Monday, October 5, 2015

Microsoft Overhauls Reporting Services – finally!

Microsoft Overhauls Reporting Services – finally!

Reporting Services has been one of the long disappointments with SQL Server. When it was first introduced back in 2003, it provided a much needed reporting platform to go along with SQL Server. But after the updated release as part of SQL Server 2005, the Reporting Services platform has languished.  Stuck in a world that still used an old version of Internet Explorer. I remember all the hacks I had to do just to get Reporting Services to work with a browser other than IE. It was ugly.

With the latest community technology preview of SQL Server 2016, Microsoft has radically overhauled Reporting Services. Support for HTML5 - check. Support for mobile reports - check, using the nicely done Power BI mobile app - no need to create a second. Support for Power BI Desktop .pbix reports - promised. According to the SSRS Blog roadmap, and the Power BI ideas forum, SSRS will gain the ability to ability to render Power BI Desktop reports. That would be great.

The Reporting Services stand-alone development tool has also undergone a face lift. It now has the look and feel of Power BI 2.0. Allowing you to directly publish to a reporting server or just create a dataset to be used by the new Mobile Report Builder.  Visual Studio not required. Still, the revised SSRS Report Builder is much like the version released years ago. (Robert Sheldon's write-up of how to create a basic report in the previous Report Builder 3.0  is still useful ) But, the most significant change is the output. SSRS 2016 reports support HTML5, allowing support across all modern browsers.

Printing with reporting services was another drawback. The report viewer toolbar required ActiveX. It has finally been ditched! And now supports PDF.

So, the updated stand-alone report builder, clearly targeted at analysts and power users, allows staff to create reports, and then publish them to a report server.  All, without the need for an IT developer. And HTML5 support allows those reports to be viewed by just about any modern browser. You can find the current listing of enhancements to Reporting Services at the book online site:  What's New in Reporting Services.


New, stand-alone Reporting Services Report Builder, CTP 2.4

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