Report Designer

Report Designer is a collection of graphical query and design tools that are hosted within the Microsoft Visual Studio environment. Report Designer provides a Report Data pane to organize data used in your report, and tabbed views for Design and Preview so that you can design a report interactively. Report Designer also provides query designers to help specify data to retrieve from data sources and the Expression dialog to specify report data to use in the report layout. For more information, see Query Design Tools in Reporting Services, Connecting to Report Data, Working with Report Expressions, and Designing the Report Layout.

Report Designer is hosted in the Business Intelligence Development Studio, which is fully integrated with the Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 development environment. If you do not have Visual Studio 2008 installed, SQL Server Setup installs the shell so that you can run Report Designer. For more information, see Reporting Services in Business Intelligence Development Studio.

To use Report Designer, open the Start menu, point to Programs, point to Microsoft SQL Server 2008, and select Business Intelligence Development Studio. After you open Business Intelligence Development Studio, you can open or create a new project template. When you select a Report Server Project, the Report Designer opens. The design surface tabbed windows, and graphical tools appear when you add a report to the project. For more information, see Working with Report Designer in Business Intelligence Development Studio.

To learn how to create a basic report in Report Designer, see Report Design Basics and Tutorial: Creating a Basic Table Report.

Design Reports

Report Designer supports tabular, matrix, chart, and freeform reports, and gauges. Reports and gauges are saved as report definition (.rdl) files. All of the features that you can add to a report are described by the Report Definition Language (RDL). You can change and save .rdl files directly, or use Report Designer to make changes to a report.

Preview the Report

While designing a report, you can test it locally before publishing it to a report server. When you select the Preview tab, Report Designer runs the report using the same processing and rendering extensions that the report server uses, ensuring that users see the report as it was intended when they run the report. When you are ready to publish your report, use Report Designer to publish the report to a report server.

Publish to a Server

When you publish a report, the report definition (.rdl) file on your hard drive is copied to the report server database. After a report is published, it can be managed and secured independently from the report definition file that you work with in Visual Studio. 

To publish a report, you can use the build and deploy commands available through Visual Studio. For more information, see Publishing Data Sources and Reports.

View the Report

After you publish a report, Reporting Services provides multiple ways to view a report. You can view the report directly using a browser and Report Manager, create subscriptions for report delivery, or export the report to a different file format such as Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Word. For more information, see Viewing and Saving Reports.

Manage the Report

After you publish a report, you can manage reports and their data sources independently. You can create report snapshots, set caching properties, create new sets of parameters for the same report, and change report data sources. For more information, see Report Manager.