Thursday, October 20, 2011

Numeric gets converted to Text in Excel from SSIS

This is with reference to a question asked in MSDN forum where a User was trying to fill an Excel sheet with one the Numeric Column and field was changing to Text. 


SSIS Excel Data Source: Text was truncated or one or more characters had no match in the target code page


This happens as Excel identifies data type for a column based on sampling of top few rows(8 by default) and in that sample it doeskin get correct data type.



Lets see the problem with an example I have a simple table with following structure
, [Name] VARCHAR (10)
, Salary NUMERIC (10,2)

Here ID and Salary are Integer and Numeric receptively and if we try to export them to Excel using SSIS, Excel will store the correct values but would convert them into Text as below( see the Green mark over cell)

Unforunatly there is no way that we can control or change  the format/ datatype of a column of Excel sheet form SSIS.Even if we change the datatype using Advance Editor in Excel Destination , it wont reflect the change.

So is there is solution to this, well not excatly a solution but a workaround Yes.
When Excel decide about format of cells in a column it takes sample from first few cells (other than first row-header) and keeps the same format for rest of cells down below. We can use this property of Excel and create one dummy row with the format as we are excepting for rest of the cells.

Now during actual writing of data Excel will pick the format from Dummy Row and keep it for rest of them. You can even hide Dummy Row after putting some values in it.


We can increase the sampling Rows for Excel and it can guess Correct Data Type based on given Range of Rows. Sample Range for Rows can be increased from Registry Key TypeGuessRows

Path in Registry


For 64 bit machines it may be under

You can set any values to this editable field
a) Default: 8
b) 0 will take all the rows in the Sheet -This may slow down validation if no. of rows are large.
c) Recommend is to give a value where you can be sure of having correct data type rows.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

SSRS Interview Questions

Q1. WHAT is SQL Server Reporting Services(SSRS)?
SQL Server Reporting Services is a server-based reporting platform that you can use to create and manage tabular, matrix, graphical, and free-form reports that contain data from relational and multidimensional data sources. The reports that you create can be viewed and managed over a World Wide Web-based connection

Q2. Architecture of SSRS:

Q3. What are the three stages of Enterprise Reporting Life Cycle ?
a. Authoring
b. Management
c. Access and Delivery

Q4. What are the components included in SSRS?
1. A Complete set of Tools that can be used to create, manage and view reports
2. A Report Server component that hosts and processes reports in a variety of formats. Output formats include HTML, PDF, TIFF, Excel, CSV, and more.
3.An API that allows developers to integrate or extend data and report processing in custom applications, or create custom tools to build and manage reports.

Q5. What is the benefit of using embedded code in a report?
1. Reuseability of Code: function created in embedded code to perform a logic can be then used in multiple expressions
2. Centralized code: helps in better manageability of code.

Q6. Which programming language can be used to code embedded functions in SSRS?
Visual Basic .NET Code.

Q7. Important terms used in the reporting services?

1. Report definition:  The blueprint for a report before the report is processed or rendered. A report definition contains information about the query and layout for the report.

2. Report snapshot: A report that contains data captured at a specific point in time. A report snapshot is actually a report definition that contains a dataset instead of query instructions.

3. Rendered report: A fully processed report that contains both data and layout information, in a format suitable for viewing (such as HTML).

4. Parameterized report: A published report that accepts input values through parameters.

5. Shared data source: A predefined, standalone item that contains data source connection information.

6. Shared schedule: A predefined, standalone item that contains schedule information.

7. Report-specific data source: Data source information that is defined within a report definition.

8. Report model: A semantic description of business data, used for ac hoc reports created in Report Builder.

9. Linked report: A report that derives its definition through a link to another report.

10. Report server administrator: This term is used in the documentation to describe a user with elevated privileges who can access all settings and content of a report server. If you are using the default roles, a report server administrator is typically a user who is assigned to both the Content Manager role and the System Administrator role. Local administrators can have elevated permission even if role assignments are not defined for them.

11. Folder hierarchy: A bounded namespace that uniquely identifies all reports, folders, report models, shared data source items, and resources that are stored in and managed by a report server.

12. Report Server: Describes the Report Server component, which provides data and report processing, and report delivery. The Report Server component includes several subcomponents that perform specific functions.

13. Report Manager: Describes the Web application tool used to access and manage the contents of a report server database.

14. Report Builder: Report authoring tool used to create ad hoc reports.

15. Report Designer: Report creation tool included with Reporting Services.

16. Model Designer: Report model creation tool used to build models for ad hoc reporting.

17. Report Server Command Prompt Utilities: Command line utilities that you can use to administer a report server.
a) RsConfig.exe, b) RsKeymgmt.exe, c) Rs.exe

Q8. what are the Command Line Utilities available In Reporting Services?
· Rsconfig Utility (Rsconfig.exe): encrypts and stores connection and account values in the RSReportServer.config file. Encrypted values include report server database connection information and account values used for unattended report processing
· RsKeymgmt Utility: Extracts, restores, creates, and deletes the symmetric key used to protect sensitive report server data against unauthorized access
· RS Utility: this utility is mainly used to automate report server deployment and administration tasks.Processes script you provide in an input file.
Q. How to know Report Execution History?
ExecutionLog table in ReportServer database store all the logs from last two months.
 SELECT * FROM ReportServer.dbo.ExecutionLog

Q. What is difference between Tablular and Matrix report?
OR What are the different styles of reports?

Tablular report: A tabular report is the most basic type of report. Each column corresponds to a column selected from the database.

Matrix report: A matrix (cross-product) report is a cross-tabulation of four groups of data:
    a. One group of data is displayed across the page.
    b. One group of data is displayed down the page.
    c. One group of data is the cross-product, which determines all possible locations where the across and down data relate and places a cell in those locations.
    d. One group of data is displayed as the "filler" of the cells.
Martix reports can be considered more of a  Pivot table.

Q. How to create Drill-through reports?
Using Navigation property of a cell and setting child report and its parameters in it.

Q. How to create Drill-Down reports?
To cut the story short: 
- By grouping data on required fields
-Then toggle visibility based on the grouped filed

Q. How to select ALL from a parameter list?  

(Work in progress, more to follow)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Check out Whats happening on the Report Server

Sometime it may happen that Report server may work slow and you  might want to know whats really happening in the server and which reports are in use to get a lead.

1. To know which reports are running on you system is to check ExecutionLog table in ReportServer database of your server.

SELECT * FROM ReportServer.dbo.ExecutionLog

This table contains the history of which report is executed at which time, taking how much time and by whom. This can lead to the report which is taking most time.

But the draw back of this table is that it does not get information about subscription reports. And when I look into any Report Server first thing I look for is Reports Subscriptions. Those are little hidden ones and take work in background with letting anyone who that how much resource and time they are consuming.

2. Next method of knowing whats happening in our Report Server is through Manage Jobs page on ReportServers SiteSettings

This displays and lets user to cancel any In-Progress Report or Subscription. Only limition is that it will display only in-progress reports/subscription which are in-progress for atleast 60 seconds.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Data-dump in Dynamic Flat file with todays date

This is with reference to a question asked my an online friend regarding how can we do a daily Datadump on a flat file with a todays date as a file name.

To show that I will use an example in which we will dump a table "Student" from SQL Server database into a file with name appended with todays date and time eg. DataDump_201105101108.txt. 20110510 being the date and 11:08 as time of load.

1. Lets have a look at our table.

2. Now create a simple package with a Data Flow task which dumps data from Student to a flat file let say with Dummy.txt. SSIS is metadata oriented so at the time of creation of package you would need to have a dummy txt file so that mappings can be created.

3. Not the actual work starts. Go the Flat file Connection Managers Properties and expand Expressions.
 Choose ConnectionString as Property.

4. In Expression Builder window create a expression as
"E:\\DataDump_" + (DT_WSTR,4)DatePart("yyyy", GetDate()) + RIGHT("0" + (DT_WSTR,2)DatePart("mm", GetDate()), 2) + RIGHT("0" + (DT_WSTR,2)DatePart("dd", GetDate()), 2) + RIGHT("0" + (DT_WSTR,2)DatePart("hh", GetDate()), 2) + RIGHT("0" + (DT_WSTR,2)DatePart("mi", GetDate()), 2) + ".txt"

5. Run the package it will create a flat file with required File name.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Can't Expand MSDB in Integration Services Server

TCP Provider: No connection could be made because the target machine actively refused it. (MsDtsSrvr)
"Named Pipes Provider: Could not open a connection to SQL Server [2].  (Microsoft SQL Native Client)"

Other day one of the team here had to work on a fairly static server which has few SSIS packages installed on it. The Team wasn't able to expand MSDB node to view packages installed on the Intergration Services.
Error they were receiving was:

Steps to check if you are not able to expand MSDB in Integration Services:
1. User has permission on MSDB database as SSIS pacakges are stored in MSDB

2. Check if SQLBrowser services is running. Run > Services.msc

3. Check if TCP-IP/Named pipe are enabled for the Sever instance from SQL Server Configuration Manager

4. Windows firewall is not blocking SQL Sever access. Add SQLServer.exe or port 1433 to exceptions.

5. Find MsDtsSrvr.ini file at drive:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\90\DTS\Binn (for 2008 find in 100\DTS\bin folder) and check for Server tag if it is <ServerName>.ServerName> (this was the case with the team here :-) )

If yes then replace "." with Servername\instance name and restart Integration Sevices.

Have fun!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Select ALL in parameter of SSRS report

Select ALL as parameter value is one of the most common functionality which most of the reports have and there are number of ways to implement it.

I will explain below the way I do it and I find easiest. The driver of the solution is CASE option under WHERE clause of SELECT DataSet Query.

        SELECT * FROM TableName
                      WHEN  @RepParam <> 'ALL' AND ColName= @
RepParam THEN 1
                      WHEN  @
RepParam= 'ALL'  THEN 1
         ) = 1 ;

Lets see it through an simple Student Table example where we will Select student either on the basis of the Grade they are in or select all of them.

1. Records in Student table are

2. Create a simple report with DataSet Student as SELECT * FROM Student;

3. To add the Grade parameter and option for Select ALL

3.a. Create a DataSet for available Grades for Report parameter

3.b. Configure a Report parameter "Grade" as

3.c. Modify query for Student Dataset  to allow filtering on Grades as

4.a. Run the Report for ALL grades

4.b. Run the Report for grade - X