Stephen A. Fuqua (SAF) is a Bahá'í, software developer, and conservation and interfaith advocate in the DFW area of Texas.

RS and XSLT, pt3.1: Using XSLT for Custom Reporting Services Output

February 28, 2008

The last two posts have touched on some issues related to Reporting Services and XML transforms. Now I'll go back and put the pieces together, flesh in some more detail, and try to give a coherent picture of what I was trying to accomplish and how it worked out. Doing so will require a sub-series of posts, call them parts 3.x to the "RS and XSLT" series.

Problem: A customer has asked for a report, in plain ASCII text, that will contain a header record, a bunch of pipe delimited detail records, and a trailer record. Reporting Services' subscription capabilities are ideal for the report delivery, but does not have any built-in way to support this kind of output. One can use CSV export, but:

  • that restricts the user to commas rather than pipes (or other characters),
  • column headers are always included in the output
  • any text in a textbox above (i.e. header text) or below (i.e. trailer text) a main table will be added at the beginning and ending of each detail record.

Solution: Use XML export coupled with XML stylesheet transformations to develop a custom export provider.

Desired Output

Dynamic elements are indicated with angle brackets.

HEADER, MYREPORT, <datetime>
<col1 data>|<col2 data>|<col3 data>
<col1 data>|<col2 data>|<col3 data>

TRAILER, <row count>

Designing the Report

The report design is rather simple. I've created a dataset with the rather pedestrian name of DataSet1 using the following query to give me some fake data:

select 'r1c1' as col1, 'r1c2' as col2, 'r1c3' as col3
select 'r2c1' as col1, 'r2c2' as col2, 'r2c3' as col3
select 'r3c1' as col1, 'r3c2' as col2, 'r3c3' as col3

Each dynamic element to be included in the header and trailer record can be placed in its own text box. Be sure to give that textbox a useful name, and use that name in the DataElementName field. The data results are placed in a table with no header or footer, and each column is given a sensible name in the DataElementName field. The table itself should be given a good name; I prefer to standardize each report's main table with the name resultSet

report designer.jpg
Report Design

textbox properties.jpg
Partial view of the properties for the "Now" textbox

column properties.jpg
Partial view of the properties for the first column in the resultSet table.

XML Output

Here's the raw XML output before any transformations have been applied (note presence of the custom namespace):

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<Report p1:schemaLocation="RsXsltDemo 
http://reportserver?%2fRsXsltDemo&amp;rs%3aFormat=XML&amp;rc%3aSchema=True" Name="RsXsltDemo" 
         <Detail col1="r1c1" col2="r1c2" col3="r1c3" />
         <Detail col1="r2c1" col2="r2c2" col3="r2c3" />
         <Detail col1="r3c1" col2="r3c2" col3="r3c3" />

Now it is time to pause. Look for the next steps next week!