SP2 Hotfix available

Microsoft has released a hotfix for SP2 that fixes a few items in SP 2. Specifically:

  • HTML Viewer Style Sheet Configuration Property Missing from Service Pack 2.

  • Incorrect line breaking or random formatting issues with MHTML.

  • Leaving and returning to the Schedule Page from the Subscription Properties page causes dependent report parameters to be disabled, then reset to the first or default value.

  • Tables exported to CSV may lose the first row of data.

Download the hotfix here.

Do more with less!

As you probably know, Microsoft has made a great effort to scale down the SQL Server 2005 components and provide more features at a lesser cost. Here are some links worth checking.


SQL Server 2005 Feature Comparison



SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services Enhancements



SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services Features Matrix



As far as Reporting Services is concerned, here are a couple of important points.


1.      Reporting Services 2005 will run on the Express Edition of SQL Server 2005 (previously known as MSDE in SQL Server 2000). What it means to you is that you can build and distribute reasonably feature-rich reporting solutions for free. This could be nirvana for many software vendors and integrators. Now you can build a report enabled-application and distribute the SQL Server components at zero cost to the client.

2.      Different editions support different feature sets. The last link provides a detailed comparison about supported reporting features. Extensibility and several export formats are not supported on Express and Standard editions.


Aren’t you excited? It is really do more with less!


Happy reporting.

Tech Ed US (Day 5)

D-day! I wondered how many people would show up for my presentation about RS Custom Security. I turned out that about 60 people thought that custom security is just what they needed to boot up after the last night party. I think the presentation was well received. While you are waiting for the Tech Ed DVD, I posted the code on my website.


I got hammered a bit about my presentation skills. Obviously, the tips I’ve learned from the train-the-trainer session weren’t enough. Next time, I will try some of the Steve Ballmer’s stunts. May be they will do the trick. If someone who’s attended my session reads this, please let me know what I can possibly improve to deliver the message more effectively, since I don’t think I can solve this dilemma by myself. BTW, custom security will be available with RS Standard Edition, as Brian Welcker pointed out at the end of the sessions. This was news to me as well.


My plan was at 2 pm. I wanted to see the Jason Carlson’s (Product Manager of RS) session about advanced report authoring with RS but I didn’t have time. Will see it once I get the Tech Ed DVD. Good bye, Tech Ed, it is time to go back to Atlanta (my home for the past seven or so years).

Tech Ed US (Day 4)

I couldn’t sleep well last night. My neighbor on the left was talking on her cell phone until midnight and I can hear every damn word through the thin wall. My other neighbor was watching a horror movie. A double impact. Not to mention that the cell phone of my left neighbor  rang and woke me up at 6. Luckily, today is not presentation day.


In the morning, I went to see the Managing Analysis Services 2005 Using Analysis Management Objects (AMO) presentation by Alex Lim. Alex is also a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional. We introduced to each other and talked briefly about South-east Asia. I spent three years in Singapore, so we had a lot in common. I liked the demo code that Alex used for his presentation. For those who are new to Analysis Services 2005, AMO is a .NET-based object library which allows you to manage SSAS programmatically. It is a successor of DSO. Cool stuff, if you ever need it.


I had a great lunch with Brian Welcker to catch up on the latest on RS and beyond. Lately, I haven’t been buried in my book and SSAS, so I’ve neglected RS 2005 a bit. It turns out that there is plenty to learn.


Next, I went to see Developing SQL Server 2005 OLAP Applications with ADO MD.NET presentation by Andrew Brust (another MVP). An excellent presentation! ADO MD.NET is a thin managed wrapper on top of the XMLA protocol. It is what you need to send MDX queries to SSAS from a .NET application.


Finally, I attended the Custom Reporting Services Items presentation by Andrew Bryan (a Product Manager of Dundas Software). These are the same guys who did the RS chart region. I didn’t have time to look at this extensibility area in RS 2005 so I found the presentation useful. It turns out that you can write a custom report item and plug it in RS just like you can do this with ASP.NET. Unfortunately, you cannot re-use existing ASP.NET controls. Writing custom report items could be very useful for ISVs, I suppose.


Next, I went to have a session rehearsal since my presentation is tomorrow. Today is also the Tech Ed Attendee’s party in Universal Studio. I hopped on the bus to see the latest and greatest rides. I didn’t have much time since I wanted to get back to the hotel by 10:30. First, I saw Shrek since it happens to be my favorite movie. I enjoyed very much. The 4D effects were awesome. The idea was that the Lord Farquad is not dead and he’s now a ghost. He kidnaps Fiona and Shrek and Donkey are chasing him with the dragon.


Next, I went to see Twister which simulates a class 5 tornado. Got soaked up pretty well. Next, I saw the Mummy. This was a hell of a intensive roller coaster ride. I thought I would vomit at some point. I wanted to see Men In Black but the wait was one hour! So, I went to see Terminator. I’ve been in Universal about 5 years ago, so I thought they may have upgraded the show. I was the same stuff but nonetheless pretty good.


I went back to the hotel and slept like a baby. Tomorrow is my presentation.


Tech Ed US (Day 3)

Wednesday. The pressure and fatigue starts building up. So, I am going to take it easy today. Now that I am writing a book about Analysis Services 2005, I felt like I need a pinch of MDX to boost my spirit. So, I went to see theSolving Business Problems with MDX in Analysis Services presentation by Amir Netz and Richard Tkachuk. I didn’t regret at all! It was an excellent presentations which gave me some tips about how to structure the MDX part of my book.

Next, I attended the SQL Server 2005: End-to-End Part 3 presentation by Donald Farmer (Product Manager of Integration Services, aka DTS). It was a good presentation as well.

In the afternoon, I had a train-the-trainer session which goal was improve the speaker’s presentation skills. I found out that I have to show more energy and articulate every word to captivate my audience. Now I know the secret of getting high scores for my presentation! Why nobody told me thid before? I went back to hotel to practice my presentation along those lines. I think my newly found vigor woke my neighbor…hopefully, it will do the same for my audience on Friday. Will see…     

Tech Ed US (Day 2)

First, I went to see the Paul Flessner’s keynote. I learned that Reporting Services will be available in all editions of Yukon, including Express! And, custom security will be available in RS Standard Edition as well! Now, we are talking! For more information about how different versions of Yukon will stack against each other, read this comparison document.

Next, I went to see Brian Welcker’s presentation about the new report viewer controls in RS 2005. The presentation was in one of the biggest conference halls and it was almost full (with perhaps some 600 people). This speaks by itself about the traction RS is getting. Brian actually wrote a whitepaper about the new features in RS 2005. It is nice to see Reporting Services evolving!

Next, I went to see the real-time OLAP presentation from the Analysis Services Team and shake hands with Amir Netz and Richard Tkatchuk. The presentation made a great case for real-time OLAP with proactive caching. The motto was “no more explicit cube processing!”. In my opinion though (my sole opinion, mind you), pro-active caching may not be that useful with data warehousing where data is loaded in a deterministic fashion. In this case, it may be more appropriate to process cubes explicitly, once ETL processes are done. That said, I can see real-time OLAP being really useful if the cube is built on top of the OLTP database. Something to think about…

Tech Ed US (Day 1)

Everyone was rushing in the morning to see Steve Ballmer’s keynote. He said there are some 11,000 folks at the conference. No wonder, all ice creams would disappear even before arrival! Here is some statistics that got posted on the TechEd site:


Feeding the Masses What does it take to feed 13,000 people at Tech·Ed?

  • 117,000 bottles of water
  • 14,300 lattes
  • 15,600 ice cream bars (it’s HOT out there)
  • 4,000 pounds of chips and snack mix
  • 2,300 dozen eggs
  • 8,000 pounds of chicken
  • 52,000 servings of juice

You get dizzy if you stay more than 10 minutes in the exhibitor hall area, so I decided to avoid at all cost, or cross it as fast as I can. Otherwise, people will run over me in an endless pursuit to get every possible t-shirt that has been handed out. I got only two but I didn’t have to fight. They were given to me by the Analysis Services and Reporting Services team. The RS one is kind of cool, with a “Got spinny?” logo. Perhaps, I can sell it on e-Bay and make a fortune one day…

I expected Steve to do a few stunts on the stage, but I guess he wasn’t in the mood. Business Intelligence was everywhere in Steve’s speech. So, were mobile technologies. I start spotting a trend here. Every show would tout mobile and smart devices as the next pervasive technology. I’ve been waiting for years to find out if the “we are here yet”, but alas… Perhaps, 2005 will be the year of wireless, who knows.

In the afternoon, I went to see Jamie MacLennan’s (Product Manager of SSAS Data Mining) presentation about building intelligent application. He demonstrated how data mining can be used for data validation. Cool stuff! Who know, one day I may actually write such an application.

Tech Ed US 2005 (Arrival)

Well, here are my “reports” from Tech Ed with some delay thanks to the sporadic internet access.


I arrived in Orlando on Sunday. The flight went fine. I got a bit surprised when I had to wait for a half an hour at the airport to get a shuttle to the hotel. The hotel was Peabody, very close to the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) where the Tech Ed is hosted. I got a room on the 9th floor.

The second surprise was when I discovered that for almost $200 a night in the hotel, I would have no Internet access. To get it, I have to pay only $7 a day J Breakfast wasn’t included too. Common folks, I used to stay in a hotel in Orlando for $80 and it had wireless, plus continental breakfast! Isn’t this America? The hotel didn’t even have a proper desk to do some work in a civilized manner. They had to fancy glass tables which I had to convert to a working area… and use an extra pillow for back support. Something is wrong here… perhaps, it is me – “the alien”, who’s too picky.

I went to register late at evening at the convention center. This turned out to be a great idea. The next day (Monday), the lines were huge. I think about 6 lines total with hundreds of people waiting. Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for an event of such a magnitude, as the Donkey would say (see Shrek).

A must-read RS blog

Brian Welcker, Group Program Manager for SQL Server Reporting Services, has started a blog. Join me to welcome Brian to the blog community and for giving us a chance to get the news directly from the source.  

Generate Ad-hoc Reports with Microsoft Reporting Services 2005

If you have followed the RS 2005 roadmap, you have undoubtedly noticed that among the many new features in Microsoft Reporting Services 2005 is one that can truly help reduce the workload for developers—the ability to give end users the power to generate their own ad-hoc reports. My article explains the major components of Microsoft Reporting Services’ ad-hoc architecture and semantic model, and walks you through an end-to-end example that demonstrates how to author, manage, and deliver ad-hoc reports.

Happy ad-hoc reporting!