Send an Email with a PDF attached

There are many posts on how to automatically generate of a PDF receipt and email it by leveraging SSRS. Here is how it went for me.

  1. Create a report that shows the details required.
  2. Create a parameters table.
  3. Subscribe to the report using the parameters table.
  4. Create a stored-procedure to populate and fire the subscription.

On a version of SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) that supports data-driven-subscriptions (DDS) I created a report called ‘SingleInvoice’ with one input parameter ‘invoice number’.

Outside of this report, in preparation for the DDS, I created a data source pointing to the local [ReportServer] database.

Within the [ReportServer] database I created a table called [dbo].[InvoiceParams]

CREATE TABLE [dbo].[InvoiceParams](
	[InvoiceNumber] [VARCHAR](100) NULL,
	[ToEmailAddress] [VARCHAR](200) NULL,
	[CCEmailAddress] [VARCHAR](200) NULL,
	[BccEmailAddress] [VARCHAR](200) NULL,
	[ReplyToEmailAddress] [VARCHAR](200) NULL,
	[IncludeReport] [BIT] NULL,
	[RenderFormat] [VARCHAR](20) NULL,
	[Priority] [VARCHAR](15) NULL,
	[Subject] [VARCHAR](150) NULL,
	[Comment] [VARCHAR](150) NULL,
	[IncludeLink] [BIT] NULL,
	[Active] [BIT] NULL,
	[DateInserted] [DATETIME] NOT NULL

ALTER TABLE [dbo].[InvoiceParams] ADD  DEFAULT (NULL) FOR [CCEmailAddress]
ALTER TABLE [dbo].[InvoiceParams] ADD  DEFAULT (NULL) FOR [BccEmailAddress]
ALTER TABLE [dbo].[InvoiceParams] ADD  DEFAULT (NULL) FOR [ReplyToEmailAddress]
ALTER TABLE [dbo].[InvoiceParams] ADD  DEFAULT ((1)) FOR [IncludeReport]
ALTER TABLE [dbo].[InvoiceParams] ADD  DEFAULT ('PDF') FOR [RenderFormat]
ALTER TABLE [dbo].[InvoiceParams] ADD  DEFAULT ('Normal') FOR [Priority]
ALTER TABLE [dbo].[InvoiceParams] ADD  DEFAULT ((0)) FOR [IncludeLink]
ALTER TABLE [dbo].[InvoiceParams] ADD  DEFAULT ((1)) FOR [Active]
ALTER TABLE [dbo].[InvoiceParams] ADD  DEFAULT (GETDATE()) FOR [DateInserted]

To simplify the stored procedure I defined default values for all the columns I would not be dynamically populating.

Next I created a Data-driven subscription on the report with a schedule in the past – so it would never fire. For Destination I chose E-Mail.

Within the subscription I edited the dataset and chose the previously created shared data source [ReportServer].

I added this query before clicking ‘Apply’….

FROM dbo.InvoiceParams
WHERE Active = 1;

Back in the New Subscription form, I completed the Delivery options like this …

Within the user database I created this stored-procedure …

  Author:		Richard Smith
  Create date:	10 Jul 2020
  Description:	To Email PDF receipts - demo version
  Test: Exec [dbo].[EmailReceipts] 'INV123456789',

ALTER PROC [dbo].[EmailReceipts]
    @InvoiceNumber VARCHAR(100),
    @ToEmailAddress VARCHAR(200),
    @Subject VARCHAR(150) = 'test subject',
    @Comment VARCHAR(150) = 'test body',
    @SubscriptionID NVARCHAR(260) = '987654321' 
                       /* Report = "SingleInvoice" */

/* 1 Save the inputs */

    INSERT INTO [ReportServer].[dbo].[InvoiceParams] 
            (InvoiceNumber, ToEmailAddress, [Subject], Comment)
    VALUES (@InvoiceNumber, @ToEmailAddress, @Subject, @Comment);

/* 2 Trigger subscription. Which will send the report (+ inputs) to the email-subsystem-queue */

    EXEC [ReportServer].[dbo].[AddEvent] @EventType = 'TimedSubscription', @EventData = @SubscriptionID;
    WAITFOR DELAY '00:00:10';

/* 3 If no longer in queue, flag as sent */

    IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT 1 FROM [ReportServer].[dbo].[Event] WHERE EventData = @SubscriptionID)
        UPDATE [ReportServer].[dbo].[InvoiceParams] 
        SET Active = 0
        WHERE InvoiceNumber = @InvoiceNumber
        AND ToEmailAddress = @ToEmailAddress;

/* 4 Manage the log */

	DELETE FROM [ReportServer].[dbo].[InvoiceParams] WHERE DateInserted < GETDATE()-30;
	SELECT * FROM [ReportServer].[dbo].[InvoiceParams] ORDER BY DateInserted DESC;


When executed with an email address and invoice number this stored procedure will send an email to the email address with the PDF invoice attached.


To find @SubcriptionID I used this …

SELECT SCH.SubscriptionID
FROM [ReportServer].[dbo].[Catalog] CAT
JOIN [ReportServer].[dbo].[ReportSchedule] SCH
  ON CAT.ItemID = SCH.ReportID
WHERE CAT.Path= '/ReportPath/ReportName';

SSRS: User defined Subscriptions failing

I had an issue in SSRS where user configured subscriptions would always fail to find their email address (an email server configuration problem probably).

My work-around was to allow users to type in (or paste in) their full email addresses.

To do this I first created a copy of the reporting services configuration file “c:\ Microsoft SQL Server\ MSRS11.MSSQLSERVER\ Reporting Services\ ReportServer\ rsreportserver.config”.

Then edited the original in two places …

1) I changed [SendEmailToUserAlias]True[/SendEmailToUserAlias] to False.
2) Then I inserted the name of the SMTP Server into the middle of [DefaultHostName][/DefaultHostName].

NOTE: To find the name of the SMTP Server I opened Reporting Services Configuration Manager, and navigated to “E-Mail Settings”.

Exporting a Report to Excel

Finance wanted to export their reports into spread sheets but the company Logo and report Title were messing up the rendering.

To fix this I amended the SQL Server 2012 SSRS config file (called “rsreportserver.config“) after taking a copy.

The location of the config file was …

C:\Microsoft SQL Server\MSRS11.MSSQLSERVER\Reporting Services\ReportServer

I commented out the line … (please note: I have replaced the greater-than and less-than symbols with square brackets. WordPress does not like those symbols in posts)

[Extension Name="EXCELOPENXML" Type="Microsoft.ReportingServices.Rendering.ExcelOpenXmlRenderer.ExcelOpenXmlRenderer,Microsoft.ReportingServices.ExcelRendering"/]

… and replaced it with these 7 lines …

[Extension Name="EXCELOPENXML" Type="Microsoft.ReportingServices.Rendering.ExcelOpenXmlRenderer.ExcelOpenXmlRenderer,Microsoft.ReportingServices.ExcelRendering"]

To use this, I moved the report Logo and Title into a heading-block within the reports.

** UPDATE **

On another occasion I was unable to make this global change and resorted to making changes within individual reports.

The method was to right-click on the items to be hidden, choose properties, then Visibility. I pasted this expression into the appropriate box …

=IIF(Globals!RenderFormat.Name = "EXCELOPENXML", True, False)


Add a Column to a Report Model

I had the odd request to add an extra column to a SQL 2008r2 “Report Model”. I had never heard of one of those, but it turned-out to be a type of amalgamated data-source that the users created there own ad-hock reports from (via Report Builder 1).

To add the extra column I just added it to the SQL View (which was named in the amalgamated data-source definition). Then to refresh the Report Model I downloaded it and uploaded it with a new name.

Report-Builder Cube Data-Source

Had a tricky situation connecting Report Builder 3 to a cube. I was able to copy the connection string from withing SSDT but it still would not work.

I will use “Adventure Works” for illustration.

The solution was in the error message “Either the user, does not have access to the AdventureWorksDW2012 database, or the database does not exist.”

It turned out the database did not exist … as its SSMS Database-Engine name (“AdventureWorksDW2012”).

Connecting SSMS to Analysis Services however showed a different name “AdventureWorksDW2012Multidimensional-EE”

Plugging this into my connection string (with Data Source Type being Analysis services, and Connect Using being Windows Integrated Security) worked eg:-

Data Source=(ServerName\InstanceName);
Integrated Security=SSPI;
Initial Catalog=AdventureWorksDW2012Multidimensional-EE

Annoyingly (grrr!), I found just removing the Initial Catalog worked also (ah bah).

Update Statistics on a whole database

Whilst performance tuning an SSRS report server I wanted to update all the statistics within the two databases ‘ReportServer’ and ‘ReportserverTempDB’.

I chose a simply-coded, two step method (for safety and to keep control).

First I generated the commands (per database) …

Select 'UPDATE STATISTICS [' + [name] + '] WITH FULLSCAN' 
from reportserver.sys.tables
Select 'UPDATE STATISTICS [' + [name] + '] WITH FULLSCAN' 
from reportservertempdb.sys.tables

… before executing them in a separate session.

Only emailing a spreadsheet when it contains data.

This was a new one to me! A user subscribed to an SSRS Report but only wanted to receive the email if the report contained data.

There seems to be loads of write-ups on the web about how to set this up. Here is how it went for me …

Firstly, I created the stored-procedure that would return rows from a live table that contained (business logic) errors (EG: “rep_exceptions”).

I created the report and subscribed to it (making sure to paste in my actual email address, not my login).

In the subscription form I specified both a start-date and an end-date that were in the past (ensuring the subscription would never actually fire, and ‘OK’ed the form.

Within SSMS “Job Activity Monitor” I located the job that had been created by this subscription (I looked for jobs that had never run, and then matched the start / end dates in the schedule with those I used in the subscription-form)

I copied the action statement from the job-step eg:

EXECUTE [ReportServer].dbo.AddEvent @EventType='TimedSubscription', @EventData='5ec60080-b30c-4cfc-8571-19c4ba59aaac'

… into a new job. Then augmented it, to only run if there was data …

EXECUTE [ServerName].[dbo].[rep_exceptions]

if @@ROWCOUNT > 0

EXECUTE [ReportServer].dbo.AddEvent @EventType='TimedSubscription', @EventData='5ec60080-b30c-4cfc-8571-19c4ba59aaac'

I scheduled the new-job to run every 8am.

Once this was all tested and working – I changed the SSRS subscription email address to the user (and left me as CC temporarily).

Adding ‘All’ to a report drop-down list

There is a problem when you configure a report parameter to ‘Accept Multiply Items’, in that it won’t work with a stored procedure (SP).

One work-around is to only Accept Single Items, but make one of them ‘All’, like this …

1) Create a separate SP to populate the parameter and add an ‘All’ option …

SELECT 'All' CustId
FROM SomeTable

2) Then amend the main SP by joining to SomeTable, and adding a CASE statement in the WHERE clause, like so …

WHERE SomeTable.CustomerId = CASE WHEN @CustId != 'All' THEN @CustId ELSE SomeTable.CustomerId END

Which translates as …

WHERE SomeTable.CustomerId = SomeTable.CustomerId

… when ‘All’ is selected (which will let everything through), or …

WHERE SomeTable.CustomerId = @CustId

… where ‘All’ is Not selected.

This allows the user to select All or a single value.

However, if you need to select more than one value but not all values – you will need another approach. You will need to use a split-string function.

Using “Select All” into a dynamic query

After changing a report Select statement into dynamic-sql I found “Select All” no longer worked for my “Customers” parameter.

To fix this, in Dataset/Properties/Parameters I changed the Parameter Value to


To translate … after the “.Value” there is … comma, double-quote, single-quote, comma, single-quote, double-quote, close-bracket. So that in the query each value would be surrounded by its own single quotes
simples 🙂

A Report that uses its location

A customer had many copies of the same report – one for each site. And the application database had multiple copies of each table – one for each site. The table names were all appended with the sites name EG: “WP London_SalesHeader”, “WP Barcelona_SalesHeader” etc.

In Report Manager there was a folder for each site, containing sub-folders for different categories of report (EG: /London/Sales, OR /London/Production).

This is a simplified account of how I created a Report that returned only information specific to its location.

In Report Builder I created a hidden parameter called @site of type Text with no “Available Values” and its “Default Values” using the global variable ReportFolder.

As the output from this built-in variable would be like “\Paris\Sales” I had to create an expression for the “Default Value” of @site searching through each site name in turn …

=IIf(Globals!ReportFolder.Contains("Barcelona"),"WP Barcelona",
IIf(Globals!ReportFolder.Contains("Paris"),"WP Paris", "WP London"))

Finally, in the report query I derived the table name using the @site parameter.

declare @cmd varchar(max) = 
'select	[SalesCode],
from	[Production].[dbo].[' + @site + '_SalesHeader]'


(NB: As a best-practice I displayed the value of @site, along with the other parameter choices, in the report sub-title.)

Gauge auto scale

The gauge’s in SSRS do not have an ‘auto’ option like the charts do.  I wanted the ‘min-scale-vale’ on the 500 boundary below the lowest value and the ‘max-scale-value’ that was on the 500 boundary above the maximum value.

For example …

ytd-Balance / ytd-Budget / min-scale / max-scale

865 / 1022 / 500 / 1500

2690 / 325 / 0 / 3000

5346 / 7453 / 5000 / 7500

… here’s the expressions …

=iif(Fields!bal.ValueFields!bud.Value, Int(Round(Fields!bud.Value/1000/1000,2)*2)*500,nothing))