Printing Reports Programmatically Using C# and SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services and C#

Summary: Learn a technique for printing reports programmatically using the Reporting Services XML Web service and C#.Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services is Microsoft's latest entry into the Business Intellegence marketplace and it joins a host of other BI products for SQL Server 2000. Reporting Services is a new, server-based reporting platform that you can use to create and manage tabular, matrix, graphical, and free-form reports that contain data from relational and multidimensional data sources. The reports that you create can be viewed and managed over a Web-based connection. As a developer, you have several programming opportunities available to you through the Reporting Services API. One of the most appealing aspects of Reporting Services is the open and flexible Web service API (also known as the SOAP API) which enables you to integrate existing features and capabilities of Reporting Services into your own custom reporting and management tools for Web sites and Windows applications. The SOAP API consists of close to one-hundred different XML Web service methods that you can use to integrate anything from report management to report rendering and execution into your custom applications. In this article, I will focus on one programming technique in particular: programmatically rendering a report and then sending that report directly to a local or network printer using C# and the Reporting Services Web service.Before reading on, download the source code.Creating a Reference to the Web serviceThe first thing you need to do is add a Web reference to the Reporting Services Web service that points to your report server. The source code should already have a Web reference to a local report server (localhost). If you have a remote report server, simply change the URL of the Web reference. The end point for any Reporting Services Web service is "http://servername/reportserver/reportservice.asmx". For you Web service enthusiasts, you can access the end point through your browser with the ?wsdl directive to see the Web Service Description Language (WSDL) for the Reporting Services Web service (http://servername/reportserver/reportservice.asmx?wsdl).The Render MethodOnce you have added the appropriate Web reference, you will have all of the Web methods at your disposal. The Web methods are methods of the ReportingService class of the Web service proxy. To access the Web methods, you need to instantiate a ReportingService object and set credentials. A sample of this looks like the following:ReportingService rs;// Create proxy object and authenticateConsole.WriteLine("Authenticating to the Web service…");rs = new ReportingService();rs.Credentials = System.Net.CredentialCache.DefaultCredentials;Once you have created a proxy object for the Web service, you can access the methods as you would any normal C# class. The method that we are most interested in for the purpose of this article is the ReportingService.Render method. This is the primary method for rendering reports that have been published to the report server. The syntax for the Render method is as follows:public Byte[] Render(string Report,string Format,string HistoryID,string DeviceInfo,[Namespace].ParameterValue[] Parameters,[Namespace].DataSourceCredentials[] Credentials,string ShowHideToggle,out string Encoding,out string MimeType,out [Namespace].ParameterValue[] ParametersUsed,out [Namespace].Warning[] Warningsout string[] StreamIds);Member of [Namespace].ReportingServiceFor more details about the various method arguments, see Reporting Services Books Online.In code, you need to render to the Image output format designated by the Format argument. The value of this parameter is a string, simply "IMAGE". To get Enhanced Meta File (EMF) output, the kind of output you will need for printing, you also need to specify device information for the call to Render. That device information should be passed as an XML string for the DeviceInfo argument and should look like "<DeviceInfo><OutputFormat>EMF</OutputFormat></DeviceInfo>". The Render method returns the report as a base 64-encoded byte array. This array of bytes can be used to perform a number of functions including saving the output to a file on the hard drive, or more importantly, sending the bytes as a stream to a printer.The sample code renders one of the report samples that ships with Reporting Services: the Company Sales sample report. Once you have effectively used the Render method to render a report, you can begin to think about how to print that report programmatically.Printing the Report ProgrammaticallyThere are a few key challenges here in order to be able to print a report successfully using C# and Reporting Services. One challenge is figuring out how to print in the .NET Framework using C#. In the sample code included with this article, I use the classes of the System.Drawing.Printing namespace in order to send EMF output to a printer. The source code can show you how it all comes together. From a Reporting Services standpoint, the key challenge is determining how many pages there are in the report. The SOAP API for Reporting Services lacks the ability to evaluate a report's number of printed pages through any exposed report properties. So the trick is to determine how many pages there are through some other means. Fortunately, the SOAP API does return an array of stream IDs whenever Render is called. What are these stream IDs you ask? Well, when EMF output is selected, the Render method returns the results of the rendered report as a byte array, but it only sends back the first page. Subsequent pages are associated with the report as streams with accompanying stream IDs. By counting the number of StreamIDs in the resultant string array, you can determine how many pages are in the report. The following code should give you the number of pages:// The total number of pages of the report is 1 + the streamIDsint m_numberOfPages = streamIDs.Length + 1;Once you know how many pages you are dealing with you can call the Render method for each page in the report and send that page to the printer. You can render specific pages using device information. The device information for this is StartPage. In the sample code, the device information for each subsequent call to render (that is each call after the original one) looks like "<DeviceInfo><OutputFormat>EMF</OutputFormat><StartPage>current page </StartPage></DeviceInfo>". After each page is rendered, you load the page (set of rendered bytes) into an array of pages, a multi-dimensional array of bytes, and process that array. For each byte array, you generate a memory stream and load an image of that memory stream into the print document. From there you can print each page. Printing using this technique is not for beginners, so you may want to study the source code and consult you .NET Framework Developers Guide for more information. See the "References" section at the end of this article for some recommended reading.One more thing to remember is that you will need to replace the printer name placeholder in the source code with a valid printer name for your system:static void Main(string[] args){ PrintExample pe = new PrintExample(); pe.PrintReport(@"PrinterName");}ConclusionOkay so get your hands dirty with some code, that is really the whole point of this article anyway! Seriously, I hope this provided you with some insight into printing reports programmatically using C# and Reporting Services. The Web service and its methods expose a rich set of operations that enable you to draw on the complete functionality of the report server and allow you to create custom tools for any part of the report life cycle, from management to execution. I highly encourage you to not only get involved in programming with XML Web services, but to experiment with tools that harness the power of the Reporting Services Web service and start integrating reporting into your current development projects.

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