Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Use Power BI mobile apps to view SSRS 2016 reports

The December 2015 release of the Power BI mobile app for iOS now supports Reporting Services 2016. SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.2   (As of January, 2016 the SSRS support has expanded to other mobile platforms.)

This is big.  For years, Microsoft has been on the sidelines, waiting for third-parties to create BI visualization tools that work with SQL Server. And while there have been some decent tools, few really worked well. Sure, there was SSRS, but it was very limited.

The changes started off with the Power BI 2.0 refresh First Look - Power BI 2.0. And next with the BI focused enhancements to the up coming SQL Server 2016 - First Look SQL Server 2016, It seems clear that Microsoft has developed a keen focus on business intelligence, analytics and data visualization.

And to do this, it appears that under the hood, SSRS now has a new report format, and a new, additional back-end report engine. One that may be compatible with Power BI.


New to SSRS 2016 is a new web portal to manage these reports:  http://<server>/reports_preview.
Run by a new service:  SQL Server Reporting Services Web App.

To use Power BI mobile with SSRS 2016 is a multi-step process:  

  1. First, SSRS 2016 Report Server requires a configuration adjustment - see below
  2. Next, create a mobile report with the SQL Server mobile report publisher
    Mobile Report Publisher preview
  3. Next publish them to your 2016 SSRS web portal
  4. Finally, connect to your SSRS reports_preview web site using the Power BI mobile app.

iPhone app -  setting up a connection to SSRS 2016

Configuration Adjustment to SSRS 2016

According to Christopher Finlan on his blog  How to create Mobile Reports and KPI’s in SQL Server Reporting Services 2016 – An end-to-end walkthrough, the configuration file RSReportServer.config needs to be updated to support basic authentication.  See also Configure Basic Authentication on the Report Server.

The typical location for this file is:   C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSRS13.MSSQLSERVER\Reporting Services\ReportServer

Open the RSReportServer.config  file in a text editor, locate AuthenticationTypes  and add RSWindowsBasic. Mine looked like this when I was done.


Note: I left the entry <RSWindowsNTLM/> and I was still able to connect using Safari on my iphone. But, according to the MSDN site listed above, the current documentation states that I should only have RSWindowsBasic setup.

Connecting to SSRS

Once I updated the SSRS configuration and restarted the SSRS services, I was able to easily connect to my SSRS 2016 report server using the Power BI mobile app on my iPhone. And via Safari.

SSRS 2016 - Power BI connections

Here is a comparison of the same test mobile report , on the same device. One using the Power BI mobile app, and the other connecting to the SSRS portal using Safari.

SSRS Mobile Report using Power BI mobile app

SSRS Mobile Report using Safari

Here are the links:

Overview :             Power BI apps for mobile devices
iPhone:                   View SQL Server mobile reports and KPIs in the iPhone app (Power BI for iOS)
iPad:                       View SQL Server mobile reports and KPIs in the iPad app (Power BI for iOS)
Team Blog:            Power BI mobile apps update - December 2015
Mobile Publisher:  Create and publish mobile reports with SQL Server Mobile Report Publisher
                               Mobile Report Publisher preview

2016 Report Builder       2016 Report Builder msi install kit

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