Microsoft BI interview questions with answers

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  Microsoft BusinessIntelligence Interview Questions:

 

SSIS – SQL Server Integration Services

Q: What is SSIS? How it is related with SQL Server.
SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) is a component of SQL Server which can be used to perform a wide range of Data Migration and ETL operations. SSIS is a component in MSBI process of SQL Server. This is a platform for Integration and Workflow applications. It is known for a fast and flexible OLTP and OLAP extensions used for data extraction, transformation, and loading . The tool may also be used to automate maintenance of SQL Server databases and multidimensional data sets.

Q: What are the tools associated with SSIS?
We use Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS) and SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) to work with Development of SSIS Projects.We use SSMS to manage the SSIS Packages and Projects.

 

Q: What are the differences between DTS and SSIS

 

Data Transformation Services SQL Server Integration Services
Limited Error Handling Complex and powerful Error Handling
Message Boxes in ActiveX Scripts Message Boxes in .NET Scripting
No Deployment Wizard Interactive Deployment Wizard
Limited Set of Transformation Good number of Transformations
NO BI functionality Complete BI Integration

 

Q: What is a workflow in SSIS 2014 ?
Workflow is a set of instructions on to specify the Program Executor on how to execute tasks and containers within SSIS Packages.
 
Q: What is the control flow?

A control flow consists of one or more tasks and containers that execute when the package runs. To control order or define the conditions for running the next task or container in the package control flow, we use precedence constraints to connect the tasks and containers in a package. A subset of tasks and containers can also be grouped and run repeatedly as a unit within the package control flow. SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) provides three different types of control flow elements: Containers that provide structures in packages, Tasks that provide functionality, and Precedence Constraints that connect the executables, containers, and tasks into an ordered control flow.

 

Q: What is the data flow?
Data flow consists of the sources and destinations that extract and load data, the transformations that modify and extend data, and the paths that link sources, transformations, and destinations The Data Flow task is the executable within the SSIS package that creates, orders, and runs the data flow. A separate instance of the data flow engine is opened for each Data Flow task in a package. Data Sources, Transformations, and Data Destinations are the three important categories in the Data Flow.

 

Q: How does Error-Handling work in SSIS
When a data flow component applies a transformation to column data, extracts data from sources, or loads data into destinations, errors can occur. Errors frequently occur because of unexpected data values.

Type of typical Errors in SSIS:
Data Connection Errors, which occur incase the connection manager cannot be initialized with the connection string. This applies to both Data Sources and Data Destinations along with Control Flows that use the Connection Strings.
Data Transformation Errors, which occur while data is being transformed over a Data Pipeline from Source to Destination.
Expression Evaluation errors, which occur if expressions that are evaluated at run time perform invalid

 

Q: What is environment variable in SSIS?
An environment variable configuration sets a package property equal to the value in an environment variable.
Environmental configurations are useful for configuring properties that are dependent on the computer that is executing the package.

 

Q: What are the Transformations available in SSIS?

AGGREGATE  – It applies aggregate functions to Record Sets to produce new output records from aggregated values.
AUDIT  – Adds Package and Task level Metadata – such as Machine Name, Execution Instance, Package Name, Package ID, etc..
CHARACTERMAP – Performs SQL Server column level string operations such as changing data from lower case to upper case.
CONDITIONALSPLIT– Separates available input into separate output pipelines based on Boolean Expressions configured for each output.
COPYCOLUMN – Add a copy of column to the output we can later transform the copy keeping the original for auditing.
DATACONVERSION – Converts columns data types from one to another type. It stands for Explicit Column Conversion.
DATAMININGQUERY– Used to perform data mining query against analysis services and manage Predictions Graphs and Controls.
DERIVEDCOLUMN – Create a new (computed) column from given expressions.
EXPORTCOLUMN– Used to export a Image specific column from the database to a flat file.
FUZZYGROUPING– Used for data cleansing by finding rows that are likely duplicates.
FUZZYLOOKUP –  Used for Pattern Matching and Ranking based on fuzzy logic.
IMPORTCOLUMN – Reads image specific column from database onto a flat file.
LOOKUP – Performs the lookup (searching) of a given reference object set against a data source. It is used for exact matches only.
MERGE – Merges two sorted data sets into a single data set into a single data flow.
MERGEJOIN – Merges two data sets into a single dataset using a join junction.
MULTICAST – Sends a copy of supplied Data Source onto multiple Destinations.
ROWCOUNT – Stores the resulting row count from the data flow / transformation into a variable.
ROWSAMPLING – Captures sample data by using a row count of the total rows in dataflow specified by rows or percentage.
UNIONALL – Merge multiple data sets into a single dataset.
PIVOT– Used for Normalization of data sources to reduce analomolies by converting rows into columns
UNPIVOT– Used for denormalizing the data structure by converts columns into rows incase of building Data Warehouses.

 

Q: How to log SSIS Executions?
SSIS includes logging features that write log entries when run-time events occur and can also write custom messages. This is not enabled by default. Integration Services supports a diverse set of log providers, and gives you the ability to create custom log providers. The Integration Services log providers can write log entries to text files, SQL Server Profiler, SQL Server, Windows Event Log, or XML files. Logs are associated with packages and are configured at the package level. Each task or container in a package can log information to any package log. The tasks and containers in a package can be enabled for logging even if the package itself is not.

 

Q: How do you deploy SSIS packages?
SSIS Project BUILD provides a Deployment Manifest File. We need to run the manifest file and decide whether to deploy this onto File System or onto SQL Server [ msdb]. SQL Server Deployment is very faster and more secure then File System Deployment. Alternatively, we can also importthe package from SSMS from File System or SQL Server.

 

Q: What are variables and what is variable scope?
Variables store values that a SSIS package and its containers, tasks, and event handlers can use at run time. The scripts in the Script task and the Script component can also use variables. The precedence constraints that sequence tasks and containers into a workflow can use variables when their constraint definitions include expressions. Integration Services supports two types of variables: user-defined variables and system variables. User-defined variables are defined by package developers, and system variables are defined by Integration Services. You can create as many user-defined variables as a package requires, but you cannot create additional system variables.

 

Q:Can you name five of the Perfmon counters for SSIS and the value they provide?

  • SQLServer:SSIS Service
  • SSIS Package Instances
  • SQLServer:SSIS Pipeline
  • BLOB bytes read
  • BLOB bytes written
  • BLOB files in use
  • Buffer memory
  • Buffers in use
  • Buffers spooled
  • Flat buffer memory
  • Flat buffers in use
  • Private buffer memory
  • Private buffers in use
  • Rows read
  • Rows written

 

 

 

 

                           SSAS – SQL Server Analysis Services

 

Q: What is Analysis Services? List out the features?
Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Analysis Services (SSAS) delivers online analytical processing (OLAP) and data mining functionality for business intelligence applications. Analysis Services supports OLAP by letting us design, create, and manage multidimensional structures that contain data aggregated from other data sources, such as relational databases. For data mining applications, Analysis Services lets we design, create, and visualize data mining models that are constructed from other data sources by using a wide variety of industry-standard data mining algorithms.

Analysis Services is a middle tier server for analytical processing, OLAP, and Data mining. It manages multidimensional cubes of data and provides access to heaps of information including aggregation of data. One can create data mining models from data sources and use it for Business Intelligence also including reporting features.
Analysis service provides a combined view of the data used in OLAP or Data mining. Services here refer to OLAP, Data mining. Analysis services assists in creating, designing and managing multidimensional structures containing data from varied sources. It provides a wide array of data mining algorithms for specific trends and needs.

 

Some of the key features are:

  • Ease of use with a lot of wizards and designers.
  • Flexible data model creation and management
  • Scalable architecture to handle OLAP
  • Provides integration of administration tools, data sources, security, caching, and reporting etc.
  • Provides extensive support for custom applications

 

Q: What is UDM? Its significance in SSAS?
The role of a Unified Dimensional Model (UDM) is to provide a bridge between the user and the data sources. A UDM is constructed over one or more physical data sources, and then the end user issues queries against the UDM using one of a variety of client tools, such as Microsoft Excel. At a minimum, when the UDM is constructed merely as a thin layer over the data source, the advantages to the end user are a simpler, more readily understood model of the data, isolation from heterogeneous backend data sources, and improved performance for summary type queries. In some scenarios a simple UDM like this is constructed totally automatically. With greater investment in the construction of the UDM, additional benefits accrue from the richness of metadata that the model can provide.

 

The UDM provides the following benefits: 
• Allows the user model to be greatly enriched.
• Provides high performance queries supporting interactive analysis, even over huge data volumes.
• Allows business rules to be captured in the model to support richer analysis.

 

Q:What is the need for SSAS component?

Analysis Services is the only component in SQL Server using which we can perform Analysis and Forecast operations.

SSAS is very easy to use and interactive.

Faster Analysis and Troubleshooting.

Ability to create and manage Data warehouses.

Apply efficient Security Principles.

 

Q: Explain the TWO-Tier Architecture of SSAS?

  • SSAS uses both server and client components to supply OLAP and data mining functionality BI Applications.
  • The server component is implemented as a Microsoft Windows service. Each instance of Analysis Services implemented as a separate instance of the Windows service.
  • Clients communicate with Analysis Services using the standard XMLA (XML For Analysis) , protocol for issuing commands and receiving responses, exposed as a web service.

 

 

Q: What are the components of SSAS?

  • An OLAP Engine is used for enabling fast adhoc queries by end users. A user can interactively explore data by drilling, slicing or pivoting.
  • Drilling refers to the process of exploring details of the data.
  • Slicing refers to the process of placing data in rows and columns.
  • Pivoting refers to switching categories of data between rows and columns.
  • In OLAP, we will be using what are called as Dimensional Databases.

 

Q: What is FASMI ?
A database is called an OLAP Database if the database satisfies the FASMI rules :

  • Fast Analysis– is defined in the OLAP scenario in five seconds or less.
  • Shared – Must support access  to data by many users in  the factors of Sensitivity and Write Backs.
  • Multidimensional – The data inside the OLAP Database must be multidimensional in structure.
  • Information – The OLAP database Must support large volumes of data..

 

Q: What languages are used in SSAS ?

  • Structured Query Language (SQL)
  • Multidimensional Expressions (MDX) – an industry standard query language orientated towards analysis
  • Data Mining Extensions (DMX) – an industry standard query language oriented toward data mining.
  • Analysis Services Scripting Language (ASSL) – used to manage Analysis Services database objects.

 

Q: How Cubes are implemented in SSAS ?

  • Cubes are multidimensional models that store data from one or more sources.
  • Cubes can also store aggregations
  • SSAS Cubes are created using the Cube Wizard.
  • We also build Dimensions when creating Cubes.
  • Cubes can see only the DSV( logical View).

 

Q: What is the difference between a derived measure and a calculated measure? 
The difference between a derived measure and a calculated measure is when the calculation is performed. A derived measure is calculated before aggregations are created, and the values of the derived measure are stored in the cube. A calculated measure is calculated after aggregations are created, and the values of a calculated measure aren’t stored in the cube. The primary criterion for choosing between a derived measure and a calculated measure is not efficiency, but accuracy.

 

Q: What is a partition? 
A partition in Analysis Services is the physical location of stored cube data. Every cube has at least one partition by default. Each time we create a measure group, another partition is created. Queries run faster against a partitioned cube because Analysis Services only needs to read data from the partitions that contain the answers to the queries. Queries run even faster when partition also stores aggregations, the pre calculated totals for additive measures. Partitions are a powerful and flexible means of managing cubes, especially large cubes.

 

Q: While creating a new calculated member in a cube what is the use of property 
called non-empty behavior? 
Nonempty behavior is important property for ratio calculations. If the denominator Is empty, an MDX expression will return an error just as it would if the denominator Were equal to zero. By selecting one or more measures for the Non-Empty Behavior property, we are establishing a requirement that each selected measure first be evaluated before the calculation expression is evaluated. If each selected measure is empty, then The expression is also treated as empty and no error is returned.

 

Q: What is a RAGGED hierarchy? 
Under normal circumstances, each level in a hierarchy in Microsoft SQL ServerAnalysis Services (SSAS) has the same number of members above it as any other member at the same level. In a ragged hierarchy, the logical parent member of at least one member is not in the level immediately above the member. When this occurs, the hierarchy descends to different levels for different drilldown paths. Expanding through every level for every drilldown path is then unnecessarily complicated.

 

Q: What are the roles of an Analysis Services Information Worker?

The role of an Analysis Services information worker is the traditional “domain expert” role in business intelligence (BI) someone who understands the data employed by a solution and is able to translate the data into business information. The role of an Analysis Services information worker often has one of the following job titles: Business Analyst (Report Consumer), Manager (Report Consumer), Technical Trainer, Help Desk/Operation, or Network Administrator.

 

Q: What are the different ways of creating Aggregations?    
We can create aggregations for faster MDX statements using Aggregation Wizard or thru UBO – Usage Based Optimizations. Always, prefer UBO method in realtime performance troubleshooting.

 

Q: What is WriteBack? What are the pre-conditions?
The Enable/Disable Writeback dialog box enables or disables writeback for a measure group in a cube. Enabling writeback on a measure group defines a writeback partition and creates a writeback table for that measure group. Disabling writeback on a measure group removes the writeback partition but does not delete the writeback table, to avoid unanticipated data loss.

 

Q: What is processing?
Processing is a critical and resource intensive operation in the data warehouse lifecycle and needs to be carefully optimized and executed. Analysis Services offers a high performance and scalable processing architecture with a comprehensive set of controls for database administrators.
We can process an OLAP database, individual cube, Dimension or a specific Partition in a cube.

 

Q: Name few Business Analysis Enhancements for SSAS?
The following table lists the business intelligence enhancements that are available in Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS). The table also shows the cube or dimension to which each business intelligence enhancement applies, and indicates whether an enhancement can be applied to an object that was created without using a data source and for which no schema has been generated.

 

 

Enhancement Type Applied to No data source
Time Intelligence Cube Cube No
Account Intelligence Dimension Dimension or cube No
Dimension Intelligence Dimension Dimension or cube Yes
Custom Aggregation Dimension Dimension (unary operator) or cube No
Semiadditive Behavior Cube Cube Yes
Custom Member Formula Dimension Dimension or cube No
Custom Sorting and Uniqueness Settings Dimension Dimension or cube Yes
Dimension Writeback Dimension Dimension or cube Yes

 

Q: What MDX functions do you most commonly use?
This is a great question because you only know this answer by experience.  If you ask me this question, the answer practically rushes out of me.  “CrossJoin, Descendants, and NonEmpty, in addition to Sum, Count, and Aggregate.  My personal favorite is CrossJoin because it allows me identify non-contiguous slices of the cube and aggregate even though those cube cells don’t roll up to a natural ancestor.”  Indeed, CrossJoin has easily been my bread and butter.

 

Q: Where do you put calculated members?
The reflexive answer is “in the Measures dimension” but this is the obvious answer.  So I always follow up with another question.  “If you want to create a calculated member that intersects all measures, where do you put it?”  A high percentage of candidates can’t answer this question, and the answer is “In a dimension other than Measures.”  If they can answer it, I immediately ask them why.  The answer is “Because a member in a dimension cannot intersect its own relatives in that dimension.”

 

Q: How do I find the bottom 10 customers with the lowest sales in 2003 that were not null?
A: Simply using bottomcount will return customers with null sales. You will have to combine it with NONEMPTY or FILTER.

SELECT { [Measures].[Internet Sales Amount] } ON COLUMNS ,
BOTTOMCOUNT(
NONEMPTY(DESCENDANTS( [Customer].[Customer Geography].[All Customers]
, [Customer].[Customer Geography].[Customer] )
, ( [Measures].[Internet Sales Amount] ) )
, 10
, ( [Measures].[Internet Sales Amount] )
) ON ROWS
FROM [Adventure Works]
WHERE ( [Date].[Calendar].[Calendar Year].&[2003] ) ;

 

Q: How in MDX query can I get top 3 sales years based on order quantity?

By default Analysis Services returns members in an order specified during attribute design. Attribute properties that define ordering are “OrderBy” and “OrderByAttribute”. Lets say we want to see order counts for each year. In Adventure Works MDX query would be:

SELECT {[Measures].[Reseller Order Quantity]} ON 0
, [Date].[Calendar].[Calendar Year].Members ON 1
FROM [Adventure Works];

Same query using TopCount:
SELECT
{[Measures].[Reseller Order Quantity]} ON 0,
TopCount([Date].[Calendar].[Calendar Year].Members,3, [Measures].[Reseller Order Quantity]) ON 1
FROM [Adventure Works];

 

Q: How do you extract first tuple from the set?

Use could usefunctionSet.Item(0)
Example:

SELECT {{[Date].[Calendar].[Calendar Year].Members
}.Item(0)}
ON 0
FROM [Adventure Works]

 

Q: How can I setup default dimension member in Calculation script?

You can use ALTER CUBE statement. Syntax:
ALTER CUBE CurrentCube | YourCubeName UPDATE DIMENSION , DEFAULT_MEMBER=”;

 

 

 

                                 SSRS – SQL Server Reporting Services

 

Q: What is SSRS?
SQL Server Reporting Service is one of the server-based software systems that generate reports developed by Microsoft. It is used for preparing and delivering interactive and variety of printed reports. It is administered through an interface that is web based. Reporting services utilizes a web service interface for supporting and developing of customized reporting applicatons. It can be competed with Crystal Reports and other business intelligence tools.

 

Q: Explain SSRS Architecture?
Reporting services architecture comprises of integrated components. It is a multi-tiered, included with application, server and data layers. This architecture is scalable and modular. A single installation can be used across multiple computers. It includes the following components: – Report Manager, Reporting Designer, Browser Types Supported by Reporting services, Report server, Report server command line utilities, Report Server Database, Reporting Services Extensibility, Data sources that is supported by Reporting Services.

 

Q: Explain Reporting Life Cycle?
The Reporting Lifecycle includes – Report designing – The designing is done in Visual Studio Report Designer. It generates a class which embodies the Report Definition. – Report processing – The processing includes binging the report definition with data from the report data source. It performs on all grouping, sorting and filtering calculations. The expressions are evaluated except the page header, footer and section items. Later it fires the Binding event and Bound event. As a result of the processing, it produces Report Instance. Report instance may be persisted and stored which can be rendered at a later point of time. – Report Rendering: Report rendering starts by passing the Report Instance to a specific rendering extension (HTML or PDF formats). The instance of reports is paged if paging supported by output format. The expressions of items are evaluated in the page header and footer sections for every page. As a final step, the report is rendered to the specific output document.

 

Q: How to finetune Reports?
To tune-up the Reporting Services, follow the below mentioned ways: – Expand the Server or utilizing the reporting services of another database server. For better embedding of report contents, report application’s logic and characteristics can have a duplicate copy of data. – Replication of data continuously. Using nolock, the issues of locking can well be resolved and the performance of the query can be improved. This can be done by using dirty read at the time of duplicating the data is unavailable.

 

Q: What are Data Driven Subscriptions?
Reporting Services provides data-driven subscriptions so that you can customize the distribution of a report based on dynamic subscriber data. Data-driven subscriptions are intended for the following kinds of scenarios: Distributing reports to a large recipient pool whose membership may change from one distribution to the next. For example distribute a monthly report to all current customers. Distributing reports to a specific group of recipients based on predefined criteria. For example send a sales performance report to the top ten sales managers in an organization.

 

Q: What is Linked Report?

Q: What are different types of roles provided by SSRS?

Q: Difference between Logical Page an Physical Page in SSRS.
Logical page breaks are page breaks that you insert before or after report items or groups. Page breaks help to determine how the content is fitted to a report page for optimal viewing when rendering or exporting the report. The following rules apply when rendering logical page breaks: Logical page breaks are ignored for report items that are constantly hidden and for report items where the visibility is controlled by clicking another report item. Logical page breaks are applied on conditionally visible items if they are currently visible at the time the report is rendered. Space is preserved between the report item with the logical page break and its peer report items. Logical page breaks that are inserted before a report item push the report item down to the next page. The report item is rendered at the top of the next page. Logical page breaks defined on items in table or matrix cells are not kept. This does not apply to items in lists.

 

Q: User want only to display only pdf as export option in report Manager. How to acheive this?

Q: Name and Describe few console utilities for SSRS?

Q: Name few Endpoints exposed by SSRS 2012?

Q: Describe different Processing Modes offered by SSRS?

Q: When to Use Null Data driven Subscription?
Create a data-driven subscription that uses the Null Delivery Provider. When you specify the Null Delivery Provider as the method of delivery in the subscription, the report server targets the report server database as the delivery destination and uses a specialized rendering extension called the null rendering extension. In contrast with other delivery extensions, the Null Delivery Provider does not have delivery settings that you can configure through a subscription definition.

 

Q: How can you monitor the report Usage?

Q: How does the report manager work in SSRS? 
Report manager is a web application. In SSRS it is accessed by a URL. The interface of this Report manager depends on the permissions of the user. This means to access any functionality or perform any task, the user must be assigned a role. A user with a role of full permissions can entire all the features and menus of the report. To configure the report manager, a URL needs to be defined.

 

Q: What are the Reporting Services components?
Reporting services components assist in development. These processing components include some tools that are used to create, manage and view reports. A report designer is used to create the reports. a report sever is used to execute and distribute reports. a report manager is used to manage the report server.

 

Q:SQL Server Reporting Services vs Crystal Reports. 
Crystal reports are processed by IIS while SSRS have a report server. Caching in Crystal reports is available through cache server. On the other hand, caching in SSRS is available for Report history snapshots. Crystal reports have standards and user defined field labels. SSRS allows only user defined field labels.

 

Q: What is Report Builder?
Report Builder is a business-user, ad-hoc report design client that allows users to design reports based on the business terms (Report Builder model) they are familiar with, but without needing to understand database schemas or how to write SQL or MDX queries. Report Builder works with both SQL Server and Analysis Services data sources.

 

Q: How does Report Builder support Analysis Services cubes?
Report Builder supports relational SQL and Analysis Services data sources in SQL Server. To create a model for Analysis Services cube, go to Report Manager or Management Studio, create a data source for your Analysis Services database, and then select the Generate Model option to create the model.

 

Q: How do users use Report Builder with SQL Server data sources?
While models that provide access to SQL Server Analysis Services are automatically generated on the report server, the Report Builder Model Designer can be used to generate or modify the models that are built on top of SQL Server relational databases. These model-building projects are a new type of project within a Visual Studio–based development shell.

 

Q: How do I get Report Builder to generate a parameter that can be set by users viewing the report?
In the filter dialog box, click the name of the criteria that you would like to prompt the user for when viewing the report. For example, for the criteria Order Year=2000, click Order Year. Select the Prompt option in the drop-down list.

 

Q: What new data source types were added in SSRS 2014?
In addition to the data source types available in SSRS (SQL Server, Oracle, ODBC, OLE DB), the following have been added in SSRS 2012: SQL Server Analysis Services SQL Server Integration Services SQL Server Report Builder Models XML (through URL and Web services)

 

Q: How can I add Reporting Services reports to my application?
Visual Studio / SSDT / BI Data Tools (Standard and Enterprise editions) contains a set of freely redistributable Report Viewer controls that make it easy to embed Reporting Services functionality into custom applications. Two versions of the Report Viewer exist, one for rich Windows client applications and one for ASP.NET applications.

 

Q: Do I need a report server to run reports in my application?
In addition to publishing reports to a report server, you can build reports using the Report Designer that is directly integrated with Visual Studio language projects. You can embed reports directly in any Windows Forms or ASP.NET Web application without access to a report server. The data access in embedded reports is a natural extension of the Visual Studio data facilities. Not only can you use traditional databases as a source of data for your reports, you can use object collections as well.

 

Q: Can you import Microsoft Excel data to SSRS?
Reporting Services does not import data. It only queries data in whatever format it is stored in their native storage system. I will assume that you’re asking whether you can create reports and use Excel spreadsheets as data sources. The answer is Yes, Reporting Services supports a wide variety of data sources, including Excel files. You’ll get the best performance with the built-in native .NET providers but you should be able to connect to any ODBC or OLE-DB data source, whether it comes from Microsoft or a third-party company.

 

Q: Can we deploy SSRS reports on our personal website?
Your reports can only be deployed on a reporting services site. Your only option for viewing them from other sites is an HTTP link. Some tools, like SharePoint offer controls allowing you to view reports in the context of the other websites, but the report is still deployed to and hosted from reporting services.

 

Q: Can we use datagrids for our report in SSRS?
We have an ASP.NET project that populates a datagrid. Using datagrid as my datasource for my report using SQL Server Reporting Services. Is this possible? The simple answer is no. However, nothing’s ever simple. A set of reporting controls was added in Visual Studio 2010 allowing you to report in a dataset, on data that was supplied by you. So, if you retrieved your data into a dataset, bound the datagrid to the dataset so it had data to display, you could then use that dataset as the datasource for the reporting controls. These are then client-side reports, not server reports though.

 

Q: What are the drawbacks of reporting in SSRS?
For many years, Microsoft had no direct solution for reporting with the SQL Server besides Crystal Reports. Now, they have SQL Server Reporting Services, but it does have several drawbacks. It is still complex to understand the complete functionality and structure of this new component, and many users are still relying on the reporting application they are more familiar with, which is Crystal Reports. Also, components in SSRS like Report Builder and Report Designer are meant for different users for different aspects of the report process, yet complete understanding and exposure to both is important to utilize both functions fully and extensively. There are also issues when exporting very large reports to Microsoft Excel, as it can lead to a loss of data.

 

Q: Will running SSRS on Windows XP limit the number of users?
Yes, but not because of SSRS. The Internet Information Services (IIS) component of Windows XP only allows a small number of users to connect to the website at once. As SSRS runs via IIS, this would prevent more than a few people from using SSRS at once. Also, the only edition of SSRS that will install on Windows XP is the Developer Edition. This edition can not be used for production use. You need Standard or Enterprise Edition for production use, which requires a Server OS to install on (Windows 2003 Standard, Windows 2008 Standard, etc).

 

Q: Are there issues when exporting SSRS reports into Microsoft Excel?
When my users are trying to export a SSRS report into Microsoft Excel, one or two columns in the report appear to merge together. Why might this be? Exporting from SSRS is not always perfect, even if you stay within the Microsoft range of products. If you have extra resources, you could splurge for an add-on that offers much better control over exporting to Excel, such as OfficeWriter. From my experience, though, it is usually headers or footers that cause exporting issues. If any of these headers or footers overlap with data columns in your report, you will find that the exported version of the report has merged cells. Also, check columns next to each other to make sure that there is no overlap, as well.

 

Q: How to send a SSRS report from SSIS?
Often there is a requirement to be able to send a SSRS report in Excel, PDF or another format to different users from a SSIS package one it has finished performing a data load. In order to do this, first you need to create a subscription to the report. You can create a SSRS report subscription from Report Manager. At the report subscription you can mention the report format and the email address of the recipient. When you create a schedule for the SSRS report, a SQL Server Agent Job will be created. From the SSIS, by using sp_start_job and passing the relevant job name you can execute the SSRS report subscription.

 

 

 

                               SSRS INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

 

1)  What are data regions?

Data regions are report items that display repeated rows of summarized information from datasets.

 

2)  You want to generate a report that is formatted as a chart. Can you use the Report Wizard to create such a report?

No, the Report Wizard lets you create only tabular and matrix reports. you must create the chart report directly by using the Report Designer.

 

3) You want to use BIDS to deploy a report to a different server than the one you chose in the Report Wizard. How can you change the server URL?

You can right-click the project in Solution Explorer and then change the Target-Server URL property.

 

4) What are the three SSRS command-line utilities and their primary functions?

RSConfig.exe is used to define the connection properties from the SSRS instance to the Report Server database; RSKeyMgmt.exe performs encryption key operations and scale-out deployment setup; RS.exe runs Report Server Script files that can perform report deployment and management operations.

 

5) Can you always create a cache of a report?

No, you can create a cache of a report only when certain requirements, such as having credentials stored in the Report Server, are met.

 

6) Can you edit the .rdl code associated with a linked report?

No, because a linked report has no .rdl code of its own. It refers to the .rdl code of the base report

 

 7) What is reporting lifecycle?

Reporting Services has three mainly three phases

Development of Reports (Developer) – First of all a report needs to be design which is primarily done by report developer

Management of Reports (DBA) – Once the Report is being developed, DBA need to ensure

Security – Only authorized user should access the report

Execution – How the report will be executed to optimize data sources performance

Scheduling of reports – so that report are executed on scheduled timings

Report Delivery (DBA+Developer) – Once the report is being developed and executed now the report should be reached to final recipients (business users) who are going to understand / analyze report data. If any changes, we again go back to development stage.

 

8) What are the new features are introduced in SQL Server 2012 reporting services?   

Power View – interactive data exploration

SQL Server 2012 is fully integrated with SharePoint

Introduction to Data Alerts, data alerts are a data-driven alerting solution that informs you about changes in report data that are of interest to you, and at a relevant time

SQL Server Data tool

New rendering extensions supports MS Office 2010

Project Crescent is being introduced

     

     9) What is ReportServer and ReportServerTempDB ?

Reporting Services uses two SQL Server databases for storage by default; the databases are named ReportServer and ReportServerTempdb.

ReportServer is a main database, which store all internal configuration and report meta data where as ReportServerTempdb is used to store temporary data, session information, and cached reports.

 

10) What is encryption key?

Encryption keys are used by the report server so that items such as connection strings are maintained securely. These keys are required in case you want to perform restoration of report server databases

 

11) Mention what is SSRS?

SSRS or SQL Server Reporting Services is a server-based reporting platform that gives detailed reporting functionality for a variety of data sources.  Reporting services include a complete set of tools to manage, create and deliver reports and APIs that allows developers to synchronize data and report process in custom application.

 

12) Mention what are the important architecture components of SSRS?

Important architecture components of SSRS includes

Report Manager

Report Designer

Browser types supported by reporting services

Report Server

Report Server and Command line utilities

Report Server Database

Data Sources

 

13) Explain what data regions are and what are the different data regions?

Data regions are report items that show repeated rows of summarized information from datasets.

Different data regions include

Chart

Gauge

List

Matrix

Table

 

14) Explain what are the different stages of Report Processing?

Different stages of Report Processing includes

Compile: It analyze expressions in the report definitions and save the compiled intermediate format internally on the server

Process: It run dataset queries and combine intermediate format with data and layout

Render: It sends processed report to a rendering extension to tell how much information fits on each page and create the page report

Export: It exports the reports to a different file format

 

15) Mention what are the new features in SSRS?

New features in SSRS includes

Excel File Export: The files can be exported into Excel file formats, earlier only XLS files were only exported

Data Alerts: The new data alerts allow to create alert threshold which are evaluated on a user defined schedule, also there is data alert manager for alerting administrators

Power View: With the new RDLX file format, power view is a new interactive Business Intelligence feature

These are the new features included, apart from these, if you are using SSR on SharePoint it  gives additional benefits like drag and drop ad hoc reporting and sending e-mails when data changes.

 

16) Explain what is a sub-report?

Sub-report are inserted into the main part, just like a main report, you also pass queries and parameters to it.  In other words, a sub-report can be considered as an extension to your main report, but it consists of a different data set.  For example, you can prepare a report of customers and then use a sub-report to show a list of orders for each customer.

 

 17) List out what other servers you can use with SSRS?

Most of the times companies use SQL server with SSRS, but there are other servers you can integrate

  • Oracle
  • ODBC and OLEDB
  • Hyperion
  • Teradata
  • Flat XML files

 

 

18) Mention what are the core components of SSRS?

The core components of SSRS includes

A set of tool to View, Create and Manage report

A report server component that hosts and processes reports in a different formats like PDF, HTML, Excel, CSV,

An API, which enables developers to integrate with custom applications or to create custom tools to manage or build reports

 

19) Mention what are the different types of SSRS reports?

The different types of reports include

Parameterized reports

Snapshot reports

Cached reports

Clickthrough reports

Drilldown reports

Drillthrough reports

Sub-reports

Linked reports

Ad-hoc reports

 

20) Name some of the open source software that you can use in alternative to SSR?

Some of the open source software alternatives are

Jasper Reports

JFree Report

BIRT (Business Intelligence Reporting Tool)

OpenReport

DataVision and so on

 

21) Mention what are the reporting service components in SSRS?

The reporting service components in SSRS includes

Report Designer: It is a place where the report is created or designed

Report Server: It provides services for delivery of reports and for implementations

Report Manager: A web based administration tool to manage the report server

 

22) Explain can you implement data mining in SSRS?

Yes, it is possible to implement data mining in SSRS by using DMX designer to create data mining queries for SSRS reports.

 

23) Explain how you can configure a running aggregate in SSRS?

To configure a running aggregate in SSRS, you can use the Running Value function.

 

24) Mention what is the main function of a query parameter?

The main function of a query parameter is to filter data in the data source.

 

25) Explain can SSRS reports Cache results?

Caching reports enables users to access and view reports much faster.  SSRS does allow Cache reports on reporting server.

 

26) Mention what are the three command line utilities and what are their primary functions?

The three command line utilities include

  • RsConfig.exe: It is used to determine the connection properties from the SSRS instance to the Report Server database
  • RsKeyMgmet.exe: It executes scale out deployment set-up and encryption key operations
  • Rs.exe: It executes Report server Script files which can perform management operations and report deployment

 

27) Explain how you can deploy an SSRS report?

SSRS report can be deployed in three ways

  • By Visual Studio:You can directly deploy the report in Visual Studios through solution explorer, by declaring the report server URL in project properties at Target Server URL.
  • By Report Server: By browsing the report from the disk location of the server you can deploy the report to report server
  • By creating the Utility: Another option is to create customized utility to deploy the report

 

28) Mention what method you can use to reduce the overhead of Reporting Services data sources?

Cached reports and Snapshots can be used to reduce the overhead of Reporting Services Sources.

 

29) Explain what is the difference between Tabular and Matrix report?

  • Tabular Report:Tabular report is the most basic type of report. Each column relates to a column chosen from the database
  • Matrix Report:A matrix report is a cross-tabulation of four groups of data.

 

 

30) Explain how would you store your query in an SSRS report or a Database server?

Storing SQL queries directly in text format in the data should be avoided.  Instead, it should be stored in a stored procedure in the database server. The advantage is that the SQL would be in a compiled format in an SP and gives all the benefits of SP compared to using an ad-hoc query from the report.

 

31) What are the different kinds of SSRS Reports?

Reports can be categorized into operational and analytical reports. The distinction is based on the source of data and level of analysis facilitated by any particular report. Operational reports are based on OLTP sources and are static reports and Analytical reports are based on OLAP sources and generally facilitate drill-down and drill-through for analysis. Technically, SSRS reports can be categorized into parameterized, linked, snapshot, cached, etc…

 

32) What are parameterized reports? What are cascading parameters in SSRS reports?

Reports that accept parameters from users to fetch and report data conditionally are known as parameterized reports. When you have multiple parameters in a report and values of different parameters are dependent and populated dynamically based on the value of parent parameters, it’s known as a cascading parameter.

 

33) How would you go about developing a SSRS report?

General development methodology for a SSRS report is to start by creating a data source. Based on the data source create one or multiple datasets as needed for parameters and the body of the report. Add required controls from the toolbox which would act as a container for the fields in the dataset. Format the controls added to the report body.  Verify and validate the report and finally deploy the report.

 

34) What is a dataset and what are the different types of datasets?

A dataset is similar to a query definition, which is executed when the report is executed. Datasets are of two types: Shared and Embedded. An embedded dataset is private to the report in which it exists and shared datasets can be shared across reports.

 

35) Would you store your query in a SSRS report or a Database server? State the reason why.

Storing SQL queries directly in text format in the dataset should be avoided. Ideally it should be stored in a stored procedure in the database server. The benefit is that the SQL would be in a compiled format in a SP and brings all the benefits of using an SP compared to using an ad-hoc query from the report.

 

36) What is Tablix?

A Tablix can be seen as a control with combined capabilities of a table and a matrix, which facilitates asymmetric and flexible, row and column level, static and dynamic groupings.

 

37) How would you access SSRS reports deployed on report server?

Reports Manager is the most straight-forward way to access SSRS reports deployed on report server. Apart from executing the reports, it is the main administration console for SSRS server to manage reports.

 

38) Have you used the Report Viewer control / web part? What are the limitations?

The report viewer control / web part is the basic control to integrate SSRS reports with external applications. Using these interface applications can link and display SSRS reports within the application. The parameters toolbar in these controls have a limited programmable interface to decorate and blend it with the theme of the application.

 

39) Which is the latest version of SSRS and what are the new enhancements?

SSRS 2008 R2 is the latest RTM version of SSRS. Rich data visualizations, better programming functions for lookup and aggregation, improved performance and better control over exported data are some of the major enhancements.

 

40) What is Report Builder?

Report Builder is an ad-hoc report authoring tool primarily targeted to be used by business analysts to facilitate self-service report authoring. Report Builder 3.0 is the latest version available as of date.

 

41) How would you deploy SSRS Reports using out-of-box functionality and how can you automate SSRS report deployment?

Business Intelligence Development Studio is generally used to deploy SSRS reports. There is no out-of-box support in SSRS to automate reports deployment, but free third-party products like RSScripter can be used for this.

 

42) What is drill-down and drill-through in SSRS?

Drill-down is a mechanism of decomposing summarized information to a detailed level. Drill-through is a mechanism of decomposing the problem by drilling information generally using more than one report.

 

43) You want to include an image in a report. How do you display the Image Properties dialog box?
When you drag an image item from the Toolbox window to the Report Designer, the Image Properties dialog box automatically opens.

 

44) You want to configure an amount to display the value in a currency format. Which property do you use? 
To configure an amount to display a value in a currency format, select the report item, and then set the format property to C or c.

 

45) What are data regions?
Data regions are report items that display repeated rows of summarized information from datasets.

 

46) You want to generate a report that is formatted as a chart. Can you use the Report Wizard to create such a report?
No, the Report Wizard lets you create only tabular and matrix reports. you must create the chart report directly by using the Report Designer.

 

47) You want to use BIDS to deploy a report to a different server than the one you chose in the Report Wizard. How can you change the server URL?
You can right-click the project in Solution Explorer and then change the Target-Server URL property.

 

48) Which rendering formats are affected by the PageSize properties?
Because only the Adobe PDf file, Word, and Image rendering extensions use physical page breaks, they are the only formats that are affected by the PageSize properties.

 

49) Can you use a stored procedure to provide data to an SSRS report?
Yes, you can use a stored procedure to provide data to an SSRS report by configuring the dataset to use a stored procedure command type. However, your stored procedure should return only a single result set. If it returns multiple result sets, only the first one is used for the report dataset.

 

50) You want to use a perspective in an MDX query. How do you select the perspective?
Use the Cube Selector in the MDX Query Designer to select a perspective.

 

51) Can you use data mining models in SSRS?
Yes, you can use the DMX Designer to create data mining queries for SSRS reports. However, do not forget to flatten the result set returned by the DMX query.

 

52) You want your report to display a hyperlink that will take users to your intranet. How do you configure such a hyperlink?
Create a text box item, set the action to Go To URL, and then configure the URL.

 

53) You want a report to display Sales by Category, SubCategory, and Product. You want users to see only summarized information initially but to be able to display the details as necessary. How would you create the report?
Group the Sales information by Category, SubCategory, and Product. Hide the SubCategory group and set the visibility to toggle based on the Category item. Hide the Product category group and set the visibility to toggle based on the SubCategory item.

 

54) You want to create an Excel interactive report from SSRS. In SSRS, can you create the same interactive experience in Excel that you would have on the Web?
No, you cannot create the same experience with SSRS. you can, however, use Excel to create such an experience.

 

55) What is the main difference between a Matrix report item and a Table report item?
The main difference between a Matrix and a Table report item is in the initial template. Actually, both report items are just templates for the Tablix data region.

 

56) When you do not use report caching, is it better to use parameters to filter information in the query or to use filters in the dataset?
From a performance perspective, it is better to use parameters because they let SSRS pull filtered data from the data source. In contrast, when you use filters, the queries retrieve all data and then filter the information in an additional step.

 

57) How do you configure a running aggregate in SSRS?
You can use the RunningValue function to configure a running aggregate.

 

58) What is the main purpose of a report parameter?
The main purpose of a report parameter is to add interactivity to your reports, letting users change the report behavior based on options they select.

 

59) What is the main purpose of a query parameter?
The main purpose of a query parameter is to filter data in the data source.

 

60) You want your users to select a parameter from a list of values in a list box. How should you configure the parameter?
You should create a data source that contains the possible values and then bind the data source to the parameter.

 

61) What is the main benefit of using embedded code in a report?
The main benefit of using embedded code in a report is that the code you write at the report level can be reused in any expression in the report.

 

62) What programming language would you use to create embedded functions in SSRS?
An SSRS report supports only visual Basic .nET embedded code.

 

63) Do you create your reports using the wizard or manually?

As with most Microsoft tools, SSRS includes a wizard that helps you create reports. The wizard is great for people who are new to the product, but it’s not good if you can’t go beyond the tools and create a report from scratch. Before you go for your interviews, make sure you can create a report from scratch without any wizards or tools to create them for you. Most companies need someone who can customize reports, and wizards leave room for very little customizations.

 

64) What are query parameters?

Query parameters are the parts of an SQL query that allow you to filter results. Parameters are contained in the SQL’s “where” clause. These parameters tell the SQL server which records you want to update, select, or delete. In other words, if it wasn’t for the where clause parameters, you would affect all records in your tables.

 

65) What is a sub-report?

Sub-reports are inserted into a main report. Just like a main report, you also pass parameters and queries to it. Think of a sub-report as an extension to your main report, but it contains a different data set. For instance, you could create a report of customers and then use a sub-report to display a list of orders for each customer.

 

66) What are RDL files?

RDL files are like the “language” for SSRS servers. However, RDL files are created in XML, so really the “language” of SSRS servers is XML. RDL files contain the queries and layout format for your reports.

 

67) What is a data set?

Data sets are the components that contain your records. You can have a blank data set, a data set with one record, or a data set with millions of records (although millions of records will probably cause performance issues for your users). You can view a data set like a customized table. The data set has the columns and rows like a table, but you determine the columns and number of rows using your SQL statements.

 

68) What is a data source?

A data source is the database and tables where your data set comes from. You must define the data source when you create your database connection. Every data set needs a source from which to pull the data. Your reporting server can be SQL Server 2000, 2005, 2008 and 2012.

 

69) What servers can be used with SSRS?

While most companies use SQL Server with SSRS, you can also integrate other database servers with your SSRS reports. SSRS is compatible with Oracle, ODBC and OLEDB connections, Hyperion, Teradata and flat XML files that contain data.

 

70) What is mixed mode database security?

When you install SQL Server, you have the option to allow SQL Server to integrate with Windows or require users to have a separate SQL Server user name and password. While Windows integration is convenient, it’s not considered the most secure of the two security options. Instead, it’s better to require a separate SQL Server user name and password when logging in to the database server. Your reports will need their own user name and password to run reports from SSRS.

 

71) Can SSRS reports cache results?

Caching reports makes it much faster for users to access and view data. If you have common data that doesn’t change often, it’s best to cache results. SSRS lets you cache reports on your reporting server. This means that it reduces the load on the SQL Server and your users can quickly access data without querying the server several times.

 

72) What formats can SSRS export or render to?

SSRS is compatible with several file formats. When the user runs the report, the default format prints to the web browser. You can also save or export to HTML, Excel, CSV, Image, PDF and XML formats. The SSRS reporting software has buttons at the top of each report that the user can use to export these files.

 

73) How do you deploy a report to a reporting server?

The SSRS reporting software includes tools to deploy directly to the SQL Server reporting server. After you’ve configured your software with the proper SQL Server, user name and password, you just need to right-click the report you want to deploy and click “Deploy.” Make sure you test the report after you deploy it to ensure there are no bugs and that the data returned is correct.

 

74) How do you edit a report?

Open SQL Server Management Studio and the reporting project. Expand the node that contains your reports. Right-click the report and click “Edit.” You can also save your reporting file from this view.

 

 

If you have any specific question or something which you didnt understand you can write to us at –  support@redbushtechnologies.com

 

Thank you

Team RedBush

 

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