Systems Engineering and RDBMS

SSRS 2008 R2 Data Visualization Enhancements – Maps, Data Bars, Indicators and Sparklines

Posted by decipherinfosys on June 2, 2010

We have written before about some of the new functionality available in SSRS 2008 R2 – you can read more on that here.  We had discussed the support for map and spatial data in that post.  In this post, we are going to look into another data visualization enhancement called the Data Bars.  This has been available in MS Excel for quite some time now so it is good to see this make it’s way in SSRS as well.   We can go to the report manager and click on the “Report Builder” to launch it (please do note that if it is the first time that you are doing it, it will first download and install the Report Builder 3.0):

Now, let’s use the AdventureWorks2008R2 database and use the following query (the final one that we used has data only for 2007 and 2008 since it was getting a bit crowded on display):

The next step would be to specify what kind of chart do we want – choose the bar chart type.  On the next screen, you can choose what you want to put on the category groups, series groups and what data values do you want to show.  There are other options also like showing data labels that you can use to show the data values as well – in the graph below, we used the data only for 2 years – 2007 and 2008 to see how the different sales reps stacked up against each other.

And we can also see all the different data visualizations in one place if we so desire (along with the data):

The sparklines and the data bars are self explanatory – we have different data points for the SUM(QTY) data for the years for each of those sales reps and those are reflected in those sparklines and data bars. Both give a very clear picture of the trend analysis.  And there are a lot of different options available for data bars as well as sparklines i.e. different forms of presentation.  Data bars, indicators and sparklines can be embedded in a cell along with the report data as shown above.

In the case of the indicators too, there are a lot of options as well:

Once you have added the indicators, you can then right click and choose what to base the indicator’s value on and set it’s state as well.  These together control the points at which the indicator will change the shape and color – default in our case for above was:

Indicators are typically useful when you are doing KPI (Key Performance Indicators) Analysis.  As you can see from above, there are a lot of good data visualization features available in SSRS 2008 R2 which will make the tasks of creating visually appealing reports a lot more easier.


  1. A good summary of the new features available in SSRS 2008 R2 – here.  It has some good links at the bottom of the article.
  2. Technet article on Report Builder 3.0 – here.  It also has the links to data bars, sparklines, maps and indicators.
  3. Blog post with some good links on data visualization enhancements in SQL Server 2008 R2 – here.

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