Reporting Services Reports (SSRS)

SQL Server Reporting Services paginated reports are XML-based report definitions that include report data and report layout elements. On a client file system, report definitions have the file extension .rdl. After you publish a paginated report, it is a report item stored on the report server or SharePoint site. Paginated reports are one part of the server-based reporting platform provided by Reporting Services. You can also Create mobile reports with SQL Server Mobile Report Publisher.

If you are new to Reporting Services, be sure to review the information in Reporting Services Concepts (SSRS).

Benefits of Reporting Services paginated reports

You can use Reporting Services report solutions to:

  • Use one set of data sources that provide a single version of the facts. Base reports on those data sources to provide a unified view of data to help make business decisions.

  • Visualize your data in multiple, interconnected ways by using data regions. Display data organized in tables, matrices or cross-tabs, expand/collapse groups, charts, gauges, indicators or KPIs, and maps, with the ability to nest charts in tables.

  • View reports for your own use or publish reports to a report server or SharePoint site to share with your team or organization.

  • Define a report once and display it in a variety of ways. You can export the report to multiple file formats, or deliver the report to subscribers as e-mail or to a shared file. You can create multiple linked reports that apply separate parameter sets to the same report definition.

  • Use report parts, shared data sources, shared queries, and subreports to define data visualizations for re-use.


    Report parts are deprecated for all releases of SQL Server Reporting Services starting with SQL Server Reporting Services 2019 and all releases of Power BI Report Server starting with Power BI Report Server September 2022.

  • Manage report data sources separately from the report definition. For example, you can change from a test data source to a production data source without changing the report.

  • Design reports in a free-form layout. Report layout is not restricted to bands of information. You can organize data display on the page in a way that promotes understanding, insight, and action.

  • Enable drillthrough actions, expand/collapse toggles, sort buttons, Tooltips, and report parameters to enable report reader interactions with the report. Use report parameters combined with expressions that you write to enable report readers to control how data is filtered, grouped, and sorted.

  • Define expressions that provide you with the ability to customize how report data is filtered, grouped, and sorted.

    Screenshot of Getting Started Report.

Stages of report processing

When you create a report, you define a report definition file (.rdl) in XML format. This file contains all the information that is needed to combine report data and report layout by the report processor. When you view a report, the report progresses through the following stages:

  • Compile. Evaluate expressions in the report definition and store the compiled intermediate format internally on the report server.

  • Process. Run dataset queries, and combine intermediate format with data and layout.

  • Render. Send processed report to a rendering extension to determine how much information fits on each page and create the paged report.

  • Export (optional). Export the report to a different file format.

For more information, see Stages of reports in Reporting Services Concepts (SSRS).

Create paginated reports

To create a paginated report:

Preview reports

Each report authoring tool supports previewing a report. For more information, see the Preview section of Design Reports with Report Designer (SSRS), and Previewing Reports in Report Builder.

Save or publish reports

Each authoring tool supports saving a report locally or publishing the report to a report server or SharePoint site. For more information, see the Save and Deploy section of Design Reports with Report Designer (SSRS), and Saving Reports (Report Builder).

View reports

In addition to previewing a report saved locally or published to a report server, you can provide a variety of viewing experiences for your report readers. To view a report:

Manage reports

To manage a published report:

  • Data sources. Shared and embedded data sources are managed independently from the report definition.

  • Datasets. Shared datasets are managed independently from the report definition.

  • Parameters. Parameters are managed independently from the report definition. After parameters are changed on the report server, report authoring clients cannot publish over the changes made on the server.

  • Resources. Images and spatial data in ESRI shapefiles are resources that can be published and managed independently from the report definition.

  • Report cache. By scheduling large reports to run during off-peak hours, you can reduce processing impact on the report server during core business hours.

  • Snapshots. Use report snapshots when you want to provide consistent results for multiple users who must work with identical sets of data. With volatile data, an on-demand report can produce different results from one minute to the next. A report snapshot, by contrast, allows you to make valid comparisons against other reports or analytical tools that contain data from the same point in time.

  • Report history. By creating a series of report snapshots, you can build a history of a report that shows how data changes over time.

For more information about performance, see Performance, Snapshots, Caching (Reporting Services).

Secure reports

To secure a report:

As the report server administrator, identify the authorization and authentication system that is used for your Reporting Services installation. By default, Reporting Services uses Windows authentication, integrated security, and role assignment to help control access to published reports. For more information, see Roles and Permissions (Reporting Services) and Reporting Services Security and Protection.

Create notifications based on report data

You can create data alerts for published reports on a SharePoint site. Data alerts are based on data feeds from data regions in the report. By default, data regions are named automatically. Report authors can make it easier to create data alerts in their reports by naming data regions based on their business purpose. When you create a data alert, you are notified in email when data meets the conditions that you specify. For more information, see Generating Data Feeds from Reports (Report Builder and SSRS), Create a Data Alert in Data Alert Designer and Reporting Services Data Alerts.

Upgrade reports

Reporting Services supports multiple versions of report definitions, report servers, and SharePoint sites. To upgrade a report:

Troubleshoot reports

To troubleshoot a report:

  • Determine where the issue is occurring. Review the information in Stages of a Report.

  • Determine where you can find more information. For example, for report design that includes expressions, the Report Designer tool provides more information about expression evaluation issues than the Report Builder tool. For report processing errors, the log files contain detailed information.

See also

Reporting Services Tools
Extensions (SSRS)
Comparing native and SharePoint Reporting Services report servers