Reporting Services


I had a good time at the PASS European conference last week – had a few drinks, met a lot of people, and learnt a lot too. One of the sponsors of the event was a new company who have a product for Reporting Services that I hadn’t heard of:
What their product does is offer a user-friendly way of creating Reporting Services reports. At this point you’re probably saying, hold on – isn’t that what Report Builder does? Well, yes, and even though in their marketing materials they go to great lengths to say that they aren’t competing with Report Builder (a great example of the ‘big lie’ theory applied) anyone with half a brain can see that they are. Which, of course, might be a big problem if Report Builder didn’t suck… well, maybe that’s harsh, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually likes it. Its big problem is its confusing UI, which is in turn linked to RB’s ability to create queries which span multiple tables – it’s not easy to convey table relationships, which fields it makes sense to display next to each other etc. Bob SQL Reporting Services blog has some good detail on this:
Having seen some demos of it – although not actually used it – RSInteract has a slick AJAX-y UI, quite smart-looking and clear, so I’d put it that down in its favour. It achieves this through not being anywhere near as ambitious as Report Builder – you can only write reports which are based on one table, view or stored procedure as I understand it. On one hand this is quite limiting, and it does push work back to the IT guys to make sure all the data you want is available in that table/view/sp, but if you genuinely do want a tool that non-technical users can use then I think that’s a necessary sacrifice because it removes a lot of complexity.
One downer, at least from my point of view, is that I understand that their Analysis Services support isn’t ready yet, although it’s coming soon. Overall though, definitely worth checking out.

5 thoughts on “RSInteract

  1. It is possible to join tables using RSinteract so you\’re not restricted to just the one when building a report. However we would agree that this is not something a business user would typically do – better to get IT to work this out first in most cases. More importantly it is possible to produce "mixed" reports that draw on different data sources – so one section of an RSinteract report can be from a table or view and another from a stored procedure or SQL statement, for example. The end user interface is the same for all so it doesn\’t get too confusing for the business user.
    Analysis services support on its way……. will keep you posted.

  2. Quick poll:
    Who agrees that Chris would have much more credibility if he were to sport a beard of some description?  Poll options are:
    i) No beard – they\’re rubbish!
    ii) Moustache only (hey if it\’s good enough for Mosha …)
    iii) Full, bushy beard
    iii) Goatee
    iv) Freestyle beard (please specify)
    My vote goes to ii) – a nice full beard for Chris.
    Vote away!

  3. Come on blog-readers, join in the fun!  I\’m very disappointed by your response to the beard poll.  I know you\’re out there. 
    Chris has agreed to grow the beard of choice – as chosen by us his devoted fans, based on poll results as of 7th March – as long as there are more than 10 votes!  Don\’t let me down!

  4. Well fine.  I give up.  I suppose those stereotypes about BI people being boring old, humourless gits must be true after all.  Lighten up people!

  5. I\’ve just got it going against an SSAS Cube, and my first impressions are good. There were a couple of glitches installing it, but their support guy was very good, and I\’m pleased I persevered.
    I\’ll let you know when I\’ve had a better play with it.

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