Experiences from the front - adhoc reporting of the future.
About this time, we both started to realize that what a lot of these reporting tools wanted was an "XML feed" if you will, particularly Actuate. It made much more sense to have it "point to" XML rather than tight-binding directly to database tables. Then we started to talk about what really needed was to have URI-addressable sources of XML formatted data.
That's when both cried "Astoria!" We finally get to use an Orcas thing! -) So we downloaded Astoria, fired up Orcas, and pretty much, without looking at any doc, were able to get a prototype working that used a REST-style interface over our SQL Server data returned via an Entity Framework model and URIs to point to it. I think, it's fair to say, that we were both quite impressed with Astoria's power and ease of programmability in this regard. It just seems so natural to me now that data and resources being surfaced through URIs and HTTP verbs.