Since last week you can sign up for testing the beta's of two SQL Server related service packs: SQL Server 2000 SP4 and Reporting Services SP2. I signed up for testing the Reporting Services SP2 beta mainly because it contains web parts which can be used inside SharePoint, nice! The goal of these web parts is showing the contents of report inside a SharePoint site. So these new web parts are some serious competition for Bryant Like's RS Web Parts which actually do just the same.
A few days ago I was accepted as a beta tester and downloaded the SP immediately, eagerly wanting to check out the new web parts. After you've installed the SP (which worked like charm), you need to deploy the web parts to your SharePoint site(s) in which you want to use them. You do this by installing the RSWebParts.CAB which can be found in C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\80\Tools\Reporting Services\SharePoint (use the STSAdm tool with the -o addwppack parameters: stsadm.exe -o addwppack -filename RSWebParts.cab). Once done, you can find two new web parts in the Virtual Server Gallery of your SharePoint site.
The Report Explorer web part will display a comparable view like the Report Server website itself: you can find all the reports and folders which are available for the currently logged on user. In fact the view is very similar to the Report Server site & but wait & it *is* the Report Server site! Yes indeed, this web part uses an IFrame to display a part of the Report Server site.
The Report Viewer web part will display the contents of the report which was selected in the Report Explorer. The communication between the two web parts is done by using the connectable framework of SharePoint, so you have to make a connection between them as shown in the screen shot. The Report Viewer is also using an IFrame to display the report, but I can live with that. It's also possible to display a fixed report so you don't need the Report Explorer, the only other setting is the ability to hide/show the report toolbar.
I must admit that I'm a little bit disappointed in the Reporting Services Web Parts. The integration is accomplished by using IFrames, why not use the Reporting Services web service? IMHO the web service is build for this kind of stuff, in fact some time ago I showed some web parts during a TechNet session that just did this. You know what would be great? No? Well I do; if the Reporting Services team would give us an ASP.NET control that could render a report. That would rock! This control could effortlessly be consumed in a SmartPart, showing it in SharePoint would be a breeze. Sigh & if only one day would count 36 hours. :-)