Business Intelligence Geeky/Programming SQLServerPedia Syndication

Dynamic Sorting Using Parameters in SSRS

The other day, someone requested that a report in SSRS be sorted differently by default. While that might make sense if everyone wants it that way, more than likely you might have people that want a report sorted differently by default. How to do it?

There are probably a few ways, but this is what I did.

First, I added two parameters. “SortByDefault” and “SortOrder”

The “SortByDefault” will be a drop down of your columns you want to sort by for your dataset (or group, or table/tablix)

The “SortOrder” is simply Asc (1 to N, A to Z) and Desc (N to 1, Z to A)

Now, here is how mine look:

SortByDefault (I have two columns I want to allow sorting by, PointsLeft and StackRank):


Now comes the fun stuff: Making it work.

Make sure you remove any “ORDER BY” in your dataset (you don’t have to but this makes it easier).

I also have every column in the report set up for interactive sorting based on the column header/column it shows, but not sure that is necessary here, I just wanted to put that out there just in case

You want to get to your sorting options. So in my case, I have a tablix, so get to your tablix property window and the sorting option:

Now you can see, my “Sort By” and “Then By” are expressions. It is kind of weird here. Also you can’t set expressions for “Asc” or “Desc” so what I had to do was trick it somewhat.

the first is to handle the asc option:


the second is to handle the desc option


You can see, some magic. If the order by is XYZ then use the field, otherwise 0. If you notice from the screenshot, first one is A to Z (Asc) and the second one is Z to A (Desc). So we are basically telling SSRS to sort by the param or not based on the order by option and it chooses the right order by (ASC/DESC). I think this was easier in SQL 2000 SSRS 🙂

Well now you should be able to test your report and try to sort orders. What I did next is make my params hidden. The defaults are what I wanted for the existing report (Order By PointsLeft DESC), and what I did next is create a linked report and set the hidden parameters int he report options in Report Manager to (Order By Stack Rack, ASC)

Now I have one report, with hidden sorting params and I can create linked reports with different sort options without having to create a new report. I could add all columns to the choices, or even let users choose as parameters (but they already have interactive sorting in this case).

Happy Report Buildin’!


Create a Word Cloud From Your Twitter Feed

I love playing with data. My data makes it even more fun. Wordle has been around for a long time, and so has Twitter (in Internet years anyways). I have always been fascinated by word clouds and visualizing text patterns, etc.

I figured that hey, there has got to be some analyzer for your twitter stream, and I am sure there are a ton, but I didn’t stumble upon any with some easy Googling, so I did it the hard way.

First goal? Get your Twitter feed and/or data somehow. Multiple ways to do this, but I stumbled upon a pretty cool site. that let’s you create an eBook from your Twitter feed and favorites. It let’s you publish out as a PDF or XML file, so I figured that would work. It is a busy site and you may have to wait to get in but once you do you just oAuth it up to Twitter and grab your data.

Now, once you have your data, you need to do something with it. The data would be in XML so you need to parse out the data you want, for instance, I wanted to analyze my “favorites” so I wanted to get the text out of the XML. Here is my first favorite on Twitter (by the way, it will only go back 3200, I think – I only have 2600 or so faves)

  A "Manager" class is like my grandmother's junk drawer.
  Fri Aug 08 14:23:56 +0000 2008

Well I just want to grab that <text> value, and without having to do any programming or powershell or C#, I fired up trusty old LINQPad (more on this tool in future posts for sure). I then just wrote a quick little query against the XML file like so:

var xml = XElement.Load (@"c:fave.xml");

var query =
  from e in xml.Elements()
  select e.Element("text").ToString().Replace("","").Replace("","").Replace("RT ","");


As you can see, I am just loading up the xml file and doing some text cleanup (removing the xml text blocks and removing RT’s, the old syntax which muddies up the results). Note in LINQPad you need to change the query type to C# Statements instead of the default C# Expression.

Once I had my values in the results I wanted, I did a quick CTRL+A, CTRL+C (it still baffles me how many people don’t know CTRL+A is “Select All”) and then pasted it into notepad++, to view, and cleaned up some html characters there (quotes, etc) and then pasted it into Wordle. Here is what I got back:


You can see I really like to favor SQL Server, Microsoft, iPhone, Blogs, sqlpass, Google, SharePoint, Twitter, and pretty much everything geeky. Pretty dang cool. Why doesn’t Twitter offer something like this? I think it would be cool. What other cool things have you done with your “data” – what cool things would you like to see?

Business Intelligence Geeky/Programming SQLServerPedia Syndication

SSIS – Two Ways Using Expressions Can Make Your Life Easier – Multi DB Select, Non Standard DB Select

In SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), pretty much every task or transformation lets you set “expressions” up. Expressions are basically ways to set property values programmatically.

Here are two scenarios where you might use expressions (there are 100’s of uses, these are just two that are kind of related).

  1. Multiple Database Select – You have multiple databases – same schema, let’s say you have 300 installs of a 3rd party product and they all need their own database. I know it might sound impossible, but trust me, it can happen. Now, you want to run the same query over all databases, and pull data from a table, and dump into a data warehouse, for example. You could write 300 queries, and keep adding/removing based on the databases, you could create some elaborate dynamic SQL proc using loops, or you might have some other way, or, you could use SSIS Expressions.

    Now, how would you go about doing this? It is pretty easy actually. First step, you need to set up a loop in SSIS. You would want to grab a recordset of database names using an Execute SQL Task, or however you’d like, and store in an object variable. Then you can loop through that list. Your only difference in your query would be database name, so what you would do is have a variable for your SELECT statement. Name it whatever, but what you want to do is click on the variable, the properties of it. You will see Expression. Open the expression box and then set it to something like this

    ”SELECT Col1,Col2,Col3 FROM “ +  @[User:CurrentDatabaseName] + ".dbo.MyTable"


    @[User:CurrentDatabaseName] is another variable to store the databasename that you would grab as you loop through your list of databasenames.

    Finally, in your dataflow, OLE DB source, you can change the Data Access Mode to “SQL Command From Variable”, and then it will let you choose your variable. As your for loop loops through your database names, and updates your SELECT variable, you can then select data from each database as you loop through them.


  2. Non-Standard Database Select – Not sure how to label this one, but here is what I am talking about. I like to make all my queries as stored procedures in SSIS, at least as much as possible. This works great when you are doing SQL Server to SQL Server, but what happens if its Oracle to SQL Server, DB2 to SQL Server, etc? Yes I know you can create stored procs on those systems, but you might be in a place or position where you just can’t or don’t want to. In that case you would want to use just standard T-SQL select statements to get data. You can easily put in params if the source is an OLE DB source, but what if it is an ODBC Source? You have to use the DataReader source, and you can’t easily set params – like a WHERE statement. You HAVE to use Expressions in order to have a query with a dynamic WHERE statement or passing in a variable as WHERE statement filter.

    So, throw a DataFlow on your package, and inside that, throw a DataReader source, and then set the connection to your ODBC Connection (ADO.NET Connection) and set the command text. Good to go. But where to set the connection? Not very intuitive. Go back to your DataFlow and look at the expressions for it. You will see one for DataReaderSource.CommandText (where DataReaderSource is the name of your DataReaderSource). You can set the expression up there. Now you can change an Oracle SQL Statement or DB2 or whatever to something that takes params without the need for a stored proc on that other database server.

So, while there are hundreds if not thousands of uses for expressions in SSIS, these are just a couple of uses that can make your life easier when trying to do more dynamic type queries in your DataFlow. Happy ETL’ing!