Editorial: The SSRS 2008 Minefield

Editorial extract from the Simple-Talk Newsletter:


Editorial: The SSRS 2008 Minefield

One of the big advances in Microsoft’s "2008 platform", with regard to Reporting Services, was that there would be a single, consistent Report Definition Language (RDL) across all the products. This means that reports developed in Report Builder can be shared with reports developed in BIDS, and vice-versa. While one can immediately appreciate the advantages of this, it’s disappointing that it seems, on this occasion, to have been at the expense of compatibility efforts.

If you’ve developed reports in Visual Studio 2008 and expect to be able to deploy them to SSRS 2005, then think again. You can’t. They will only work with SSRS 2008. This one is perhaps more understandable, given the extent of the changes to RDL, although it has inconvenienced more than a few developers.

Conversely, however, if you are a customer who has made the technical investment in SSRS 2008, you have every right to look forward using your Visual Studio ReportViewer controls across both VS 2008 and SSRS 2008. Well, think again (again), because you can’t. While Microsoft made big efforts to improve the number and quality of the report controls available in SSRS 2008, the VS ReportViewer 2008 control is not one of them. It still based on the 2005 version of RDL and so won’t work with SSRS 2008.

One can appreciate the extreme difficulties in coordinating releases, and dealing with dependencies across all the different products and versions, but it’s still hard to understand why Microsoft has not rectified this issue. About four years ago many people discovered the joy of being able to deliver reports to SQL Express clients, allowing them to move away from disparate reporting solutions based on Crystal Reports, MySQL and so on. In many cases, this ultimately led to a purchase of a full SQL Server 2005 license. However, it also means that there are now thousands of reporting clients that are dependent on the VS ReportViewer control, and so are "blocking" any potential upgrade to SQL Server 2008!
The lack of clear communication on this issue is even more difficult to accept. Back in August 2008, Bill Vaughan printed a retraction to his earlier assertion that SSRS 2008 and the ReportViewer control would work together, suggesting that the problem would be resolved in around 6 months. It has still not happened. Since then, there has been very little news.

Indeed, if you read http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms345248.aspx perhaps you could be forgiven for being led to believe that SSRS 2008 and the VS ReportViewer control play nicely together and so pressing forward with the SSRS 2008 upgrade. Having migrated and tested potentially hundreds of reports and overcome numerous architectural changes and challenges, many will find it extremely disappointing that the anticipated reward to their reporting clients remains elusively out of reach.

As always, I’d love to hear your experiences with this issue; please add your comments to the editorial blog. The best contribution will win a $50 Amazon voucher. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the previous "Index Fragmentation Anxiety" editorial; the winner of the Amazon voucher is timothyawiseman.


October 20, 2009 · Rahul Desai · No Comments
Posted in: SQL Server, Tools, Tips & Utilities, Visual Studio

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