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What's new in SQL Server Yukon - Part 3

Tim Anderson talks to Euan Garden, Microsoft's Product Unit Manager for SQL Server Tools


Euan Garden
"Report Server is a platform as much as a product. It's extensible, the data sources are extensible, the rendering formats are extensible."

Tim: SQL Server works well in an all-Microsoft environment, but some want to access it from non-Microsoft platforms.

Euan: We have a free type 4 JDBC driver today for SQL Server 2000. It's available as a download on our website, and we're doing a revision of that now based on some of the feedback we've had. We'll continue to supply a free JDBC type 4 driver for SQL Server in Yukon. JDBC is great but web services is really the direction many people are going for interoperability. In SQL Server 2000 we released an add-on that uses a middle tier component and IIS to expose stored procedures as web services. It proved popular. So in Yukon you can now natively expose stored procedures as a web service. There's no requirement for a middle tier component. There's no requirement for IIS. You just create what is called an HTTP endpoint, which is like a connection into the server. You can interrogate the server, bring the WSDL down, and then interact with that from any environment.

In the Business Intellence space we have the XML for Analysis standard that we're pushing. Hyperion and SAS and other vendors are working with us on this. It will become the native protocol for analysis server in Yukon, so you will talk to Analysis Server as a web service. So Report Server is already a web service, Analysis Server will become one, and Yukon relational will also become a web service.

You mentioned Report Server. Will this replace Crystal Reports in Visual Studio .Net?

Currently Report Server is a server-side reporting product. There is no client-size component. There is a designer for it, but what Crystal has is a component you can drop on a form, and then it's inside your app. The way Report Server works isthat you design your report in Visual Studio, drag and drop things off the toolbox, then publish the RDL, which is a particular XML grammar, to the report server itself. There are then a couple of options. You can interact with your reports on the server. You can think of it as a reporting portal. Or you can have that server deliver reports to you in email, or through a form in applications.

We're actually working with all the reporting vendors, because Report Server is a platform as much as a product. It's extensible, the data sources are extensible, the rendering formats are extensible. Today we support DHTML using HTML 4.0, but we also support HTML 3.2 for down-level browsers. We support PDF, we support generation of Excel, we also support generating HTML pages using embedded Office Web controls, which gives you rich interactivity.

The rendering API is public. If you have some custom format you want to write to, fire up VB.Net or C# and away you go. It's really that easy. The input source formats are extensible too. We have a C# sample that we've written for the SDK which allows you to report off the file system. It's about 100 lines of C#.. So you can build report sources, build report renderers, and also hook in custom security. We support Active Directory security, but if you want another type of security in there, say Passport authentication, then you can do that as well

Tim: Is Report Server part of SQL Server, or a paid-for extra?

Euan: Right now we're not talking about the licensing. We're releasing it as part of SQL Server 2000 before the end of this year. And there will be a new version of Report Rerver which we will release with Yukon as part of our BI platform. Watch this space for licensing, pricing and things like that. But I can say it's going to be very cost-effective, as you'd expect from Microsoft and the SQL Server team.

Go back to part one of What's new in Sql Server Yukon

Copyright Tim Anderson 25th July 2003. All rights reserved.

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