create graphical content. You can also add headers and footers at the report, page table, or group level within a report. The heart of creating reports is knowing the ins and outs of working with the various report items as objects in your reports. I talk about these capabilities more in several chapters of this book, beginning in Chapter 3. Using expressions and formulas Inserting expressions into reports can sometimes be tricky, so it s good to know that Reporting Services has a robust Expression Editor to help in this task. You can create custom fields from columns you return from your data source and then create expressions in a textbox for descriptive text based on elements from your data sources for the report. When it comes to formulas, you can make use of aggregating functions such as SUM and AVG or COUNT and even set up conditional formatting so that various intersections of your report stand out because of distinctive back color, fonts, or other properties. Finally, you can create your own functions and utilize them with a report. Filtering, sorting, and grouping Think of filtering your report data as a way of providing an appropriate amount of data to meet what is known in the business as your information delivery requirements. Not everybody needs every bit of information, so go ahead and set up parameters in your query to reduce the amount of data returned. (See more on parameters in the next section.) Alternatively, you can add fields 18 Part I: Just the Basics

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