While SQL Server Reporting Services is without equal in
terms of affordability, approachability, extensibility, stability, and (increasingly)
ubiquity, it is not without a few warts. One of the main problems that SSRS
suffers from is the inability to render reports with "rich" Excel (or
Word) functionality. While lacking any MS Word support, SSRS does provide the
ability to export reports to Excel, Tiff, Adobe Acrobat, and a handful of other
document types which is really quite spiffy. The problem, however, is that
when reports are exported to Excel SSRS does not provide any support for
formulas, macros, conditional formatting, or a host of other "rich"
functionality that most Office users have come to rely upon in making sense of
data. Worse, while SSRS does output charts to Excel and Word, it renders them
as static images disconnected from the data they are graphing. Of course, this
is better than nothing, but in today's world where organizations and users
demand ever more complex solutions, static data and missing functionality just
is not enough.
This is where SoftArtisans enters the scene and shines. With
SoftArtisans' OfficeWriter, native SSRS functionality has been extended to allow
SQL Server Reporting Services reports to be faithfully rendered in Excel and
Word with all of their native formatting and functionality completely intact. Better
yet, leveraging OfficeWriter for natively rendered reports does not require you
to update all of your existing reports to a new proprietary format. Nor does
it "break" existing functionality when you do chose to upgrade. With
OfficeWriter-enabled reports, specialized rendering instructions for each
report are merely injected into the RDL descriptor for each report and
processed only when routed through the customized OfficeWriter Renderer.
With OfficeWriter, SSRS users get the best of both worlds
from a reporting standpoint. Because OfficeWriter just extends existing report
definitions, none of the existing SSRS benefits are lost. This means that SSRS
users retain access to scheduling, granular security, an easy-to-use web
interface, quick development cycles, support for heterogeneous data sources,
and the ability to export reports in a number of different formats.