With the release of SQL Server “Denali” CTP3, we are introducing Project “Crescent”.  Project Crescent is Reporting Services’ new reporting tool targeted at data consumers to visually explore their data and answer ad-hoc questions with ease.  There is lots to cover with Project Crescent and over the next months you are going to see a significant amount of content related to it via the usual channels.  In fact, if you haven’t taken the opportunity yet, I’d highly recommend the following links:

Also, today, we released a lengthy 14 minute video titled Project Crescent: Getting Started and Getting the Most from Project Crescent.  It covers much of the functionality available in CTP3.

In addition to these resources I’m planning on starting a video series accompanied by a set of PowerPivot workbooks.  These videos will be based on real data, all of which I plan to make available for everyone to download.  I certainly view these as works in progress, and as I look at topics to cover, I’ll definitely be making changes to the workbooks and republishing them.  And if you are watching these videos, and you questions or have an idea about how to improve the workbooks with examples, please do feel free to contact me here on the blog.  I’d like this to be as much of a community effort as possible.

This first video demonstrates a feature in Project Crescent that is known as highlighting.  If you want to read a great article on this topic, I highly recommend Stephen Few’s article Coordinated Highlighting in Context.  I’m going to demonstrate the Crescent functionality over a set of maybe two or three videos, and this first one covers the interactivity associated with column charts and column charts that have series and a legend.  The data being used for this demonstration is from the CARS (Car Allowance Rebate System) program that ran here in the United States during 2009. You may have heard of this program by another name, the “Cash for Clunkers” program.   At any rate, being a government program, the data is all freely available for download on the site and I have turned it into a very basic PowerPivot workbook that you can download here if you like.  There are quite a few interesting stories to tell about this data, and I hope to show you some of them.   Over time as I create more videos and demos covering additional topics, I plan to update the workbook and continue to make it available.  Below is the first video on this topic.

Project Crescent Demo: Introduction to Highlighting

To summarize the video, everything in a Crescent report is interactive (except maybe the textboxes : ) ).  People can simply click on a column in a chart and use that as means to highlight data throughout the report.  The other thing you hopefully noticed is that as a report author, I didn’t have to configure this feature at all, it just works.  There are no property pages that open up and require you to be an expert in how the system works underneath to make it all happen.  Much of it happens due to the relationships that are already defined in the model, but as someone who is creating the report or interacting with the data, you don’t even need to be aware of that.  And highlighting isn’t the only thing that happens on the canvas.  Charts can also filter and we’ll look at that feature in a future video.