Overview of Features
SSRS has a number of features to address complex business reporting needs. Over the course of this book, these features are explored more closely. For now, here is a brief overview.
As far as creating reports, SSRS is a full-featured report engine. Reports can be created against any data source that has a managed code provider, OLE DB, or ODBC data source. This means you can easily retrieve data from SQL Server, Oracle, Analysis Services, Access, or Essbase, and many other databases. This data can be presented in a variety of ways. Microsoft took the feedback from SSRS2K5 and enhanced 2008 with new Chart and Gauge controls, and a new Tablix control, which is a mix of the Table and the Matrix controls from the earlier release. Combined, these new presentation formats give a whole new experience out of the box. Other enhancements include new output presentation formats, including Word and Excel, and direct integration with SharePoint.
Here is a concise list of SSRS features:
- Retrieve data from managed providers, OLE DB, and ODBC connections
- Display data in a variety of ways, including tabular, free form, and charts
- Export to many formats, including HTML, PDF, XML, CSV, TIFF, Word reports (New in 2008), and Excel
- Aggregate and summarize data
- Add in report navigation
- Create ad hoc reports and save them to the server
- Create custom controls using a report-processing extension
- Embed graphics and images and external content
- Integrate with SharePoint
- Provide a Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) application programming interface (API) and pluggable architecture
- Provide subscription-based reports and on-demand reports
- Allow users to store and manage their own custom reports built with SSRS's Report Builder 2.0 and manage subscriptions to the reports (New in 2008)
- URL-based report access
- Gauge and Chart controls to display KPI data (New in 2008)
As you can see, SSRS provides a comprehensive set of features out of the box. Another nice feature of SSRS is its extensibility. Because there is no way that the developers of SSRS could have anticipated every need of an enterprise reporting solution, they made SSRS extensible. This extensibility enables developers to use SSRS in any number of ways, from embedded reports to customized reporting solutions.