Last June, I wrote a tip about a terrific little gauge utility for .NET users called Dundas Gauge. I just got an e-mail from its parent company, Dundas Software. The company is conducting a beta of a slick new product they're readying for release called "Dundas Gauge For Reporting Services."
This might not sound like much, so let me tell you what this really means: you're going to be able to put dynamically linked data display/visualization widgets in the reports you use .NET to generate that include dashboard and scorecard functionality. This makes for a much more compelling and interesting look for the data in your reports, and if you can just get people to read the darn things, you might be able to squeeze more value out of them, right? Right!
What makes Dundas so uniquely qualified to blow the doors off the current SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services reporting capabilities? Well, for one thing, they supplied the technology to Microsoft that they currently use for charting and reporting services in SQL Server 2005. And for another thing, as a quick review of their Dundas Gauge product will attest, they really do get what's required to put a visually interesting and informative dashboard together.
What Dundas Gauge for Reporting Services does is leverage the work the company has already done to extend the basic charts. It also provides more data visualization technology than Microsoft licensed from them in the first place. They'll also be adding new options for reporting services not currently present in the existing implementation, chief among which is easy integration of dashboard and scoreboard displays that abstract and present data that might otherwise languish unseen in plain old two dimensional text tables.
Their goal, according to marketing director Ed Worsfold, is nothing less than to "…make users be able to see what they want to see" in the reports that they must examine. This promises not only to add lots of interesting capability to the current .NET reporting interface, but also to add significantly more visual appeal and flair to reports that developers can design and deliver.
If you'd like to take this new and interesting technology for a spin, sign up for the beta. Otherwise, stay tuned to these tips, because I'm signing up and will follow up with a review as soon as the Dundas folks tell me things are far enough along to make that worthwhile. So please: stay tuned for further details!
Ed Tittel is a writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security. E-mail email@example.com with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review. Cool tools rule!
This was first published in March 2006