Third-party tools from Microsoft partners are also available

Third-party tools from Microsoft partners are also available for creating reports using Reporting Services. See Chapter 23 for a list of supported third-party products. Continuing the tour of Reporting Services features and/or terminology brings us to the Report Manager, an ASP.NET application built into the Web service to enable you to manage the reports that you create. This tool organizes reports into easily maintained folders of reports, data sources, and report resources. It allows an administrator to control access, security, and extended usage and also provides an interface for end users to access and view reports easily. Report Manager has features that allow you to create Report History snapshots for point-in-time information. You can also define subscriptions that allow reports to be delivered to users via e-mail or through Web sites. Report Manager also controls server functionality, such as the report cache, and other features that influence overall report distribution performance. I ll be saying lots more about the Report Manager in later sections, where I concentrate on managing, securing, and distributing reports. Another tool available from the Report Manager is Report Builder, which is a report authoring tool that complements Report Designer. It is a click once Windows application and is run from a full Windows application running on the report server. Whereas Report Designer can create very flexible and complex reports, Report Builder is designed for the business end user who needs to create an ad hoc report. Business users can drag and drop key information elements without having to know anything about the databases they come from. As such, Report Builder supports a more intuitive style of building reports. When I talk about Report Builder, I m talking about a thin application meaning that it is a small separate application that starts up quickly and runs within Reporting Services that is downloaded to your machine when you access it. It provides a rich development environment displaying more information about all the relationships and hierarchies (such as models) in the data sources that you use to create the report. A Model Builder utility for maintaining these relationships and hierarchies is accessible through Visual Studio. Connecting to a data source In order to create reports, you must first connect to a source of data. Reporting Services allows access to any data source with an ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) driver. It also supports OLE DB (Object Linking and Embedding database) connectivity to a wide variety of data sources, including some legacy data sources and most other relational databases such as Oracle, DB2, and Informix. You can also access flat-file data sources (text files) and hierarchical data sources if an ODBC driver supports it. This provides flexibility in sourcing the information for further data processing and any resulting analyses. Applications can be written to connect to SQL and even OLAP data sources as well as OLE DB-compliant data sources. Chapter 1: Getting Familiar with Reporting Services 17

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