I am using a SharePoint 2010 Foundation list to contain information that I need to populate a custom report with. Ideally this is all done from with SharePoint, such that a user could look at the list record, hit print and a consistently formatted document will be generated. I need to be able to design the report document.

I would think I should be able to SQL query that SharePoint database and populate a report - but I don't know what tools I would to do that. Can I do it all with SharePoint Designer? Do I need Visual Studio?

I'm looking for a solution I can buy or a custom solution that I can develop and implement. Is there an obvious solution that I am missing out on? I can think of a lot of places I would use this.

4 Answers 4


First of all, quickly learn that any SharePoint Development should not talk to the database directly, especially with SQL Queries. SharePoint has a fully-featured and very robust API framework for getting data in and out of SharePoint Lists, and (although it is a steep learning curve), it's just the way development is done in SharePoint.

Now, you want to produce reports based on a list.

There are (as ever) quite a few ways you could do this. Nearly all with SharePoint Designer, meaning you don't need Visual Studio, and you don't need to "develop" a solution which you need to "deploy" anywhere - things you build will already sit in the server, and you can employ a method of hiding content you don't want other's to use/see until it's ready.

I'm assuming you want to present the information about a single list item in a printable way.

I guess, the easiest method you could do, to help you pick up on the tools and methods for customising SharePoint, is to create a customised "Display Form" in SharePoint Designer. This tutorial on the Microsoft Office site should get you started. This process would have you create a new Form in SharePoint Designer, which has fields mapped to the Columns in your List, and when a user clicks the clickable "title" in a SharePoint List, your new form would show. You may need a basic knowledge of HTML and some web design concepts to understand the fields placements on the page. SharePoint Designer 2010 is quite design-safe, so you may never even need to go into the Code view to edit anything, but you will always have that flexibility.

Give us a shout in the comments if you have any more questions, or if you want you can Google around for "Creating Custom SharePoint List Forms" to see other examples.

  • This is the informatiomn I was looking for. Thanks! In my case it will be most elegant to create a customized Display Form. I already have a proof of concept form operational.
    – yellowhead
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 19:42
  • 1
    It seems like such an obvious thing now but you really helped me out by pointing me in the right direction. I find it very difficult to filter out all the posibble solutions for the most elegant one. Thanks again.
    – yellowhead
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 19:44
  • Cool - Toni's suggestion can allow for very elaborate and customisable scenarios, such as scheduling (I think), and some very fancy features of reports - so if your solution kicks off and you start to get requests from all angles, bear in mind that Reporting Services is available and is very powerful.
    – James Love
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 19:44
  • Thank you very much for your post, but what about the Report builder and SSRS stuff, where does that come in ? is it only used for the BI or we can also use it for basic custom reports
    – user15125
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 10:14

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Reporting Services have a neat SharePoint integration feature, quote from the original article:

SharePoint List Data Extension

Reporting Services includes the Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services SharePoint List Data Extension so that you can use SharePoint lists as a source of data in a report. You can retrieve list data from SharePoint Foundation 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, and Office SharePoint Server 2007. There are three implementations of the SharePoint List data provider.


Using Sharepoint Designer is my choice. You can use the built in data view web part to get the XML from the server, present it as needed, and display the item for print.


Using SharePoint Designer will only let you create a printable web page. You still won't have much control over page headings, footers, repeating sections, page sizes etc. etc.

Your best bet is to use the a 3rd party tool like Reflex Reporting (from www.thorapps.com) to expose the SharePoint list content in a standard SQL table. Then you can use your Reporting tool of choice (i.e. Reporting services or Crystal Reports) and you will get all the functions of SQL available to mould your dataset as required (i.e. summing, averaging, subset selection, joining data with other lists, cross site collection lists, the list goes on and on).

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