Deploying Reports

Download code.

In Part 2 we talked about deploying SSRS data sources. Now we are ready reports.

Reports are deployed using rs.CreateReport() method. It accepts array of bytes instead of .rdl file name. This is relatively minor, since reading contents of a file is not that hard. Here’s the code:

Dim len As Integer
Dim fileBytes As Byte()
Using stream As FileStream = File.OpenRead(path)
    len = stream.Length
    fileBytes = New [Byte](len - 1) {}
    stream.Read(fileBytes, 0, len)
End Using

rs.CreateReport("MyReport", "Reports Folder", overwrite, fileBytes, Nothing)

It would be even easier if Microsoft did not mess up the VB example at the above link: they don’t read the last byte of the stream and the result is invalid XML. Interestingly, in the SQL 2000 example they messed up the array initialization instead, so they send an extra byte to the SSRS server instead. The result is the server complaining about illegal 0×00 character in the end of the report.

It seems difficult to comprehend, even for Microsoft people, that in VB.NET the number of elements in your array is different from the number you specify in Dim.

Updating Data Source References

Another hurdle is that report definitions, as stored by BIDS, contain invalid data source references. When you upload a report like outlined above, you will get a warning similar to this:

The dataset `DataSet1' refers to the shared data source `MyDataSource', which is not published on the report server.

HTTP traffic sniffing shows that when BIDS deploys a report, it gets the same warning. The solution is to update the data source references after the report has been uploaded, changing them to existing data sources in the "/Data Sources" folder.

This requires several steps. First, we need to load the report file as XML and locate all data source references.

Dim doc As System.Xml.XmlDocument = New System.Xml.XmlDocument()
doc.Load(rdlPath)

Dim nsManager As XmlNamespaceManager = New XmlNamespaceManager(doc.NameTable)
nsManager.AddNamespace("r", "http://schemas.microsoft.com/sqlserver/reporting/2008/01/reportdefinition")
Dim nodes As XmlNodeList = doc.SelectNodes("/r:Report/r:DataSources/r:DataSource/r:DataSourceReference", nsManager)

Then we need to convert those nodes to DataSource objects recognized by SSRS:

Dim dataSources As DataSource() = New DataSource(nodes.Count - 1) {}

For i As Integer = 0 To nodes.Count - 1
    dataSources(i) = CreateDataSourceObj(nodes.Item(i))
Next

Private Function CreateDataSourceObj(ByVal refNode As XmlNode) As DataSource

    Dim reference As DataSourceReference = New DataSourceReference
    reference.Reference = "/Data Sources/" + refNode.InnerText

    Dim result As DataSource = New DataSource
    result.Name = CType(refNode.ParentNode, XmlElement).GetAttribute("Name")
    result.Item = reference

    Return result
End Function

And finally, we need to call rs.SetItemDataSources method:

rs.SetItemDataSources(serverReportPath, dataSources)

Complete code for creating a report is here.
Combined file for creating a data source and a report is here.

It was fun, isn’t it? I am not sure why Microsoft did not make it simpler: SSRS reports are typically needed in an enterprise environment, and production deployment is an important part of development for the enterprise. It would also help if the code sample for CreateReport were right: I spent quite some time trying to figure out why I am getting weird exceptions from SSRS before I noticed the size error.

I hope this text will save others hours of boilerplate coding and frustration.