OfficeWriter for SQL Server Reporting Services

OfficeWriter vs. Microsoft Office

OfficeWriter consists of the WordWriter and ExcelWriter components, which are also integrated with Reporting Services. The documents generated by OfficeWriter are in their respective native formats and they preserve all the features of the original product. The performance is not hindered when the usage of the reports is quite high with concurrent users.

The main advantage of OfficeWriter is that it can be used as a server-side application without having a need to install Microsoft Office on a server. The scalability of OfficeWriter can handle creating spreadsheets and documents for just a few users, or many users, while Microsoft Excel and Word only works well for a small number of users. This feature can be noticed when multiple users want to view same spreadsheet or document simultaneously. The ability to avoid installation of Microsoft Office on a server can spare server resources, which are best used when multiple users are accessing the applications at the same time.

Finally, on the aspect of licensing, if you are going to handle Microsoft Office on the server, all of the clients that access spreadsheets or documents from the server will require a Microsoft Office client license. Microsoft has already advised that it is impossible to run Office Web Components on a server that is accessible to users on an enterprise-wide network. Whereas OfficeWriter, hosted on the server-side, does not require a Microsoft Office client license, and it is valid to use free programs like Excel Viewer for spreadsheets or Quick View for documents.

Usage and Functionality

OfficeWriter enhances productivity when integrated with SQL Server Reporting Services by allowing users to design and deliver their reports in native Word and Excel. OfficeWriter for Reporting Services can be broken down into two pieces:

  1. The OfficeWriter Designer works as a toolbar add-in that allows the user to design a report template in Excel or Word instead of using Visual Studio .NET. This template can be integrated into Reporting Services as a XML-based RDL format for publishing.

  2. The OfficeWriter Renderer runs on the Reporting Server, which interprets the template information that was added to the RDL file with the OfficeWriter Designer and populates the template with data supplied by Reporting Services.

By using OfficeWriter, the reporting format enables fully-functional design, publishing, and delivery of reports from Microsoft Excel and Word using SQL Server Reporting Services or .NET. This product preserves and maintains all of Excel’s and Word’s formatting and styles, including advanced features such as VBA and macros.

OfficeWriter gives you the ability to use all of Microsoft Excel’s formulas and functions in spreadsheet reports. This simplifies web reports with the power of spreadsheet-style formulas. The amount of code required to write an impressive-looking report with OfficeWriter is minimal. Similar to an Excel application, you can create multiple worksheets and access their cells in the formulas, which will allow you to modify the visual aspect of reports.

Formatting can be added to a cell by setting font, horizontal alignment, locked, number, vertical alignment, and text wrap properties. This can also help to create styles that contain color, font and format options for use in multiple cell or ranges.

Pivot tables in Excel are an interactive way of representing a table that quickly combines and compares large amounts of data. You can rotate rows and columns to see different summaries of source data and display the details for area of interest. Using pivot tables, ExcelWriter allows the analyzing of related totals, especially when there is a long list of figures to sum and when you need to compare several facts about each figure. The interactive summary of table allows the user to change the view of the data where the spreadsheet is equipped with automatic calculations.

Installation Requirements

The following are the details about how to install of OfficeWriter on server and client sides.

Server-side installation requirements:

  1. Windows 2000 Server
  2. Windows XP Professional
  3. Windows 2003
  4. Microsoft Reporting Services 2000 or higher
  5. Microsoft .NET Framework
  6. The ExcelWriter and WordWriter components require matching versions of J# and .NET technologies. Because OfficeWriter uses Microsoft Visual J# .NET behind the scenes, it therefore requires the Microsoft Visual J# .NET Redistributable to be installed on a machine before installing OfficeWriter (WordWriter and/or ExcelWriter).

Client-side installation requirements:

  1. Any Windows client operating system
  2. Microsoft Excel 2000 or higher
  3. Microsoft Word 2000 or higher
  4. MS Query, which is a part of Office 2000

When you first start the install program, you get this introduction screen.

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