Reporting Services Features

This topic lists the report design, configuration, deployment, access, delivery, and programming features of Reporting Services. For more information about specific features available, see:

Developers who want to embed report functionality into Windows or Web applications can use the ReportViewer controls as an alternative reporting solution. For more information about these controls, see Reporting Services and ReportViewer Controls in Visual Studio.

Report Features

  • Relational, multidimensional, XML, and custom data sources   Build reports using data from any data source type that has a Microsoft .NET Framework-managed data provider, OLE DB provider, or ODBC data source. You can create reports that use relational and multidimensional data from SQL Server and Analysis Services, Oracle, Hyperion, and other databases. You can use an XML data processing extension to retrieve data from any XML data source. You can use table-valued functions to design custom data sources.

  • Tabular, matrix, chart, and free-form report layouts   Create tabular reports for column-based data, matrix reports for summarized data, chart reports for graphical data, and free-form reports for everything else. A new data region introduced in SQL Server 2008 enables you to create reports that combine table and matrix layouts. Reports can embed other reports and charts, along with lists, graphics, and controls for dynamic Web-based applications.

  • Ad hoc reports   Create and save reports on the fly and save them locally or publish them directly to a report server or SharePoint site, where they can be managed like other reports. Ad hoc reporting is supported through report models and report templates using a ClickOnce application called Report Builder.

  • Drillthrough reports and interactivity   Add interactive features by providing links to subreports and drillthrough reports. Use parameters to filter data for customized views. Model-based reports provide infinite clickthrough functionality so users can explore the data that is available to them.

  • Presentation formats   Choose a presentation format when you open the report, or after you open the report. You can choose Web-oriented, page-oriented, and desktop application formats. Formats include HTML, MHTML, PDF, XML, CSV, TIFF, Word, and Excel.

  • Custom controls and report items   You can embed custom controls or report items that you create or purchase from a third-party vendor. A custom control requires a custom report processing extension. You can add scripted expressions in Microsoft Visual Basic.

  • Navigation   You can add bookmarks and document maps to provide navigation options within a large report.

  • Aggregations   You can aggregate and summarize data using controls and expressions.

  • Graphical elements   You can embed or reference images and other resources, including external content.

Report and Model Design Tools

  • Report Designer   Create reports in a full-featured report authoring application. Report Designer is hosted within Business Intelligence Development Studio. With Report Designer, you can create complex reports based on a number of different data source types, define simple to complex layouts, add chart and gauge data presentations, include interactive features like drillthrough reports and document maps, preview reports, and save reports to your local computer or publish them to a test or production report server. Report Designer includes query builders and an expression editor. 

  • Model Designer   Create models that support ad hoc reporting in Reporting Services. You can generate models automatically based on an existing schema or view, refine the model, and then publish it to a report server.

  • Report Builder 2.0   Create reports in a Microsoft Office-like authoring environment in the new version of Report Builder. Take advantage of new features such as enhanced data layout, data visualization, richly formatted text, and on-demand rendering. Create reports with multiple data regions, pull data from multiple data sources into a single report, and directly query relational and multidimensional data sources. Customize and update all existing reports, regardless of whether they were designed in Report Designer or in Report Builder 1.0. 

  • Report Builder 1.0   Create ad hoc reports using templates and pre-organized data and save them directly to a report server. Reports that you create in Report Builder 1.0 can be accessed, distributed, and managed just as you would any other report.

Deployment and Administration

  • **Server-based platform   **Centralize report storage and management, provide secure access to reports and folders, control how reports are processed and distributed, and standardize how reports are used in your business.

  • Integration with a deployment of a SharePoint product or technology   You can configure a report server to run in SharePoint integrated mode, providing access to report server content and operations from within a SharePoint site or farm. For more information, see Reporting Services and SharePoint Technology Integration.

  • Reporting Services Configuration   Deploy and maintain an existing report server using a graphical user interface to configure service accounts, virtual directories, report server databases, encryption keys, and scale-out deployment.

  • Report Manager   Configure role-based security and manage report server content by setting properties on data sources, reports, folders, resources, and report models. You can configure report execution, report history, and set limits on processing time, monitor and cancel pending or in-process reports, and create and manage data source connections and schedules independently of the reports that they are associated with.

  • Integration with SQL Server Management Studio and SQL Server Configuration Manager   Report server administrators can use the tools provided in SQL Server to manage a Reporting Services installation.

  • Command-line utilities   Command-line utilities support report server configuration, key management, and scripted operations.

  • Role-based security   Use role-based security to control access to folders, reports, and resources. Security settings follow an inheritance pattern through the folder structure. You can vary security at any branch to redefine user access down to the item level.

Report Access and Delivery Features

  • On-demand access over Web connections   Use a browser to navigate a folder hierarchy to find and work with reports and other items. You can reference reports from a Favorites list in a Web browser, or link from a Web portal.

  • SharePoint Web parts   Reporting Services supports different levels of integration. If you deploy a report server in SharePoint integrated mode, you can access reports from libraries on a SharePoint site. If you are using a native mode report server, you can embed Web parts to view reports and navigate the report server folder hierarchy.

  • My Reports and My Subscriptions   In Report Manager, you can store and manage reports and subscriptions in a personal workspace.

  • Subscriptions for E-mail or File share Delivery   Automate report delivery through a standard subscription and set report presentation preferences. Users who prefer to view a report in Microsoft Excel, for example, can specify that format in a subscription. Deliver a rendered report to an e-mail inbox. Set delivery options that control whether the report is delivered as a link or attachment. Deliver a rendered report to a shared folder. Set delivery options that control whether the report is overwritten or added to an existing folder.

  • Data-driven subscriptions   Automate report distribution through data-driven subscriptions, which generate a recipient list and delivery instructions at run time from an external data source. Use a query and column-mapping information to customize report output for a large number of users.

Programmability and Extensibility

  • Report Definition Language (RDL)   RDL describes all possible elements of a report using an XML grammar that is validated by an XML schema. The report definition of an individual report is based on RDL and contains instructions for rendering the design at run time. RDL is extensible. You can add support for elements or features that are not present in the existing RDL schema, and then build custom tools and report rendering extensions to handle the features you create.

  • SOAP API   Use Report Server Web service methods to access a report server and Report Server Web service programmatically.

  • URL access   You can access report server items through parameterized URL strings. All reports and items stored in a report server are addressable through the report server namespace.

  • WMI provider   Reporting Services includes a Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) provider that you can use to manage the Report Server Windows service.

  • Extensible delivery, data processing, rendering, security, and report processing   You can create custom delivery extensions to route reports to file shares, internal archive stores, or internal applications. You can extend data processing to query, convert, or transform data from new data source types. You can create custom rendering extensions to support report presentation in application formats or Web-oriented formats that are not provided with the product. You can build or integrate a security extension that provides an alternative to the Windows Authentication model.