13 thoughts on “The Resurrection of Reporting Services & The Maturing of Power BI

  1. I made a correction to this post today. I had originally said that different reports types could be viewed in “Power BI Desktop”… and meant to say “Power BI dashboards”. Important distinction here.

  2. Nice post. My only issue with SSRS charts is the flat, lifeless colors. You still can’t get pretty, shiny graphs. You can have some control if you switch to 3D, but that usually makes it hard to read the graph. But I would have hoped for much better presentation by now.

    1. Agreed. No doubt that SSRS has aged and needs a fresher look. I don’t think we’re going to see this happen all at once in the next release but it is happening a little at a time. I don’t think RDL reports will ever behave just like Power BI reports or JavaScript enabled visuals but I think we can expect them to look more modern in the future.

    2. The default chart styles are definitely overdue for a refresh and I’m glad to say we’re working on updating them so you get beautifully modern charts by default. Check out this tweet as one example: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/sqlrsteamblog/archive/2015/10/28/pin-reporting-services-charts-to-power-bi-dashboards-with-sql-server-2016-ctp-3-0.aspx. You can indeed create modern charts and gauges like these ones in SSRS today, but it takes more work than it should; we’re going to make it much quicker and easier.

      1. That’s great, but you actually can’t do it today. Those examples are from 2016 and most aren’t going to run a beta in prod, or roll it out to their entire shop. Do you have an example of something you can actually do today? And honestly, those still looked flat. They were new chart types, but there was nothing eye-popping about them.
        I’d like you guys to really put some actual effort into making some gorgeous graphics for even simple charts like lines and bars.

        I remember a long time ago there was an app, sorry I don’t remember the name, but it had charts. One of the line charts was beautiful. It had a line graph with a max line going across it. That max line was just to show the average value and the bar was the actual value at any give point. Sorry I don’t remember the SSRS terms for each element. And when the line graph broke through the average line, it had little shards of glass being thrown up into the air. The line graph was literally breaking through that barrier in some places. The avg line actually looked like glass if I remember rightly. But that was a very beautiful impact. Seeing the glass being broken and flying up into the air. Now, it was all static, and the shards were just floating, but you get the idea.

        But this is what I’m talking about. Put some honest effort into making really nice graphics. Get an artist to design a few things. Get a photoshop guy to design some nice metal or glass images… do something other than just a few new chart types.

      2. Sean, you’re shattering all my preconceptions about DBAs, being all artistic and such. Seriously, there is a lot of fad a fashion to visual report and chart design. As Riccardo says, the current trend is flat and solid. Bell-bottoms are out and straight-legs are in… for a season and then the industry pendulum swings back. I don’t think we can expect the product team to retrofit the existing platform but it would (will?) be nice to have a styling mechanism to easily apply a new look and feel to charts and visuals once designed.

      3. @midnightdbasean: Aside from the Treemap, which is indeed a new chart type in SSRS 2016, the others are existing SSRS 2014 (or earlier) charts and gauges that I created. (Also, I meant to link to this tweet and screenshot: https://twitter.com/Ko_Ver/status/660052128031870976) In any case, it proves the point that creating these modern visuals today requires too much tweaking and that’s why we’re making it quicker and easier.

        Your feedback about the aesthetic appeal of even the new/modern styles is valid and goes to show how aesthetics are often subjective – in general and also in the field of data visualization. When you say the design is still “flat” and devoid of effects like “metal or glass,” you’re quite correct; today’s design trend does favor “flat” design and has moved away from skeumorphism and skeumorphic effects (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_design). More specifically within the field of data visualization, there’s increasing awareness of data visualization principles and demand for products that follow them by default, and what some people find “eye-popping” other people categorize as “chartjunk” (an industry term, not mine). We do need to take some position on a default design theme and there we’re aligning with our design language (which we already use in Power BI, so you’ll see some consistency in default styles across Power BI and SSRS) and data visualization principles. But at the same time, acknowledging the subjective nature of aesthetics and the value of user customizability in general, we’ll continue to give you control over a ton of chart style properties so you can customize charts to your liking. And if there’s demand for more elaborate visual effects, we’ll certainly collect and consider that feedback as well. Thanks!

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