Reports and Report Definitions (Report Builder 2.0)

Report Builder 2.0 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 Builder 2.0. It provides a complete description of data source connections, queries used to retrieve data, expressions, parameters, images, text boxes, tables, and any other design-time elements that you might include in a 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 rendered at run time as a processed report. At that time, the data is retrieved from the data source and formatted according to the instructions in the report definition. A report definition can be run directly from your computer and saved locally, or it can be published to a report server for others to run as well.

After you create an .rdl file, you can save it locally, or save it to a personal folder (such as the My Reports folder) on the report server. When the report is ready for others to see, you publish it by saving it to a public folder on the report server. A published report is an item that is stored in a report server database and managed on a report server or SharePoint site. Published reports are accessed through URLs, through SharePoint Web parts, or through Report Manager or you can navigate to and open them in Report Builder 2.0.


If you would like a My Reports folder and don't have one, contact your server administrator.

Report Snapshots

A report can also be published as a snapshot that contains both layout information and data as of the time the report was initially run. Report snapshots are not saved in a particular rendering format. Instead, report snapshots are rendered in a final viewing format (such as HTML) only when a user or an application requests it. For more information, see How to: Add a Snapshot to Report History in Report Manager (Report Builder 2.0).

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. You can render a report by doing one of the following:

  • Open a server report in Report Builder and run it.

  • Find a report in Report Manager and run it.

  • 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 Report Builder reports is HTML 4.0. In addition to HTML, reports can be rendered in a variety of output formats, including Excel, Word, XML, PDF, TIFF, and CSV. As with published reports, rendered reports cannot be edited or saved back to a report server. For more information, see Exporting Reports (Report Builder 2.0).

Security for reports is managed by assigning people to different roles. The different roles have different permissions: Users can access only those reports and data that they have permission to see. For more information about the Reporting Services role-based security model, see Finding and Viewing Reports in Report Manager (Report Builder 2.0).

Report definitions are written in XML that conforms to an XML schema called 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 "Reporting Services Concepts" and "Report Definition Language" in the Reporting Services documentation in SQL Server Books Online.

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