In our opinion, Microsoft® greatly expanded the utility of reporting tools for SQL Server back in 2004 by choosing to base them on ” . . . the Report Definition Language (RDL), which is an XML-based standard for defining reports. RDL is key to the Reporting Services success by allowing third parties to publish reports to the Reporting Server. There are already product offerings from independent software vendors (ISVs) today.” (quoted from “Introduction to Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services” by “Crowe, Chizek and” Company, LLP, published on April 12, 2004 on the TechRepublic® web site).
The simple explanation for our opinion is that, presently, all of the most popular web page browsers are entirely capable of displaying raw XML files. These raw files can be used to render database table structures (including rows and columns) into information that web servers can publish to large audiences of browser clients. In sum, by basing SQL Server Reporting Services on RDL back in 2004, Microsoft added a very promising feature to its database processing paradigm of software tools, which enterprise business customers (as well as comparably sized organizations in the public and not-for-profit sectors) can exploit to dramatically lower the cost of producing informative reports from database information.
Certainly it is one thing to have the capability of using ubiquitous web browsers to render raw XML data, and quite another to look at highly readable reports on web pages. The steps required to bridge this usability gap are not very easy to overcome, neither for enterprise IT organizations that need to deploy low cost reporting systems, nor for the line of business (LOB) groups within enterprise businesses that consume this reporting data on an ongoing (and even “as needed”) basis. Per no less an authority on web page publishing than the W3C Schools function of the World Wide Web Consortium, in order to make intelligible web page information from raw XML data, one needs to apply styles to it. The options are as follows, either use:
- Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
- Extensible Markup Language Style Sheet Language for Transformations(XSLT)
Note: we extrapolated the above choices from a page on the W3C Schools web site, Viewing XML Files.
When the ramifications of choosing one of the oherwise complex, and costly, alternatives, listed above, are clearly understood by enterprise IT and LOB organizations, then the simplicity of simply availing of Reporting Services for SharePoint 2010 as a method of producing high value/high utility web page reports from SQL Server data becomes quite compelling. Therefore, we think it is entirely fair to say this feature of SharePoint can be used successfully as a method of driving higher levels of adoption of SharePoint as a computing platform.
© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved
on behalf of Rehmani Consulting, Inc.