I forgot one thing on my recent post on Reporting services interop, Report Builder.  What is Report Builder? it’s an end user (information worker in Microsoft speak), tool that creates a report that can run in SQL Server reporting services.  What this actually means is that it creates a xml file with an .rdl extension that is a set of instructions to run the report in a structure known as report definition language (RDL – hence the extension name of the file)

Report Builder 1 (RB1) came out with SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services and allowed end users to create simple reports from a report model . It was a click once application, and for me it was flawed because if you used BI Development Studio  (BIDS) to tweak a report originally created in RB1 it could no longer be opened in RB1, and it only worked off report models – a semantic layer over the underlying data which defines joins and calculations to be used in the RB1 reports.    

Report Builder Window with model open.

With the arrival of SQL Server 2008 , reporting services got a complete overhaul and a completely new report builder, Report Builder 2 (RB2).  This was created by skinning the report designer in BIDS  with an office 2007 style ribbon and then making this a click once application that could be downloaded from Report Manager/ SharePoint (if you have reporting services running in integrated mode)..

So RB2 had the same functionality as Report designer in BIDS, you could use all the new charts, write queries from any source etc.

SQL Server 2008 R2 has now been released and this is essentially an update and enhancement to the BI tools in SQL Server, including reporting services. So the new Report Builder (RB3) supports maps, new charts like sparklines and allows parts of a report to be saved off and re-used..

Each version of Report Builder only works with its equivalent version of SQL Server as the features in a particular version of Report Builder depend in turn on the features available in a specific version of Reporting Services e.g. the new charts in RB2 are only available in the report definition language in Reporting Services 2008

Reporting Services Reporting Builder Compatibility
2005 1 OK
2008 2 OK
2008 R2 3 OK

Hopefully this all makes sense, but I have been asked this before and it still turns up on internal e-mail threads, hence this post.

Finally what of the future?  All I know is that there are plans for Reporting Services to be included in SQL Azure (I don’t know when) and in that scenario the version of Report Builder you’ll need will again be specific to that version and so I am not sure what that will be so I am not going to guess.