More Reporting Services enhancements in SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.4

UPDATESQL Server 2016 is now available.

In our previous blog post, we announced the availability of SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.3 and a preview of a couple of enhancements we’re making to Reporting Services. Today, just a few weeks later, we’re announcing that CTP 2.4 is available for download and includes another round of Reporting Services enhancements: parameter positioning, export to PowerPoint, and printing for modern browsers.

Position report parameters the way you want

Report parameters are one of the most powerful features in Reporting Services and the key to creating dynamic, flexible reports. Over the years, we’ve seen you use parameters to do some pretty clever tricks. You’ve always had somewhat limited control over the visual layout of parameters, though, and we’ve definitely heard your feedback in that regard.

With CTP 2.4, for the first time ever, you as a report author have direct control over parameter positioning. You’ll now see the Parameters pane in Design view, where you can insert a parameter in a particular position or move existing parameters using drag-and-drop:

With this design-time control, you can choose the position of each parameter, create more than two columns of parameters, and even insert space between groups of parameters. When you preview your report, you’ll see the layout that you designed and that your users will see:

We’ll explore these enhancements in a little more detail in an upcoming blog post.

Export reports to PowerPoint

You can already export reports to Microsoft Word and Excel as well as to other formats such as PDF, but when it comes to presenting information to an audience, PowerPoint is often the tool of choice and many of you have sought an easier way to get content from reports into PowerPoint slides. We’re excited to add PowerPoint to the list of built-in export formats. You can now export an entire report to a set of PowerPoint slides:

After exporting, you can further modify the generated slides as needed. Want to combine a couple of slides into one? You can move, resize, and copy-and-paste individual charts, gauge panels, and maps. Want to change the title of a slide or add a comment? You can edit and format heading text or add you own.

Print reports from modern browsers

Printing in Reporting Services has for years used ActiveX technology, which worked well as long as you could install the ActiveX control. In some enterprises, for security reasons, users can’t install software on their PCs and couldn’t install the ActiveX control, so deploying the ActiveX control across the enterprise was a challenge. Furthermore, more and more of you are using modern browsers that don’t support ActiveX, so you can’t print.

With CTP 2.4, we have a new approach to printing that’s designed for modern browsers and doesn’t require ActiveX. You might recognize the experience if you’ve ever printed from Word Online. When you print a report, you generate a printer-friendly PDF (with the opportunity to override the report’s default page size):

What you see next varies a little depending on your browser. In Internet Explorer with Acrobat Reader, you’ll see something like the following:

In Google Chrome, meanwhile, you’ll see Chrome’s print dialog and preview:

Several modern browsers, including Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome, have built-in support for viewing and printing PDF documents, while for Internet Explorer, plugins such as Acrobat Reader are ubiquitous. Even in the unlikely case you have neither, you can still download the printer-friendly PDF.

Update on modern browser support

With CTP 2.3, we introduced the first preview of our new HTML renderer designed to render your reports correctly and consistently across modern browsers. We’ve made more progress and you can try an updated version in CTP 2.4. Give your reports a whirl in Edge, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari and let us know how they look.

Try it now

Send us your feedback

What do you think of the new parameter positioning feature? How do your reports look exported to PowerPoint or printed? Any other feedback? Share it with us in the Reporting Services forum, or if you prefer, send us an email.