Differences between Report Builder and Reporting Services
Part one of a seven-part series of blogs

Report Builder and BIDS (the Visual Studio add-in for creating Reporting Services reports) are essentially the same underneath their very different looking skins. This blog lists the small number of differences.

  1. Report Builder vs. Reporting Services - Differences (this blog)
  2. Report Builder Difference 1 - Look and Feel
  3. Difference 2 - Report Builder 3.0 has more wizards
  4. Difference 3 - Creating Datasets in Report Builder
  5. Difference 4 - Expression Intellisense in Report Builder
  6. Difference 5 - Using Report Parts in Report Builder
  7. Other Differences for Report Builder

Posted by Andy Brown on 07 November 2011 | 2 comments

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Report Builder vs. Reporting Services - Differences

You can create reports in two ways in SQL Server Reporting Services:

  • By using BIDS (Business Intelligence Development Studio), a subset of Microsoft's Visual Studio development environment; or
  • By using Report Builder, a standalone application downloadable from the Internet.

This blog explores the differences between the two ways of creating a report.

A note on versions

This blog is specific to SQL Server Reporting Services 2008 R2 and Report Builder 3.0.  At the time of writing (November 2011) these are the latest versions of both applications.

The Underlying Philosophy

Microsoft's intention seems to be this:

  • Developers and programmers creating reports within an IT department for use elsewhere within a company or organisation should be using BIDS.
  • Those developing reports for their own use - perhaps having less technical ability - should use Report Builder.

I'm not sure I agree with this philosophy: I think that the two applications are so similar beneath the hood that they might as well be integrated into a single application, and I personally find the wizards in Report Builder confusing.  But that's just me!

With the above in mind, let's look at the differences!  I've put each one in a separate page to make the article clearer to read.  Although this may seem a long blog, in fact there are very few differences.

This blog has 2 comments

Comment added on 25 April 2012 at 23:36 GMT
Great blog post -- thank you. I'll add that another benefit of BIDS is the ability to integrate with source control (TFS, Vault, SVN, GIT, ...). Nothing like being able to roll-back changes or diff the RDL to a previous version!
Comment added on 12 October 2013 at 15:26 GMT
I only use Query designer when using Report Builder. I build my queries using the Studio with Intellisense and simply paste them into query designer inside Report Builder. When you first click create dataset it gives you the option between the two ways. You may have missed that.

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