by Mark Kromer
We are getting to the end on our mini-series of blogs on Silverlight, mobile and other exciting dashboard options with Microsoft BI. To recap, the point of this brief series in the SQL Mag BI blog is to help you find your way to discover the tools and capabilities available to you so that you can make your Microsoft BI solutions exciting & compelling in way that helps your business to make better business decisions with your BI solution.
So far, we’ve covered mobile tools available to allow your workforce to access BI data from their phone, using ATOM feeds as a way to expose SSRS reports to Silverlight and the Silverlight Pivot control. So today I want to introduce you to a really cool mapping solution from the Microsoft open source marketplace, Codeplex: http://www.codeplex.com. It is called the DataConnector and keeps us in the theme for this series where we will introduce you to tools that are outside of the box of the basic easy-to-configure and run Microsoft BI capabilities that you use & love today like Report Builder and PerformancePoint. Data Connector uses WCF to communicate as a middle-tier service between your Web app and the database. And goes beyond the capabilities that Microsoft gives to you out of the box with Report Builder 3.0. In Report Builder, you can now generate Bing Maps right from a map wizard without needing to locate complex spatial coordinates from an outside source.
You will notice the Silverlight controls and the options to select different data points to plot on the map. I am modifying my local copy of DataConnector for another demo, so you’ll see a mix of earthquake data along with store location data. The data connector download (find it here) comes with a sample geography database for SQL Server that includes geometry and geography spatial data for earthquake history which you can use to begin working with these tools right away. The below screenshot is what it looks like when you select a data point to plot.
Once you’ve installed the sample database and the Visual Studio project files, you can fire it up with a running WCF service and the UI as you see it here. The place that you will want to go to change this application for you dashboards is in the SQL Service DataConnectorWCF file. I took a screen shot of my Visual Studio with that SVC file open so that you can see. You will use your own geographic to use points on the Bing Maps that you wish to plot for your business. As you begin digging around the Codeplex site and the code for Data Connector, you will see different approaches to the Bing API such as using the WKT vs. Tile approach to mapping. Instead of going into the details of those and spatial data, I am going to leave that for another blog discussion thread and instead point you to a good blog that I used here with lots & lots of goodies using Bing maps and SQL Server spatial together like this.
OK, I am going to leave the cool dashboard series with Silverlight at that for now and perhaps Derek will want to chime in with a thought or 2 as well. I will have 1 final wrap-up next week to try to bring things together as you think about your approaches to your Microsoft BI dashboard strategies.
Thanks! Best, Mark