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What's New (Reporting Services)

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 introduces many new features and enhancements that increase the reporting capabilities of people who develop reporting solutions.

Because SQL Server 2008 R2 is a minor version upgrade of SQL Server 2008, we recommend that you also review the content in the SQL Server 2008 section.

The following Reporting Services features are new in SQL Server 2008 R2.

SharePoint Integration

Collaboration and Reuse

Data Sources

Data Visualization

Report Layout and Processing

Aggregates, Expressions, and Functions

Report Authoring Tools

Cache Refresh Plans

Report Manager Enhancements

Business Intelligence Development Studio

New Web Service Endpoint

New Report Definition Language Schema

SharePoint Integration

Reporting Services with SharePoint integration has several new features. These include support for multiple SharePoint Zones, support for the SharePoint Universal Logging service, a new data extension, a query designer for SharePoint Lists as a data source, and support for right-to-left text with Arabic and Hebrew in the SharePoint user interface. The SharePoint List data extension supports getting data from the SharePoint technologies: SharePoint lists for SharePoint Foundation 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, and Office SharePoint Server 2007.

For more information, see What's New (Reporting Services in SharePoint Integrated Mode).

Collaboration and Reuse

Reporting Services provides new features that enable and enhance collaboration and reuse within the reporting environment.

Report Parts

Report parts are report items that you store on a report server, or on a SharePoint site that is integrated with a report server. You can reuse report parts in multiple reports, and you can update them on the server.

The report part that you add to your report maintains a relationship to the instance of the report part on the site or server by means of a unique ID.

Report parts let work groups utilize the different strengths and roles of their team members. For example, one person can create charts and save them as report parts that others can reuse in their reports.

For more information, see Report Parts in Report Designer (SSRS).

Shared Datasets

Shared datasets are a new type of report server item that can retrieve data from shared data sources that connect to external data sources. A shared dataset provides a way to share a query to help provide a consistent set of data for multiple reports. The dataset query can include dataset parameters. You can configure a shared dataset to cache query results for specific parameter combinations on first use or by specifying a schedule. You can use shared dataset caching in combination with report caching and report data feeds to help manage access to a data source.

Like report parts, a shared dataset that is added to a report maintains a relationship to the definition of the dataset on the report server. Unlike report parts, when the definition is changed, you do not have to accept updates. All reports that have the relationship always use the shared dataset definition on the report server.

For more information, see Managing Shared Datasets.

Data Sources

Reporting Services supports three new data sources types: Microsoft SQL Azure, Microsoft SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse, and Microsoft SharePoint List.

Data Visualization

Reporting Services provided three new ways to visualize data in reports: maps, sparklines and data bars, and indicators.

Maps

Report Designer provides a Map Wizard and Map Layer Wizard to add maps and map layers to your report to help visualize data against a geographic background. A map layer displays map elements based on spatial data from a map in the Map Gallery, from a SQL Server query that returns SQL Server spatial data, or from an Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI) shapefile. Map elements can be polygons that represent areas, lines that represent paths or routes, or points that represent locations such as stores or cities. You can also add a display background based on Microsoft Bing Maps tiles.

After you relate map elements with report data, you can specify rules for the map elements on each layer to control color, size, width, or marker type. For example, you can add a bubble map that varies bubble size for store locations based on sales or a color analytical map that displays customer demographics for geographic regions.

You can add labels, legends, titles, a color scale, and a distance scale to help your users interpret the map display. You can add interactive features such as tooltips and drillthrough links, or provide parameters that enable a user to interactively control the visibility of each layer.

In a map report, you can use the map wizard to configure an existing map layer. You can change the type of map, the data visualization rules, and change match field that specifies the relationship between spatial data and analytical data. The Specify the match fields for spatial and analytical data wizard page displays data from both the spatial data source and the analytical data source to help you choose the field on which to match.

For more information, see Maps (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS), Map Wizard and Map Layer Wizard (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS) and How to: Add, Change, or Delete a Map or Map Layer (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

Sparklines and Data Bars

Sparklines and data bars are simple charts that convey a lot of information in a little space, often inline with text. Sparklines and data bars are often used in tables and matrices. Their impact comes from viewing many of them together and being able to quickly compare them, instead of viewing them singly. This makes it easy to see the outliers. Each sparkline often represents multiple data points over time. Data bars can represent multiple data points, but typically illustrate only one. Each sparkline typically presents a single series. You cannot add a sparkline to a detail group in a table. Because sparklines display aggregated data, they must go in a cell that is associated with a group.

Sparklines and data bars have the same basic chart elements of categories, series, and values, but they have no legend, axis lines, labels, or tick marks.

For more information, see Sparklines and Data Bars (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

Indicators

Indicators are minimal gauges that convey the state of a single data value at a glance. The icons that represent indicators and their states are visually effective, even when they are used in small sizes. Indicators can be used by themselves in dashboards or free-form reports, but they are most commonly used in tables or matrices to visualize data in rows or columns.

Indicators can show trends by using directional images such as arrows; ratings by using incremental icons such as stars; and states by using images such as traffic lights or check marks. Indicators are available in Report Builder 3.0 and Report Designer.

For more information, see Indicators (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

Report Layout and Rendering

Reporting Services provides new features that help you create reports that render the way you want and are useful in different ways such as the source of data feeds and exported to Microsoft Excel.

Naming Excel Worksheet Tabs

Properties of reports and page breaks let you generate the names of worksheet tabs when you export reports to Excel. You can provide an initial page name of a report that can be exported as the default name of worksheet tabs, or use page breaks and page names to provide different names for each worksheet tab. For more information, see Understanding Pagination in Reporting Services (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

Rendering Reports to Data Feeds

The Reporting Services Atom rendering extension renders reports data to an Atom service document, which lists the data feeds and the data feeds, which contains the report data. You use this extension to generate Atom-compliant data feeds that are readable and exchangeable with applications that can consume data feeds generated from reports. For example the PowerPivot client can consume data feeds that are generated from Atom-compliant data feeds.

Using report data as data feeds gives you an additional way to provide data to applications when the data is not easily accessible through client data providers, or you prefer to hide the complexity of the data source and make it simpler to use the data.

You can export report data to an Atom service document and data feeds from Report Manager or a SharePoint site that is integrated with Reporting Services. For more information, see Generating Data Feeds from Reports (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

Report Pagination

Page breaks on tablix data regions (table, matrix, and list), groups, and rectangles give you better control of report pagination. Report pages, delimited by page breaks, can have different page names and reset page numbering. By using expressions, the page names and page numbers can be dynamically updated when the report is run. You can also disable page breaks entirely, or based on expression values.

For more information, seeUnderstanding Pagination in Reporting Services (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

Rotating Text 270 Degrees

Text boxes can now be rotated 270 degrees. Standalone text boxes in a report header or footer, the report body, or text boxes in the cells of tables and matrices can display text written vertically and bottom to top. This rotation helps you create more readable reports, fit more columns on a printed report with fixed page size, and create reports with more graphical appeal. For more information, see Text Boxes (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

Aggregates, Expressions, and Functions

Calculating Aggregates of Aggregates

You can create expressions that calculate an aggregate of an aggregate. For example, in a cell in the row group header that is associated with a group based on year, you can calculate the average monthly sales for year by using the expression =Avg(Sum(Fields!Sales.Value,"Month"),"Year").

By using this feature for charts and gauges that are nested in a table, you can align horizontal and vertical axes for charts and scales for gauges. You do this by calculating the maximum and minimum of aggregated values so the nested items use the same ranges.

For more information, see Aggregate Functions Reference (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS) and Understanding Expression Scope for Totals, Aggregates, and Built-in Collections (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

Enhanced Support for Expressions

New globals and a new property for report variables are introduced in this release.

The following additional items have been added to the built-in globals collection.

  • OverallPageNumber and OverallTotalPages   Support for page numbering for the entire rendered report. New properties that are related to page breaks control how the page numbering occurs over page breaks that are set on report items. For more information, see Report Pagination later in this topic.

  • PageName   Support for naming pages. For more information, see Naming Excel Worksheet Tabs later in this topic.

  • RenderFormat   Support for information that is specified for the renderer.

For more information, see Using Built-in Globals and Users References (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

Report variables now have a read-only property that is set by default. Advanced expression writers can clear this option to preserve the value of a report variable throughout a report session. This is the equivalent of setting the Writable property for a report variable in RDL. Report variables are still calculated once, and then recalculated every time the report is reprocessed. This property provides a way to persist data across report rendering, page changes, and some types of user interaction. The value of the variable is set when the report is reprocessed, but is maintained in the current session. In custom code, you can specify the variable value by using the SetValue function.

For more information, see Using Report and Group Variables Collections References (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

Lookup Functions

Expressions in data regions can now include references to Lookup Function (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS), LookupSet Function (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS), and Multilookup Function (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS). These lookup functions can retrieve values from a dataset that has name/value pairs and that is not bound to the data region. For more information, see Understanding Expression Scope for Totals, Aggregates, and Built-in Collections (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

Report Authoring Tools

Report Builder and Report Designer includes a number of new and enhanced features.

Creating Queries

The updated graphical query designer used to create queries that retrieve report data from Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft SQL Azure, and Microsoft SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse databases provides a user interface to create custom relationships between related and unrelated tables. The query designer also makes it easy to include aggregates and grouping that summarize data in queries. For more information, see Relational Query Designer (Report Builder 3.0).

The new graphical query designer for the Microsoft SharePoint List data source type makes it easy to create queries that retrieve report data from SharePoint lists. The query designer lists the fields in each SharePoint list item on a SharePoint site for you to include in the query and enable you to define filters to apply to limit the data that the query returns. For more information, see SharePoint List Query Designer.

Previewing Reports in Report Builder 3.0

Report Builder 3.0 provides a better preview experience. The introduction of edit sessions enables the reuse of cached datasets when previewing reports. This means that reports render more quickly when using the cached datasets. Edit sessions are bound to a report, which makes it possible to use relative references and subreport references in reports.

For more information see, Previewing Reports in Report Builder 3.0 on msdn.microsoft.com.

Making It Easier to Design and Edit Reports

The run-time credentials, specified in the data source properties of a report, might not work for design time tasks such as creating queries and previewing reports. Report Builder 3.0 provides a user interface for changing credentials when it is unable to connect to the data source.

For more information, see Data Source Properties Dialog Box, General (Report Builder 3.0) on msdn.microsoft.com.

Cache Refresh Plans

Cache refresh plans let you cache reports or shared dataset query results on first use or from a schedule. You can schedule the cache by using an item-specific schedule or a shared schedule. By creating cache refresh plans for commonly used parameter combinations, you can help improve data retrieval and report viewing response times.

In previous releases, scheduled caching was achieved by using the NULL delivery provider. By using cache refresh plans, you can manage and schedule report caching separately from report subscriptions.

For more information, see Cache Refresh Options (Report Manager).

Report Manager Enhancements

Report Manager has been updated in this release to provide a better user experience, and an improved look and feel. The most dramatic change for Report Manager is the updated color scheme and layout, which provides easier navigation to manage report properties and report server items. You can use a new drop-down menu on each report or report server item in a folder to access the various configuration options for the report or item you choose.

The tool maintains the familiar text and same management tasks, but offers an improved user experience by:

  • Improving the workflow for viewing and managing reports and report server items by using a new drop-down menu to access various configuration options for each report or report server item in a folder.

  • Eliminating the need to render a report before accessing and configuring report properties when in default view.

  • Allowing more room for Report Viewer when rendering reports.

  • An updated Report Viewer toolbar, which includes some updates to the toolbar controls, as well as the ability to export report data to an Atom service document and data feeds.

For more information about Report Manager, including navigational procedures and UI option descriptions, see the topics under Report Manager F1 Help.

Business Intelligence Development Studio

Business Intelligence Development Studio supports working with both SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 reports, and with Report Server projects in the SQL Server 2008 R2 version of Business Intelligence Development Studio. You can open, save, preview, and deploy either version of reports or Report Server projects. You set Report Server project properties to specify the version of the report server to deploy reports to and how to handle warnings and errors which might occur when up either upgrade a report from SQL Server 2008 to SQL Server 2008 R2, or revert a report from SQL Server 2008 R2 to SQL Server 2008. For more information, see Building Reports in Business Intelligence Development Studio.

New Web Service Endpoint

The report server includes a new management endpoint named ReportingService2010. This endpoint merges the functionalities of both the ReportingService2005 and ReportingService2006 endpoints, and can support management operations of the report server in both native mode and SharePoint integrated mode. It also includes new features that are introduced in SQL Server 2008 R2, such as shared datasets and cache refresh.

For more information, see Report Server Web Service Endpoints.

New Report Definition Language Schema

The Report Definition Language schema includes a new <ReportSections> element and elements that define the map report item. In this release, only reports that have one report section can be opened in Report Builder 3.0 or Report Designer in Business Intelligence Development Studio.

For more information, see Report Definition Language Reference.

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services introduces many new features and enhancements that increase the reporting capabilities of people who develop reporting solutions.

What's New in Report Authoring

Introduces Tablix, Chart, and Gauge data regions. It also introduces support for richly formatted text, new data source types, and Report Builder 2.0, which offers many new features, like enhanced data layout and visualization, in an Office-like authoring environment. Finally, this topic describes incremental changes to authoring tools and the Report Definition Language (RDL) that allow a report author to take full advantage of new processing features.

What's New in Report Processing and Rendering

Introduces new rendering extensions for Microsoft Word and enhancements to the Excel and CSV rendering extensions. This topic also describes important changes to the report processor that improve the performance and scalability of large reports.

What's New in Server Architecture and Tools

Introduces the new report server architecture that includes native support for functionality previously provided by Internet Information Services (IIS).

What's New in Report Programmability

Introduces a new server extension that provides preprocessing for report definitions, plus new methods to the ReportServer2006 endpoint that eliminate the feature gap that previously existed between native mode and SharePoint integrated mode report servers.

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