RS 2005 ASP.NET Report Viewer and Custom Assemblies

There was an interesting post on the Reporting Services public newsgroup about an issue with the RS 2005 ASP.NET Report Viewer and custom assemblies. In a nutshell, the issue was that if you want to invoke a custom assembly from the ASP.NET Report Viewer, you need to deploy it to GAC.

Because of a bug in the RTM version, copying custom assemblies to the web app bin folder will not work. This bug will be fixed in a service pack. Currently, for web applications, you have to copy custom assemblies to GAC. This issue doesn’t apply to the WinForm version of the Report Viewer. In the case of WinForms apps, custom assemblies can be in the same directory as the application’s .EXE file; no need to copy to GAC.

An example of how the WinForm version of the Report Viewer can be configured to work with custom assemblies can be found on the Report Viewer home page. This page is maintained and monitored by the Rajeev Karunakaran, a Program Manager for the Report Viewer controls.

Configuration error with stylesheets and RS 2005

If you install RS 2005 and the default web site has a web.config file that uses the new ASP.NET 2.0 themes feature, when you attempt to run the Report Manager, you will get:

Theme <theme name> cannot be found in the application or global theme directories

The reason for this error is that the styleSheetTheme element in the root web.config is automatically inherited by the nested web.config files. This error is not RS-specific. It happens with any nested web site because ASP.NET attempts to located that folder and apply it to the nested web site. To fix the error, break the inheritance chain by changing the styleSheeTheme in the nested Report Manager web.config file, as follows:

<pages validateRequest=”false” styleSheetTheme=””/>

Reporting Services 2005 Tips and Tricks Web Seminar

WindowsITPro invited me to deliver a web seminar about RS 2005. Instead of picking up a particular area and focusing solely on it, this time I will be going for a “tips and tricks” type of session which will cover new ways to do things that were difficult if not impossible to implement with RS 2000. The topics will cover the three phases of the report lifecycle – authoring, management, and delivery. Unfortunately, due to technology constraints, I won’t be able to share my desktop and do live demos. Anyway, I think it is going to be an exciting session. I hope you will be able to make it.  

Reporting off ADO.NET datasets using the RS 2005 XML Extension

In case you missed this little gem, RS 2005 comes with a brand new XML Extension which allows you to report off an XML data returned from an URL-addressable resource, such as an ASP.NET page or a web service. For example, suppose that you have a web method called GetOrders that return the customer orders as a typed dataset (table in my case) and has the following signature:



public CustomerOrders.SalesOrderHeaderDataTable GetOrders(int customerID)


You can create a report from the returned dataset by using the RS 2005 XML dataset extension:

  1. Create a data source that uses the XML extension by selecting XML as the data source type.

  2. Enter the URL address of the web service in the connection string, e.g. #

  3. Once the data source is ready, create a dataset with the following query:


   <Method Namespace=”” Name=”GetOrders”/>


   <ElementPath IgnoreNamespaces=”true”>GetOrdersResponse/GetOrdersResult/diffgram/DocumentElement/SalesOrderHeader</ElementPath>



Unfortunately, the documentation stays shy about all the parameters supported by the XML extension but it is fairly easy to deduce what’s going on here.

The Method element describes the web method to be called. This is somewhat redundant since the SoapAction element does the same and explained in more details here. The ElementPath describes the full XPATH to the elements to be retrieved and flattened in a two-dimensional resultset. Finally, the IgnoreNamespaces attribute tells the XML extension to ignore any schema namespaces when parsing the XML content.


   4. To pass a parameter(s) to the web method, use the Parameters tab and link the report parameter to the query parameter as usual, e.g:


Name                          Value

customerID              =Parameters!CustomerID.Value


One cautionary note that bit me really bad is that the parameter name is case-sensitive and must much the argument name of the web method verbatim. Thus, if you change the parameter Name to CustomerID, you will find out that the XML extension doesn’t pass the parameter value.


Thanks for to the XML Extension, in my cases, reporting off XML data from URL-addressable sources may not require a custom data extension with RS 2005. Happy reporting!

Feature Pack for Microsoft SQL Server 2005

Microsoft has recently released the Feature Pack for Microsoft SQL Server 2005. The Feature Pack is a collection of standalone components that complement SQL Server 2005 offering. For example, the latest version of ADOMD.NET is included in the pack, as well as data mining control samples and Upgrade Advisor (a tool that assist you to ugprade Reporting Services, Analysis Services, and DTS to SQL Server 2005).

In search for scalability

Just to let you know that I am aware that my website ( is dog slo-o-o-w. I can hear my aging web server is praying for mercy from a mile. The good news is that I’ve just ordered a new Dell server. It sure will make a difference. It will take a few days to get and configure the server. I hope I will be able to scale before Thanksgiving.

So please be patient!

My blog address has changed

I have to apologize for the late news. I thought that I can get .Text and Community Server co-existing peacefully on the same machine, so I could post a notice of the blog address change through .Text once I am done installing and switching to the Community Server. Alas, .NET Framework 2.0 and .Text didn’t go along very well… Oops!


If you read this, you already know my new blog address but for whatever it is worth, please update your readers accordingly. The next time I will be less excited with upgrades J

SQL Server 2005 LoadFest

Atlanta.mdf is hosting a LoadFest event to celibrate the launch of SQL Server 2005. They asked me to stop by and answer tough Business Intelligence questions.. Time permitting, I may do a demo or two.

You may also put in your calendar my next presentation for Atlanta.mdf on 9/1/2006 when I will talk about Analysis Services 2005.


See ya there!