I just finished watching an online demo of a great new Reporting Services report designer called "Radius". It's a new report designer created by the folks at 90 Degree Software, and I think it’s going to be a home run.
It has a number of things going for it when compared to BIDS and/or Report Builder to design a report:
- Object Reuse: If you create a report which contains a table and a chart, you can actually publish the report to a library for re-use. At that point, the report is "deconstructed" and items in the report are saved so that you can use them again in other reports. This really makes for RAD report building because you can re-use things like a custom report header (complete with corporate images, etc.), very complex tables, and charts, whatever. This is a huge plus for users who don't know HOW to create this stuff. You as a developer can just create a library of "report parts" (my description, not 90 Degree's) which your users can add to their own reports.
- Office 2007 look and feel: Can you say "Ribbons"? The UI is beautiful in this tool and looks about as close to an Office app as you can get. No more digging around in the menu system!
- It's embeddable! You can integrate this tool INTO your application...or integrate parts of your application INTO Radius via Add-ins. The idea of being able to give your users a report builder which understands YOUR custom application and schemas is a great idea and really innovative.
This sucker really hits a sweet spot between developers (Report Designer) and normal users (Report Builder). You can give it to a user with a basic understanding of databases and relationships, and they can generate a much more complex and eye-pleasing report than they could in Report Builder. However, they still don't have to be a "developer" and understand expressions, etc.
Try it out!