SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is a product that combines the SQL Server database engine and a front end GUI that users and programmers can use to create reports. The latest version of SSRS was released with SQL Server 2012, but SSRS was also included with SQL Server 2000, 2005 and 2008. You might need to know several versions to work in some companies, but most companies stick with the same version of SQL Server for several years to avoid production problems with its database. To get started in the industry, you need to answer some technical questions regarding SSRS. Here are some questions that you might run into when you go for your next job interview.
1) 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.
2) 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.
3) 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.
4) 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.
5) 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.
6) 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.
7) 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.
8) 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.
9) 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.
10) 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.
11) 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.
12) 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.
This is a dozen possible questions you could be asked in an SSRS interview, but it’s best to brush up on the tools and information you’ll need when you’re on the job. SSRS is not tough to learn, but the nervousness of an interview can affect your ability to answer questions. Make sure you practice before the interview.