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SQL Server Reporting Services 2012 versus 2008 R2
SQL Server Reporting Services 2012 (SSRS 2012) has been completely rewritten (it's now called SQL Server Data Tools), and yet looks strangely familiar. This blog explains the new features introduced.

Posted by Andy Brown on 08 May 2012

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SQL Server Reporting Services 2012 - What's New?

Microsoft have released SQL Server 2012!  I thought I'd blog on the differences for Reporting Services 2012 (and on the SQL language and SQL Server Management Studio in a separate blog).

Summary of Differences for SSRS 2012

The short answer to what's changed in SSRS 2012 is: everything, and nothing.

Everything, because the entire software has been rewritten:

SSRS 2012 menu

The editing tool is no longer called BIDS, and it runs inside Visual Studio 2010, not 2008.


Nothing, because once you get inside the software, everything looks the same:

Creating a report in SSRS 2012

Look familiar? It should do if you're used to Reporting Services 2008.

There's one important exception to this rule, which is if you're using Reporting Services within SharePoint.  I'll cover this under a separate heading below.

SQL Server Data Tools and BIDS

Here's a before and after for SSRS 2012:

What Before After
Software Visual Studio 2008 Visual Studio 2010
Name for software Business Intelligence Development Studio (BIDS) SQL Server Data Tools

This sounds like there's been a huge change, and from Microsoft's point of view, there has.  Visual Studio 2010 was completely written using something called WPF.  Unfortunately, SSRS 2008 R2 and Visual Studio 2010 were developed in parallel, which is why SSRS 2008 R2 wasn't included within Visual Studio 2010 when they were each first released.  Microsoft have now rectified this.

Do you care about all of this?  Probably not.  SQL Server Data Tools is virtually identical to BIDS (I include the word virtually to cover myself - I haven't yet found a difference).

SQL Server Reporting Services within SharePoint

There's one caveat for the above nothing-has-really-changed summary: SharePoint.  If you're using SSRS within SharePoint, you have two new features available to you.

  • PowerView is an SSRS add-in for SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise Edition.  It provides drag-and-drop ad hoc reporting, using a new file format (RDLX).  It's similar to PowerPivot for Excel.
  • Alerts allow you to send emails to report users when data changes in a predefined way (think of them as dynamic subscriptions, and you won't be far wrong).

Wise Owl will be continuing to run standalone Reporting Services courses for the forseeable future, but existing clients are welcome to visit our office to see a demonstration of PowerView and Data Alerts within SharePoint.

Excel and Word 2007 and 2010 Reports

If you choose to send your SSRS 2012 report to Word or Excel, version 2007/2010 rendering is now supported:

Word and Excel reports

You can now render reports as .docx or .xlsx.


This feature is also included in Report Builder for SQL Server 2012.

Report Builder Changes

Finally, how have Microsoft upgraded Report Builder?  Answer: hardly at all.  As far as I can tell, there is no such thing as Report Builder 4.0 - just a slightly upgraded version of Report Builder 3.0 for use with SQL Server 2012.

I strongly suspect that Report Builder will eventually be left to die out, to be superseded by PowerPivot for Excel.  I'd be surprised if it receives any more significant upgrades.

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