ANATOMY OF A REPORT in Visual Basic .NET

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ANATOMY OF A REPORT
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To be an effective report author, you need to have a good grasp of a report s anatomy. Reporting Services (RS) reports consist of sections (also called bands) that can contain report elements. Report elements include data regions and report items. Take, for example, the Sales by Territory report, shown in figure 4.1.
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A report includes header, body, and footer sections.
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The Page Header and Page Footer bands are visible because we ve enabled the Page Header and Page Footer options from the Visual Studio .NET (VS .NET) Reports menu. The report sections are the page header, report body, and page footer. To lay out a report, you drag and drop report elements from the Report Items toolbar (shown in figure 4.2) to the report body section.
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In our opinion, the Report Items toolbar should have been named Report Elements because it contains not only report items but data regions as well. To avoid confusion, we use the term report elements to refer to both report items and data regions.
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Figure 4.2 You can drag data regions and items from the Report Items toolbar to the report body.
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For example, instead of using the Report Wizard, we could have authored the Sales by Territory tabular report from scratch by dragging the table region ANATOMY OF A REPORT
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from the Report Items toolbar and dropping it into the body section. Then, we could have dragged and dropped the report dataset fields inside the table region. If we had done this, the table region would have created textbox report items behind the scenes to display the dataset data. 4.1.1 Getting started with a new report Before you start laying out a new report, we suggest that you review the report-level properties and make the appropriate changes right from the beginning. For example, you may want to change the page size and margins settings. Experiment with the GridSpacing properties to set up the layout grid so you can snap the report items to the grid as you position them on the report canvas. To view the report properties, select the report by clicking the Report Selector (the top leftmost square shown in figure 4.1). Then, right-click and choose Properties, or work directly with the VS .NET Properties window. In the VS .NET Properties window, you will recognize some of the report properties, such as the ReportParameters property, which, when selected, opens the familiar Report Parameters dialog box that we discussed in 3. Leave the rest of the properties alone for now; we discuss them on an as-needed basis. Let s look at each of the parts of the report anatomy in more detail. Understanding report sections An RS-based report consists of three main sections: Page header The page header content is displayed at the top of each page. Report body (optional) A report always has a body section, which is where most of the report content is located. Page footer (optional) The page footer content is displayed at the bottom of each page. By default, the page header and footer content appear on every report page, including the first and the last. You can suppress the header and footer on the first and last page of the report by changing the PrintOnFirstPage and PrintOnLastPage properties. RS reports don t have designated report header and footer elements. Instead, you can use the Report Body band to place items that need to appear once at the beginning or end of the report. Let s now discuss the various building blocks included with the Report Designer and how they can be used to lay out different types of reports. By no means will we try to enumerate each property of every report element. For this, you need to turn to the RS documentation, which provides excellent step-by-step instructions. Instead, after providing a high-level overview of the report structure and elements, we walk you through the process of creating various reports by example.
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