Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's official. I HATE Reporting Services.

I started working with Reporting Services about 2 months ago. Coming from a Crystal Reports background, and all of the trials and tribulations that go along with that, I was skeptical but optimistic about working with an alternative.

I put Microsoft's earlier attempt to provide a reporting solution other than Crystal with Visual Studio behind me (which ended up little more than a glorified Print Form) and dived in.

At first I was liking what I saw. Shared data sources was a little bit twitchy, but overall it worked well, and deployment to the report server was a breeze, either through Visual Studio or the web interface. Bringing up a report in a pop up window was a snap. It seemed a bit "wrong" that users would need to install something in order to print those reports. I don't see where/if/how/why HTML rendering wasn't provided. But in all, getting some simple reports out to local users was quite pleasant. Then the trolls started lurking out from under their bridge.

The first point of pain was when I had to generate a rather complex report similar to a cross-tab. Getting the data into the report wasn't a problem, but keeping the report confined to a single page proved to be a challenge. The issue was due to some form of moronic layout engine Microsoft adopted for the report designer. I had a set of text and calculated fields up at the top of the report (my report header) and a tablix control well below them. The tablix control would dynamically create columns based on the report data so it was sized quite small. For some reason the controls starting right of the tablix would shift to the right to always be printed after the end of the tablix control. I could understand this if the controls somehow overlapped, but these were up at the top of the screen. The result was having header controls pushed off onto a second page

No issue, I should be able to just create a section for the report header to stop confusing the layout with the tablix control.... There is no concept of sections in the designer.
My only option was to place these controls in the page header, which in this case is not a major issue but it doesn't give me an option to use a report header.

The real kick to the teeth with Reporting Services is the draconian lock-down making it virtually impossible to expose a report in an extranet capacity. I can understand arguments for not wanting to publish reports on the Internet, and by all means, educate developers to avoid such configuration, or how to do it securely, but to just lock the option out completely? Come on! I have an external site that *isn't* part of our network that needs to get access to the reports. No, we don't use VPN tunnelling or want to set them up as part of our network in any capacity. We just want them to access a website (which is locked down by IP filtering) and be able to click on a link to bring up a report. But it's effectively impossible with Reporting Server 2008.

IMO A reporting service should just GENERATE REPORTS. Let me take care of who has access and how they access it; Reporting services, just produce the bleeping report.

No comments:

Post a Comment