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Visual Studio 2008 book recommendation

Posted on 2016-10-25
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Can someone recommend a book I could get or read online to learn more about expressions, formulas, and all things Visual Studios 2008 with regards to report writing? I see several books out there for everything that has to do with Visual Studios but only a very small chapter on reports. (Oh and BTW, I like books with pictures :-) )
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Question by:Lisa Randle
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by:Megan Brooks
Megan Brooks earned 250 total points
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I see that your post is categorized as SSRS. Are you looking for books that describe how to use the Report Designer in SQL Server 2008 BIDS (Business Intelligence Development Studio)?

BIDS is built on an older version of Visual Studio (it's been a long time -- I don't remember which BIDS uses which Visual Studio version), but adds project templates for SSRS and other SQL Server BI components. If you search for BIDS and reporting services, rather than for Visual Studio per se, you may still find what you are looking for. Books written for more recent versions may work as well, since most of the core features have been the same since 2008.

I learned SSRS the hard way, from Books Online, before there were good 3rd party books available, so it is harder for me to make recommendations. I DO recommend that you learn some other way than Books Online! One 2008 book that I read and liked was Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services Step by Step by Stacia Misner. Books by Stacia are likely to be good, as are books by Paul Turley. I'm sure there are other good authors as well, but I have met and talked with these two people at conferences, and I was impressed with their ability to explain things.

Another option is to move to SSDT and Visual Studio 2015. You should be able to find books and online articles describing these tools without too much trouble, as they are the current versions.

VS 2015 Community is a free download, as is SSDT. When combined, they give you the latest Report Designer, which is compatible with schema versions back to SSRS 2008. Visual Studio 2015 does not itself contain the SSRS project template -- that is part of SSDT for VS 2015. VS 2015 Community with SSDT is what I use for answering Experts Exchange SSRS questions, when I need to try things.

One thing to be aware of when using VS 2015 & SSDT with SSRS 2008 is that Report Designer always works with the latest (SSRS 2016) schema, and that is the version of the RDL file that you see in your report project. You can, however, set the target deployment version for the project to any version back to SSRS 2008. When you deploy or build the project, a copy of the RDL file is created in the output directory (bin/debug by default) that uses the correct schema for the specified target version.
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Pawan Kumar Khowal earned 250 total points
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by:Lisa Randle
ID: 41860217
Thank you so much for the responses.  I think I'm going to go with both of your suggestions - the free download and Stacia Misner's book.  
I was trained and have used SSRS (mostly for creating databases), MySQL, Access and Excel for creating databases and simple to medium complexity reports.  I now am in a job that I really like that uses SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio (2008R2) and a stand alone version of Crystal Reports XI (reports are usually written in Crystal and the SQL code put in a BIDS project and tweaked to run correctly then deployed to our SharePoint site).  I somehow had BIDS already downloaded on my home laptop, probably sometime during the classes I took years ago but I don't remember using it for anything.  I'm not very sure about why I need to use it in the first place.  But this is what my new employer uses, so now I do.  I actually have Visual Studios 2013 installed on my computer at work also but because those who already do what I do here weren't familiar with it, they installed 2008 so they could show me how to use it with the system and databases here.  
Needless to say I feel "stupid" not knowing some things so I'm back in my own personal school trying to learn/refresh whatever or wherever I can - complex expressions, interactive parameters and the toolbox features...  I think these 2 suggestions will be extremely helpful as I've spent hours looking for solutions to issues I run into.
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by:Megan Brooks
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One caution about using BIDS: I have found it to be very buggy at times, and not well supported by Microsoft. Of course with 2008/R2 there isn't any support for the older tools that are in extended support. VS 2016 with SSDT, on the other hand, is updated regularly. I haven't used it enough yet to say if it is less buggy, but I am optimistic because of the frequent updates. The same goes for SSMS 2016; I haven't used anything else since the RTM came out. It was a bit rocky at first, but worth the minor frustrations.

If you are on SSRS 2008 R2 then you pretty much have the full feature set that was available up until SQL Server 2016, and any of the tool versions should work with the 2008 R2 RDL schema (though they may not be backward compatible with each other if you try to switch around!), and any of the pre-2016 books should apply. I don't remember if SSRS 2014 made any schema changes; I skipped that version.

If you are on SSRS 2008 (no R2) then you are working with a subset, and you will have to avoid using the R2 features if you use anything other than the 2008 version of BIDS.
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by:Pawan Kumar Khowal
ID: 41871744
Hi Lisa,
Any feedback for us on this ?

Regards,
Pawan
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by:Lisa Randle
ID: 41872132
Well, I've gone over almost half of the free download SQL Server 2012 Tutorials.  It was extremely helpful in explaining some of the things I may have done "by accident" which were actually correct or not correct.  I haven't had a chance to do the lessons yet (I'm a Nana again, yay (10/28/16) - so that's taken quite a bit of my time lately).
But I think that once I do some of the lessons, I may go ahead and order the SQL Server 2008 Step by Step book by Stacia Misner to fill in the gaps.  I find that many times I have "holes" in my thinking or do things without fully understanding why (ex: I know I have to Build before I Deploy, but why) .  Once it all gels together, the mastery can begin.
So I'm going to close the thread and make the Best Solution the free download even though I would like to make both answers the Best Solution.  My only reason is that its a very good resource and I will always love anything that's Useful and Free.
Thank you both!
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