Creating Reports with Report Designer

Use Report Designer to create full-featured Reporting Services reports. Report Designer provides a graphical interface in which you can define data sources and query information, position data regions and fields on the report, refine the report layout, and define interactive features.

The Report Designer Environment

Report Designer is a graphical tool that runs in Business Intelligence Development Studio. BI Development Studio provides a report design environment integrated with Microsoft Visual Studio. Report Designer data and design surfaces appear when you select a Report project or Report Wizard project template. Report Designer includes query designers and an expression editor. You also use the Visual Studio Toolbox, Solution Explorer, and Properties window when you work on reports.

How to Create a Report in Report Designer

To create a report in Report Designer, select from the following approaches:

  • Create a report project, add a report to it, and then specify the report data and layout manually.

  • Use the Report Wizard to define a basic report in a guided step-by-step manner.

  • Create an ad hoc report with Report Builder and then modify it with Report Designer.

  • Add a report as a new or existing item to an application project or solution.

  • Import an existing Microsoft Access report.

  • Work directly with a report definition file.

Creating a Report Project and Report

Reports are files that are stored in a report project. A report project acts as a container for report definitions and resources. Every file in the report project is published to the report server when the project is deployed. When you create a project for the first time, a solution is also created as a container for the project. You can add multiple projects to a single solution.

There are two ways to create a report project. You can create an empty report project or you can create a report project and report by using the Report Project Wizard. For more information about how to create report projects, see How to: Create a Report Server Project (Reporting Services).

After you have created a report project, you can add a new or existing report to the project. For a new report, you must define a connection to the data source that you want to use for your report data and define a dataset. You can define multiple data sources and datasets for a single report. After you have defined the data for your report, you can design the layout and interactive features that you want. For more information, see How to: Add a New or Existing Report to a Report Project.

For more information about defining datasets for a report, see Connecting to Report Data. For more information about designing a report, see Tutorial: Creating a Basic Table Report, How to: Create a Report (Reporting Services), and Designing the Report Layout.

Reporting Services reports can be exported to a variety of formats and these formats effect how some report layout and interactivity features function. For more information about design considerations for various output formats, see Exporting Reports.

Using the Report Wizard

The Report Wizard simplifies data definition and report design into a series of steps that give you a finished report. You can run the Report Wizard if you are unfamiliar with the Visual Studio environment, or if you want to create a basic report very quickly. For more information about the Report Wizard, see How to: Create a Report (Reporting Services) and Creating a Report Using Report Wizard. You can continue to modify your report in Report Designer after you have completed the wizard.

Using Report Builder

For creating ad hoc reports from report models, use Report Builder. Report Builder is a ClickOnce Windows Forms application that users download from the report server to their local computer. Create reports by dragging fields from predefined report models onto a report template. Users can format, group and sort, and filter their data. You can open a Report Builder report in Report Designer to add additional functionality. For more information, see Working with Report Builder 1.0 (Ad Hoc Reports).

Adding a Report to a Project or Solution

When you specify an empty report project template, this adds a report as a new or existing item to a Visual Studio project or solution and starts Report Designer.

Initially, an empty report project contains no information about data or layout. After you create a blank report, you must connect to a data source and define a dataset query. Then you will add data regions, text boxes, and fields to the report layout. For more information about adding a report item to an existing project or solution, see How to: Create a Report (Reporting Services). For more information about working with data, see Connecting to Report Data.

Adding a Custom Report as a Report Template

To use a custom report as a template for new reports, copy it to the ReportProject folder on the computer on which BI Development Studio is installed. By default, this folder is in <drive>:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\Common7\IDE\Private Assemblies\ProjectItems\ReportProject. When you add a new item to the report project, your custom report appears in the Templates pane.

Importing Microsoft Access Reports

You can use Report Designer to import reports from a Microsoft Access database or project file. Report Designer converts each report within a database or project file to RDL and saves it in the designated report project. Not all of the functionality of an Access report transfers to a report definition (.rdl) file. For more information, see How to: Import Reports from Microsoft Access (Reporting Services), Importing Reports from Access (Reporting Services), and Supported Access Report Features (Reporting Services).

Working Directly with the Report Definition File

When you write a report in Report Designer, the report is saved as an XML-based .rdl file. You can edit this file in Report Designer, a text editor, or any tool in which you can edit XML. For more information, see Working Directly with Report Definition Language.