SQL 2012 Hosting :: What Will Be New for Reporting Services in 2012?

Drum roll, please! We’re in the throws of refreshing the Wrox Professional Series book on Reporting Services and, as we do with every new edition, the authors are paying close attention to differences between the old and new product versions. I thought it was worth noting what will be new and not so new in the next version of Reporting Services. Our last book edition was for SSRS in SQL Server 2008. I recall that when the R2 release was on the horizon, we briefly discussed whether we should write a new edition for R2 and decided not to. In fact, just about every author and publishing house decided not to release new books for SSRS 2008 R2. Even though R2 was not considered a major release for all of SQL Server, it was a considerable landmark for Reporting Services and we covered a lot of the new BI features in the Wrox SSRS Recipes book instead of updating the Professional series book.

Notable capabilities added in R2 were many improvements to the new Report Builder 3.0 designer, shared datasets, sparklines, KPI indicators, data bars and color scales, conditional rendering; finer group, header and pagination control; and Atom feeds from deployed reports. Oh, and let’s not forget geospatial maps – that was a big feature addition, enabling some very cool new visual capabilities.

Back to the subject at hand… what’s new in RDL report design for SQL Server Denali? Actually, not much. BIDs will now be integrated into the Visual Studio 2010 shell but the actual report designer and Report Builder tools remain relatively unchanged. We just got word that the Excel renderer will support the Excel 2007 XLSX format. The product team have been dedicating most of their development cycles to Project “Crescent” and report alerting. What are report alerts? It’s going to be a big feature but in a nutshell, alerting is like a subscription driven by changes in the source data. This will give users, among other things, the ability to get reports delivered to them when changes in a data source raise events on the server. So when a price goes down or when a measure value falls below a target value, reports are delivered to a user.

Crescent is all the rage. If you haven’t see it , you need to. I’m working on my PASS and SQL Saturday sessions will have a video preview posted as soon as I’m able. Crescent currently has a good set of useful features and it works well in the CTP3 build. The product team have a boatload of additional features on the wish list that they hope to deliver. Of course, only some will make it into the Denali RTM and others may be added in incremental service releases. What you should know is that the Crescent report tool and traditional SSRS reports (now called “Professional Reports”) are two very different types of reports. One does not convert or migrate to the other. Crescent uses Silverlight controls and must be launched from SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition. It’s primarily for business users to interact and explore data, rather than for technical folks to design complex reports and deploy them for other users.

There you have it…. In summary, for RDL reports; BIDS is in VS2010, Report Builder 3.0 remains unchanged and your can export to Excel 2007 XLSX. SQL Server Denali will deliver BISM semantic tabular models, the Crescent report experience in SharePoint 2010 and report alerts.