Creating a Report with Report Designer

Updated: 15 September 2007

You can use Report Designer to create reports that take advantage of all the Reporting Services features. Report Designer provides a graphical interface in which you can define data sources and query information, place data regions and fields on the report, refine the report layout, and set up interactive features.

Report Designer is a set of graphical tools and windows that run within Visual Studio 2005. You can launch Report Designer from Business Intelligence Development Studio or from Visual Studio 2005 if you have it installed. Report Designer data and design surfaces appear when you select a Report project or Report Wizard project template. Report Designer includes query designers and an expression editor. You also use the Visual Studio Toolbox, Solution Explorer, and Properties window when working on reports.

Using Report Designer through a Remote Desktop or Terminal Services connection is not supported.

To create a report in Report Designer, choose from the following approaches:

  • Create a report project and then specify report data and layout manually.
  • Use the Report Wizard to define basic reports in guided step-by-step fashion.
  • Add a report as a new or existing item to an application project or solution.
  • Import an existing Microsoft Access report.
  • Work directly with the report definition file.

A report project acts as a container for report definitions and resources. Every file in the report project is published to the report server when the project is deployed. When you create a project for the first time, a solution is also created as a container for the project. You can add multiple projects to a single solution.

There are two ways to create a report project. You can create a report project that contains a single blank report, or you can create a report project and report using the Report Project Wizard. To view instructions about creating report projects, see How to: Create a Report Server Project (Report Designer).

After you have created a report project, you add a report to the project. You then define a connection to the data source that you want to use for your report and define a dataset for the report. You can define multiple data sources and datasets for a single report. After you have defined the data for your report, you can design the layout and interactive features that you want.

For more information about defining datasets for a report, see Defining and Managing Report Data. For more information about designing the report, see Working with Data in a Report Layout. Reporting Services reports can be exported to a variety of formats and these formats effect how some report layout and interactivity features function. For more information about design considerations for various output formats, see Design Considerations for Report Rendering. For more information about creating a report, see How to: Create a Report (Report Designer) and Tutorial: Creating a Basic Report.

The Report Wizard simplifies data definition and report design into a series of steps that result in a finished report. You can run the Report Wizard if you are unfamiliar with the Visual Studio environment, or if you want to create a basic report very quickly. For more information about the Report Wizard, see Creating a Report Using Report Wizard.

When you add a report as a new or existing item to a Visual Studio 2005 project or solution, you specify an empty report project template to create the item. Specifying a report item launches Report Designer, thereby providing access to the full authoring environment you need to define the report.

Initially, an empty report project contains no information about data or layout. You can choose to create a blank report when you want to control each step in the report creation process or when you are adding a report to an existing solution. After you create a blank report, the first step is to connect to a data source and set up a query. Subsequent steps include adding data regions and fields and defining the report layout. To view instructions about adding a report item to an existing project or solution, see How to: Create a Report (Report Designer). For more information about working with data, see Working with Data in a Report Layout. For more information about report layout, see Designing the Report Layout.

You can use Report Designer to import reports from a Microsoft Access database (.mdb) or project (.adp) file. Report Designer converts each report within the database or project file to Report Definition Language (RDL) and saves it within the designated report project. Not all of the functionality of a Microsoft Access report transfers to a report definition file. For more information about import steps and supported features, see Importing Reports from Access and Supported Access Report Features.

When you write a report in Report Designer, the report is saved as an XML file with the Report Definition Language (RDL) extension .rdl. You can edit this file in Report Designer, a text editor, or any tool in which you can edit XML. For more information, see Working Directly with Report Definition Language.

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