Jeff Pries

Business Intelligence, SQL Server, and other assorted IT miscellany

Category: BI Tools

Windows 10 Upgrade – Part 5: SSRS Report Preview Error in SSDT-BI

Windows 10Having just recently successfully installed the current release of SSDT-BI (the current version as of this writing is based on SQL Server 2014 32-bit and the Visual Studio 2013 Integrated Shell), it was time to finally open up some SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services) projects and get to work.

For anyone that use used the report Preview button within SSDT-BI, you know getting it to work can be a bit dicey.  Microsoft has changed the internal behavior of what happens behind the scenes when the preview button is pressed, and that has created a number of problems.

No surprise, the first time I pressed the preview button, I was greeted with this:

Report Preview error in SSDT-BI

Report Preview error in SSDT-BI

Well, that’s not good.  I should preface this by saying that I did two significant things to ultimately resolve this issue.  It’s possible that only the second one was needed, but I’m going to list them both (as well as a workaround) just in case it’s helpful.

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Windows 10 Upgrade – Part 4: Cannot Install SSDT-BI (Install Error)

Windows 10With all of my driver, aesthetic, and networking issues worked out in previous parts, it was time to get down to business.  After all, I’m going to have to do some work from this laptop at some point, right?  And in the Microsoft Business Intelligence world, that means I’m going to need SSDT-BI (SQL Server Data Tools – Business Intelligence).  As of this writing, the current version of SSDT-BI is still based on SQL Server 2014 32-bit with the Visual Studio 2013 Integrated shell.  It’s expected at some point, with the release of 2016, there’ll be a new and improved version more tightly integrated into Visual Studio 2015, but for now, if you want to edit SSRS projects, this is the way to go.

I started out by downloading the currently release of SSDT-BI, which is 32-bit only (regardless if you’re using a 64-bit machine).

I encountered my first minor hurdle during the initial install.  Since SSDT-BI is based on SQL Server 2014 32-bit, it doesn’t play nice with SQL Server 2014 64-bit.  I wasn’t thinking clearly and when presented with the option to “Perform a new installation” or “Add features to an existing instance,” I first tried to add features and the installer yelled at me for having an incompatible installation already in place (SQL Server 2014 64-bit).  So the correct answer is Perform a new installation, which will put these 32-bit components side-by-side with any existing 64-bit components.

After selecting the right installation type and checking the box for the SQL Server Data Tools – Business Intelligence for Visual Studio 2013 shared feature to install, I thought I was on easy street.  Boy was I wrong, the fun was just beginning.  While the installer was running, it eventually failed with this error:

SSDT-BI Install Error - VS Shell Installation has failed with exit code -2147205120

SSDT-BI Install Error – VS Shell Installation has failed with exit code -2147205120

That’s not good.  I immediately tried all the basic IT things before going deeper.  I rebooted and retried the installation, this time running as administrator.  Same error.  Time to go deeper.

Following the error dialog is more detail regarding the error.  To any developer that writes an installer that includes the option to view detailed log files….THANK YOU.

SQL Server Data Tools - Business Intelligence for Visual Studio 2013 installation completed with failures

SQL Server Data Tools – Business Intelligence for Visual Studio 2013 installation completed with failures

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Choosing the Right Chart Type

Choosing the Right Chart Type:  

On Monday night, I attended our monthly Atlanta Business Intelligence user group meeting.  The speaker this month was the amazing Jen Underwood  (B | T) presenting on the topic of Data Visualization Best Practices.

As anybody who is familiar with building the presentation layer for a set of data knows, choosing the right method to represent that data can be the most challenging and important part of the entire process.

Whenever I am designing a new report, I will list my requirements and brainstorm a list of what I want to convey with the report.  Once I’ve determined what message is to be conveyed, I’ll sketch out mock reports on paper until I’ve gone through a few iterations and gotten an idea of what I’m going to implement.

During the process of sketching out a mock report, the topic of deciding what types of charts to use comes up.  In Jen’s presentation on Data Visualization Best Practices, she pointed out a very handy resource — a chart of charts by Andrew Abela, to help determine which type of chart to use and when:

A great resource to print out and decorate your office wall!

Another great resource is the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods by Ralph Lengler and Martin J. Eppler which is an interactive resource which shows an example of each visualization method by hovering the mouse over the “element.”

There are many more great resources out there, including many by “the Moses of Data Visualization,” Stephen Few which I’ll cover in future posts.  Happy charting!

Jen Underwood presenting Data Visualization Best Practices at the Atlanta Business Intelligence April Users Group.

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