Microsoft Reporting to Ship in Visual Studio Control

SQL Reporting Services will be available in 2005 version of Visual Studio

Microsoft Corp. plans to make its SQL Reporting Services technology available as a Visual Studio 2005 control that can be embedded in applications.

The software giant plans to ship the new control, along with its Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 products.

Microsoft currently supports at least two reporting tools in Visual Studio: Crystal Reports—which the software giant has shipped with Visual Studio for a decade now—and Reporting Services, which is supported by means of a Developer Edition (MSDE) of SQL Server 2000 that Microsoft ships with the Visual Studio .NET integrated development environment (IDE). The new Visual Studio control won’t require a connection to, nor a license for, SQL Server, however.

The software giant released its SQL Server Reporting Services in late January of this year. Microsoft officials position Reporting Services as a one-stop shop for the creation, management, and publication of ad hoc or production reports.

The new control can be embedded in third-party or in-house applications, which can transparently exploit the report-building, data connectivity, graphics, and GUI capabilities of Reporting Services. The upshot, says Tom Rizzo, director of product management for SQL Server with Microsoft, is that "No one knows your app is using SQL Server Reporting Services.”

Once a report is created in Visual Studio, it can be deployed either in the control or on a SQL Server. Customers who later decide that reports deployed in a control need more scalability or functionality can redeploy the report on a server without rewriting it.

There are a few catches, however. Reports deployed through the Visual Studio control won't be able to handle many of the back-end tasks (such as notification and distribution of reports) that SQL Server Reporting Services is designed to address.

Microsoft hasn’t yet settled on a licensing strategy for the proposed control, but the company appears to be leaning toward a model that encourages the widest distribution. "We're looking at making it freely redistributable," Rizzo said. Under that model, ISVs that embed the control in their applications wouldn't have to pay a royalty to Microsoft for each sale.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.