A Comprehensive SSRS Tutorial in 2021


In today’s world, reports are important. This SSRS tutorial will serve to introduce and explain the SSRS meaning and working of SQL server reporting services. SSRS or SQL Server Reporting Services is software used in reporting that produces such reports with formatted tables containing data, charts, images and graphs, which are user-parameters defined and hosted on the server. These reports are found in the Microsoft SQL Server Services Suite’s SSRS in SQL server and can be user executed at any time.

In this article let us look at:

  1. Types of Reporting Services
  2. Why SSRS?
  3. Example of SSRS reporting
  4. Features of SSRS
  5. How SSRS Works?
  6. SSRS Architecture
  7. Reporting Life Cycle
  8. What is RDL?
  9. Types of SSRS reports
  10. Advantages of using SSRS
  11. Disadvantages of using SSRS

1. Types of Reporting Services

The 3 types of SSRS reporting services in the SSRS tutorial are Microsoft SQL Sever’s 

  1. Integration services integrating data from varied sources.
  2. Analytical services.
  3. Reporting service providing visual data reports.

2. Why SSRS?

The main reasons are

  • SSRS tool is more enhanced than Crystal Reports.
  • It has faster report processing with multidimensional and relational data.
  • Its user decision-making tool is more accurate.
  • No professional skills are needed to allow users to interact with data. 
  • It has a World Wide Web-based connection for report deployment over the internet.
  • SSRS reports can be exported in different formats and delivered via email.
  • It provides a range of security and control features when accessing reports.

3. Example of SSRS reporting

Take the SSRS tutorial example of a medical research institute’s SSRS report on patients recruited for various clinical trials. In this SSRS report example, the staff will create a patient-based data record when one agrees to be part of the trial. The hospital is paid by the drug company depending on its participation price. 

Without SSRS report example SSRS, one needs to manually send email reports to the drug company with the total weekly number of participants adding patient details, the number of trials, drugs used, test results and so on in a pre-agreed upon format. With the SSRS administration tutorial tools, time is saved as it provides the pre-defined format’s on-demand reports and the drug company can run/ access the report on the data cloud.

4. Features of SSRS

  • SSRS provides SOAP-Simple Object Access Protocol applications with plug-in architecture and SQL reporting tools.
  • It can access managed ODBC, OLE or DB connections to retrieve data.
  • It creates ad-hoc reports that can be server saved while having various formats of display like charts, free-form or tabular forms.
  • Using the report-processing extension helps create customized controls.
  • One can use SharePoint to integrate external data, and the reports can be embedded with images or graphics.
  • Gauge and Chart control features provide for KPI data display.

5. How SSRS Works?

The essential steps in the SSRS tutorial are

  1. A request is sent to the SSRS server when some insights into data are needed by any user.
  2. SSRS server locates the metadata and requests the data sources for the data.
  3. Data sent by the data source is merged into a report with report definition and generated to be sent to the client.

6. SSRS Architecture

SSRS architecture is complex and includes development, administration and reporting tools besides the report viewers.

SSRS components in the SSRS tutorial that are important are

  • Report Builder: This useful SSRS report builder tool has a drag and drop interface with on-demand report publishing tools on a client’s computer. 
  • Report Designer: The publishing tool is used to develop all types of reports and is hosted in BIDS-Business Intelligence Development Studio or Visual Studio.
  • Report Manager: The report manager in SSRS is a component that matches and checks the given requirements while making decision-based reports.
  • Report Server: This SQL Server database engine stores metadata information.
  • Report server database: This reports definitions, security settings, resources, delivery data and stores metadata.
  • Data sources: The SSRS retrieves data from varied data sources like multidimensional or relational data sources.

7. Reporting Life Cycle

The standard reporting lifecycle of an organization in this SSRS tutorial can be classified in an SQL server reporting services tutorial as below.

  • Authoring: Here, the report author defines the syntax and layout of the data using the SSRS tools or SQL Server Development Studio.
  • Management: This phase occurs at the website and manages the published SQL reporting with report execution and access control.
  • Delivery: Here, pre-defined and on-demand delivery schedules are used to deliver reports to the customer base. Automated subscription features can also automatically send reports and create reports.

8. What is RDL?

RDL is the acronym of Report Definition Language, which, according to the SSRS tutorial, defines all possible reporting elements using an XML schema for validation and XML grammar. It is important as RDL contains run-time instructions for rendering the report design and definition.

9. Types of SSRS reports

The various types of SSRS report types developed using SSRS tools in this SSRS tutorial are

  • Parameterized reports use input values to complete data processing and reporting.
  • Snapshot reports in SSRS contain query results and layout information which can be retrieved at any time.
  • Drill down Reports hide complexity in reports allowing one to toggle between items or hidden reports and control the number of details viewed for which it needs to retrieve all possible information linked to the report.
  • Linked Reports provide a point to an existing report with the original’s report definition from which it is linked to. 
  • Cached Reports permit one to create a processed report copy, thus reducing processing requests, enhancing performance and saving time in retrieval of large SQL server report builder reports.
  • Drill-through reports are standard reports accessed through a text box or hyperlink in the original report. It is the drill-through target of action for a report item working on the main report like a chart or place held text.
  • Sub-reports display other reports within the main report.

10. Advantages of using SSRS

  • SSRS is cheaper and faster with excellent reporting capabilities in Oracle and MS SQL Server databases.
  • The rule-based method of security can be applied to reports and folders.
  • Has no need for specialist skills as the default report designer and Visual Studio .NET are integrated, allowing for application creation and reporting in the same environment.
  • Users receive automatic subscription-based reports. 
  • Both cube and relational data can be used to produce faster reports.
  • Users receive automatic subscription-based reports. 
  • Real-time information means better decision support for businesses.

11. Disadvantages of using SSRS

Some SSRS limitations noticed in the SSRS tutorial are:

  • When printing, one will need to use the export to Word, Excel or PDF formats as no print button is available.
  • Users need to accept all parameters, and one cannot alter the custom code or debug their expressions.
  • Cannot add total pages in the report or page numbers.
  • Has no method to pass values to the main report from sub-reports. 
  • On every page, the page header creates extra spaces.


The SSRS allows the production of formatted reports with tables having graphs, data, charts and images as discussed in the SSRS tutorial with examples. Discussed above are the SSRS basics, SSRS tutorial, what is SSRS, SSRS and SSIS, the 3 types of SSIS SSRS SSAS tutorials, its components, advantages, disadvantages and functionalities like the SSRS web service.

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