One of the cool things about SQL Server is that it comes bundled with all the Business Intelligence services with the core database engine license. Reporting Services (which includes the Mobile Report Publisher), Analysis Services, and Integration Services are all integrated, and are ready to get going as soon as you install SQL Server. This has made it not only cost-efficient for many organizations to deploy BI, but it has also contributed to a wide adoption among the SQL Server customer base.
What is the Mobile Report Publisher?
Currently in preview, the Mobile Report Publisher is a new report and dashboard editor that publishes reports to Reporting Services, and it’s part of the bigger road map that Microsoft has for their Business Intelligence On-Premises story. We all know that in the cloud, Power BI has been getting a large amount of investment, but with on-premises there was a big gap that was getting wider and wider, until now.
With this upcoming SQL 2016 release, the Microsoft team is focusing on bringing Reporting Services into the future as a one-stop integrated solution for BI deployment so that cloud BI or a competitor’s product (*cough*Tableau*cough) are not the only modern alternatives.
This Reporting Services refactor is the biggest change made to the product since SQL Server 2005 was released over 10 years ago. Leveraging the best parts of the Datazen acquisition, the Microsoft team is looking to provide a cohesive BI story that integrates web-based and mobile reports, Report Builder reports, and Power View style of modern visuals.
How is it different?
You’re probably used to working with SSRS Report Builder and are wondering what the idea is with Mobile Report Publisher. The demo below will make it very clear, but let’s just say that reports have now been split in two types:
1. Paginated reports: this is the ‘legacy’ style report that is built by Report Builder. It looks more flat, has the same controls as before, and is fully compatible with all the existing reports you have already deployed.
2. Mobile reports: Even though the name says ‘mobile’ these reports work just as well on desktop, tablet and mobile. If you’re familiar with web design, then the appropriate term would be that these reports are “responsive”. They can be done once, and will display nicely across devices. This is the new experience that the Mobile Report Publisher is targeting.
Where do we go from here?
Right now the current version is SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.2. We still have several different versions that will be released before SQL 2016 goes RTM later on this year. Currently, a lot of the planned functionality is not entirely there for the main SSRS interface, and you will be asked to switch to the ‘”classic” view often.
The Mobile Report Publisher experience is also very much targeted towards creating a visualization, and there’s no data modeling to be found. You pretty much need to have your datasets pre-made and in the format that the tool will expect, or you won’t get very far. Hopefully, at some point the team will add modeling capabilities like the robust experience we already have on the Power Bi desktop tool.
If you want to practice and get your feet wet with this release you can do it now, and for free by visiting SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.2. You can also preview the Mobile Report Publisher. Like I said before, this is a big departure so most people will want to train up to be ready when the new versions go live.
In the demo below I’m going to walk through the new SSRS interface preview in CTP 3.2, and then walk through creating a quick dashboard for both desktop and mobile consumption using the publisher. Let’s check it out!