You’ve probably realised by now that I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of Excel Services (I’ve been asked to join the beta program so you’ll be hearing a lot more about it here soon), but for me the Holy Grail of reporting would be something that incorporated the best bits of Excel Services and Reporting Services, where users could design reports in any Office app, connect them live to different data sources, and then make them available over the web and have them rendered in many different formats. While this might be a pipe dream, I did come across a very interesting product that offers another subset of the functionality I want while looking at Brian Welcker’s blog today: OfficeWriter, from a company called SoftArtisans.
It’s a tool that allows you to automate the production of Excel and Word reports through Reporting Services. There’s a good Technet webcast which gives you a good overview of how it works here, as well as some online documentation here. You basically create your report in Excel or Word, add some references to data sources using a toolbar, and then publish the whole thing to RS; users can then go to RS, render the report and they get the spreadsheet or document you originally designed (with all the original features like charts, formatting, formulas etc) with the data dynamically injected into it. Definitely worth a look.