SQLServer 2000 Reporting Services promises to fill the only real hole in the SQL Server product—the lack of a built-in reporting component. Once scheduled for release with the Yukon version of SQL Server, this new reporting functionality will now be available as a download by the end of the year. Here are Reporting Services' seven most important features.

7. Support for SQL Server and Analysis Services


Reporting Services can create reports for relational databases such as SQL Server and for Analysis Services. This flexibility lets users generate reports from SQL Server databases or Analysis Services cubes without using Office or other external applications.

6. Multiple Reporting Options


Reporting Services supports a variety of reporting formats, including Web-based, XML, email, and standard printed reports. In addition to these basic options, Reporting Services supports several more-sophisticated formats including Excel, PDF, and custom formats.

5. Multiple Data-Source Options


Reporting Services isn't limited to using data from Analysis Services and SQL Server databases. The new product is compatible with other databases, including Oracle. Data-source options include ODBC, OLE DB, XML for Analysis, and Web services. Reporting Services can use multiple data sources for a single report and can even use reports as sources for other reports.

4. Flexible Report Delivery


With support for both push- and pull-style report delivery, Reporting Services provides a flexible mechanism for generating reports. In pull-style report delivery, users can run previously created reports on demand. Users can also automate push-style report delivery so that the reporting server generates reports based on predetermined events, for example. Or, an administrator might set the server to generate a report every day at noon, then push the report to users.

3. Report Management


With Reporting Services, SQL Server uses a central catalog to publish and manage report definitions. The central catalog lets users subscribe to personalized reports and lets administrators limit who can run individual reports.

2. .NET Integration


Reporting Services provides a managed-code API that you can use to execute existing report definitions and produce custom report formats and renderings for multiple output devices. You can render reports for various printers, Windows graphical forms, Web-based HTML forms, and even handheld PC devices.

1. Graphical Report Authoring


Reporting Services has a powerful graphical report designer that lets users create report definitions by dragging and dropping design and data elements. Users can also preview reports and make changes before generating final report definitions.