Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) allows developers, database
users, and administrators to generate database reports and present them in
various formats. Primarily PDF is the default choice because it is a
print-ready cross-platform format for publishing documents.
There are many ways to generate PDF reports using SSRS.
The most common way is through the web portal.
Deploy SSRS directly into an organization's SharePoint environment.
This gives users the ability to view and interact with reports from any
device connected to the internet.
The SSRS Reports Export API allows users to generate PDF and Excel
files from SSRS reports using REST APIs.
Users can specify report parameters like title, description, file name, and
so on. They can also set the page size and orientation, and choose whether
to include images, charts, and tables.
However, SSRS falls short in many ways if you're looking for more
flexibility in PDF generation, speed, and user-friendliness. These
limitations can be a significant drawback, and you'd be looking for
alternative options that are easy on the pocket and can work well on many
fronts for PDF generation.
We'll look at the alternatives to SSRS a little later, but first, we'll
examine how SSRS works in business. That sets the stage for what to expect
in the alternatives.
How SSRS PDF Generation Works in Business
SSRS comes up many times during your research for different tools to get
customized PDF reports from SQL databases. There is a reason it's quite
popular among businesses.
Repository of templates:
The web portal allows users to easily access all of the report templates
available within SSRS.
End-user-SSRS Data Source:
Enables connecting with underlying databases or data warehouses like
Microsoft SQL Server, SAP BW, and Oracle, among others making it easy to
retrieve data and generate PDF documents.
Integration & Deployment:
Integration with standard API tools, and accessibility to third-party
resources with SSRS make it a popular choice.
Suitable for non-technical people:
SSRS is easy for non-technical people to jumpstart their work quickly
without a steep learning curve.
Works well in Microsoft Development Environment:
It works well with the Microsoft Office 365 environment.
Limitation of SSRS
As much as SSRS is a workable option, it comes with its downsides,
especially if you're looking to generate PDF documents. As a rule of thumb,
if you are not using the Microsoft SQL Server database, using an
alternative to SSRS is a suitable choice.
Needs a lot of development efforts:
While SSRS offers an intuitive multi‐step wizard, it leaves you with a
report template that you can’t even modify. It needs a lot of development
efforts to make even simple template change.
PDF generation is slow:
In comparison to document generation tools, SSRS PDF generation is slow.
Thus, you can’t use it for customer self-service as this leads to a poor
Doesn't compress PDF, so PDF files are bulky to download:
SSRS doesn't compress PDF well. It means you land up with bulky PDF files
that will take time and make it difficult to access right when needed.
Also, SSRS PDF generation cannot accommodate large PDF
files. For the above reasons, you’ll need alternatives for SSRS.
The paginated reports feature of Power BI allows you to generate PDF
documents. However, this is available only with a premium subscription,
costing around $5000/month.
The UI of the software can be challenging for newbies and there are some
limitations for more advanced users. The slow generation and bulky PDFs are
common complaints against Power BI.
Legacy Document Automation Tools
Legacy document generation tools offer many features, from templates
to data set categorization to PDF documents generation.
However, they are known to be slow in PDF generation, leading to
considerable time in getting the output. Moreover, business users can’t use
existing templates as-is. They’ve to create their templates using Template Designer and many users have had issues with it
formatting their templates. This may necessitate hiring designers, leading
to additional costs.
EDocGen - Document Automation Microservice
It is your go-to resource when you're looking for an SSRS alternative.
It is an API-first document automation software that accommodates every
document type including PDF. Use the existing templates as-is. Business
Business users can use existing templates as-is. Thus, they can
create/edit templates themselves, without depending on the IT team.
Centralized repository of templates with fine-grained access control
for template management.
It offers the fastest PDF generation in the market. You can generate
thousands of PDF documents in just a few minutes.
The PDFs are lightweight with compressed PDFs maintaining information
quality and formatting. even after compression. Thus, your users can
download into the device of their choice in real time.
Supports PDF generation from various databases including MySQL, SQL
Server, Oracle, Mongo, etc.
Out of integration with SharePoint, OneDrive. It supports Office 365
templates. Thus, your workers can work within the SharePoint/OneDrive
Document Automation microservice for creating every document format
Supports complex templates running into hundreds of pages.
SSRS is not the best choice, if you’re looking to generate
PDF reports from SQL data. EDocGen helps your business users to generate
complex PDF documents in a fraction of the time.
It is the best SSRS alternative for PDF generation. Give it a try.