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Working with Entities and Folders (Report Builder)

Updated: 12 December 2006

When the Report Builder window is opened, all the contents of the selected data source appear in the Explorer pane on the left. Entities contain fields, while folders contain entities. For organizational purposes, the person who designs the data source for you might create folders and then add entities to these folders.

You can explore the contents of the data source by clicking the entities and folders. Entities and folders appear in the Entities area of the Explorer pane. When you click an entity, the fields contained in that entity appear in the Fields area of the Explorer pane. When you click a folder, the entities contained within the folder appear. You can work with these entities just like any other entity listed.

To add an entity to the design area, you can drag the entire entity or double-click it. When you add an entity to the design area, a default set of fields are added and the corresponding check boxes for these fields are automatically selected in the Fields list. Properties set in the data source determine which fields are added. To remove fields from the design area, clear the check boxes.

Until you drag a field or an entity to the design area, all the available entities and folders are visible. Dragging a field or entity to the design area starts the report building process. The entity that you select or the entity from which you selected a field becomes the primary entity. After the primary entity is selected, entities are rearranged to show their relationships to the primary entity and each other. For more information about the primary entity, see Exploring the Primary Entity and Its Related Data (Report Builder).

When you begin to create your report, the Explorer pane simply displays each entity that is available for the report and the other entities that are related to the available entities. In advanced mode, the Explorer pane shows additional relationships between the entities that are not typically displayed. These relationships allow you to build complex queries. When you click the Advanced Mode button, three additional types of roles are displayed:

  • Reverse roles. Reverse roles show the relationship back to the entity from which you just came. For example, from the Customer entity, you can navigate to the Sales Orders role and from the Sales Orders role, you can navigate to the Customer role.
  • Lookup entities. A lookup entity is a role that contains only one field of interest for use in reports. Instead of requiring you to navigate to this entity every time you want to add the field to your report, the person designing the data source changes the properties on the entity so that this one field appears in the Explorer pane as a field within the Fields list of the parent entity when the Explorer pane is in default mode. When the Explorer pane is in Advanced mode, the lookup entities are displayed as roles. For example, the Product SubCategory entity in the AdventureWorks data source sample is a lookup entity; in default mode, the Product SubCategory Name field appears as a field within the Product entity. When the Explorer pane is in Advanced Mode, Product Subcategory is displayed as a role of the Product entity.
  • Entities that inherit from the direct ancestors of the selected entity but are not a direct ancestor of the current entity. When an entity inherits from an ancestor of the current entity but is not itself a direct ancestor of the current entity, the role is displayed in Advanced Mode with an "As" added to the beginning of the role's name. For example, in the AdventureWorks model, you can navigate from the Customer entity to the Store Contacts as Customer role; from this role, navigate to the Individuals role. As Store is listed as a role. Both the Store and Individuals entities inherit from the Customer entity; however, the Store entity is not a direct ancestor of the Individuals entity therefore the Store role is displayed as "As Store".

Release History

12 December 2006

New content:
  • Added information about adding entities to the design area.

14 April 2006

New content:
  • Added section about Advanced Mode.

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