Tag Archives: SSRS

Book Review: “Confessions of a Public Speaker”

This year I made a goal to read six new books and to share my experience with everyone via book reviews.  This is the first review of the year and I am excited to give feedback on a book I really enjoyed.  Normally self help books put me to sleep but this was an exception as it was informative and entertaining to read.  If you plan to do public speaking in the near future I highly recommend this book.

My motivation for reading “Confessions of a Public Speaker” by Scott Berkun is simple.  I find myself doing more presentations and I want to improve my craft.  This year I will be speaking at PGH.NET Code Camp in April and also at SQL Saturday #36 in Wheeling, WV. Public speaking is not easy for me.  I completely agree with Adam Machanic’s blog post.  It takes a lot of practice and some reading to see how others succeed. Therefore, I want to take any advantage I can to make my presentations better.   The lessons I learned in the first chapter alone made this book worth the $17 on Amazon.

The following are some very important lessons learned.  Most people at your presentation hope you do well but also hope your presentation ends soon.  It’s funny, after I read this I started laughing because it’s so true. I also learned to know your material but know you shouldn’t be perfect.  Normally, I try to be a perfectionist so this is something I had to know.  I cannot go back in time and correct my mistakes. Ummm… maybe I can I will have to add this to my todo list.   Finally, I learned it’s the mistakes you make before you present that matter the most.  I will dive into this with my confession below.

Being that the title of the book is “Confessions of a Public Speaker” it’s only fair to include a confession of my own.  With experience I learned that I must take control of what I can control.    Three years ago I did my first presentation at the Pittsburgh Code Camp and did a presentation on extending the Reporting Service API’s.  While no one booed or threw fruit at me the presentation was a hot mess.  I was modifying slides in the speakers room, I didn’t do a practice run of the demos, heck I didn’t go through the audience’s point of view when I built the presentation.  If I would have taken care of what I could control (my presentation) this could have been a killer presentation.  Regardless, it was a great learning opportunity which made my future presentations much better.

If you want to improve your public speaking I highly recommend Confessions of a Public Speaker. This book will stay on my bookshelf within an arms reach for quite some time.

Building a Data Warehouse with SQL Server

Today, I am going to start a series of blogs on one of my favorite topics Data Warehousing with SQL Server.  I will start by defining a data warehouse.  I will then give some business cases that explain the benefits of a data warehouse.  Finally, I will start writing about the built in tools SQL Server provides to implement a data warehouse with SQL Server.

What is a Data Warehouse?

In its simplest form a Data Warehouse is a way to store data information and facts in an format that is informational.  Hopefully, you were able to pull this information from the photos above.   Personally, I like to think of a Data Warehouse as a tool used by decision makers to improve decision‐making.

Business cases for a Data Warehouse

The following are several reasons business cases that explain how “insert company name here” can benefit from a data warehouse.

  • A Data Warehouse is fast to query. After the initial setup is complete, queries can run up to 1000% faster in an OLAP database than in an OLTP database.
  • A Data Warehouses improves ROI by allowing end users to make more efficient use of enterprise information so many companies have all the information they need.
  • A Data Warehouse is a good solution for application’s that are great for data entry but lacks in depth reporting and drilldown capabilities.
  • A Data Warehouse could be used to bring several applications and/or data sources together.
  • If you are a service company a data warehouse could be used to analyze work completed to estimate future flat fee engagements. (I can go on and on on these examples…)
  • If you already own SQL Server you can implement a data warehouse solution with the built in tools.  This means no additional cost for software is needed.

What tools are needed to Build a Data Warehouse?

Both SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008 include three tools that are very helpful towards implementing a Data Warehouse. These three tools allow you to create an killer data warehouse.

  • Analysis Services (SSAS)
  • Integration Services (SSIS)
  • Reporting Services (SSRS).

We will go over these tools in great detail in future posts.  For now, let’s just think of SSAS as the tool that provides storage for the data used in cubes for your data warehouse. SSIS is the tool we will use to extract, transform and load (ETL) data into our data warehouse.  SSRS is a tool used to view the data in our data warehouse.

Next post : Introduction to Data Warehouse Dimensions

Free SQL Server 2008 Training Kit

Are you looking for some free SQL Server training?  Are you looking to upgrade your SQL Skills to SQL Server 2008? If so, Microsoft has a download just for you.

Download SQL Server 2008 Developer Training Kit

The SQL Server 2008 Developer Training Kit includes presentations, sample code and labs that cover the following topics:

  • Spatial Support
  • CLR
  • Reporting Services
  • Date and Time
  • T-SQL enhancements including  Table Value Parameters, Merge, Row Constructors, Grouping Sets and more..

Load SQL Function in SSRS Header or Footer

Today I had an interesting problem that I believe is common with SSRS so I wanted to share my solution.  I had a new requirement to display the result of a SQL function into the header of a report.  Quickly, I found out that you cannot drag a dataset item into the header.  To solve this problem I created a new internal parameter that obtains its default value from the dataset I wanted to display on the header.

In this example I have an Id that is passed into the report as a parameter. I call a SQL function in a dataset that displays a different identifier based on the criteria inside the SQL function.    Below is an image that displays the setting I used for the internal parameter.


Once this parameter exist I was able to use the following code in the header section to display your data returned from the SQL function.