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SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is a server-based report generation software system from Microsoft. It is part of suite of Microsoft SQL Server services, including SSAS (SQL Server Analysis Services) and SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services). While SSAS enables users to construct special databases for fast analysis of very large amounts of data, and while SSIS enables users to integrate data from many sources outside Microsoft SQL Server databases, SSRS enables users to quickly and easily generate reports from Microsoft SQL Server databases.
The SSRS service provides a unique interface into Microsoft Visual Studio so that developers as well as SQL administrators can connect to SQL databases and use SSRS tools to format SQL reports in many complex ways. SSRS also provides a 'Report Builder' tool for less technical IT workers to format SQL reports of lesser complexity.
Reporting Services was first released in 2004 as an add-on to SQL Server 2000. The second version was released as a part of SQL Server 2005 in November 2005. A third version was released as part of SQL Server 2008 R2 in April 2010. The latest version was released as part of SQL Server 2012 in March 2012.
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The benefit of using SQL Server Data Tools for Business Intelligence (SSDT BI - available for free from Microsoft) is that the RDL component is reduced to graphic icons in a GUI (Graphical User Interface). In this way, instead of writing code, the user can drag-and-drop graphic icons into an SSRS report format for most aspects of the SSRS report.
SQL Server 2008 and 2012 SSRS can also prepare reports in Microsoft Word (DOC) format. Third-party report generators offer additional output formats.
Users can interact with the Report Server web service directly, or instead use Report Manager, a web-based application that interfaces with the Report Server web service. With Report Manager, users can view, subscribe to, and manage reports as well as manage and maintain data sources and security settings. Report Manager can also deliver SQL reports by e-mail, or place them on a file share.
One can view RDL reports by using the standalone Report Server that comes with Microsoft SQL Server, or by using the ASP.NET ReportViewer web control, or by using the ReportViewer Windows Forms control. The latter method allows reports to be embedded directly into web pages or .NET Windows applications. The ReportViewer control will process reports by: (a) server processing, where the report is rendered by the Report Server; or (b) local processing, where the control renders the RDL file itself.
SQL Server Reporting Services also support ad hoc reports: the designer develops a report schema and deploys it on the reporting server, where the user can choose relevant fields/data and generate reports. Users can then download the reports locally.
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP1 expands Microsoft support for viewing reports to mobile platforms, including Microsoft Surface, Apple iOS 6 and Windows Phone 8. Publishing reports in Windows Azure is also supported.