Reports and Report Definitions

Reporting Services uses a variety of terms to describe a report in different states, including the initial definition, the published report, and the viewed report as it appears to the user.

A report definition is a file that you create in Report Designer or Report Builder. It provides a complete description of data source connections, queries used to retrieve data, expressions, parameters, images, textboxes, tables, and any other design-time elements that you might include in a report.

Report definitions are rendered at run time as a processed report. Although report definitions can be complex, at a minimum they specify a query and other report content, report properties, and a report layout.

Report definitions are written in XML that conforms to an XML grammar called the Report Definition Language (RDL). RDL describes the XML elements, encompassing all possible variations that a report can assume. For more information about report definitions or RDL, see Designing and Creating Reports and Report Definition Language.

After an .rdl file is created, it is published to a report server by deploying a report project solution from Report Designer, saving it from Report Builder, or uploading it through Report Manager or SQL Server Management Studio. A published report is an item that is stored in a report server database and managed on a report server. The report is stored in a partially compiled intermediate format that prepares it for report user access.

A published report is secured through role assignments using the Reporting Services role-based security model. Published reports are accessed through URLs, through SharePoint Web parts, or through Report Manager.

Except for reports that you create and save in Report Builder, published reports cannot be edited or saved back to a report server.

A rendered report is a fully processed report that contains both data and layout information in a format suitable for viewing (such as HTML). Until a report is rendered into an output format, it cannot be viewed. Report rendering is performed by the report server. You can render a report by doing either one of the following things:

  • Open a published report from the report server.
  • Subscribe to a report, which is delivered to an e-mail inbox or a file share in an output format that you specify.

The default rendering format for Reporting Services reports is HTML 4.0. In addition to HTML, reports can be rendered in a variety of output formats, including Excel, XML, PDF, TIFF, and CSV. As with published reports, rendered reports cannot be edited or saved back to a report server.

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