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Tutorial: Creating a Free-Form Report (Report Builder 3.0)

This tutorial teaches you how to create a report, based on sample sales data that resembles a forms letter. The report groups information by territory and displays the name of the sales manager for the territory as well as detailed and summary sales information. You will use the list data region as the foundation for the free form report, and then add a decorative panel with an image, static text with data inserted, a table to show detailed information, and optionally, pie and column charts to display summary information.

The following illustration shows a report similar to the one you will create.

Free form report with table, chart, and gauge

An enhanced version of the report you create in this tutorial is available as a sample SQL Server 2008 R2 Report Builder 3.0 report. For more information about downloading this sample report and others, see Report Builder 3.0 sample reports.

For more information about requirements, see Prerequisites for Tutorials (Report Builder 3.0).

From the Getting Started dialog box in Report Builder 3.0, choose a shared data source, create an embedded dataset, and then display the data in a list.

NoteNote

In this tutorial, the query contains the data values so that it does not need an external data source. This makes the query quite long. In a business environment, a query would not contain the data. This is for learning purposes only.

To create a blank report

  1. Click Start, point to Programs, point to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Report Builder 3.0, and then click Report Builder 3.0.

    NoteNote

    The Getting Started dialog box should appear. If it does not, from the Report Builder button, click New.

  2. In the left pane of the Getting Started dialog box, verify that New Report is selected.

  3. In the right pane, click Blank Report.

To create a new data source

  1. In the Report Data pane, click New, and then click Data Source.

  2. In the Name box, type: ListDataSource

  3. Click Use a connection embedded in my report.

  4. Verify that the connection type is Microsoft SQL Server, and then in the Connection string box type: Data Source = <servername>

    <servername>, for example Report001, specifies a computer on which an instance of the SQL Server Database Engine is installed. Because the report data is not extracted from a SQL Server database, you need not include the name of a database. The default database on the specified server is used to parse the query.

  5. Click OK.

To create a new dataset

  1. In the Report Data pane, click New, and then click Dataset.

  2. Verify that the data source is ListDataSource.

  3. In the Name box, type: ListDataset.

  4. Verify that the Text query type is selected, and then click Query Designer.

  5. Click Edit as Text.

  6. Copy and paste the following query into the query pane:

    SELECT CAST('2009-01-05' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Lauren Johnson' as FullName,'Central' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory,'Carrying Case' as Product, CAST(16996.60 AS money) AS Sales, 68 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-05' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Warren Pal' as FullName,'North' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory, 'Carrying Case' as Product, CAST(13747.25 AS money) AS Sales, 55 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-05' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Fernando Ross' as FullName,'South' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory,'Carrying Case' as Product, CAST(9248.15 AS money) As Sales, 37 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-05' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Lauren Johnson' as FullName,'Central' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory,'Tripod' as Product, CAST(1350.00 AS money) AS Sales, 18 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-05' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Warren Pal' as FullName,'North' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory,'Tripod' as Product, CAST(1800.00 AS money) AS Sales, 24 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-05' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Fernando Ross' as FullName,'South' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory,'Tripod' as Product, CAST(1125.00 AS money) AS Sales, 15 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-05' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Lauren Johnson' as FullName,'Central' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory,'Lens Adapter' as Product, CAST(1147.50 AS money) AS Sales, 17 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-05' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Warren Pal' as FullName,'North' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory,  'Lens Adapter' as Product, CAST(742.50 AS money) AS Sales, 11 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-05' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Fernando Ross' as FullName,'South' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory,'Lens Adapter' as Product, CAST(1417.50 AS money) AS Sales, 21 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-06' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Lauren Johnson' as FullName,'Central' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory, 'Carrying Case' as Product, CAST(13497.30 AS money) AS Sales, 54 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-06' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Warren Pal' as FullName,'North' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory, 'Carrying Case' as Product, CAST(11997.60 AS money) AS Sales, 48 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-06' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Fernando Ross' as FullName,'South' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory, 'Carrying Case' as Product, CAST(10247.95 AS money) As Sales, 41 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-06' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Lauren Johnson' as FullName,'Central' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory, 'Tripod' as Product, CAST(1200.00 AS money) AS Sales, 16 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-06' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Warren Pal' as FullName,'North' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory,'Tripod' as Product, CAST(2025.00 AS money) AS Sales, 27 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-06' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Fernando Ross' as FullName,'South' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory,'Tripod' as Product, CAST(1425.00 AS money) AS Sales, 19 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-06' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Lauren Johnson' as FullName,'Central' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory,'Lens Adapter' as Product, CAST(887.50 AS money) AS Sales, 13 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-06' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Warren Pal' as FullName,'North' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory, 'Lens Adapter' as Product, CAST(607.50 AS money) AS Sales, 9 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-06' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Fernando Ross' as FullName,'South' as Territory, 'Accessories' as Subcategory,'Lens Adapter' as Product, CAST(1215.00 AS money) AS Sales, 18 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-05' AS date) as SalesDate,  'Lauren Johnson' as FullName,'Central' as Territory, 'Digital' as Subcategory,'Compact Digital' as Product, CAST(10191.00 AS money) AS Sales, 79 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-05' AS date) as SalesDate,  'Warren Pal' as FullName,'North' as Territory, 'Digital' as Subcategory, 'Compact Digital' as Product, CAST(8772.00 AS money) AS Sales, 68 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-05' AS date) as SalesDate,  'Fernando Ross' as FullName,'South' as Territory, 'Digital' as Subcategory, 'Compact Digital' as Product, CAST(10578.00 AS money) AS Sales, 82 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-05' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Lauren Johnson' as FullName,'Central' as Territory,'Digital' as Subcategory, 'Slim Digital' as Product, CAST(7218.10 AS money) AS Sales, 38 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-05' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Warren Pal' as FullName,'North' as Territory,'Digital' as Subcategory, 'Slim Digital' as Product, CAST(8357.80 AS money) AS Sales, 44 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-05' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Fernando Ross' as FullName,'South' as Territory,'Digital' as Subcategory,'Slim Digital' as Product, CAST(9307.55 AS money) AS Sales, 49 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-06' AS date) as SalesDate,  'Lauren Johnson' as FullName,'Central' as Territory, 'Digital' as Subcategory,'Compact Digital' as Product, CAST(3870.00 AS money) AS Sales, 30 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-06' AS date) as SalesDate,  'Warren Pal' as FullName,'North' as Territory, 'Digital' as Subcategory,'Compact Digital' as Product, CAST(5805.00 AS money) AS Sales, 45 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-06' AS date) as SalesDate,  'Fernando Ross' as FullName,'South' as Territory, 'Digital' as Subcategory, 'Compact Digital' as Product, CAST(8643.00 AS money) AS Sales, 67 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-06' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Lauren Johnson' as FullName,'Central' as Territory, 'Digital' as Subcategory, 'Slim Digital' as Product, CAST(9877.40 AS money) AS Sales, 52 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-06' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Warren Pal' as FullName,'North' as Territory, 'Digital' as Subcategory, 'Slim Digital' as Product, CAST(12536.70 AS money) AS Sales, 66 as Quantity
    UNION SELECT CAST('2009-01-06' AS date) as SalesDate, 'Fernando Ross' as FullName,'South' as Territory, 'Digital' as Subcategory, 'Slim Digital' as Product, CAST(6648.25 AS money) AS Sales, 35 as Quantity
    
  7. Click Run to run the query.

    The query results are the data available to display in your report.

  8. Click OK.

Reporting Services provides three data region templates: table, matrix, and list. These are all based on a data region called tablix. The list template is ideal for creating free form reports. For more information, see Adding a List (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

You will use a list to display the sales information for sales territories in a report that resembles a newsletter. The information is grouped by territory. You will add a new row group that groups data by territory, and then delete the built-in Details row group.

To add a list

  1. On the Insert tab of the ribbon, in the Data Regions area, click List and then drag the list inside the report body. Make the list 7 inches tall and 6 1/4 inches wide.

    NoteNote

    This report uses the paper size Letter (8.5 X11) and 1 inch margins. A report page taller than 9 inches or wider than 6 1/2 inches might generate blank pages..

    NoteNote

    A large rectangle fills the list.

  2. Right-click the list, and then click Tablix Properties.

    Important noteImportant

    Make sure to right-click the list, not the rectangle inside the list. To select the list, click its upper left corner.

  3. In the Dataset name drop-down list, select ListDataset.

  4. Click OK.

  5. Right-click the rectangle, and then click Rectangle Properties.

  6. On the General tab, select the Add a page break after checkbox.

  7. Click OK.

To add a new row group and to delete the Details group

  1. In the Row Groups pane, right-click the Details group, point to Add Group, and then click Parent Group.

  2. In the drop-down list, select [Territory].

  3. Click OK.

    A column is added to the list. The column contains the cell [Territory].

  4. Right-click the Territory column in the list, and then click Delete Columns.

  5. Click Delete Group only.

  6. In the Row Groups pane, right-click the Details group, and then click Delete Group.

  7. Click Delete Group only.

  8. Click OK.

One of the advantages of using a list data region is that you can add report items such as rectangles and text boxes anywhere, instead of being limited to a tabular layout. You will enhance the appearance of the report by adding a graphic (a rectangle filled with a color).

To add graphic elements to the report

  1. On the Insert tab of the ribbon, click Rectangle,and then drag a rectangle to the upper left corner of the list. Make the rectangle 7 inches tall and 1 inch wide.

  2. Right-click the rectangle, and then click Rectangle Properties.

  3. Click the Fill tab.

  4. In the Fill color drop-down list, click More Colors, and then select the SlateGray color.

  5. Click OK.

  6. Click Run to preview the report.

The left side of the report now has vertical graphic that consists of a slate gray rectangle.

A text box contains static text that is repeated on each report page as well as data fields.

To add text to the report

  1. Click Design to return to design view.

  2. On the Insert tab of the ribbon, click Text Box,and then drag a text box to the upper left corner of the list, but inside of the rectangle you added previously. Make the text box about 3 inches tall and 5 inches wide.

  3. Place the cursor in the upper part of the text box, and then type: Newsletter for .

    NoteNote

    Be sure to include the extra space after the word "for". The space separates the text and the field that you will add in the next step.

  4. Drag the Territory field to the text box and place it after the text you typed in step 3.

  5. Select all text, right-click, and then click Text Properties.

  6. Click the Font tab.

  7. In the Font list, select Times New Roman; in Size select 20 pt, in Color select Maroon.

  8. Click OK.

  9. Place the cursor below the text you typed in step 3 and type: Hello .

    NoteNote

    Be sure to include the extra space after the word "Hello". The space separates the text and the field that you will add in the next step.

  10. Drag the FullName field to the text box and place it after the text you typed in step 9, and then type a comma (,).

  11. Select the text you added in steps 9 and 10, right-click, and then click Text Properties.

  12. Click the Font tab.

  13. In the Font list, select Times New Roman; in Size select 16 pt, in Color click More Colors, and then select the SlateGray color.

  14. Click OK.

  15. Place the cursor below the text you added in steps 9 through 13, and then copy and paste the following "greeked" text:

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Proin sed dolor in ipsum pulvinar egestas. Sed sed lacus at leo ornare ultricies. Vivamus velit risus, euismod nec sodales gravida, gravida in dui. Etiam ullamcorper elit vitae justo fermentum ut ullamcorper augue sodales. Ut placerat, nisl quis feugiat adipiscing, nibh est aliquet est, mollis faucibus mauris lectus quis arcu. In mollis tincidunt lacinia. In vitae erat ut lorem tincidunt luctus. Curabitur et magna nunc, sit amet adipiscing nisi. Nulla rhoncus elementum orci nec tincidunt. Aliquam imperdiet cursus erat vel tincidunt. Donec et neque ac urna rutrum sodales. In id purus et nisl dignissim dapibus. Sed rhoncus metus at felis feugiat eu tempor dolor vehicula. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nullam faucibus consectetur diam eu pellentesque. 
    Nulla facilisi. Proin ligula enim, porta ut tincidunt id, adipiscing sit amet eros. Ut purus sem, bibendum et vulputate sit amet, facilisis eget magna. Sed aliquam erat non erat eleifend hendrerit. Ut a ligula est, sit amet eleifend enim. Ut et nisl enim, sit amet adipiscing augue. Vivamus eu arcu ac libero posuere elementum. Integer condimentum bibendum venenatis. Integer odio tellus, feugiat in pellentesque semper, interdum nec sem. Sed cursus euismod sem, ut elementum sapien placerat vel. 
    
  16. Select the text you added in steps 15, right-click, and then click Text Properties.

  17. Click the Font tab.

  18. In the Font list, select Arial; in Size select 10 pt, in Color select Black.

  19. Click OK.

  20. Place the cursor below the text you pasted in step 15, and then type: Congratulations on your total sales of .

    NoteNote

    Be sure to include the extra space after the word "of". The space separates the text and the field that you will add in the next step.

  21. Drag the Sales field to the text box, place it after the text you typed in step 20, and then type an exclamation mark (!).

  22. Right-click [Sales], and then click Expressions.

  23. In the expression box, change the expression to include the Sum function as follows:

    =Sum(Fields!Sales.value)
    
  24. Click OK.

  25. Select the text you added in steps 20 through 23, right-click, and then click Text Properties.

  26. Click the Font tab.

  27. In the Font list, select Times New Roman; in Size select 16 pt, in Color select Maroon.

  28. Click OK.

  29. Select [Sum(Sales)] and on the Home tab, in the Number group, click the Currency button.

  30. Right-click the text box with the "Click to add title" text, and then click Delete.

  31. Select the list box and using the arrow keys, move it to the top of the page.

  32. Click Run to preview the report.

The report displays static text and each report page includes data that pertains to a territory. Sales are formatted as currency.

Use the New Table and Matrix Wizard to add a table to the free form report. After you complete the wizard, you will manually add a row for totals.

To add a table

  1. On the Insert tab of the ribbon, in the Data Regions area, click Table, and then click Table Wizard.

  2. On the Choose a dataset page, click ListDataset.

  3. Click Next.

  4. On the Arrange fields page, drag Productfrom Available fields to Values.

  5. Repeat step 4, for SalesDate, Quantity, and Sales. Place SalesDate below Product, Quantity below SalesDate, and Sales below SalesDate.

  6. Click Next.

  7. On the Choose the layout page, view the layout of the table.

    The table is very simple. It consists of five columns and has no row or column groups. Because it has no groups, the layout options related to groups, are not available. You will manually update the table to include a total later in the tutorial.

  8. Click Next.

  9. On the Choose a Style page, in the Styles pane, select Slate.

  10. Click Finish.

  11. Drag the table to below the text box that you added in lesson 4.

    NoteNote

    Make sure the table is inside the list.

  12. In the Row Group pane, right-click Details, point to Add Total, and then click After.

  13. Click Run to preview the report.

The report displays a table with sales details and totals.

Format numeric data as currency and dates as day and time only.

To format fields table

  1. Click Design to switch to design view.

  2. Click the table cells that contain [Sum(SalesSales)] and on the Home tab, in the Number group, click the Currency button.

  3. Click the cell that contains [SalesDate] and in the Number group, from the drop-down list, select Date.

  4. Click Run to preview the report.

The report now displays formatted data and is easier to read.

You can save reports to a report server, SharePoint library, or your computer. For more information, see Report Servers and SharePoint Report Servers (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

In this tutorial, save the report to a report server. If you do not have access to a report server, save the report to your computer.

To save the report on a report server

  1. From the Report Builder button, click Save As.

  2. Click Recent Sites and Servers.

  3. Select or type the name of the report server where you have permission to save reports.

    The message "Connecting to report server" appears. When the connection is complete, you see the contents of the report folder that the report server administrator specified as the default location for reports.

  4. In Name, replace the default name with SalesInformationByTerritory.

  5. Click Save.

The report is saved to the report server. The name of report server that you are connected to appears in the status bar at the bottom of the window.

To save the report on your computer

  1. From the Report Builder button, click Save As.

  2. Click Desktop, My Documents, or My computer, and then browse to the folder where you want to save the report.

  3. In Name, replace the default name with SalesInformationByTerritory.

  4. Click Save.

Add a line to separate the editorial and details areas of the report.

To add a line

  1. Click Design to return to design view.

  2. On the Insert tab of the ribbon, in the Report Items area, click Line.

  3. Draw a line below the free form text box you added in lesson 4.

  4. Click the line.

  5. Click the Home tab.

  6. In the Border area, for width select 4 1/2 pt and for color, for color select Maroon.

Rectangles help you control how the report renders. Place a pie and column chart inside a rectangle to ensure that the report renders the way you want.

To add a rectangle

  1. Click Design to return to design view.

  2. On the Insert tab of the ribbon, in the Report Items area click Rectangle, and then drag the rectangle inside the list, to the right of the table. Make the rectangle 2 inches wide and 4 inches tall.

  3. Align the tops of the rectangle and the table.

To add a pie chart

  1. On the Insert tab of the ribbon, in the Regions area, click Chart, and then click Chart Wizard.

  2. On the Choose a dataset page, click ListDataset, and then click Next.

  3. Click Pie, and then click Next.

  4. On the arrange chart fields page, drag Product to Categories.

  5. Drag Quantity to Values, and then click Next.

  6. On the Choose a Style page, in the Styles pane, select Slate.

  7. Click Finish.

  8. Resize the chart that appears in the upper left corner of the report, to be 1 1/2 inches tall and 2 inches wide.

  9. Drag the chart inside the rectangle.

  10. Right-click the chart title, and then click Title.

  11. In the Chart Title Properties dialog box, in Title text, type: Product Quantities Sold.

  12. Click the Font tab, and in the Size list, click 10pt.

  13. Click OK.

To add a column chart

  1. On the Insert tab of the ribbon, in the Regions area, click Chart, and then click Chart Wizard.

  2. On the Choose a dataset page, click ListDataset, and then click Next.

  3. Click Column, and then click Next.

  4. On the arrange chart fields page, drag Productto Categories.

  5. Drag Sales to Values, and then click Next.

    Values display on the vertical axis.

  6. On the Choose a Style page, in the Styles pane, select Slate.

  7. Click Finish.

    A column chart is added to the upper left corner of the report.

  8. Resize the chart to be 2 inches wide and 2 inches tall.

  9. Drag the chart inside the rectangle, below the pie chart.

  10. Right-click the chart title and then click Title.

  11. In the Chart Title Properties dialog box, in Title text, type: Product Sales.

  12. Click the Font tab, and in the Size list, click 10pt.

  13. Right click the vertical axis title, and then deselect Show Axis Title.

  14. Repeat step 13 for the horizontal axis title.

  15. Right click the legend, and then click Delete Legend.

    NoteNote

       Removing axis titles and the legend makes the chart more readable when it is a small size.

To verify the charts are inside the rectangle

  1. Right-click the rectangle you added earlier in this lesson.

    In the Properties pane, the Name property displays the name of the rectangle.

  2. Right-click the pie chart.

  3. In the Properties pane, verify that the Parent property contains the name of the rectangle.

  4. Right-click the column chart and repeat steps 2 and 3.

    NoteNote

    If the charts are not inside the rectangle, the rendered report does not display the charts together.

To make the charts the same size

  1. Click the pie chart, press the Ctrl key, and then click the column chart.

  2. With both charts selected, right-click, point to Layout, and then click Make Same Width.

    NoteNote

    The item you click first determines the width of all the resized items.

  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 using the Make Same Height option.

  4. Click Run to preview the report.

The report now displays summary sales data in pie and column charts.

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