Updating the SSRS “Name” Property to Control CSV Column Headings

Overview:  A quick tip about generating proper column names when exporting to a CSV file from SQL Server Reporting Services.

When Is the SSRS Textbox Name Relevant?

When SSRS creates the Name property for a textbox, SSRS tries to be helpful & use the field name.  This could be good, or it could be rather cryptic.  It’s also common to have many textboxes named something like “Textbox1” and “Textbox2.”  Although I like my reports to be tidy, I’ve not been terribly disciplined in the past about cleaning up the textbox names, except in these situations:

  • When defining Visibility or Interactive Sorting.  Ex:  Detail rows are set to Show when textbox named “Division” is clicked.  I blogged about Visibility Settings here.
  • Usage of the ReportItems collection.  Ex: Referring to the value in textbox “Quota_For_Month” in an expression within another textbox:  =Sum(ReportItems("Quota_For_Month").Value).  You can check out few examples of using the ReportItems collection here.

As of today, I have a new situation to add to the list:

  • When end users export the report to CSV format.

CSV Format Uses “Name” Property as Column Headers

By default, exporting to a CSV (comma separated values) format will utilize the textbox names for each column heading.  Rather than seeing useless column headings like this....


....We’d rather see well-named column headings such as this:


Updating the Textbox Name Property

The “Name” property can be updated within the Properties Pane:


Or, it can be updated within the Property Pages:



Taking just a bit of time to update each Name property provides a really nice benefit for end users, should they use CSV export functionality. The end user says to me: “I have to update the column headings each time I export.” Ouch! That hurts! So glad he mentioned it so I could vastly improve the end user experience with such a simple change.