What is SSRS?SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is Microsoft's reporting platform. It allows users to design reports with data sets tied to different data sources (e.g. SQL data bases, SharePoint lists). This is done with a type of XML file: RDL (Report Definition Language). SSRS RDL files can be exported to different file formats using the Reporting Services rendering extensions (Excel, Word, PDF, HTML etc.)
The RDL contains information about the data sources, data sets, queries, connection strings and more. It also contains information about the look and feel of the report. Reports are typically designed in Visual Studio or with Report Builder.
For more information about SSRS, please refer to this MSDN article.
OfficeWriter SSRS Integration Components
OfficeWriter fits into SSRS with two parts:
How does the OfficeWriter SSRS Integration Work?
Designing a Report
The RDL file contains information about connecting to data sources, queries, as well as report design information. The OfficeWriter Designer adds its own data and design information to the report, which will be used by the OfficeWriter Renderer to export the report. The Designer sections off a part of the RDL for storing this information separately from the rest of the RDL file. In particular, the Designer saves a binary copy of the Excel or Word template file to the RDL and information about binding the report data to that Excel or Word template file.
Exporting a Report
When the report is exported using the Renderer, Reporting Services retrieves the data from the queries and data source locations stored in the RDL. It passes this data along to whichever renderer was selected for exporting the report.
The OfficeWriter Renderer loads the copy of the Excel or Word template file and binds the data from Reporting Services to the template. The Renderer is actually using ExcelTemplate or WordTemplate to bind the data to produce the output.
Why use the OfficeWriter Integration?
The default renderering extensions for Reporting Services deliver flat, static output. In order to render for multiple extensions such as HTML and PDF, the basic report design cannot accomodate specific features, such as multiple worksheets in Excel. This also means that certain features like charts cannot be dynamic in the output because not all the rendering extensions support Excel charts, so charts are exported as images. Also, until SSRS 2008 R2, there wasn't a default rendering extension for Word.
Using OfficeWriter for Reporting Services allows end-users to Design reports in Excel and Word and make use of many specific features in those applications.
Interested? Learn more about OfficeWriter for SQL Server Reporting Services!