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Report Builder in SQL Server 2005
Here is my summary of the Reporting Services 2005 webcast which talks about the upcoming Report Builder functionality.
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I just watched the Reporting Services 2005 webcast archive (well I couldn't get up early enough to watch it live). I've summarised what I heard and saw below. Feel free to add comments, or corrections in the forums.

Report Builder

This is a tool aimed at end users to quickly build and preview reports based on a set of report templates. It uses a simple and easy to use drag and drop interface. You will not need to use Visual Studio to author reports, although the Report Builder reports are stored using RDL so can be upscaled and modified later using VS if desired.

Consists of 2 components the Report Builder client and the Model Designer. The Report Builder client is a winforms application which can be launched from Report Manager. The Model Designer connects to either a Data Source View in Analysis Server, or to the SQL Server relational database (2005 or 2000) to extract metadata. Only 1 data source can be currently referenced in a report.

The model for the designer can be automatically generated from the data source, a process which may include some data sampling and which is driven by a set of rules and configuration options. The model designer stores information about the entities, fields and roles in the Report Server Catalog. The reports then contain the semantic model metadata which is stored in an XML representation as part of the RDL.

Has the concept of infinite drill through which is enabled by default. This uses the model data to intelligently provide drill through navigation using the correct context information. The process of drilling through generates further reports which are not automatically saved, but which can be saved and customised.

Security can be applied to the model objects (entities etc), and this will mean a user will only see data for which they have permissions.

Licensed as part of SQL server 2005. Will be available in SQL server 2005 beta3 (there was talk of it being available in IDW11 - but I don't think it made the cut).

Only SQL server data sources can be used, although it is planned to be extended to other RDBMSs with Oracle being the first planned. No timescales are on offer for this.

Other Reporting Services points

SQL server 2005 will include the ability to perform client side printing (without exporting to Excel/Adobe). This feature will also be available in the next service pack for 2000.


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