First introduced in SQL Server 2005, Reporting Services has become one of the most important SQL Server subsystems. Reporting Services enables you to design and run reports using data from SQL Server relational databases and Analysis Services databases. While it’s been incredibly useful since its inception, Reporting Services hasn’t had many significant updates over the past few SQL Server releases. That has definitely changed with the SQL Server 2016 release. Reporting Services in SQL Server 2016 boasts some significant, and very welcome, new features.
Behind the scenes there’s a new HTML5 rendering engine that enables Reporting Services to display reports more consistently and correctly across a range of browsers, including Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Safari Printing. Some of the more noticeable new features include support for mobile reports, new report pagination support and a new web portal. Here, we drill down into those features.
Without a doubt, the most important new feature in SQL Server 2016 Reporting Services is support for mobile reports.
The consumerization of IT has been a huge trend, and most businesses are dealing with support for various BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) strategies. According to an IDC U.S. Mobile Forecast, 70% of U.S. workers are mobile. In the coming years, this number is only expected to increase, along with the number of mobile devices in use. Businesses needed a way to surface their enterprise data to these mobile devices. Microsoft acquired Datazen and incorporated its mobile reporting technologies into SQL Server 2016. SQL Server 2016’s mobile reports run natively on Windows, iOS, Android and HTML 5. Further, there are several customizable layouts for different form factors. The report designer provides a visual drag-and-drop palette for creating interactive data visualizations, as well as for enabling users to quickly build prototypes with simulated data. Mobile reports can access enterprise data sources by connecting with Reporting Services. An example of SQL Server 2016’s mobile reports is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 – Mobile Reports
SQL Server 2016 Mobile Reports provides one mobile app for Power BI and SSRS mobile reports. It has a native mobile experience that is optimized for touch, as well as the ability to keep mobile data refreshed with real-time queries or periodic scheduled data refreshes. Users can also work with mobile reports even when they are disconnected. The new SQL Server Mobile Report Publisher enables users to create and publish SQL Server mobile reports to the new Reporting Services web portal.
New Web Portal
A new Reporting Services web portal replaces Report Manager from previous releases. It has an updated, modern interface that incorporates KPIs, Mobile Reports, Paginated Reports, Excel and Power BI Desktop files. The new web portal can be customized with an organization's logo and colors by using a branding pack. You can see the new SQL Server 2016 Reporting Services web portal in Figure 2.
Figure 2 – Reporting Services Web Portal
New Paginated Reports
Reporting Services 2016 also supports new paginated reports. Report Builder has been updated with a more modern and streamlined user interface. There’s support for new chart and gauge styles, including Treemap and Sunburst chart types. There is also support for pinning report items to Power BI dashboards. You can pin gauges, maps, pin charts and images as tiles to Power BI dashboards with the ability to drill through to source reports. You can export PowerPoint presentations from paginated reports. The printing experience has also been updated. You no longer need ActiveX add-ins in order to print. Reporting Services 2016 now has a modern PDF-based printing capability that works across a multiple browsers.
HPE and Microsoft are the underwriters of this article.