SQL Server 2005 : Report Access and Delivery (part 2) - Presentation Formats, Programming: Rendering

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Presentation Formats

Report output can be produced in a variety of Web-, page-, and desktop-compatible formats. You cannot edit these files using the Reporting Services tools, but third-party products are available to fit this need. Each format has specific options and properties that configure the rendering extension. The same extensions are used on the report server, the Report Designer environment, and the ReportViewer control.


HTML is the default rendering extension. It produces UTF-8 encoded pages or fragments. Standard HTML 4.0 is produced by Report Manager, SharePoint Web parts, and direct URL access. HTML 3.2 is possible only through URL addressing with the rs:Format=HTML3.2 option. MHTML is also available through URL addressing and the Export option in Report Manager. This format, referred to as Web Archive, combines the graphics and report data into a single file.

All report data regions are rendered as tables. Charts become images. Style properties turn into CSS style tags. Report-level items such as headers and footers become HTML <DIV> tags.


The Excel rendering extension creates BIFF files that are compatible with Excel 97 and later. Each page in the report generates a worksheet in the Excel file, as shown in Figure 4. The data is stored in tabular format with nesting. Some colors are not supported, so substitutions are made. Limitations exist for worksheet, row, cell, and column sizes, so very large reports can be problematic. Charts turn into pictures and are not editable Excel chart objects. Document maps are rendered as the first worksheet with links to other data sheets.

Figure 4. Report output in Excel format


The PDF rendering extension produces PDF 1.3–compatible output, as shown in Figure 5. These files are suitable for viewers such as Adobe Acrobat. Bookmarks are supported and turn into PDF bookmarks. Avoid drillthrough links—use hyperlinks instead. Make sure that all fonts necessary to view the report are installed on the report server as well as on the target clients.

Figure 5. Report output in PDF format


The Image rendering extension creates a bitmap or metafile. The default format is TIFF, which stores multiple pages in a single file. Other available formats include valid GDI+ variants: GIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP, and EMF. Size, resolution, and image format are configurable. Items are rendered in the order that they appear in the report definition. You can control this by setting the zindex property of select objects.


The Comma-Separated Value (CSV) rendering extension produces plain-text files with no character formatting or graphics. This is useful for importing into other applications, such as spreadsheets and databases. The first row contains field names by default. All data regions are output with a column for each data element. This extension ignores such items as headers, footers, images, and ActiveX controls. Field, record, qualifier, and header settings are configurable.


The XML rendering extension creates XML documents that are specific to the source report. Layout and images are ignored. XML is useful in application integration scenarios. The top-level element in XML is Report. Each data region creates an element. The elements and attributes are generated in the order that they appear in the report definition, as shown in Figure 6. Data types are notated in the included schema. You can set element names by using the DataElementName property of individual objects in Report Designer or by using raw RDL.

Figure 6. Report output in XML format when viewed in Internet Explorer

The rendered XML can be transformed using an XSLT document that you specify in URL addressing. This is a creative and efficient way to produce custom output formats. The result can be a more complex XML document, XHTML, or plain text. Note that each report creates unique XML output, so the XSLT transforms are specific to that report.

Programming: Rendering

One uses ASP.NET Web pages to host links and iframes for URL access. Another incorporates the ReportViewer control in both ASP.NET pages and Windows Forms. The third is a useful utility that combines Web service functionality with rendering to create a report file generation factory.

Parameterized URL Access

One project in the Chap21 solution, CS Web Pages, includes a URLAccess.ASPX page that demonstrates URL access, as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7. URL access inside a Web Page using an IFrame tag

In design view, you see a hyperlink (<A> tag) that opens a new page with the Tabular report. The URL phrase is shown here:


In this example, localhost is the server name and reportserver indicates the Web service virtual directory. The path and report are the first URL parameters. The rs:Command parameter instructs report server to render the report. Several rs: and rc: parameter options were described earlier.

The Chart Report button on the Web page has an onclick event handler that sets the src property of an iframe. This causes the chart sample to appear on demand.

ReportViewer Examples

The ReportViewer control is part of the .NET Framework 2.0. You can use it in ASP.NET pages as well as Windows Forms, as shown earlier in Figures 21-36 and 21-37. The ASP.NET project called CS Web Pages has a page called ReportViewer.aspx that embeds this control. The properties of the control have a ProcessingMode that defaults to Local. Choose Remote, and use the Smart Tag control to set the Report Server URL and Report Path. The Toolbar category in the Properties window has options that control the toolbar display. No code is needed for the report to display at runtime.

The project CS Forms has a form called Simple.cs. This form embeds a ReportViewer control with the Dock property set to fill. You use the Smart Tag control or Properties windows to adjust the settings. Notice that the report properties are identical in the Web and form versions. Adding this control to the form automatically generates the necessary lines of code:

private void Simple_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)

Another sample form, called Service.cs, uses the report server Web service to enumerate folder and report names in a list box. Selecting a list item triggers the SelectedIndexChanged event, which sets the ReportViewer ReportPath property and calls RefreshReport, as shown in the following code block:

namespace CS_Forms
    public partial class Service : Form
        ReportingService2005 rptSrvr = new ReportingService2005();
        CatalogItem[] catItem;

        public Service()

        private void Service_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
        rptSrvr.Credentials = System.Net.CredentialCache.DefaultCredentials;
        rptSrvr.Url = "http://localhost/reportserver/reportservice2005.asmx";

        catItem = rptSrvr.ListChildren("/Chap21/reports", true);

        foreach (CatalogItem item in catItem)

        private void ListBox1_SelectedIndexChanged(object sender, EventArgs e)
            ReportViewer1.ServerReport.ReportPath = catItem[ListBox1.SelectedIndex].Path;


Rendering Factory

The report server Web service can render reports in several output formats. A CS Forms project called Render.cs combines the folder navigation methods with a Treeview control to display the folder hierarchy. The option button in the middle of the form determines the output format. Enter a file name, and use FolderBrowserDialog to select a target file folder. The Generate button renders the report using the Web service and redirects the byte stream to the target file. This utility can quickly generate sample output for testing purposes. The code can easily be edited to automate other report generation tasks.

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