so...the folks at Microsoft recently released the next CTP for SQL Server 2008 (formerly "Katmai"). With this preview, we finally get to see what's in store for the Reporting Services (SSRS2008) components in the SQL Server Suite.
SSRS 2008 comes with some significant changes in the report design experience, as well as the deployment of the server components. If you're familiar with the current and previous versions of SSRS, you know that it uses IIS as the web server platform for hosting its web service endpoints that allow access to the Report Catalog. In the 2008 version, this is replaced with a clever hosting implementation of the http.sys device driver, which listens for particular HTTP requests and forwards them to the application domains for the ReportServer and Report Manager URL, hosted by the SSRS Windows Service. No longer is there a dependency on IIS for your Report Server, reducing the server footprint, and allowing for more resources to be used by the Report Server itself.
Another enhancement is in the area of Report Rendering. While this particular "side" of SSRS has been, by far, the hardest to extend due to its complexity, if you have written any previous rendering extensions (kudos to you first of all...), they will have to be completely re-written. The Rendering Engine has been completely overhauled (worthy of its own post, soon to come, dear readers), and with this release we also get 2 new additions to the current list of supported renderers: OfficeWriter for Excel and OfficeWriter for Word.
Finally, another "side" worthy of mention is the new stand-alone Report Designer which will target non-developer audiences who do not have (or choose not to have) to the Visual Studio IDE. The stand-alone report designer includes support for the new Tablix report item, which combines the functionality of the Table, List, and Matrix into a single, easy-to-use control (NOTE: the Tablix control is not available in the SSRS 2008 designer for Visual Studio, yet).
Go ahead and download the latest CTP from MSDN (http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/sql/bb498264.aspx), and give it a test run. I'll try to post about each of these (and other) new features in dedicated future posts.