Monday, June 30, 2014

Mile High Tech Con #MHTechCon

My speaking calendar is really filling up! :)

I have been selected to speak at the Mile High Tech Con that will be held on July 24-26 at the Auraria Campus in Denver, Colorado! I will be presenting "Capture Change and Apply it With Change Data Capture & SSIS" on Saturday, July 26 @ 1pm. This is the first time this event has been put on in Denver and has 3 days of great content, Thursday and Friday are paid, longer sessions and Saturday is all free sessions. If you are in Denver that week, please check it out and if you use the promo code 14SK_SteveWake when you register for Thursday and/or Friday and save some money!

Looking forward to seeing everyone at this event in a few weeks!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Speaking at PASS Summit 2014! #Summit14

I am honored and thrilled to announce that I was selected for the 2nd year in a row to present a session at the PASS Summit! PASS Summit is an annual conference put on by PASS (Professional Association of SQL Server) with thousands of attendees from across the world, this year it is being held on November 4 - 7 in Seattle, WA. There will be over 200 different sessions presented by speakers from the community and Microsoft on a wide range of SQL Server topics in 5 different tracks. If you are interested in attending, please use this link to register and be sure to use the code UNSUMF59 when you register to get $150 off your registration fee (if you use it by this Friday 6/27 you will save a total of $450 off the full registration fee).

I will be doing a Lightning Talk (short 10 minute presentation) titled "What Version of SSDT do I Need?", which is a small part of the "Building a Better Workstation" presentation that I have already presented a couple of times. I'm sure that it will be a fun session as there are currently a lot of questions/issues with what versions of SSDT work with what in each version of SQL Server.

Looking forward to seeing everyone in Seattle in November!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

BIG PASS and Next Week

Last Thursday evening I had the pleasure to present virtually to the BIG PASS group in Irvine, CA. BIG PASS is run by Mickey Stuewe (blog | Twitter) whom I have meet at the last 2 PASS Summits and multiple other PASS events over the years, was a great time presenting to the group and would love to do it again in the future. I presented my "Building a Better Workstation" session for the first time and to be honest it ran longer than I expected, just so much good stuff to talk about and some great questions from the audience as well. As promised, below is a link to download the slides for this presentation so that you can use all of the links provided in the slides.


Next week will be very busy for me! On Wednesday evening I will be doing presentation for the Denver .NET User Group called "Business Intelligence for the .NET Developer". Looking forward to talking to this group and talking about how my career changed from being a .NET Developer to a BI Consultant and how I think others could do the same (if they want to). If you are in the downtown Denver area on Wednesday evening around 5:30pm MT, please register and stop by!

Update: 6/19/2014 - Thanks to those that attended the Denver .NET group last night, below are the slides from that presentation:


On Thursday morning I will be doing the FREE Pragmatic Works webinar series "Training on the T's" again @ 9am MT/11am ET. I will be presenting the "Building a Better Workstation" session and try my best to get it into the 45 minute timeframe! This is a free webinar, so register here if you are available at 9am MT/11am ET on Thursday. If you can't attend at that time there will be a recording of the whole session posted at a later time and I will update this post with that link once it is available. Looking forward to doing another session for this great series!

Update 6/19/2014 - Thanks to everyone that attended my Pragmatic Works "Training on the T's" session "Building a Better Workstation" the slides are the same as in the first attachment above in this post, so feel free to download them. The video link for this should be posted in the next few days, I'll post that link here as soon as I get it.

Then on Thursday evening will be the Denver SQL Server User Group June meeting at 5:30pm MT in the Microsoft DTC office (7595 Technology Way, Suite 400, Denver, CO 80237). Andy Vold (Twitter) will be presenting "SQL 2014 In-Memory OLTP – What, Why, and How" and Chris Shaw (blog | Twitter) will be presenting "What is the Best Disaster Recovery Solution?". For more details on both of these sessions and our group, please go to denversql.org. All of our meetings are FREE and we try to make as much time for networking as possible at every meeting.

Friday I'm planning on attending my first TDWI meeting at the June Denver meeting. Should be a good meeting with Laura Reeves presenting "Data: The Real Power Behind Today’s Technology". If you are interested in attending this meeting on Friday from 1pm - 4pm MT at Innovation Pavilion (9200 E Mineral Ave, Centennial, CO 80112) make sure you register at this link for this FREE event.

Overall a very busy week for me, but that is way better than just sitting around bored! :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

PowerPoint Export for SSRS Reports

Recently I put together a review of options available to export SSRS reports to PowerPoint. For those that have used SSRS for a while you know that it supports many different export formats including PDF, Excel, CSV, XML, TIFF, HTML and more recently Word and Atom data feeds. From those formats you can handle most capabilities that users are looking for, but a major hole still exists for use in PowerPoint. Since PowerPoint is part of the Microsoft Office suite you would think that Microsoft would want to cover all of the bases, especially after they added Word as an export format with SSRS 2008R2. But even as of SSRS 2014 there is still no native support to export to PowerPoint in SSRS. The below evaluation was meant to be as exhaustive as possible, but I'm sure there are some other ways that it can be done with automation or other means that I missed as it gets to the point where it just more and more steps to get it done.

After I created this documentation I did find that it is possible to use the Atom data feed to create a Power View report using that feed and then take advantage of the native PowerPoint export that is built into Power View. There is some documentation on this on TechNet, but this option requires SharePoint 2010 Enterprise with SSRS in integrated mode and Excel 2013 to put it all together. There are also some capabilities in Word/PowerPoint to embed Objects that reference the SSRS reports, but this is very similar to the LiveWeb option and I had a bunch of issues getting it work on my test system, so I chose not to mention it in the options below.

If you have found any other ways to get SSRS reports exported to PowerPoint, please post in the comments below and share it! There is a Microsoft Connect ticket that was created back in 2007 to add PowerPoint as a native export that is still active, if you want to see if we can get it added make sure to vote it up!

Summary


Aspose.Slides
LiveWeb
Custom Renderer
SSRS Word
SSRS Excel
SSRS TIFF
Easy to Install/Configure
3
3
1
4
4
4
Ease of Upgrading with SSRS
3
4
1
4
4
4
Report Changes Necessary
3
3
4*
4
4
4
Pages on Separate Slides
4
0
4*
1
0
2
Cost+
0
4
0
2
2
2
Average
2
3
2
3
3
3
Total
13
14
10
15
14
16

* Assuming renderer includes all capabilities
+ Lower rating when there is a cost ($ and/or man hours) separate from existing SSRS license


3rd Party SSRS Rendering Extensions
There are 2 possibilities that I found for this option, Aspose.Slides and LiveWeb. Aspose.Slides is a full SSRS rendering extension that works with all current versions of SSRS and adds multiple formats of PowerPoint export to ReportViewer (as shown in screenshot below):


Aspose.Slides supports all types of reports (tables, matrix, charts, graphs, etc.) that can be built in SSRS and will work with Report Builder. Some formatting of the reports will need to be taken into consideration to paginate properly in the PowerPoint exports, not that different than what has to be thought about for PDF export (make sure to setup landscape, margins, etc.). The install is very easy and for most installs does everything automatically even with multiple instances on the same computer. There is a cost associated with this as it is provided by Aspose, it is hard to tell which pricing structure will work best as is depends on the number of developers and servers they would plan to roll it out on. This page on Aspose’s site shows the pricing at a high level. This is the only option that will provide full PowerPoint export capabilities out of the box without extra steps.

LiveWeb is a freeware add-on for PowerPoint that allows you to embed a browser window in any PowerPoint slide. With this add-on a PowerPoint slide can be setup to point to a specific report on the SSRS server using the URL access built-in to SSRS to render the report inside of the slide. Because this is a browser embedded in the slide there will be no pagination as SSRS when accessed via a browser will assume that you do not want to see pagination and will make the whole report available by scrolling up and down in the browser window. This does also provide the capability to interact with the report within even the PowerPoint when it is in slide show mode, but if this is just being used to show static slides and each page is expected to be on a separate slide, this option will not work for that scenario. The install is very easy and works with all versions of PowerPoint from 2007 and forward. No changes will be required for the SSRS reports to work with this add-on.

Build Custom SSRS Rendering Extension

SSRS was built with the ability to extend/enhance all parts of the product by writing custom .NET code to do whatever the user would like if it is not something provided out of the box. While these extensions to SSRS can be very easy to write for some parts of the product, it can be extremely difficult for others. I have written a custom security extension for SSRS in the past and it only took a day or two to fully code and test. When I researched this for writing a custom rendering extension (Microsoft considers anything that shows the SSRS report in another form a renderer, even if it is only for export) the MSDN article specifically states that it is difficult and “requires you to implement hundreds of classes, interfaces, methods, and properties.” The other major issue with writing a custom rendering extension is there is no guarantee that the extension you write for SSRS 2012 will work with SSRS 2014 or any other future version as Microsoft is always changing the API for SSRS and those changes may break what previously worked fine. I saw this first hand with the security extension that I wrote originally for SSRS 2005, that had to be re-written for SSRS 2008R2. With custom rendering extensions the code has to know how to handle anything someone will put into an SSRS report, so that is what makes it that much more difficult to write. Because these extensions are written in a .NET language (C# or VB.NET) it will require a full license for Visual Studio as the BIDS (Business Intelligence Development Studio) and SSDT (SQL Server Developer Tools) do not include the capabilities to create C# or VB.NET projects. With Visual Studio 2013 it is possible to use the Express version that is free for this kind of development.

Use included export formats (PDF, Word, Excel, CSV, XML, TIFF, HTML)

It is possible to use the export formats that come with SSRS and still allow them to be shown in PowerPoint. Most of these options will require multiple steps to complete and may require manual intervention to complete successfully, but they will not cost anything extra in dollars to implement. The easiest to setup is using the Word export that is new with SSRS 2008R2, with this export you can easily copy/paste the Word version into a PowerPoint deck or even use the embedding of Word documents directly into PowerPoint (Word exports may have issues with pagination depending on the report and how it is formatted). With both the Word and Excel exports it would be possible for SSRS to be setup to automatically export the required reports to a file share on the network on a pre-defined schedule and then have the links to those files already setup in the PowerPoint decks and only require someone to open those decks and refresh them to get the latest version of the data from the reports. The other export formats supported by SSRS are not very helpful for embedding in PowerPoint. While it would seem that the TIFF (image) format would work, as it is just an image and it does generate an image per page, the issue I found in testing is that PowerPoint does not understand how to handle multiple pages in a TIFF image when importing it into a slide, so only the first page is imported. It would be possible to use another application to separate this single TIFF file by page, but that would be an extra step/process (freeware Image Magick can do this split via command line).

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pick Me! :) #NomCom #PASSVotes

I am running for one of the seats on the PASS Nomination Committee (NomCom) to help select the candidates for this year's PASS Board of Directors election later this year and to help streamline the election process. As a member of the NomCom I want to make sure that I represent each person that is part of the SQL Server/PASS community, so please take a few minutes to go to my profile page and then vote for me when you receive the email on Tuesday, June 3rd from PASS!

Over the years I have increased my involvement with PASS as a volunteer in many ways, which are highlighted below:
As I have increased my involvement with PASS as a volunteer I have enriched myself and others in ways that I would never have imagined. I was recognized by my peers last year with the PASS Outstanding Volunteer award for November 2013, which was an amazing acknowledgement from them. I saw the opportunity to run for the PASS NomCom as my next step in volunteering for the PASS community.

If you would like to see me represent each of you on the PASS Nomination Committee, please vote for me from June 3 - June 6 using the email you receive from PASS! I look forward to helping each of you have a voice in this very important process for the PASS community. If you have any specific questions for me or that you want to make sure I ask to the candidates, please reach out to me through email, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

June Presentations

I have a few presentations that I'll be doing in June that I wanted to highlight here in case anyone is in the area or attending these meetings.

First up on June 12th, I'll be doing a new session that I created "Building a Better Workstation". This session is a collection of a bunch of my lessons learned trying to figure out the best strategy for working with OSs and SQL Server installs on workstations and laptops over the years. I will be doing this presentation remotely for the BIG PASS group run by Mickey Stuewe (blog | Twitter).

On June 18th, I'll be doing another new session titled "Business Intelligence (BI) for the .NET Developer" for the Denver .NET Meetup Group. This session will help .NET developers and anyone that is just starting out in IT know what Business Intelligence is and some ways that you may not of even thought of for getting into BI. Should be a fun session that I really hadn't thought of putting together until Andreas Taber (blog) requested I present at his group. I will be doing this presentation in person.

On June 19th, I'll be doing another presentation as part of Pragmatic Works' Free Training on the T's. This time I'll be doing the "Building a Better Workstation" session that I will do the week before for BIG PASS. Always happy to do a presentation as part of this free training series, will be strange now doing it as an employee of another company though.

Further out in my calendar, I have been selected to speak at SQLSaturday #312 in Sacramento, CA on July 12th. I don't know what session I'll be presenting yet, but as soon as I find out, I'll let you all know! This will be my first time in Sacramento, so looking forward to spending a couple of days out in that part of CA with the #SQLFamily.

Monday, May 26, 2014

SSDT-BI for VS 2013 Update

Not too long after I posted on my blog about the release of SSDT-BI for Visual Studio 2013 the download was pulled with a message that it would be fixed in a few days. After a few weeks, the updated download was made available on Friday. Not sure what the issues were with the original version, as I was not yet using it regularly (not lucky enough to work with any client going to SQL 2014 yet).

If you did grab that download when it was available the first time, you should upgrade to this newer version. The update did not fix any of the backwards compatibility issues with SSIS that I highlighted in my original post. Microsoft is saying that they have fixed the issue that was causing these breaks with backwards compatibility so that newer versions of SSIS and SSDT-BI will work with each other going forward. Based on how that was stated it does not mean that they will be able to fix the issues with 2008R2 and 2012 not working in latest versions of SSDT-BI, just that newer SSDT-BI releases should work with SSIS 2014 and later going forward.

Friday, May 23, 2014

S3OLV May 2014 Meeting

Thanks to Jason Brimhall (Twitter - Blog) and Stacia Misner (Twitter - Blog) I had the opportunity to present a session to the SQL Server Society of Las Vegas (or S3OLV, love that acronym) last night. I presented my newly renamed "Date and Time Dimensions for Every Day and Time in No Time" talk, which I used to do as a Doctor Who themed presentation for the 50th Anniversary last year. Session went fine and as mentioned at the end of the session I wanted to make sure that my scripts to create your own date dimension in SQL and slides are available to everyone that wants to use them. Hopefully these will give you a good start on getting a date dimension up and running for your data warehouse. If you have any really cool updates that you find for the script or errors that I have missed, please let me know so that I can share it with others as well!


Friday, May 16, 2014

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Seems like only a little while ago that I posted on this blog about moving on to work at Pragmatic Works, but it has now been over 2 years! It has been an amazing 2 years and probably the most challenging time in my entire career. Over the last 2 years I've had the chance that I think many would love to have working with some of the best in the SQL community and doing some really cool stuff for many different clients.

I decided recently that I was having some issues with the amount of travel that I was doing, especially to the East coast. While it is great that I have had the opportunity to see my Dad twice in the last 6 months because of travel to the East coast (he lives in Philadelphia) it is very draining on me and my family. So, I started looking for something local in Denver. I wanted to stay in consulting, if possible as I really love to see different client environments on a regular basis that challenge me to learn with each new client. I also needed to work for a company that understands being involved in the SQL community and backs it up with more than just words.

With that criteria I was able to get a new consulting position with RevGen Partners! I know a bunch of people that currently work and previously worked for them, so it was easy for me to judge how good of a company they are from them. I'm starting with them Monday and looking forward to starting a new adventure. I'm also hoping that I can keep up with all of my friends/co-workers at Pragmatic Works especially the ones that I will see at other SQL events in the future. Thanks to Brian, Adam, Mike and Bradley and many others for an amazing 2 years and I know that I will be seeing each of you again.

Monday, April 28, 2014

SQLSaturday 285 Atlanta - #sqlsatatl

SQLSaturday #285 in Atlanta is this Saturday! I will be attending #SQLSATATL for the first time and presenting my "SSIS 2012: More Than Just a Pretty UI" session at 2:30pm in the ETL Room #211 (please check the Schedule page on the website or the Guidebook app just in case it changes). This is one of my favorite sessions, since it only has 2 slides, the rest is all demos! If you haven't seen the new features added in SSIS 2012, this session will give you a demo of as many of them as I can get through in the time allocated.

If you are going to be in the Atlanta area this Saturday, you should register and attend this FREE event that is put on by volunteers with speakers from all over. SQLSaturdays are always a great event to learn new stuff and do a lot of networking with your fellow peers! Also, don't forget to stop by the sponsor area and see what they have to offer, without these awesome sponsors we would not be able to put on these great events.

See you in Atlanta!