NextGen Document Automation System

SSRS Alternatives for PDF Generation


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.

  1. The most common way is through the web portal.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 user experience.

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.

Popular Alternatives

Power BI

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 user-friendly.

SQL Database Selection

  1. Business users can use existing templates as-is. Thus, they can create/edit templates themselves, without depending on the IT team.
  2. Centralized repository of templates with fine-grained access control for template management.
  3. It offers the fastest PDF generation in the market. You can generate thousands of PDF documents in just a few minutes.
  4. 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.
  5. Supports PDF generation from various databases including MySQL, SQL Server, Oracle, Mongo, etc.
  6. Out of integration with SharePoint, OneDrive. It supports Office 365 templates. Thus, your workers can work within the SharePoint/OneDrive environment.
  7. Document Automation microservice for creating every document format possible.
  8. 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.

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