Sunday, July 03, 2011

SSRS Reportviewer webpart / control REPLACEMENT / ALTERNATIVE

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SSRS Reportviewer webpart in Sharepoint and SSRS Reportviewer control in .NET are two major application interfaces to SSRS from the microsoft application world. UI limitations and lack of programability of reportviewer control continues to remains a challenge for the application world, as this interface visibly floats out as an odd component from the theme of application.

One of the elegant mechanism that most application environments are resorting today, is an alternative to using this control. And this alternative is by using the SSRS webservice directly. In my whitepaper "Bulk report generation using SSIS and SSRS 2008 R2", I have demonstrated how one can use SSRS webservices, which is a classic example of how much control client applications can gain by consuming these services directly.

How can applications benefit by using SSRS webservices directly and replace SSRS Reportviewer webpart / control ? The technique to implement is as below:

1) Execute your report by calling correct functions from the webservice
2) Collect the output stream in HTML format
3) Display the output on the application page.

This sounds very straightforward, but it is not free of challenges.

1) Firstly one would need to create a custom control, and then embed this functionality within this control.

2) Secondly, report output can contain images too which would be sent by the output stream without any image extension. Displaying the same would not be straightforward. You might need to stage those images to disk, or modify the IIS settings for your application. Code sample in SSRS SDK for PHP shows a fine example of how to deal with this issue.

3) You would not have parameters, page navigation or report exporting functionality, and you would have to program the same yourself too.

But if you have a die-hard requirement to blend SSRS reports with the user interface of your application, instead of abandoning SSRS or duplicating entire report functionality within your Sharepoint / .NET application just due to the limitations of reportviewer webpart / control, a better way out is to replace the reportviewer webpart / control with a custom control, and program and embed your functionality within the same.

I hope someone from Microsoft is reading this post and taking a note of this burning requirement from the application programming world.

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