What's New in Report Authoring


For SQL Server 2008 R2, there have been no changes to the content that is listed in this topic.

SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services offers major new features for reports and the report authoring experience. New data controls, data regions, data source types, and an improved design experience in Report Designer will fundamentally change the kinds of reports you can create.

New Feature List

  • New and Enhanced Data Source types
    This release introduces a new data processing extension for Teradata data sources for reports and report models.

  • Enhanced Chart Data Region
    This release includes a redesigned chart control that supports many new chart types, more control over axes and formulas, and an improved user interface that makes it easier to create and work with charts.

  • New Gauge Data Region
    This release introduces the new Gauge data region, providing a highly visual way to emphasize a single value through a stand-alone gauge, multiple gauges inside of a gauge panel or inside a Table, Matrix or List data region template.

  • New Tablix Data Region for Table, Matrix, and List
    This release introduces the new Tablix data region, which combines table, list, and matrix structures into a single structure. It presents more options for grouping rows and columns so that you customize the way you summarize and display data.

  • Enhancements to Report Designer
    This release includes enhancements to Report Designer to provide easy access to data and design elements.

  • New Report Builder 2.0
    Report Builder 2.0 offers many new features, like enhanced data layout, visualization and text formatting, and on-demand rendering, in a Microsoft Office-like authoring environment.

  • New and Enhanced Report Items and RDL Elements
    This release introduces a number of incremental changes to Report Definition Language (RDL) that correspond to report processor enhancements for on-demand processing and consistent pagination.

New and Enhanced Data Source Types

Included in SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services are new data processing extensions that enable you to report from the following data source:

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Enhanced Chart Data Region

The new Chart data region supports a richer set of data visualization features. The new chart types include bar/column cylinder, pyramid, funnel, polar, radar, stock, candlestick, range column, range bar, smooth area, smooth line, stepped line, and box plot chart types. There is also built-in support for Pareto and Histogram charts.

A series can be displayed on any specified chart area and in any specified legend. You can insert empty points in place of missing data. You can combine multiple chart areas, multiple legends, and multiple titles on the same chart.

There is new support for secondary axes, which enable you to display multiple series using more than one axis. On each axis, you can set options to add scale breaks, logarithmic scales, custom axis intervals, and interlaced strip lines.

The new Chart data region supports automatic interval labeling to avoid label collisions, customizable rotation angles, font size and text-wrap properties for axis label calculations, support for axis crossing at custom positions, and support for background strip lines at regular or custom intervals.

You have more control to label, align and color your chart. Smart labels for data points adjust text to avoid label collisions. Custom color palettes and automatic alignment of multiple chart areas make it easier to improve the appearance and layout of charts in your report. You can collect small slices on a pie chart into one slice, drill down or show ToolTip information on individual data points, and place stacked bars or columns side-by-side in any number of stacks. The pie, doughnut, bar, and column charts support 2D and 3D drawing effects.

New design and run-time support for automatically calculated series on the chart are introduced in this release. Reporting Services provides built-in functions for 15 commonly used calculations, including statistical analysis, moving averages, and financial indicators. You can select a formula to create a new series of data points that is calculated at run time.

  • The user interface has been enhanced to make it easier to work with chart types. There are new dialog boxes for each chart element, shortcut menus for each chart element, support for text editing directly on the chart for titles and labels, a new chart type selector, and the ability to drag, drop, and rearrange fields in the drop-zone of a chart. This enables you to easily change the order in which series appear on a chart.

For more information, see Charts (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS) and Report Definition Chart Overview Diagram.

New Gauge Data Region

The new Gauge data region is most often used to provide a high-level summary of your data by highlighting key performance indicator (KPI) values. The gauge uses a pointer to show a single value. You can add a range to highlight a subset of values on your scale and control the size and positioning of the scale on the gauge to create different visual effects.

The Gauge data region is a gauge panel that contains one more or gauges. You can combine multiple gauges into a gauge panel to show single values side by side. You can apply filtering or sorting on the gauge panel. You can choose between radial and linear gauge types. There is a specific thermometer gauge type to visualize temperature data. You can select a bullet graph from the list of linear gauges. For more information, see Gauges (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

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New Tablix Data Region

The new Tablix data region is a generalized data region item that combines features of both a table and a matrix. In SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services, the Tablix data region replaces the Table, Matrix, and List data regions by combining their features into one flexible grid layout. In RDL syntax, the Tablix element replaces the Table, Matrix, and List elements from previous RDL schemas.

The Tablix data region improves report layout flexibility and provides a more consistent rendering behavior. It uses a flexible grid layout to support multiple row groups and column groups. Groups are organized on a row hierarchy and a column hierarchy. Groups can be nested, adjacent, or recursive. After you add a Tablix data region, you can use the Grouping pane to quickly and easily create row and column groups, and add totals, subtotals, and grand totals. The Tablix data region automatically adjusts to include rows and columns on which to display group and summary data.

Tablix opens up new possibilities for working with complex and aggregated data, but does not prevent you from working with simple table and matrix structures. Report Designer provides three templates for the Tablix data region: Table, Matrix, and List, which you can drag from the Toolbox and use as a starting point for your reports. From here, you can design complex reports that integrate features of the various report types. In a tablix cell, you can embed any report item, including another data region.

For more information, see Tables, Matrices, and Lists (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS), Filtering, Grouping, and Sorting Data (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS), and Report Definition Tablix Overview Diagram.

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New Enhancements for Text and HTML

The text box report item has been enhanced. You can mix fonts and colors, add bold and italic styles, and use paragraph styles such as alignment and hanging indents. You can format an entire text box or you can format specific text, numbers, expressions, or fields within the text box. You can also import basic HTML from a field in your database for display in the report. You can create mail merges or template reports that mix data from a database with literal text on the design surface. The new release also provides full support for international complex scripts. For more information, see Formatting Text and Placeholders (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

Report authors who use expressions in their reports will notice that simple expressions appear on the design surface as placeholder text. For example, in a text box on the design surface, the expression =Fields!Sales.Value is displayed as [Sales]. For more information, see Expressions (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

Enhancements to Report Designer

The most noticeable change to the Report Designer work area is that the Data tab in Report Designer has been replaced with a Report Data pane that organizes all report data into one place that is always visible as you create the report layout. The Report Data pane shows you data sources, datasets, parameters, images, and built-in fields. Query designers can be accessed from the dataset.

The design surface supports a richer designer experience. Rulers show the current report item position and visible snap lines while you drag and resize items.

Other changes include a new Grouping pane that provides a convenient way to create groups for a Tablix data region, and new property dialog boxes to set properties for report items.

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Report Builder 2.0

The new release of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Report Builder 2.0 offers many new features, like enhanced data layout, visualization and text formatting, and on-demand rendering. Report Builder 2.0 leverages your experience with Office 2007 products by featuring an Office-like authoring environment. You can create reports with multiple data regions, pull data from multiple data sources into a single report, and directly query relational and multidimensional data sources.

You can customize and update all existing reports, regardless of whether they were designed in Report Designer or in the previous version of the tool, Report Builder 1.0, which was installed with SQL Server 2005. Report Builder 1.0 will continue to be installed with Microsoft SQL Server 2008. For more information, see Report Builder 3.0 and Getting Started with Report Builder 2.0.

You can install the new Report Builder 2.0 separately from the Web. Go to the SQL Server 2008 Feature Pack and search for Report Builder 2.0.

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New and Enhanced Report Items and RDL Elements

Report Definition Language (RDL) defines the syntax for a Reporting Services report. In this release, major changes to RDL include the addition of Tablix, Chart, and Gauge data regions, which are described in the previous section. However this release also includes incremental enhancements to support the new report processing model and the new report rendering model. For more information, see Report Definition Language XML Schema and Report Definition XML Diagrams.

RDL Page Elements

RDL page elements have been redesigned to provide more consistent control over page breaks when you export a report to different renderers. New RDL elements include PageSections, PageSection, and PageBreak. Page headers and footers, page margins, columns, column spacing, the InteractiveHeight element and the InteractiveWidth element have moved from the Report parent element to the Page parent element. New support for KeepTogether and KeepWithGroup has been introduced to support better control over pagination. For more information, see Understanding Pagination in Reporting Services (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS), Understanding Rendering Behaviors (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS), Report Definition Report Layout Overview Diagram, and Report Definition Language XML Schema.

Explicit Null Values

The new attribute xsi:nil="true" enables you to distinguish between an element that is explicitly null instead of one that is not specified.

Processing-time Variables

You can declare variables that are global throughout the report or local to particular group scopes. You can use a global variable to calculate an expression one time, and then use that value in expressions throughout the report. The DeferVariableEvaluation element controls whether a variable is evaluated during on-demand processing of the report. Do not set this value if the variable has a time-dependency. For more information, see Using Report and Group Variables Collections References (Report Builder 3.0 and SSRS).

Data type for constants

The Value element has an optional DataType attribute that specifies the data type of the value if it is a constant. If DataType is omitted, a constant uses the String data type. DataType can be Boolean, DateTime, Integer, Float, or String.

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