Reporting Services makes it easy for you to build data-driven reports and deploy them to a server so that everyone in your organization can access them. End users can then access these reports by using a Web browser or custom application. With SQL Server 2005, Reporting Services also enables end users to build their own reports to get the information they need for business decisions.
Compared to the other components of SQL Server, Reporting Services is a relative newcomer. The original goal of Reporting Services came from a desire to make SQL Server more immediately accessible to end users. Although SQL Server provided lots of tools and services for managing data, it didn't have much for delivering that data to end users.
The Reporting Services team began working on Reporting Services in 2001 and had originally intended it to be part of the "Yukon" release (which was eventually named SQL Server 2005). When we began showing early builds of the product to customers, the response was overwhelming and led us to release the product early. We released the first version as an add-on in early 2004. In 2005, we joined the rest of SQL Server to deliver the current version.
This chapter begins with an overview of Reporting Services tools and walks the reader through several scenarios that highlight some of key functionality of the product while also providing insights, tips, and techniques. We hope you will find many valuable how-to techniques throughout this chapter.