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SQL Server Data Tools for Business Intelligence (SSDT BI) reduces the RDL (Report Definition Language) component to graphic icons in a GUI (Graphical User Interface). In this way, instead of writing code, the user can drag-and-drop graphic icons into an SSRS report format for most aspects of the SSRS report.
Reports defined by RDL can be downloaded to a variety of formats including Excel, PDF, CSV, XML, TIFF (and other image formats), and HTML Web Archive. SQL Server 2008 and 2012 SSRS can also prepare reports in Microsoft Word (DOC) format, while third-party report generators offer additional output formats.
Users can interact with the Report Server web service directly, or instead use Report Manager, a Web-based application that interfaces with the Report Server web service. With Report Manager, users can view, subscribe to, and manage reports as well as manage and maintain data sources and security settings. Report Manager can also deliver SQL reports by e-mail, or place them on a file share.
Security is role-based and can be assigned on an individual item, such as a report or data source, a folder of items, or site wide. Security roles and rights are inherited and can be overloaded.
RDL reports can be viewed by using the standalone Report Server that comes with Microsoft SQL Server, or by using the ASP.NET ReportViewer web control, or by using the ReportViewer Windows Forms control. The latter method allows reports to be embedded directly into web pages or .NET Windows applications. The ReportViewer control will process reports by: (a) server processing, where the report is rendered by the Report Server; or (b) local processing, where the control renders the RDL file itself.
SQL Server Reporting Services also support ad hoc reports: the designer develops a report schema and deploys it on the reporting server, where the user can choose relevant fields/data and generate reports. Users can then download the reports locally.
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP1 expands Microsoft support for viewing reports to mobile platforms, including Microsoft Surface, Apple iOS 6 and Windows Phone 8