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SSRS for End Users

SSRS is unique in the Microsoft BI suite because it covers a variety of information users. Microsoft divides users into three groups: information consumers, information explorers, and analysts.

Table 1.1 briefly summarizes the percentages of users in each group, the level of technical experience, and the expectations from an enterprise reporting tool. All of these factors will vary from company to company, but generally the breakdown holds true.

Table 1.1. Breakdown of Information Workers

Type of User


Technical Expertise





Analysts can develop reports, work with ad hoc reports, and perform sophisticated calculations (such as linear regressions and trend analysis). Analysts often publish reports to explorers and consumers.

Information explorers



Information explorers want to interact with reports to some degree, such as applying filters or performing drill down through.

Information consumers



Information consumers use static, predefined, and preformatted reports.

To address the varying needs of these types of users, SSRS provides three main tools from the user perspective:

  • Report Viewer: The primary mechanism for viewing reports over the Web. Report Manager is the name of the website that SSRS sets up. It provides a very clean and neatly organized user interface for end users. Developers can also embed a ReportViewer control into both ASP.NET and Windows Forms applications.
  • Report Builder: The tool that provides users with a front end for ad hoc reporting against a SQL Server or Analysis Services database. Unlike most ad hoc reporting tools, users of Report Builder do not need to know Structured Query Language (SQL) or anything about joins or grouping to create reports.
  • Report Designer: The tool that takes on the job of building advanced reports. Although Report Builder does a good job as an ad hoc reporting tool, Report Designer was made to tackle really advanced reports.

Figure 1.1 summarizes the types of reporting users, and mentions some of the tools SSRS provides for them.

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1 Reporting Services users and tools.

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