What’s in a name? SQL Server reporting services doesn’t install as part of SQL Server. Rather, it is an ASP.NET package that installs on the web server. There is also a piece that installs into VS.NET. Once it’s installed, the developer creates a new report project and chooses either a wizard or the designer. Immediately, I realized that Microsoft had taken the powerful features in Access reports and made a .NET tool. Reporting Services installs a powerful drag+drop designer for reports in VS.NET. All you have to do is build your connection string and query, and then design the layout of the report. There is also a Deploy menu option that will automatically deploy a report to the web server with reporting services installed. Next, you give management the URL to the report, and they view it in a browser. Fast, powerful and pretty. Some other built-int features that will make business users drool: Export to Excel and other formats. At the top of every report is a combo box where the viewer can export this report to a file. I noticed PDF was even on the list.
Kudos to Microsoft for re-releasing Access’s powerful report designer! I installed the whole package and had an actual report deployed in an hour.