Advantages Of Reporting Services (SSRS)

  • 'Direct' and efficient reporting access to information residing in both Oracle and MS SQL Server databases.
  • Faster (and therefore cheaper) production of reports on both relational and cube data.
  • An easy to deploy centralised reporting infrastructure based on Microsoft Reporting Services.
  • Faster delivery of information to the business, providing better decision support.
  • Ability for the business to self-serve, edit and interact with information without having to rely on IT or IS resources.
  • Simple pricing model tailored for both entry and enterprise level installations, allowing for inexpensive provision of Business Intelligence for the Masses and democratisation of information.
  • No need for expensive specialist skills.
  • The beauty is that the entire report and data source definition is stored as a simple XML file. This is the file the reporting engine uses to render reports. The elements and attributes required for defining a report format are fully documented. Further, you can even add your custom elements if you want to enrich available functionality. Most report writers available today never provided this functionality.
  • XML based report definition allows you to directly design reports programmatically and render them. This was very difficult to achieve in currently available report writers.
  • The default report designer is integrated with Visual Studio .NET so that you can create application and its reports in the same environment.
  • The report designer eliminates the traditional bands very effectively. It provides three types of elements—Table, Matrix and List. Table is equivalent to the traditional report with header, footer, detail and groups. You can have multiple tables rendering different data arranged side by side!
  • For each type of reporting element, you have to attach a dataset to it. Dataset is based upon data source.
  • The matrix is like a pivot table. It has rows, columns and cells containing computed data. Very useful and very easy. I am sure all of you remember how much we have to struggle today to create a simple cross-tab report. Write complex queries, struggle with table formatting and so on. With this new tool, just drag the matrix on the report, specify row, column and data fields and that’s it.
  • The list is free form data. It can be descriptive and cannot be represented as a structured table, somewhat like a data repeater. Whatever data elements you put in the list are repeated for each row in the base dataset. This allows you to create free form layout reports that still repeat for each data item.
  • The report items can be recursive. For example, one list can contain another list. What’s more one report can be defined as a sub-report of the base report. This provides more than just drill down. The subreport also need not be hard coded. Parameters can be passed online to it based upon the area of base report clicked.
  • Now, about rendering. This is the most sophisticated part. By default rendering is in HTML. But while you are viewing the report, you can simply click on the toolbar and render it in many different ways.
  • The most important part is that all the reports are stored on the central SQL Server database. Usually, we have reports for each application stored and managed separately. This leads to a lot of confusion and administrative headaches.
  • The reports are viewed and administered by using a Web-based implementation of the entire reporting engine. The default website provides a base structure which is folder based. Typically you will have folders created for each application or user functionality.
  • How do you access reports usually? By instancing the report writer runtime. Here you don’t have to do that. Because all reports are accessible in one of the two ways:

    - By specifying the URL identifying the report on the reportserver or
    - By calling the Web service.

  • The best part of the reporting server is that the entire functionality is exposed as a single Web service! You can create, manage, and view reports using various methods provided by the web service.
  • The security is managed in a role-based manner and can be applied to folders as well as reports.
  • User can manage their own reporting needs by accessing reports ad-hoc or by subscribing to the reports. Subscription based reports are automatically sent by mail to the users.
  • All reports require parameters to be accepted from users. Here once parameters are defined, the UI for these parameters is automatically generated.

Export Options - SSRS Reports

Finally, you have many ways of rendering the reports:
  • Excel
  • Acrobat
  • Tiff (image)
  • XML
  • CSV
And of course, you can write your own rendering mechanism, if you like!

Depending upon the type of output you want, some features are disabled. For example, HTML reports do not support pagination. Whereas, XML and CSV will not support drilldown. This is primarily due to the nature of the output format and not due to inadequate rendering capabilities of the reporting services.