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How do you add a database connection to Server Explorer in VS 2012?

Report authoring is perhaps one of the most frequently required activities in an enterprise. Knowledge of report authoring is an invaluable asset when one is looking for a job in an enterprise. Before you can write a report you will have to know where your data is and how to get connected to it from your authoring software. Report authors who are not very comfortable with using data on a back end server could use the more powerful and highly interactive Power View reports, but this requires a developer in your organization to create a model for you to work with. Once the model in place it is super easy to create stunning reports. This is only possible on SQL Server 2012 with the reporting services installed in SharePoint integrated mode.

The following is specific to SQL Server Reporting Services, but this is important for any authoring tool. In the following Visual Studio 2012 is presumed and a web project is to be created to demonstrate the use of Report Viewer Control.

Presently the Server Explorer has the following items:


If you do not see Server Explorer you click View in the main menu and click Server Explorer as shown:

Presently there is a connection established with the Adventure Works 2012 database on the SQL Server 2012 named Kailua.

Click Connect to Server item on Server Explorer tool bar shown.

The Add Server window is displayed as shown.

The name of the computer is provided (you provide the name of your computer). Click OK.

Adding a Data Connection

Click Connect to Database toolbar item as shown.

Or you can right click Data Connection and start as well.

Assume that we clicked Connect to Database.

The Add Connection window is displayed as shown.

This is because before getting to the database you must first get connected to the server. Notice that the Microsoft SQL Server (SqlClient) is the default. It can be changed to others by hitting the Change... ellipsis button and following the wizard.

For now accept the default. Click on the handle for Server Name after hitting the Refresh button. You see three servers, a SQL Server 2012 (Kailua); a SQL Server 2008 R2 (Maui) and a SharePoint Server.

Click HODENTEKWIN7\KAILUA to choose the server. The Add Connection window is updated as shown. We accept the default authentication, Windows Authentication.

Click on the handle for the Select or enter a name for the database field to display the drop-down list as shown.

Click Northwind. It could be another database in your case. Click the Test Connection button and verify that the connection was successful as shown.

Click OK on the above message window and click OK on the Add Connection window. The new database connection will be added to the Visual Studio 2012’s Server Explorer as shown.

That is all for now.


My new book uses images / screenshots such as the above to guide you through the learning process. The instructions are very simple and most of the steps are described.

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More Stories By Jayaram Krishnaswamy

Jayaram Krishnaswamy is a technical writer, mostly writing articles that are related to the web and databases. He is the author of SQL Server Integration Services published by Packt Publishers in the UK. His book, 'Learn SQL Server Reporting Services 2008' was also published by Packt Publishers Inc, Birmingham. 3. "Microsoft SQL Azure Enterprise Application Development" (Dec 2010) was published by Packt Publishing Inc. 4. "Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch Business Application Development [Paperback] "(2011) was published by Packt Publishing Inc. 5. "Learning SQL Server Reporting Services 2012 [Paperback]" (June 2013) was Published by Packt Publishing Inc. Visit his blogs at: He writes articles on several topics to many sites.