Introducing mobile reports and a brand-new web portal

UPDATESQL Server 2016 is now available.

Holiday greetings from Redmond! Today, we’re excited to announce that you can download SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.2 and preview some of the most major enhancements to Reporting Services (Native mode) in years: mobile reports and a brand-new web portal.

In case you missed it…

A few weeks ago at PASS Summit 2015, we communicated our roadmap and unveiled what we’ve been working on. For SQL Server 2016, we’re adding mobile reports – reports optimized for mobile devices. After SQL Server 2016, we’ll be adding support for Power BI Desktop reports as well. Power BI Desktop reports represent the evolution of Power View and enable interactive data exploration and visualization.

Introducing mobile reports

We designed Reporting Services years ago as a platform for designing, generating, and delivering reports in their traditional form – paginated documents. A paginated document is one that lays out content on fixed-size pages, often flowing from one page to the next and generating as many pages as needed to accommodate the content. Paginated reports are ideal for exporting to formats like Word and PDF (which themselves are paginated documents) and for printing. When producing these types of documents, you often want very precise control over formatting, layout, and pagination, and expect them to look “exactly like so” no matter what device or screen people may be using.

Today, we’re doing more and more on our mobile devices and want to view reports on our smartphones and tablets. When you want to provide an optimal experience on these devices, you want to design a different type of layout: a responsive layout that adapts to very different screen sizes and orientations. Enter mobile reports:

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Mobile reports dynamically adjust the content to fit your screen (or browser window). You never see content scrolled out of view or flowing onto a different page. While you can view these reports on your PC as well, they’re really optimized for mobile devices, so let’s take a look at this report on a tablet:

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This is the same report; its responsive layout adapts to provide an optimal experience in the tablet’s portrait orientation. When you view it on a phone, it adapts further still to make the most of the smaller screen:

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Mobile reports are built on Datazen technology we acquired earlier this year. We think these reports that you design from the outset for mobile devices deliver the best experience on the market today for viewing reports on phones and tablets.

Paginated reports and mobile reports are complementary; you can choose the type of report that best fits your needs on a case-by-case basis. When you need to generate and deliver a very precisely-formatted document, you’ll want a paginated report. When you want to optimize for viewing on phones and tablets, you’ll want a mobile report.

The new face of Reporting Services: A brand-new web portal

This is Report Manager as you know it today:

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Well, almost as you know it today; you’ll notice a link in the top-left inviting you to preview the new Reporting Services:

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Follow that link and you’ll find a preview version of a brand-new web portal:

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With this new, modern web portal, you can view all your reports – both mobile and paginated reports – in one place. It’s designed from the outset for modern browsers and built from the ground up on HTML5. Give it a try with your favorite browser, whether Edge, Internet Explorer 10+, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.

In this preview version, you can do a few basics: browse folders, view mobile reports, and view (and export and print) paginated reports. We’re working on support for additional tasks (including management tasks); in the meantime, you can use classic Report Manager for those tasks:

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Note: You might need to update your report server configuration to enable the new web portal. Be sure to read the Release Notes.

Create KPIs and access insights at a glance

Noticed the “KPIs” in the screenshot above? Key performance indicators (KPIs) are another exciting addition and a great way to monitor important metrics and trends at a glance – before you even dive into a report. In addition to a metric’s actual value, you can see the variance from the goal, the status (red, amber, green), and the trend:

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To create a KPI and bind it to data, you’ll need a shared dataset, which in turn connects through a shared data source. You can create a shared data source using classic Report Manager and a shared dataset using Report Builder.

In the new web portal, browse to the folder where you’d like to create the KPI and open the New menu:

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Choose KPI and you’ll see the following with some sample data:

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For each KPI element – Value, Goal, Status, and Trend Set – you can either enter a static value or choose a shared dataset:

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Once you choose a shared dataset, you can choose a specific field within that dataset:

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For Value, Goal, and Status, you’ll want to choose a dataset that returns a single row of data. (These elements use the value in the first row.) For Trend Set, you’ll want to choose a dataset that returns multiple, sorted rows containing a sequence of values:

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And with that, you’ve created a KPI bound to data:

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Note: In this preview version, KPIs don’t update after you create them, but we’re working on that part for an upcoming CTP.

Design mobile reports using SQL Server Mobile Report Publisher

Now that you’ve created a basic KPI, let’s take a look at how you create mobile reports. Much like you use Report Builder, a desktop app, to design and publish paginated reports, you use Mobile Report Publisher, a new desktop app for Windows 7 and later, to design and publish mobile reports.

After opening Mobile Report Publisher, you’ll see a blank layout grid and a gallery of available visualization types – navigators, gauges, charts, maps, and data grids:

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To start designing your report, simply drag-and-drop these visualizations onto the layout grid:

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You can do so before you’ve even added any datasets; in this case, the app generates simulated data, enabling you to prototype a report design in minutes and settle on the end result you want before investing any effort in preparing the data.

By default, you’re designing the “Master” layout, but you can also design layouts for Tablet and Phone:

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After switching to the Phone layout, you simply drag-and-drop the visualizations you already created to optimize the layout for phones:

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At any time, you can switch to the Data view, where you can add shared datasets from your report server and bind your visualizations to fields within those datasets:

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You can also switch to Preview to see how your report looks in Master, Tablet, or Phone layout:

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When you’re ready to publish your report, simply Save As, choose a report server, and browse to a folder:

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Now you and others can view your mobile report in the web portal:

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Access insights on your phone or tablet using Power BI mobile apps

While the new web portal works great on mobile devices, we’re also enhancing the Power BI mobile apps to work with Reporting Services. These native apps provide an optimal experience on your phone or tablet, even more so if you’re using the Power BI service as well, since you can view your dashboards from Power BI and your KPIs and mobile reports from Reporting Services – all in one app. We’re starting with the Power BI apps for iPhone and iPad and planning to add similar support to our Windows and Android apps as well.

In the Power BI app for iOS, open the menu from the top-left:

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Tap Settings to open the Settings page:

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Under SQL Server Reporting Services Preview, tap Connect Server and enter your report server address, username, and password:

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Note: You’ll need to enable Basic authentication on your report server and we recommend enabling HTTPS for secure connections. Depending on your organization’s environment, you may need to configure additional settings, such as firewall rules. Be sure to read Enable a report server for Power BI Mobile access.

After connecting, you can view your KPIs and mobile reports on your mobile device:

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When you open a mobile report, you’ll see the layout optimized for your device:

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Previously released

Read about the many more new features released in previous CTPs:

More to come

We hope you enjoy this preview of these exciting new features. Meanwhile, we’re already hard at work on the next CTP, in which you can expect refinements to KPIs and mobile reports and more functionality in the new web portal.

Happy holidays!

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