Book Review – Wrox’s Professional Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Reporting with SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services Book

First thing first, this is my first review of any book on my blog. Being in Microsoft field for number of years (read decades), I have got enough opportunities to work with MOSS 2007 and SQL Server Reporting Services. Even though I have worked on both technologies for a while, I have never got chance to integrate SSRS with MOSS.

In past two weeks, I had a really nice opportunity to work on the SharePoint Integrated Reporting Services project. It is ironic that Wrox released their latest book in SharePoint Series – Professional Microsoft SharePoint 2007 Reporting with SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services around same time. It was ideal scenario for me to pick up the book being a very unique and only book focusing on the SharePoint Integrated SSRS subject.

As far as review of the book, in general, I think it’s really nice book in the SharePoint-SSRS space and extremely good companion to SQL Server 2008 Books Online. It focuses only on the SQL Server Reporting Services 2008 Integration with WSS 3.0 and MOSS 2007. It does not cover the SSRS 2005. Many folks still working on the SSRS 2005 might feel overlooked but I would still read this book for lots of other SharePoint Integrated SSRS topics.

In general, if you would like to learn MOSS 2007 or WSS 3.0, do not pick up this book. There are lots of other books focusing solely on the SharePoint in the Wrox Series. If you are new to SSRS 2008, this book does really good job on explaining the SSRS technologies. There are 50% of chapters focusing on the SSRS 2008. Again if you want to learn only SSRS, look for other great books out there.

Chapter 1, 3, 4, and 5 are focused on the SSRS 2008 – These chapters provides SSRS 2008 and BIDS 2008 overviews, how to plan your report project, creating the first SSRS report, and advance reporting techniques. If you know your SSRS, you can easily skip these chapters.

For guys like me who know both technologies very well and would like to focus only on the SSRS integration with SharePoint, there are 7 wonderfully written chapters with some outstanding tips and screenshots.

Chapter 2: Setting up the SQL Server Reporting Services for SharePoint 2007 provides step by step installation and configuration of SharePoint Integrated SSRS environment. It has wealth of tips with wonderful indepth screenshots. I would definitely keep this handy if I am configuring the environment first time.

Chapter 6 and 7: Consuming the SharePoint Lists in the SSRS reports – This is a great reference if you need to consume the SharePoint lists in the SSRS. It talks about the limitations of the SharePoint List Web Service and how you can build the custom web service to consume the multiple SharePoint Lists data. A brilliant chapters in general.

Chapter 8: Deploying Reports to the SharePoint. This is excellent chapter demonstrating how to prepare SharePoint environment to host the SSRS reports and how to deploy the reports from the BIDS 2008. This chapter is great companion of the Chapter 2 for the initial configuration.

Chapter 9: Advanced Deployment Techniques. This chapter is unique. If you want to automate the SSRS report deployment to the SharePoint, you must buy this book. I am yet to find good blog or online article on this subject and authors have done great job automating deployment through power shell scripts and SharePoint features and solution framework.

Chapter 10: Displaying your reports in SharePoint Integrated Mode. This is another gem. It talks about the how to use Report Viewer Web Part and how to customize the report display using various techniques like connecting through WCF service or creating the SharePoint application pages. Again, I would simply buy this book for Chapter 9 and 10.

Chapter 11: Managing Reports – There are mix of SSRS and MOSS information in this chapter. Some of the highlights of this chapter are advance configurations like reports subscription, report execution configuration.

Chapter 12: Using Gauges in SharePoint Dashboards – This chapter does really nice job adding gauges in the SSRS reports and SharePoint Dashboards. I have overlooked this chapter but would keep it handy if I ever need them for any client needs.

Finally – Are there any criticisms? – Only criticism I have for this book is it has lot more chapters focusing on the SSRS 2008. I wish there are specific chapters focused on the Report Server Scaled Out deployment. In real world, most of the MOSS Integrated SSRS farm needs to take care of high availability, redundancy, and disaster recovery requirements. If Authors have dedicated a specific chapter for the MOSS Integrated SSRS scaled-out deployment, this would one gem of the books for me.

Regardless of this criticism, overall, it is a really nice book to have for the SharePoint Integrated SSRS administrators.

On the side note – I had a wonderful time discussing scaled out deployment scenario with Reza Alirezaei, one of the Authors of the book. He was very generous to exchange series of emails while I was designing the scaled out MOSS Integrated SSRS environment. Thanks Reza for the help.

Hope this is helpful

Nik

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