Rendering Extensions Overview

A rendering extension is a component or module of a report server that transforms report data and layout information into a device-specific format. SQL Server Reporting Services includes seven rendering extensions: HTML, Excel, Word, CSV or Text, XML, Image, and PDF. You can create additional rendering extensions to generate reports in other formats.


To determine which rendering extensions are available, you can view the list of installed extensions in the RSReportServer.config file.

The following table describes the rendering extensions that are included with Reporting Services.

Extension Name Description
XML Renders a report in XML. The report opens in a browser. Additional transformations applied to this XML output may be a cost effective way of avoiding developing your own rendering extension.
CSV Renders a report in comma-delimited format. The report opens in a viewing tool associated with CSV file formats.
IMAGE Renders a report in a page-oriented format. The format is shown as TIFF in the Export drop-down of the report toolbar.
PDF Renders a report in the Adobe Acrobat Reader. The format is shown as Acrobat (PDF) File in the Export drop-down of the report toolbar.
EXCEL Renders a report in Microsoft Excel.
WORD Render a report in Microsoft Word.
HTML 4.0 (part of the HTML rendering extension) HTML is the format used to initially render the report. If your browser support HTML 4.0, that is the format that is used. Otherwise, HTML 3.2 is used.
MHTML (part of the HTML rendering extension) Renders a report in MHTML. The report opens in Internet Explorer. The format is shown as Web Archive in the Export drop-down of the report toolbar.
NULL Does not render a report to a specific format. This rendering extension is useful for placing reports in cache. Null rendering should be used in conjunction with a scheduled execution or delivery.

For more information on the recommended formats and their uses, see Export Reports (Report Builder and SSRS).

Each of the rendering extensions implemented by Microsoft and shipped with Reporting Services uses a common set of interfaces. This ensures that each extension implements comparable functionality and reduces the complexity of the rendering code in the core of the report server.

Rendering Object Model

When a report is processed, the result is a publicly exposed object model known as the Rendering Object Model (ROM). The Rendering Object Model is a collection of classes that define the contents, layout, and data of a report that has been processed. The ROM is available to developers who wish to design, develop, and deploy custom rendering extensions for Reporting Services. ROM is produced when the report server processes a report's XML definition along with the user-defined report data. When processing is complete, the public object model is used by a rendering extension to define the output of the report. The ROM's available public classes are defined in the Microsoft.ReportingServices.OnDemandReportRendering namespace.

Writing Custom Rendering Extensions

Before you decide to create a custom rendering extension, you should evaluate simpler alternatives. You can:

  • Customize rendered output by specifying device information settings for existing extensions.

  • Add custom formatting and presentation features by combining XSL Transformations (XSLT) with the output of the XML rendering format.

Writing a custom rendering extension is difficult. A rendering extension must typically support all possible combinations of report elements and requires that you implement hundreds of classes, interfaces, methods, and properties. If you must render a report in a format that is not included with Reporting Services and decide to write your own managed code implementation of a rendering extension, the rendering extension code must implement the Microsoft.ReportingServices.OnDemandReportRendering.IRenderingExtension interface, which is required by the report server.

For supplemental documentation and whitepapers on Reporting Services, see the latest technical resources at the Reporting Services Web site.

See Also

Implementing a Rendering Extension
Reporting Services Extension Library