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Trials and tribulations of SSRS

28/05/2014 – in Reports, SSRS

For a long time we’ve been staunch fans of Crystal Reports but, now that it’s no longer given away with GoldMine, we’ve been taking a look at SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS).

SSRS is actually quite nice when you want to see a report on a web page which updates itself at a set interval; a classic example is a nearly-real-time dashboard of who is doing what. This works well in a call centre.

However, the process of getting started with it can have you tearing your hair out!

There is a lot of documentation online about using SSRS, so I won’t repeat all or much of it here. What I will do though is pass on a couple of tips that we learnt the hard way:

1. Reports only render properly in Internet Explorer. In Chrome they don’t bring back any data and neither will they give you any error messages. Firefox might be ok, and we haven’t tried Safari but, if in doubt, use IE.

2. The current version of the Report Builder (RB 3.0 as I write this) can be downloaded from Microsoft and installed on your local machine or it can be run from a link on your reports web page (http://yoursqlserver/reports). You might be tempted by the download-and-install option; we certainly were, but found that RB crashed whenever we tried to connect to the reports server, which made it as much use as a chocolate teapot. We tried it on two servers, using two versions of SQL, from two separate version-specific RB installations, and got the same result both times. Running it from the link is slower as each time it has to drag 70-odd meg across the network but, so far, it has behaved itself.

3. This is related to the above. Don’t try to run RB from the link if you’re using Chrome. It will just give an error about missing components.

4. This is also related to the above. You can only embed SQL credentials in a report when you’re saving it directly to the report server – the credentials aren’t saved if you save the report locally. To save it to the server, of course, you need to be connected to that server and, as we’ve seen, we could only do that when using RB from the website link.

Fathoming out this little lot took a day out of our lives. Hopefully we’ve now suffered so you don’t have to!