What a pity. I’ve spent some time recently evaluating SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services with respect to its proposed use on a UK public sector project that will implement a part of the ‘national infrastructure’. In every respect but one, Reporting Services provides an excellent fit for the stated requirements. There is already a commitment to using SQL Server, and SharePoint, within the project, so Reporting Services appears the way to go.

What is the exception? Well, Reporting Services provides a nice little tool called ‘Report Builder’ for creation, amongst other things, of ad hoc reports. This is a user-friendly little gizmo that can be downloaded directly from the portal via Microsoft’s excellent ClickOnce technology. ClickOnce ensures that the application is installed in a sandboxed fashion under the current user’s profile, and does not interfere with other installations for other users.

All good stuff, except that the proposed system needs to provide ad hoc reporting facilities to a number of different agencies across the UK. Oh, and it must be formally accredited by the security people before it can go live. It turns out that there is no prospect that they will agree to installation of any software on client desktops at those agencies. Not even using ClickOnce. It’s out of the question.

SAP offers a similar toolset to Reporting Services, but they have a tool for designing ad hoc reports that is entirely browser-based and has zero footprint on the client.

Mmmm. Time for the Microsoft SQL Server product team to meet Ajax, methinks.