Cool New Things in Reporting Services 2016

By: Saskia Schott I recently attended a two day Data Insights summit, the first to be held.  Its focus was data and data analytics, including big data. The presentations were mostly about using Excel and the Power BI Desktop to achieve insight, but with the move to ad hoc analysis and reporting, Microsoft has not abandoned static reports.   SQL Server Reporting Services 2016 has gotten an overhaul with an eye to using and presenting the data in new ways (mobile), as well as some changes we have long been waiting for. I think the change I was most pleased to hear about was the change that gives report developers the ability to control how parameters are displayed at the top of a report. We will now have the ability to group parameters, and control the spacing between parameters.   Thus, you could have a year and month parameter group, some space, and then the Product parameter group (Category, Subcategory and Model) and a space and a third group for Geography, if that was your choice. The individual charts, graphs, etc. have all been spiffed up to reflect a more modern look and feel.  This was probably the feature that got me the least excited. But the feature that did impress me was the ability to control how a report would look if it were viewed on a mobile device, which has a vertical viewing orientation and a horizontal viewing orientation.  Reporting Services will allow you to control the layout for each presentation. I was also happy to attend two 2-hour presentations by the well-known authority on DAX, Alberto Ferrari.  For those of you who don’t know, DAX is the query language used to create new columns in tabular models, and to create measures as well.  It’s an offshoot of the Excel query language, but rapidly can become very complex. The first presentation was on Introduction to DAX, with the second covering more advanced DAX.   While I’ve worked with simple DAX for a while, I’ve found that when learning a new language, it always bears reviewing what you know through a presentation by a different author/speaker. I also found the presentation “Data Science For the Rest of Us” very informative.  There’s a lot of talk about what data scientists do, and what they contribute. This presentation by a Microsoft data scientist explained what they do, and how it’s an iterative process, and why. Now, at this point you are probably very sorry you weren’t one of the approximately 2-300 people who were in attendance.   Especially since it was free. BUT, I have great news. The presentations were recorded and some can be viewed on You Tube and can be viewed here, here, and here. There are many more videos on YouTube, on a variety of topics from developer to presentation to data extraction. Enjoy!

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