After all the queries have been written, after all the stored procedures have been run, there remains a rather important thing we need to do in order to make our data useful—make it available to end users.
Reporting is one of those things that seems incredibly simple, but turns out to be rather tricky. You see, you can't simply start sticking numbers in front of people's faces; the numbers must make sense and, if at all possible, capture the attention of the person for whom you're reporting. To produce reports that actually get used and, therefore, are useful, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Use just the right amount of data: Do not try to do too much in one report; nor should you do too little. A report that is a jumble of numbers is going to quickly lose a reader's attention, and you'll find that it doesn't get utilized after the first few times it is generated. Likewise, a barren report will get just a glance and get tossed without any real thought. Find a balance of mixing the right amount of data with the right data.
Make it appealing: Sad as it is to say, another important element in reporting is what one of my daughters would call making it "prettiful"—which is to say, making it look nice and pleasing to the eye. An ugly report is a dead report.
In this chapter, we're going to be taking a look at the Reporting Services tools that first appeared as a downloadable web add-on in SQL Server 2000, and became ...