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Creating, Managing, and Delivering Reports Overview

This topic provides a high-level description of the report authoring, management, and delivery features available in SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services. To get started with your first report, see Tutorial: Creating a Basic Report.

To create a report, you create a report definition using Report Designer or Report Builder. The authoring tool to use depends on the requirements of the report and your level of expertise in report authoring techniques.

  • Report Designer is a full-featured report authoring tool that runs in Business Intelligence Development Studio. To use it, you should know how to connect to a data source, build queries, and set properties. You can use Report Designer to create simple reports, or complex reports that include expressions and custom assemblies to support custom functionality. You can use the Report Wizard to create a report and then modify it, or build one from the ground up using a Report Server project template.
  • Report Builder provides ad hoc reporting on relational and multidimensional data using model data sources. It is intended for users who want to create basic reports easily without writing queries. Report Builder uses predefined report models and templates that manage data connections, querying, and data relationships so users need only drag and drop data fields onto a template to create tabular or matrix reports.

You create reports on a client computer, separate from the report server. After your report looks the way you want, you can publish it to a report server, where it becomes available for general use. To create a report, follow these steps:

  1. Connect to a data source and retrieve data. You can do this through connection strings and queries, or by creating a report model that specifies the data you want to work with.
  2. Create a report layout. Report Builder provides templates that do this step for you. Report Designer provides a toolbox and a design surface so that you can combine tables, matrices, charts, graphical elements, and other items however you want.
  3. Preview the report to see the data and layout come together, and then publish your report to a report server.

One of the principal advantages of using Reporting Services is the ability to manage reports and related items such as folders, data source connections, and resources, from a central location. You can define security, set properties, and schedule operations. You can also create shared schedules and shared data sources and make them available for general use. To manage reports and the reporting environment, use SQL Server Management Studio or Report Manager. Report management includes the following tasks:

  • Organizing the reporting environment by adding new folders to store collections of reports.
  • Enabling features such as My Reports, report history, and e-mail report delivery.
  • Securing access to folders and reports by assigning users and groups to roles.
  • Building shared schedules and shared data sources that you want to make available for general use.

Both users and report server administrators can manage reports, but in different ways. Users can publish and manage reports in a personal workspace named My Reports. Report server administrators can manage the entire report server folder namespace. The ability to perform management tasks depends on user permissions.

In Reporting Services, two methods are available for accessing and delivering reports:

  • On-demand access allows users to select the reports from a report viewing tool. You can use Report Manager, a Microsoft SharePoint Web part, or a browser.
  • Subscription-based access automatically generates and delivers reports to a destination. You can deliver reports to an e-mail inbox or a file share.

To view a report on demand, you can search for or select a report from a folder hierarchy, referred to as the report server folder namespace. To receive reports automatically, you can subscribe to a specific report. When the report runs, you are either notified that the report is available, or you receive a copy of the report in an e-mail message.

Report server administrators can build data-driven subscriptions that push reports to a large group of users. Data-driven subscriptions generate a recipient list at run time. In a data-driven subscription, delivery settings are built from stored data (such as data in an employee database) when the subscription is triggered.

Reporting Services supports a variety of viewing formats. Reports initially display in HTML format, but after a report is rendered you can redisplay the report in a different format such as Excel or PDF.

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