Access your favorite KPIs and reports with SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.3

UPDATESQL Server 2016 is now available.

New year, new Reporting Services. See what Reporting Services looks like in 2016: Download SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.3, available today. This release includes the next preview of our brand-new web portal and a nifty new feature: Favorites.

In case you missed it…

Back in October at PASS Summit 2015, we communicated our roadmap and unveiled what we’ve been working on. We’re adding mobile reports (reports optimized for mobile devices) to the Reporting Services platform along with a brand-new web portal – some of the most major enhancements to Reporting Services (Native mode) in years. Just weeks later (and just in time for the holidays), we released our first preview.

CTP 3.3 includes the next preview of that brand-new web portal.

Note: You might need to update your report server configuration to enable the new web portal. Be sure to read the Release Notes.

Favorites

As more and more people and teams within an organization come to count on Reporting Services to report on the information they need, they accumulate more and more reports. It’s not uncommon to find organizations with hundreds of reports. Some people are surprised to hear of organizations with thousands of reports, but when you consider multinational enterprises with many different teams and thousands of employees, you can imagine how such an organization could amass that many. We ourselves – Microsoft – are one such organization; we use Reporting Services to report on everything from customer feedback about SQL Server to the health of our Azure services, and we have over 17,000 reports.

At that scale, when you browse to Reporting Services, you see folders. Lots and lots of folders:

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Typically, only a handful of these reports are relevant to you personally, while others may be relevant to other teams. You might’ve bookmarked the reports you need in your browser’s favorites, but those bookmarks don’t necessarily extend to your mobile device or to native apps like the Power BI mobile apps.

Now, with the new web portal in CTP 3.3, you can add the reports that matter most to you to your Favorites:

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Now you can access the reports you need on your Favorites page – without the clutter:

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By adding key performance indicators (KPIs) to your Favorites as well, you can even monitor important metrics and trends at a glance – right on your Favorites page, before you even dive into a report.

We’ll be extending Favorites to the Power BI mobile apps, so your Favorites will travel with you.

Manage data sources

In our first preview of the new web portal, we focused on enabling you to consume content: browse folders, view mobile reports, and view (and export and print) paginated reports. Now, we’re working on enabling you to create and manage content. For instance, in CTP 3.3, you can now create and edit shared data sources for your KPIs and reports.

You can create a shared data source from the New menu:

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While you can manage an existing one by clicking Manage in its context menu:

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We could’ve taken the classic Report Manager pages for these tasks and merely updated the look-and-feel, but we’re taking the opportunity to apply what we’ve learned from your feedback, Microsoft Support cases, and usability studies to make the product easier to use.

When you run a report against a data source (such as a database), you need to log into the data source somehow. In classic Report Manager, you saw this page to configure how Reporting Services should log into the data source:

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We’ve seen this page confuse more than a user or two over the years. There’s a bunch of fields, some don’t apply (depending on your selection), and some are somewhat cryptic. “Use as Windows credentials?” As opposed to what?

In the new web portal, we’ve streamlined this page and described the settings in plain English (or French, or Japanese…):

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People who chose “Windows integrated security” – or in plain English, “Log into the data source as the user viewing the report” – often found it failed with an error. Why? Because their organization hadn’t (properly) configured Kerberos constrained delegation (KCD). (What the heck is that, right?!) Since this issue is so common, you’ll now see a link that you – and your IT department – can follow to learn more about it and how to resolve it:

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We’ve seen how these little things can add up to a product that’s easier to use.

More to come

In this second preview, the new web portal remains a work in progress and you’ll still need to use classic Report Manager for some management tasks. We’re working on support for additional tasks, so stay tuned to this blog.

Try it now and send us your feedback