How To Create Multi-Column Lists in SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)
Development How To Create Multi-Column Lists in SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)

I recently encountered a scenario where I wanted to display my report content in the form of a multi-column list. In essence, I was looking to create the SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) equivalent of an ASP.NET Repeater, to render my report content both horizontally and vertically (in this case a dynamically repeated SubReport) a number of times dictated by my source dataset. I spent a little bit of time investigating some more complicated possibilities such as building a matrix of row and column groupings when the solution finally hit me. It is simply brilliant in its simplicity. Here’s how to do it.

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Inserting Large Variable Column Data Files with SQL Server Integration Services – Part 2
Development Inserting Large Variable Column Data Files with SQL Server Integration Services – Part 2

Far too long ago, I posted part 1 of an article solving the import of large data files with varying columns using SQL Server integration Services (SSIS).  This is the belated follow up.  In part 1, I explained some example file structures and how we approach the problem of inserting these files, which all have a varying number of columns with different data types.   The solution combines a mixture of SSIS script tasks, external C# code in a referenced DLL and a flexible SQL Server DB schema.  This post will walkthrough my overall SSIS Control Flow, as well as detail how we translate a code based, dynamic object model into something well-defined which we can insert into a SQL Server DB.

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Site news Possible downtime for picnicerror.net – UPDATED

Just a quick note for anyone visiting the site that there may be some downtime and/or interruptions here on picnicerror.net over the next couple of days as I’m moving to a new hosting provider.  The site will hopefully be back up and stable by the beginning of next week.

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Web & technology Vizualize.Me public beta goes live

A couple of months ago I posted an article titled Vizualize.Me - your CV as an infographic in a single click, regarding an interesting new visualisation service which, using data from your LinkedIn profile can generate an entire, graphical representation of your CV in a single click.  At the time of writing the post, the service was gearing up to launch their private beta, with a public beta soon to follow.  Unfortunately, I didn’t quite make the cut for the private beta but the public beta is now live!  So, I’ve been straight in and created a visualisation of my CV (below) from my LinkedIn profile.

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Development Inserting Large Variable Column Data Files with SQL Server Integration Services – Part 1

Just over a year ago I posted a question on my favourite programming Q&A site, Stack Overflow regarding an issue I was having with processing some large, variable column data files using SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services). Thanks to the great community there, I received an answer rather quickly and was able to develop a solution to solve the problem. I’ve been intending to document this for some time, as it’s a good solution, combining SSIS Control and Data Flow logic with custom C# code and a flexible SQL server database schema. I was working with a database schema which was set up to handle variable columns from a number of different files by transposing the columns into rows within the database. The upside of this is that it could support any number of columns from different files, in any order and with any type of data. The downside is that each row in a file, suddenly becomes row x column number of rows in the database, meaning processing large files can slow down exponentially if not handled correctly.

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Web & technology UPDATE: Google+ mobile not compatible with Windows Phone 7?

I posted a couple of weeks ago about the lack of mobile support for the Windows Phone 7 OS from Google+.  The fledgling social network launched with a native app for Android, closely followed by iPhone, however users of any other mobile OS had to settle for using their phone’s web browser to view the mobile web site.  A visitor to the site, John B left an extremely helpful comment pointing out that he had discovered a workaround to this issue.

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Development SQL Server Denali CTP 3 and 2008 R2 SP1 released

July 12th was a good day for all SQL Server enthusiasts and professionals as Microsoft announced the release of both Service Pack 1 for SQL Server 2008 R2 as well as Community Technology Preview 3 for the next installment in the series, Codename Denali.

SP1 brings with it a number of stability and security fixes as well as some more advanced configuration options to fine-tune performance.  The most interesting update from my point of view is the updated syntax on the FORCESEEK index hint, which now has extra options to further fine tune queries.

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Google+ versus Facebook: First impressions
Web & technology Google+ versus Facebook: First impressions

If anything I’m probably a little late in writing this post as everyone and their dog seems to have used Google+, had their fun and either dismissed it as a fad that won’t last or seen something they like and accepted it as the new contender.  I’m definitely the latter.  I was initially disappointed by the “stream” interface and very nearly wrote it off then and there as a straight Facebook rip-off.  This definitely would have been a mistake and I’m glad I persevered.  You see, there are two things that I feel separate Google+ from the other social networks out there: Integration and Flexibility.  Let me elaborate:

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picnicerror.net is a personal blog where I post various ideas, thoughts and discoveries through both my day to day work in marketing technology and general hobbies and interests.

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