Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sql Server Reporting Services Woes...

I'm just starting out with this, so these are beginner pains. But know that whoever I asked about configuring Reporting Services gave a shudder and tried to get out of the room as fast as possible...

I was tasked with taking over my company's reporting services development (still have to understand blogging policy here, the last company I worked for disallowed it, which is why I was quiet for so long - I have a feeling that the new company is a bit more open), And I have spent more than a day trying to get the Reporting services to work on my development machine. I'm still not there...

You'd think it is a straightforward process, there is a very "usable" configuration wizard etc... But the truth is that so much is hidden from the user that it becomes too much. I'm now at a point where everything seems to be working except for viewing a report on the local web site (Designing, Previewing, Building, Deploying and browsing the reports are working OK, but when trying to view a report I get weird error messages (no help from Google, tried all the tips found there).

It all started with trying to work it out, I had the default installation from installing SQL Server and Visual Studio. When I run the deploy on the report I made (very simple nothing complicated there) I got an error saying that the Application failed (the entire reporting services web server/(service)) because it was missing some namespace... Now I know it wasn't supposed to be using that namespace, because that's our main applications namespace - which has nothing at all to do with the reporting server.... WTF?!

Anyway, after trying to find the bad configuration and wasting time doing that, I decided to quit trying... no sense in trying to fix a bad configuration (our application also runs on the web server, but no amount of tweaking seemed to fix this). So I created an additional web site on my IIS, using a different port, and changed the report project configuration and the reporting server configuration to point there... This seemed to do the trick (except viewing the reports themselves - which is still not working).

Anyway, I'm down to this... No more time to debug the application which I didn't write... I'm now developing on the VS.NET only (using Preview only). Once I get some help I'm going to try again. Until then I'm developing in the hope that the report will work OK on the staging environment, but there is still some time before that.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Giving up on Microsoft?

Jeff Atwood @ Coding Horror is frustrated by Mike Gunderloy's attitude, which is a complete break from Microsoft tools for development. He claims that it makes Mike fall into the category of Microsoft hater. I don't think that is true.

Breaking up with Microsoft tools doesn't mean you don't like Microsoft and certainly doesn't mean you hate them.

I'm talking from personal experience, I did an experiment like Mike a few months ago, I left the company I used to work for (with Microsoft technology and tools) and moved to a company that uses Open Source software (mostly Java based). I did it mostly for the challenge and the opportunity to learn a new tool set. The other side of the "great rift". Since then out of reasons which are unconnected to this reason I left that company and am now working in a different company once again based on Microsoft technology and tools (and it is a StartUp...).

Still I don't think of any of the sides as an enemy, I learned a few things, which I knew before intuitively and now for a fact:
1. You can accomplish most any programming task in any of the environments without any serious handicap (nowadays the modern languages and libraries are very much parallel in capabilities) and for every lack that exists, there is always some pretty simple workaround.
2. To be an effective programmer today you need good tools, again the larger environments have good/comparable tools.
3. To develop complex applications, no matter in which environment the tool subset you need becomes quite large (the list Jeff has on his post doesn't seem to be longer than a comparable list for developing a database driven website using the "Java" way)

To follow the end of his post, I do know people on "the other side" and have an understanding of the differences as they are, I also make it a point to keep track of what is happening, and though today I'm mainly a Microsoft Developer, I can easily see myself using Ruby on Rails to develop my personal website (although I'd probably prefer using MS SQL Server for the DB). My Point is you have to choose a side at one point simply because there is so much to learn to become good at one of them, if you try to be good at both you will end being mediocre at best at both (unless of course you are a really smart and fast person), and that is doing yourself a disservice on the professional side.

I agree that there should be no hate and that there should be co-operation, but eventually a company (small/startup size) can only hire that many people, and they have to focus and be as professional as possible, and that usually entails deciding on a single platform to use. It might be any platform that they feel would be the best for their product, but they would rarely use two different ones.

Here is a long rant that basically agrees with the post I'm supposed to criticize... Why did I even write this?

Mike, you are doing a brave thing, the thought of risking so much just to try out new things, when everything is fine where you already experienced - makes me shiver. I'm sure you will succeed, good luck!