Allow development of SSRS Reports Offline


(Mark Wonsil) #1

Provide an offline way to develop SSRS reports. This includes being able to easily download RDD data to a local SQL instance.


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(Richard Riley) #2

Epicor has reviewed this particular request several times and we keep deciding that it will generate an inordinate amount of Tech Support calls related to the local instance of SQL - questions all the way from: “How do I Get / Install / Configure SQL / SQL Express / SSRS” to “What connection string do I use”. While many of you in this Forum are experts and would not need to call Tech Support, not everyone tasked with caring for their Epicor system is tech savvy. That said, we still discuss this option and depending on how folks like what we have added to 10.2.300, we may still add it.

In 10.2.300 we have made the process of editing SSRS reports much simpler.

On the SSRS RDL side, we have replaced the <<Expr reference in all the region placeholders to be a reference to the actual Label or Data - instead of <<Expr you will now see references like: [Lbl_Phone] or [ShipToContactName].

For the Process of Editing a RDL there is now a new option on report submission to “Generate for Design” (controlled by User security) which sets the Archive period so that the actual data extracted to the SSRS database transient tables is not immediately removed. That also marks the record in the SysMonitor as availble to Design and there is a new Design dialog that manages a set of options to: Download / Edit / View Report / Commit.

Download brings the RDL and all associated elements local;
Edit fires up the Report Designer (or whatever Windows program you have registered to the RDL extension);
View Report uploads the RDL to temp location and runs it against the Transient table data already in the Epicor SSRS DB (very quick);
Commit uploads and overwrites the RDL in the Epicor SSRS DB

Much easier all around.

We will still get tech support calls but at least the questions / answers will be more generic and I anticipate that the main question will be: “When I click ‘View Report’ I am not seeing the changes I made - Why?” Answer - “Did you remember to ‘Save’ from the Report Designer before you clicked the ‘View Report’ option?”


(Mark Wonsil) #3

I like this. The one issue that SaaS users have had is that some SSRS errors are not brought back to the user, so we’ll have 5-10+ calls to the Support/Cloud Team to find out what the specific error message was. Edit/lather/repeat. If the error can be brought back to the System Monitor then this would be an excellent solution.

Thanks!!!

Mark W.


(Mark Wonsil) #5

One other helpful thing Rich: when altering RDDs, one never knows if one is successful with a new table or new field. In Crystal, we could view the XML file. In SSRS, on Prem users can peruse the Transient Table. SaaS users are completely blind. While I can see why the local SQL Server is a support problem, calling Support/Cloud Team to ask what the data looks like is also a support nightmare. So if there was some way to see that the RDD alterations were successful, that would be very useful.

Mark W.


(Randy Stulce) #7

…On the SSRS RDL side, we have replaced the <<Expr reference in all the region placeholders to be a reference to the actual Label or Data - instead of <<Expr you will now see references like: [Lbl_Phone] or [ShipToContactName]…

That’ll be awesome!


(Haso Keric) #8

I say we go back to Crystal Reports :slight_smile: Because the SSRS Report Builder is not getting any much needed attention from Microsoft :slight_smile: teheeeeee… Waits 4yrs we got an Update! with barely anything useful - MSoft.


(Heather Marie) #9

Hi @Rich,
Until we are ready to upgrade, is it possible that I could have a .300 test environment and modify the SSRS reports from there using this much simpler editing process and then export and use those reports/RDDs in our current 10.1.600 environment? I’m just starting to work on switching our Crystal Reports over to SSRS but I wonder now if I should wait until .300 is released and switch them over using this new process that you speak of. I would really like to have the reports that display the Label or Data instead of the <<Expr (which will make it much easier to read and modify in the future) and be able to use those now if possible and not have to rebuild my reports again in .300. Just wondering if that would work?


(Heather Marie) #10

That’s my vote! :slight_smile: I can’t believe that Microsoft hasn’t incorporated some of the most useful features of Crystal Reports into SSRS. Like working with Live data and being able to move/resize fields in the Preview, among many other things. I just can’t help but drag my feet on learning SSRS when Crystal was so much eas(IER) to use. :sob:


(Haso Keric) #11

@ERPSysAdmin are you thinking what I am thinking… Billion Dollar Idea! We build our own Crystal like Report Builder for SSRS and retire at age 41 :slight_smile: Have @josecgomez be our beta tester and we steal @Bart_Elia to be the Architect. (Sorry Epicor)


(Heather Marie) #12

LOL! YESSSSS!!! Count me in! :money_mouth_face: Not doubting our abilities but I’m sure ANY other report builder would be better than SSRS in building reports. Now that I’ve been working with SSRS more some days I just have to laugh-out-loud because I’m like, what the heck were they thinking!? The most obvious was default displaying all fields on the report as <> ! Bahahahaaaaa!!! :crazy_face:

And thank you for assuming that I am under the age of 41! :wink: LOL


(Bart Elia) #13

I’m actually stunned no one has come up with an open source RDL editor in the SQL community.


(Richard Riley) #14

Mark, you can generate to XML and then view that document with existing versions. Got to the Report Style Maint, bring up the Styles for the RDD you are extending, create a new style - Give it a Description - Test XML; Select “Base Definition” (should be default) for Report Type; Select the RDD for Data Definition (should be default). Save the Style. Run the Report, Select your “Test XML” style, Submit with “Generate Only” option. That will create the XML document which you can then download via the Server File Download routine.


(Mark Wonsil) #15

That’ll work. I’ll remember that next time.


(Richard Riley) #16

Heather, that would likely be okay but there are some reports that have been modified post 600 where it would be problematic to use the 10.2.300 version of the RDL on 600.

I will float the idea of providing a utility to modify your existing RDLs to update the <<Expr to the more meaningful description. Stay tuned.


(Heather Marie) #17

AH, that does make sense. That would be REALLY great @Rich! Thank you so much! :slight_smile:


(Jose C Gomez) #18

I got curious as to how that <<expr “fix” was possible turns out it has always been there just nobody told us LoL
https://bengribaudo.com/blog/2012/06/27/2039/placeholders-for-ssrs-expressions

You can make “place holders” for all your expression fields… this just made my life so much easier…


(Randy Stulce) #19

I like that idea better! I’m not sure the powers that be at Epicor would agree though.

Because anyone sane still uses Crystal? :wink: :wink:

We should start a user revolt to get Microsoft to update the report builder.


(John Mitchell) #20

SSRS is still being worked on. They just had a pretty big release with MSSQL 2017 where you can now use SSRS reports in PowerBI Premium cloud or PowerBi Report Server.

Also, if you have any requests for Microsoft you can always put them here: https://feedback.azure.com/forums/908035-sql-server?query=ssrs


(Bruce Ordway) #21

Yes, unfortunately (I think) Report Builder is THE one area of E10 where Epicor is actually a step backwards from V8/E9.
I’d welcome anything that Epicor can do to make report work in E10 easier at this point but
my guess is that they are dealing with constraints of MS’s architecture & won’t be able to do too much for us now.
Even when/if MS does update Report Builder, improvements are likely only to be available when you upgrade your version of MS SQL.

Working in Report Builder reminds me of the old report tools V6/Progress. (obviously not THAT primitive but… still pretty weak).


(Mark Wonsil) #22

As much as I like Crystal Reports, you have to think that the SAP branding is tough to swallow for Epicor, and I’m sure Epicor is getting no deal on the redistribution of it. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Also, you’d have to add the Advance Print Routing to it because that doesn’t exist at this point for Crystal either.

Most of the work that MS has done with SSRS reporting is integrating with Power BI and their Web Portal, so it doesn’t benefit Epicor users as much.

The question for me is, how much “report writing” are we doing? I use SSRS mostly for forms. My users want to do more analysis which is dashboards and drill-down kind of things. I think Microsoft is seeing the same thing from their users. Reports are for old people like me but I think that’s not what users really want anymore. The second you give them a report they want the data behind it and that’s not as easy to do with PDF file.

Just my 0.02…Now get off my tablix you meddling kids.

Mark W.