Visual Studio is a good option for designing SSRS reports. Now, that is. But years ago we had a different toolset. One of those around the 2009/2010 time was ‘Business Intelligence Developer Studio’. This was effecting a Visual Studio shell that had report templates for the various SQL Business Intelligence suite (e.g., SSIS, SSRS, SSAS.) and was installed from the main SQL Server installer. This then morphed in to SQL Server Data Tools which was available as a standalone package.
Over the years, as things have developed, and most notably as newer versions of SQL Server have come along, Microsoft have (typically) mucked about with which tools can do what. Visual Studio 2015+ supports the SSDT style project templates natively (I think) but support for older versions of SQL is sparse.
Especially in the case of SSRS reports that are designed to run within SharePoint (integrated mode.) in older versions of SharePoint. I’ll not start now a debate about the use of old SharePoint – it is what it is. But if you are managing a SharePoint 2010 environment and need to update SSRS reports that run within it, how to do it (now) isn’t as simple and obvious as it could be.
The old way of doing it was using Visual Studio 2010 using the SSDT installer package. However, this is no longer available from Microsoft. If you want to look for it, a package I know of that does work is called SSDT_10.3.30618.1_EN.iso. If you find it, use it at your peril. Note also that for it to even install, you’ll need to set your system clock to before 06/10/2013. Yup.
So that’s not a great way forward. Fortunately, there’s a simpler way. SQL Server Data Tools for VS 2012 is still available and functional and will target SQL Server 2008 or SQL Server 2008 R2. This is currently available from Microsoft here. This seems to work with full fidelity and in my opinion is the best choice if you are primarily targeting SQL 2008/R2.
Having said the above, Visual Studio 2015 also appears to work just fine for older versions of SQL Server. All you need to do is change the Report Project’s properties to target the appropriate version of SQL Server. There is an issue here: the new XAML Designer struggles with report parameters and you will get Warnings in the build output. Nevertheless, the reports work OK if you can live with the warnings. So if you already have VS2015, this is probably the best approach.