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Figure 2.6 You can use the Report Designer Preview window to find out if the report will render successfully in production.
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Figure 2.7 Configuration Manager properties determine what happens when you run a BI project. If the Build option is selected, VS.NET will build the project. If the Deploy option is selected, VS.NET will deploy the report items to the report catalog.
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In our case, both the Build and the Deploy check boxes are selected. As a result, when we press F5, VS.NET will build and deploy all reports within our BI project.
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If both the Build and the Deploy options are on, VS.NET will build and redeploy all reports inside your BI project before the report is loaded in the Preview window. This could take a substantial amount of time. Once the reports are uploaded to the report catalog, you typically don t want to rebuild and redeploy them each time you press F5. To skip these two steps and get to the Preview window faster, clear the Build and Deploy check boxes.
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Once you ve tested the report successfully, you can promote it to a managed report by deploying it to the Report Server. Building reports As a part of the testing process, you need to check if the report can be generated successfully by building the report. Using the Report Designer, you can do this in two ways: Explicitly To build the whole project, use the Build menu or right-click on the project node in the Solution Explorer and choose Build. To build specific reports, you can select multiple reports by holding the Ctrl key and then build them by right-clicking on the report and selecting Build. Implicitly Switching to any of the preview modes or deploying the report causes the Report Designer to build the report automatically. Building a report doesn t result in a binary, as you would expect when working with .NET development projects. Instead, the build process simply verifies that the report is structured properly and that all field references and expressions are resolvable. If the Report Designer determines that a validation rule is broken, it reports an exception in the Task List. For example, if you misspell a field name, the Report Designer will complain with the following exception:
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The value expression for the textbox '<textbox name>' refers to the field '<field name>'. Report item expressions can only refer to fields within the current data set scope or, if inside an aggregate, the specified data set scope.
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Only a report that compiles successfully can be uploaded to the report catalog. Upon deploying the report, the Report Server enforces this rule by performing the same checks that the Report Designer does when you build the report. For example, you may try to upload a report with syntax errors directly to the report catalog using the Report Manager. However, the attempt will fail with the same error as the one that the Report Designer would report in the Task List if you build the report.
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Deploying reports Finally, once the report is tested successfully it is ready to be promoted to a managed report. If you have rights to update the report catalog, you can publish the report straight from VS.NET. As a prerequisite for this to happen, you have to set the TargetFolder and TargetServerURL settings in the project properties, as shown in figure 2.8. The TargetFolder setting specifies the name of the catalog folder that the report will be uploaded to. If the folder doesn t exist, it will be created. The TargetServerURL setting defines the Report Server URL. BI projects in VS.NET support separate configurations to address different deployment scenarios. For example, during the QA testing lifecycle, you would typically use a staging Report Server. Once the report is tested, you would deploy to production. To address these deployment needs, the project settings include several predefined configurations, among them DebugLocal, Release, and Production. You can use these configurations any way you want. For example, assuming that you have set up separate staging and production environments, you can set these configurations as shown in table 2.1. You can also define additional configurations if needed by clicking on the Configuration Manager button. To deploy a single report from the VS.NET, right-click on its file in the Solution Explorer and choose Deploy. The Deploy command first builds the report. Then, it invokes the Report Server Web service to deploy the report to the Report Server. Similar to building reports, you can deploy multiple reports by selecting them and choosing Deploy from the context menu. Finally, just as with any other development project, I strongly suggest that you put your BI projects under source control, e.g. by using Microsoft Visual SourceSafe. To accomplish this, right-click on the project node and choose Add Solution to Source Control.
Figure 2.8 Using the project properties you can specify different configurations to address various deployment needs.