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Report Lifecycle: Creating, Managing, and Delivering Reports

This topic provides a high-level description of the report authoring, management, and delivery lifecycle used in SQL Server Reporting Services.

To create a report, you create a report definition file using Report Designer, Report Builder 2.0, or Report Builder 1.0. 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. Report Builder 2.0 features a Microsoft Office-like authoring environment and new features such as enhanced data layout, data visualization, richly formatted text, and on-demand rendering. Report Builder 1.0 is a full-featured ad hoc reporting tool that uses report models to simplify report design. Both versions of Report Builder run as client-side separate installations. For more information about Report Designer, see Report Designer. For more information about Report Builder 1.0, see Report Builder 2.0. For more information about Report Builder 1.0, see Report Builder 1.0.

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 or SharePoint site, where it becomes available for general use, or you can save it to your local computer. To get started with your first report, see Tutorial: Creating a Basic Table Report.

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 Report Manager. Report management includes the following tasks:

  • Organizing the reporting environment into 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. For more information about administering a Reporting Services installation, see Administration (Reporting Services).

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, an embedded ReportViewer control, or a browser. For more information about on-demand access to reports, see Viewing and Saving Reports.

  • Subscription-based access automatically generates and delivers reports to a destination. You can deliver reports to an e-mail inbox or a file share. For more information about subscriptions and delivery, see Subscription and Delivery (Reporting Services).

Reporting Services supports a variety of viewing formats. Reports at first display in HTML format, but after a report is rendered you can redisplay the report in a different format such as Excel or PDF. For more information about rendering reports in different formats, see Exporting Reports.

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