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SSRS Alternative - Windward Studios

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Windward is one of the best SSRS alternatives. SSRS is built around the concept of having a table of data. It can be a very complex table with grouping, sub-totals, etc. But a table. It is unequivocally a reporting solution (not docgen). It really struggles with paging so HTML & XLSX output is fine but anything else (PDF, printer, DOCX, etc.) can be problematic. And it’s complicated – learning how to design in it is a major effort and that's where our Designer steps up.

--Dave T.

Comparisons & Features of Two Top Document Generation Tools

If you’re working with SQL, then be aware that you have several options for your reporting and document generation component. The Windward Solution and SSRS are two of the more popular choices. Windward’s product team created this comparison to help you understand the merits of both.

Over its history, SSRS has demonstrated a singular superpower: it can take relatively simple concepts and drown them in needless complexity. You can see this in the way SSRS makes you dive through sub menus and attribute fields when all you want to do is simply bold some text. Or that it still doesn’t allow you to assemble reports that could contain landscape‐ AND portrait‐oriented pages in the same final document.

While SSRS does include useful ideas (Tablix, Expression Editor, integrating Dundas charting, MAPs, indicators, etc…), it has an ongoing reputation for poor implementation of these ideas. A process that should be intuitive and simple becomes a multi‐step wizard that leaves you with a report template that you can’t even modify. Sure, you can take the road less traveled with SSRS and have an “adventurous journey,” but we all know how that ends: wasted time and lost energy.

The Best Alternative to SSRS

Windward takes the reporting road most traveled. It optimizes the experience of your team through the use of data wizards, drag and drop functionality, Microsoft® Office as a template designer, and more. The table below provides an overview of the two products on a selection of key features.


Windward Studios


Conditional Logic
Backwards Compatibility
Templates are compatible with older versions and platforms (.NET or Java).  Tags are automatically upgraded on first run.
No compatibility for templates between versions. Conversion tool is mandatory
Free form design allows users to intuitively make layout and formatting changes in Office a tool they know.  Create modern looking reports that impress clients
Simple tables, cumbersome menus to make simple changes like fonts, charts colors, page numbering
Data Selection
Drag/Drop Intuitive SQL, XPath and OData wizards make selecting data as easy as creating an email filter
Wizards only available for tables and matrices
Data Source Connectivity

All SSRS supported data sources plus...

  • File Based (XML, XLSX, Access)
  • Web Based (Salesforce, JSON, REST)
  • Big Data (MongoDB, Cassandra)
    Continued support of emerging  datasources
Supports major SQL based,ODBC/OleDB and XML based datasources
Data Sources

All SQL supported data sources plus...

  • File Based (XML, XLSX, Access)
  • Web Based (Salesforce, JSON, REST)
Design Environments
  • Microsoft Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
Interview Capability

Not Supported

Learning Curves

Easily design template in tools you know through the Microsoft Office Suite, create tags with drag and drop design/wizards.

Must know how to write SQL and learn new designer for layout
Open Formats

Templates and Output created to specifications allowing editing in native applications.  Open Office and make layout changes at any time.

Proprietary RDL templates, must have designer installed for any change
Output Formats


Reporting Components Reuse

Windward PODs

Shared data connections and report parts (charts, tables) components can’t be combined in a single object

Windward provides the user with live support (phone, email, & forum), tutorials, free webinars, comprehensive documentation, strong internet presence, and more.


Library can be deployed via .NETor Java (Office does not need to be installed)

Template Formats


SSRS Alternative - Windward Designer's Summary

Windward offers convenience and a host of ease-of-use features unavailable to SSRS users making it one of the best alternatives to SSRS.

With Windward you can:
  • Free your templates from formatting restrictions.
    Use Office’s styles, charts, tables, shapes, and more to add life and clarity to your documents.
  • Report as you should: directly in the native Microsoft application.
    Windward produces your document to spec so you can continue working with your documents even after generation.
  • Link to a wider variety of data connections.
    Windward’s ever‐expanding library of data connectivity makes sure you can access your data even as storage mediums change.
  • Select your data in a single step through intuitive wizards.
    Don’t struggle getting data into your reports, let Windward’s drag and drop wizards do the heavy lifting for you.
  • Combine tags, styles, and formatting all in reusable components.
    Windward’s PODs feature allows capture of data sources, tags, text, charts or any combination of each, even entire documents.

It really comes down to the amount of effort involved to make simple changes while creating your reports and documents in SSRS. SSRS users have to jump through hoops for simple layout and formatting changes which is very time consuming and expensive to maintain. Most users have accepted the fact that their current method of document generation/reporting is just the way it is and have no idea that technology like Windward Designer is available. Windward is solving problems that no one has been able to solve before! Unlike SSRS that requires a developer or extensive knowledge of the tool to operate – our solution has a learning curve that accelerates dramatically after a single template is built. In essence, you run the report/document creation process and not the other way around.

- Daniel Kemp (Project Manager at Windward)

Document Automation for high volume output and a familiar user-friendly design environment

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