SSRS INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

1) What are data regions?

Data regions are report items that display repeated rows of summarized information from datasets.

2) You want to generate a report that is formatted as a chart. Can you use the Report Wizard to create such a report?

No, the Report Wizard lets you create only tabular and matrix reports. you must create the chart report directly by using the Report Designer.

3) You want to use BIDS to deploy a report to a different server than the one you chose in the Report Wizard. How can you change the server URL?

You can right-click the project in Solution Explorer and then change the Target-Server URL property.

4) What are the three SSRS command-line utilities and their primary functions?

RSConfig.exe is used to define the connection properties from the SSRS instance to the Report Server database; RSKeyMgmt.exe performs encryption key operations and scale-out deployment setup; RS.exe runs Report Server Script files that can perform report deployment and management operations.

5) Can you always create a cache of a report?

No, you can create a cache of a report only when certain requirements, such as having credentials stored in the Report Server, are met.

6) Can you edit the .rdl code associated with a linked report?

No, because a linked report has no .rdl code of its own. It refers to the .rdl code of the base report

7) What is reporting lifecycle?

Reporting Services has three mainly three phases
Development of Reports (Developer) – First of all a report needs to be design which is primarily done by report developer
Management of Reports (DBA) – Once the Report is being developed, DBA need to ensure
Security – Only authorized user should access the report
Execution – How the report will be executed to optimize data sources performance
Scheduling of reports – so that report are executed on scheduled timings
Report Delivery (DBA+Developer) – Once the report is being developed and executed now the report should be reached to final recipients (business users) who are going to understand / analyze report data. If any changes, we again go back to development stage.

8) What are the new features are introduced in SQL Server 2012 reporting services?

Power View - interactive data exploration
SQL Server 2012 is fully integrated with SharePoint
Introduction to Data Alerts, data alerts are a data-driven alerting solution that informs you about changes in report data that are of interest to you, and at a relevant time
SQL Server Data tool
New rendering extensions supports MS Office 2010
Project Crescent is being introduced

9) What is ReportServer and ReportServerTempDB ?

Reporting Services uses two SQL Server databases for storage by default; the databases are named ReportServer and ReportServerTempdb. ReportServer is a main database, which store all internal configuration and report meta data where as ReportServerTempdb is used to store temporary data, session information, and cached reports.

10) What is encryption key?

Encryption keys are used by the report server so that items such as connection strings are maintained securely. These keys are required in case you want to perform restoration of report server databases

11) Mention what is SSRS?

SSRS or SQL Server Reporting Services is a server-based reporting platform that gives detailed reporting functionality for a variety of data sources. Reporting services include a complete set of tools to manage, create and deliver reports and APIs that allows developers to synchronize data and report process in custom application.

12) Mention what are the important architecture components of SSRS?

Important architecture components of SSRS includes
Report Manager
Report Designer
Browser types supported by reporting services
Report Server
Report Server and Command line utilities
Report Server Database
Data Sources

13) Explain what data regions are and what are the different data regions?

Data regions are report items that show repeated rows of summarized information from datasets.
Different data regions include
Chart
Gauge
List
Matrix
Table

14) Explain what are the different stages of Report Processing?

Different stages of Report Processing includes Compile: It analyze expressions in the report definitions and save the compiled intermediate format internally on the server Process: It run dataset queries and combine intermediate format with data and layout Render: It sends processed report to a rendering extension to tell how much information fits on each page and create the page report Export: It exports the reports to a different file format

15) Mention what are the new features in SSRS?

New features in SSRS includes
Excel File Export: The files can be exported into Excel file formats, earlier only XLS files were only exported Data Alerts: The new data alerts allow to create alert threshold which are evaluated on a user defined schedule, also there is data alert manager for alerting administrators Power View: With the new RDLX file format, power view is a new interactive Business Intelligence feature These are the new features included, apart from these, if you are using SSR on SharePoint it gives additional benefits like drag and drop ad hoc reporting and sending e-mails when data changes.

16) Explain what is a sub-report?

Sub-report are inserted into the main part, just like a main report, you also pass queries and parameters to it. In other words, a sub-report can be considered as an extension to your main report, but it consists of a different data set. For example, you can prepare a report of customers and then use a sub-report to show a list of orders for each customer.

17) List out what other servers you can use with SSRS?

Most of the times companies use SQL server with SSRS, but there are other servers you can integrate

  • Oracle
  • ODBC and OLEDB
  • Hyperion
  • Teradata
  • Flat XML files

18) Mention what are the core components of SSRS?

The core components of SSRS includes
A set of tool to View, Create and Manage report
A report server component that hosts and processes reports in a different formats like PDF, HTML, Excel, CSV,
An API, which enables developers to integrate with custom applications or to create custom tools to manage or build reports

19) Mention what are the different types of SSRS reports?

The different types of reports include
Parameterized reports
Snapshot reports
Cached reports
Clickthrough reports
Drilldown reports
Drillthrough reports
Sub-reports
Linked reports
Ad-hoc reports

20) Name some of the open source software that you can use in alternative to SSR?

Some of the open source software alternatives are
Jasper Reports
JFree Report
BIRT (Business Intelligence Reporting Tool)
OpenReport
DataVision and so on

21) Mention what are the reporting service components in SSRS?

The reporting service components in SSRS includes
Report Designer: It is a place where the report is created or designed
Report Server: It provides services for delivery of reports and for implementations
Report Manager: A web based administration tool to manage the report server

22) Explain can you implement data mining in SSRS?

Yes, it is possible to implement data mining in SSRS by using DMX designer to create data mining queries for SSRS reports.

23) Explain how you can configure a running aggregate in SSRS?

To configure a running aggregate in SSRS, you can use the Running Value function.

24) Mention what is the main function of a query parameter?

The main function of a query parameter is to filter data in the data source.

25) Explain can SSRS reports Cache results?

Caching reports enables users to access and view reports much faster. SSRS does allow Cache reports on reporting server.

26) Mention what are the three command line utilities and what are their primary functions?

The three command line utilities include

  • RsConfig.exe: It is used to determine the connection properties from the SSRS instance to the Report Server database
  • RsKeyMgmet.exe: It executes scale out deployment set-up and encryption key operations
  • Rs.exe: It executes Report server Script files which can perform management operations and report deployment

27) Explain how you can deploy an SSRS report?

SSRS report can be deployed in three ways

  • By Visual Studio: You can directly deploy the report in Visual Studios through solution explorer, by declaring the report server URL in project properties at Target Server URL.
  • By Report Server: By browsing the report from the disk location of the server you can deploy the report to report server
  • By creating the Utility: Another option is to create customized utility to deploy the report

28) Mention what method you can use to reduce the overhead of Reporting Services data sources?

Cached reports and Snapshots can be used to reduce the overhead of Reporting Services Sources.

29) Explain what is the difference between Tabular and Matrix report?

  • Tabular Report: Tabular report is the most basic type of report. Each column relates to a column chosen from the database
  • Matrix Report: A matrix report is a cross-tabulation of four groups of data.

30) Explain how would you store your query in an SSRS report or a Database server?

Storing SQL queries directly in text format in the data should be avoided. Instead, it should be stored in a stored procedure in the database server. The advantage is that the SQL would be in a compiled format in an SP and gives all the benefits of SP compared to using an ad-hoc query from the report.

31) What are the different kinds of SSRS Reports?

Reports can be categorized into operational and analytical reports. The distinction is based on the source of data and level of analysis facilitated by any particular report. Operational reports are based on OLTP sources and are static reports and Analytical reports are based on OLAP sources and generally facilitate drill-down and drill-through for analysis. Technically, SSRS reports can be categorized into parameterized, linked, snapshot, cached, etc...

32) What are parameterized reports? What are cascading parameters in SSRS reports?

Reports that accept parameters from users to fetch and report data conditionally are known as parameterized reports. When you have multiple parameters in a report and values of different parameters are dependent and populated dynamically based on the value of parent parameters, it's known as a cascading parameter.

33) How would you go about developing a SSRS report?

General development methodology for a SSRS report is to start by creating a data source. Based on the data source create one or multiple datasets as needed for parameters and the body of the report. Add required controls from the toolbox which would act as a container for the fields in the dataset. Format the controls added to the report body. Verify and validate the report and finally deploy the report.

34) What is a dataset and what are the different types of datasets?

A dataset is similar to a query definition, which is executed when the report is executed. Datasets are of two types: Shared and Embedded. An embedded dataset is private to the report in which it exists and shared datasets can be shared across reports.

35) Would you store your query in a SSRS report or a Database server? State the reason why.

Storing SQL queries directly in text format in the dataset should be avoided. Ideally it should be stored in a stored procedure in the database server. The benefit is that the SQL would be in a compiled format in a SP and brings all the benefits of using an SP compared to using an ad-hoc query from the report.

36) What is Tablix?

A Tablix can be seen as a control with combined capabilities of a table and a matrix, which facilitates asymmetric and flexible, row and column level, static and dynamic groupings.

37) How would you access SSRS reports deployed on report server?

Reports Manager is the most straight-forward way to access SSRS reports deployed on report server. Apart from executing the reports, it is the main administration console for SSRS server to manage reports.

38) Have you used the Report Viewer control / web part? What are the limitations?

The report viewer control / web part is the basic control to integrate SSRS reports with external applications. Using these interface applications can link and display SSRS reports within the application. The parameters toolbar in these controls have a limited programmable interface to decorate and blend it with the theme of the application.

39) Which is the latest version of SSRS and what are the new enhancements?

SSRS 2008 R2 is the latest RTM version of SSRS. Rich data visualizations, better programming functions for lookup and aggregation, improved performance and better control over exported data are some of the major enhancements.

40) What is Report Builder?

Report Builder is an ad-hoc report authoring tool primarily targeted to be used by business analysts to facilitate self-service report authoring. Report Builder 3.0 is the latest version available as of date.

41) How would you deploy SSRS Reports using out-of-box functionality and how can you automate SSRS report deployment?

Business Intelligence Development Studio is generally used to deploy SSRS reports. There is no out-of-box support in SSRS to automate reports deployment, but free third-party products like RSScripter can be used for this.

42) What is drill-down and drill-through in SSRS?

Drill-down is a mechanism of decomposing summarized information to a detailed level. Drill-through is a mechanism of decomposing the problem by drilling information generally using more than one report.

43) You want to include an image in a report. How do you display the Image Properties dialog box?

When you drag an image item from the Toolbox window to the Report Designer, the Image Properties dialog box automatically opens.

44) You want to configure an amount to display the value in a currency format. Which property do you use?

To configure an amount to display a value in a currency format, select the report item, and then set the format property to C or c.

45) What are data regions?

Data regions are report items that display repeated rows of summarized information from datasets.

46) You want to generate a report that is formatted as a chart. Can you use the Report Wizard to create such a report?

No, the Report Wizard lets you create only tabular and matrix reports. you must create the chart report directly by using the Report Designer.

47) You want to use BIDS to deploy a report to a different server than the one you chose in the Report Wizard. How can you change the server URL?

You can right-click the project in Solution Explorer and then change the Target-Server URL property.

48) Which rendering formats are affected by the PageSize properties?

Because only the Adobe PDf file, Word, and Image rendering extensions use physical page breaks, they are the only formats that are affected by the PageSize properties.

49) Can you use a stored procedure to provide data to an SSRS report?

Yes, you can use a stored procedure to provide data to an SSRS report by configuring the dataset to use a stored procedure command type. However, your stored procedure should return only a single result set. If it returns multiple result sets, only the first one is used for the report dataset.

50) You want to use a perspective in an MDX query. How do you select the perspective?

Use the Cube Selector in the MDX Query Designer to select a perspective.

51) Can you use data mining models in SSRS?

Yes, you can use the DMX Designer to create data mining queries for SSRS reports. However, do not forget to flatten the result set returned by the DMX query.

52) You want your report to display a hyperlink that will take users to your intranet. How do you configure such a hyperlink?

Create a text box item, set the action to Go To URL, and then configure the URL.

53) You want a report to display Sales by Category, SubCategory, and Product. You want users to see only summarized information initially but to be able to display the details as necessary. How would you create the report?

Group the Sales information by Category, SubCategory, and Product. Hide the SubCategory group and set the visibility to toggle based on the Category item. Hide the Product category group and set the visibility to toggle based on the SubCategory item.

54) You want to create an Excel interactive report from SSRS. In SSRS, can you create the same interactive experience in Excel that you would have on the Web?

No, you cannot create the same experience with SSRS. you can, however, use Excel to create such an experience.

55) What is the main difference between a Matrix report item and a Table report item?

The main difference between a Matrix and a Table report item is in the initial template. Actually, both report items are just templates for the Tablix data region.

56) When you do not use report caching, is it better to use parameters to filter information in the query or to use filters in the dataset?

From a performance perspective, it is better to use parameters because they let SSRS pull filtered data from the data source. In contrast, when you use filters, the queries retrieve all data and then filter the information in an additional step.

57) How do you configure a running aggregate in SSRS?

You can use the RunningValue function to configure a running aggregate.

58) What is the main purpose of a report parameter?

The main purpose of a report parameter is to add interactivity to your reports, letting users change the report behavior based on options they select.

59) What is the main purpose of a query parameter?

The main purpose of a query parameter is to filter data in the data source.

60) You want your users to select a parameter from a list of values in a list box. How should you configure the parameter?

You should create a data source that contains the possible values and then bind the data source to the parameter.

61) What is the main benefit of using embedded code in a report?

The main benefit of using embedded code in a report is that the code you write at the report level can be reused in any expression in the report.

62) What programming language would you use to create embedded functions in SSRS?

An SSRS report supports only visual Basic .nET embedded code.

63) Do you create your reports using the wizard or manually?

As with most Microsoft tools, SSRS includes a wizard that helps you create reports. The wizard is great for people who are new to the product, but it’s not good if you can’t go beyond the tools and create a report from scratch. Before you go for your interviews, make sure you can create a report from scratch without any wizards or tools to create them for you. Most companies need someone who can customize reports, and wizards leave room for very little customizations.

64) What are query parameters?

Query parameters are the parts of an SQL query that allow you to filter results. Parameters are contained in the SQL’s “where” clause. These parameters tell the SQL server which records you want to update, select, or delete. In other words, if it wasn’t for the where clause parameters, you would affect all records in your tables.

65) What is a sub-report?

Sub-reports are inserted into a main report. Just like a main report, you also pass parameters and queries to it. Think of a sub-report as an extension to your main report, but it contains a different data set. For instance, you could create a report of customers and then use a sub-report to display a list of orders for each customer.

66) What are RDL files?

RDL files are like the “language” for SSRS servers. However, RDL files are created in XML, so really the “language” of SSRS servers is XML. RDL files contain the queries and layout format for your reports.

67) What is a data set?

Data sets are the components that contain your records. You can have a blank data set, a data set with one record, or a data set with millions of records (although millions of records will probably cause performance issues for your users). You can view a data set like a customized table. The data set has the columns and rows like a table, but you determine the columns and number of rows using your SQL statements.

68) What is a data source?

A data source is the database and tables where your data set comes from. You must define the data source when you create your database connection. Every data set needs a source from which to pull the data. Your reporting server can be SQL Server 2000, 2005, 2008 and 2012.

69) What servers can be used with SSRS?

While most companies use SQL Server with SSRS, you can also integrate other database servers with your SSRS reports. SSRS is compatible with Oracle, ODBC and OLEDB connections, Hyperion, Teradata and flat XML files that contain data.

70) What is mixed mode database security?

When you install SQL Server, you have the option to allow SQL Server to integrate with Windows or require users to have a separate SQL Server user name and password. While Windows integration is convenient, it’s not considered the most secure of the two security options. Instead, it’s better to require a separate SQL Server user name and password when logging in to the database server. Your reports will need their own user name and password to run reports from SSRS.

71) Can SSRS reports cache results?

Caching reports makes it much faster for users to access and view data. If you have common data that doesn’t change often, it’s best to cache results. SSRS lets you cache reports on your reporting server. This means that it reduces the load on the SQL Server and your users can quickly access data without querying the server several times.

72) What formats can SSRS export or render to?

SSRS is compatible with several file formats. When the user runs the report, the default format prints to the web browser. You can also save or export to HTML, Excel, CSV, Image, PDF and XML formats. The SSRS reporting software has buttons at the top of each report that the user can use to export these files.

73) How do you deploy a report to a reporting server?

The SSRS reporting software includes tools to deploy directly to the SQL Server reporting server. After you’ve configured your software with the proper SQL Server, user name and password, you just need to right-click the report you want to deploy and click “Deploy.” Make sure you test the report after you deploy it to ensure there are no bugs and that the data returned is correct.

74) How do you edit a report?

Open SQL Server Management Studio and the reporting project. Expand the node that contains your reports. Right-click the report and click “Edit.” You can also save your reporting file from this view.