Wednesday, December 1, 2010

SQL Denali Codename Crescent what is it?

After the first sneak preview of Crescent during the keynote of Ted Kummert on SQLPASS we can talk about what Crescent is. Crescent is the code name of an ad-hoc reporting layer that will be released in the next version of SQL Server – Denali. Crescent is a major enhancement to SQL Server Reporting Services. Up to now, SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) didn't have a web-based report designer. Denali will change that by adding a brand new report authoring tool that will be powered by Silverlight. So, this will be the fifth report designer after BIDS, Report Builder 1.0 (not sure if RB 1.0 will survive SQL 11), Report Builder 3.0, Visual Studio Report Designer.

Besides bringing report authoring to the web, Crescent will redefine the report authoring experience and even what a report is. At this moment a Reporting Services report is static. Once you publish the report, the layout becomes fixed. If you want to make changes to the original design, such as adding new columns or switching from a tabular layout to a crosstab layout, you need to open the report in a report designer. Make your changes and republish the report.  Crescent will change all of this and it will make the reporting experience more interactive and similar to Excel PivotTable. I have seen a preview of Crescent and indeed it really looks nice. It enables people in the boardroom to play with the data. The end user can quickly create an interactive report by dragging metadata, and then with a few mouse clicks change the report layout without switching to design mode. In fact, Crescent doesn't have a formal design mode.

I'm very enthousiastic about Crescent. I see a lot of opportunities. Based on information in static reports, decision makers wants to have more and or detailed information. With Crescent they can 'play' with the data and help themselves much better. There is only disappointing thing to mention: Crescent will only be available in SharePoint mode. For companies without an ICT department, deploying and maintaining of a Sharepoint server can be too complex. I think that the decision makers of these companies will have the same need to 'play' with the data.
Crescent is not available in Denali CTP 1, but I hope it will come available in CTP2. I'm looking forward to 'play' myself with the data.

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