Ever get tired of starting every SSRS report from scratch?

SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is a reporting software that allows developers to produce formatted reports with tables in the form of data, graph, images, and charts. These reports are hosted on a server that can be executed any time using parameters defined by the users. It is part of Microsoft SQL Server Services suite and it’s mainly a stand alone server-based solution that cannot be embedded in web applications.

dotnet Report builder is a tool, which can also be used for reporting and data analysis as well. It is a simple and user friendly solution which helps business users generate their own charts and reports. dotnet Report can be deployed and used a stand alone solution, but it can easily be embedded within web applications as well.

dotnet Report builder is an interface based report designer as compared to SSRS. SSRS also has a report builder/designer, but it’s only meant to be used by software developers where as dotnet Report makes it easy for an end user to create reports as well.

dotnet Report has a graphical interface with the drag-and-drop capability to create reports. You can work with data, filters, charts, and design your reports easily. Whereas, SSRS is a much more manual effort for the developer. It requires a long time to set up and code. Every column, row, font, color needs to be manually configured, which results in a lot of time spend to build the simple reports. With dotnet report builder, it doesn’t require a lot of time to set up and run reports.  It won’t take up any development hours of your programmers.

In this age of data centric business practices, SSRS hobbles the end user by giving them a largely static report. If an end user wants to change the report in any significant way, they have to contact a developer who has to spend many hours updating the report.

This is not the case at all with dotnet Reports, and the key difference, where a powerful and intuitive report builder allows end users to quickly build their own reports, modify their reports, add filter, create dashboards, all with a few mouse clicks.

If we consider accessibility, you can access SSRS only through the portal, which makes it very hard to deploy to external users. Whereas, dotnet Report builder can be deployed easily as a standalone web app or embedded web app, and even works with your system’s security, authentication and user roles architecture.

Creating advanced features such as filters or drill downs in SSRS is very complicated. Going to the first point, everything about SSRS is manual. So, adding filters, dropdowns, drill downs, these all require manual coding by a developer in every instance any of these features need to be added to a report. First they have to setup the Data Source and write a stored procedure, second, setting up the datasets and parameters in SSRS report, and finally designing the report.

SSRS Report Designer
Designing filters in SSRS
Choosing datasets in SSRS

This results in a lot of manpower being tied up in getting these features into the reports. With dotnet Report, this process is again at the fingertips of the end user. It has an easy to use interface to create complicated filter groups that is simple for end users. The users can just pick the fields, groups and filters, and the system dynamically generates and runs the sql query for the report.

Choosing data in dotnet Report
Choosing filters in dotnet Report
Choosing aggregates and other options in dotnet report
Sample Report

So to summarize, embedding SSRS into applications is painful. There is an increasing demand for ad hoc custom reports by many companies. There is also a demand to embed these report features into existing applications, such and ERP solutions, CRM solutions, and other applications. SSRS is very hard to embed into existing solutions. dotnet Report, on the other hand, is very easy to embed seamlessly into existing solutions. This allows end users to have a better experience from the reporting solution and allows developers to create much better products for their customers with embedded reporting capabilities.

Deciding on which one to go with will always depend on the user’s requirement. However, if you require creating and using interactive and analytical reports with rich graphics that needs to be embedded in your application and end users need to be able to customize or create reports, dotnet Report Builder should be the clear choice.

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