SSRS 2008 R2 Hosting :: Report Builder 3.0 WITHOUT SQL Reporting Services?

Most folks seem to associate the SQL Server 2008 R2 Report Builder (Report Builder 3.0) with SQL Server Reporting Services. And, I suppose, rightly so. I mean, if you use the Report Builder with SQL Server Reporting Services, you can deploy the reports you create to the Report Manager website and allow other users to access and run them. But it seems like a lot of folks don’t realize that you can actually use the Report Builder 3.0 much like the Crystal Reports designer application– to create and run reports on your desktop (wtihout necessarily having SQL Server Reporting Services deployed and configured).

Why is this a good thing? Well, some organizations don’t necessarily have a need to deploy reports out to a number of users. Sometimes, it’s just one or two users who want to create and generate reports for themselves– as opposed to developing reports for others. In those situations, you can just download the Report Builder and get going!

Download Report Builder 3.0….

When you launch the Report Builder, you will be greeted with a Getting Started window like this:

If you choose the “New Report” option, you can then select a type of report to create and you will be guided through the process of creating a report (as opposed to choosing Blank Report, which will give you a blank canvas) to begin with. Once the report is created, you can save the RDL file to your desktop or other shared location to be run again (just like you could save an RPT file and run the report in Crystal Reports). Or, if you do have SQL Reporting Services configured, you can deploy the RDL to the Report Manager website (but, again, this is not required).

One other concept I should toss out there, if you are going to give Report Builder a whirl, and you have not previously worked with SQL Reporting Services– the concept of Data Source -vs- Dataset. In Report Builder and SSRS, you have a data source (just like you would with Crystal Reports) that stores the information necessary (e.g., database, server, user login) to connect to the database you want to report on. But in Report Builder and SSRS, you then also have the concept of a Dataset. In the most basic terms, the Dataset is the query used to pull information from the database. For example, a dataset might select data from tables or views in your database. Or it might execute a stored procedure to return results to be used on your report. If you choose to use one of the report wizards to create your report, you will be guided through the process of creating both a dataset and a data source for your report. Also, I should note a couple interesting things about data sets…

1. You can create shared data sets to be deployed to SSRS and used on multiple reports
2. An individual report can actually contain multiple datasets, which can be unrelated…this is particular useful if you are designing a dashboard-style report with different information displayed in different regions of the report

Hope this little bit of introduction to Report Builder, and how you can start using it NOW, helps!