One of my brother’s favorite lines to use in presentations says it best, “If Microsoft had 10 dollars to spend on BI in 2008 then they spend 8 of it on Reporting Services.” It’s a good description and if you ask me it was money well spent. When you start digging into what is new you will quickly realize it’s very accurate as well. Several months ago I wrote about some of the quick highlights about what’s new in Reporting Services 2008 but today I’ll try and focus on Report Builder 2.0 and what I like and don’t like about it.
Most of the features of Report Builder are shared with BIDS but it has a much more simple look and feel that gives you impression your working in PowerPoint because of the zoom feature and traditional Office 2007 ribbon menu.
Without a doubt the biggest change is the tablix. Tablix gives you the best of both the matrix and the table. It really removes any frustrations that many of us had with grouping in Reporting Services 2005. There is no tablix tool but if you drag over either a matrix or a table on the designer you can create a tablix using the grouping pane. When you first start using the grouping pane it can be a little tricky but with some experimentation you’ll be able to achieve the look your going for.
Some other nice adds or changes for 2008 are the data pane, smart tags, and zoom functionality. The image provided highlights these changes.
Report Builder 2.0 is an added feature to SQL Server 2008 so your interested in trying it out yourself you will have to download it separately.
Because you can now essentially do everything in Report Builder 2.0 that you could do in BIDS there aren’t too many criticisms. The one thing I do like in BIDS that is not in Report Builder is the solution explorer. It makes it a lot easier to organize and deploy when you can have all your related reports grouped into one solution.
I understand the logic in not having it. Report Builder, in the past anyways, has been thought of a tool for business users and therefore should be fairly simple. Also, If the solution explorer was added it would basically be BIDS that can only build reports!
Why Use It?
So why use Report Builder instead of BIDS when they’re so similar? The one thing that Report Builder 2.0 retained from it’s predecessor Report Builder 1.0 was it’s ease in understanding. It’s great for a business/Non-IT person because it has the familiar look of other Office 2007 products.
So the answer is it depends… If you’re already familiar with BIDS and are comfortable using it then you shouldn’t change. The pretty new interface is nice but if you’re developing hundreds of reports then Report Builder is not the best option. Report Builder is aimed more for those who aren’t developers but need to create an ad-hoc report.