Wednesday, March 25, 2009 1:57 PM
Top 5 New Features in SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services has been out about 9 months or so now and I've finally gotten a chance to dig into my favorite reporting server product.
My top five new features:
- Ability to render reports to Microsoft Word format. This has been desired for years and is so nice now.
- Support for nested reports and subreports in Excel renderer. A lot of people have asked for this one and while it isn't something I've needed much, it's going to make a lot of people happy.
- Tablix Report Region. The new tablix report region allows you to build much richer reports that combine features of tabular reports with matrix reports. This region is infinitely more flexible than the older table and matrix regions. However, the toolbox looks the same because you start with either a table or matrix report. The cool part is that you can modify either type of report to add features of the other style report. Do be aware that this extra power/flexibility does come at a cost of a bit of a learning curve that you will encounter in mastering the tablix region but it's well worth the investment.
- Textbox control now supports rich text. While a little clunky in in its implementation in the designer, I just love the ability to control the formatting down to the character level of textboxes. Furthermore, you can choose to control the formatting using text and the designer or just feed the textbox a string with embedded HTML format tags. This feature combined with feature #1 (Word support), means you can move mail merge from the control of a desktop app (Microsoft Word) to a server app (SSRS 2008) with the built in scheduling and delivery capabilities that SSRS supports.
- Report Builder 2.0. The new version of Report Builder which you have to download separately (download from here) is vastly improved from its predecessor. It can now handle any report you can generate in Visual Studio and no longer requires you to build a model first. Of course, this may make the UI more difficult some users. Fortunately, for the non-power user, you can still point them to Report Builder 1.0 if you'd like.
The above features, IMHO, make the upgrade to SSRS 2008 a must have. In fact, at my organization, I am so intrigued with the new version that we are building an SSRS 2008 server even though it will likely be months (perhaps even years) before we move our other SQL Servers to 2008. Of course, this is not a problem since SSRS 2008 can pull data from any version of SQL Server (and many other databases as well).