Dataset Fields Collection (Report Builder and SSRS)

Dataset fields represent the data from a data connection. A field can represent either numeric or non-numeric data. Examples include sales amounts, total sales, customer names, database identifiers, URLs, images, spatial data, and e-mail addresses. On the design surface, fields appear as expressions in report items such as text boxes, tables, and charts.

A report has three types of fields and displays them in the Report Data pane: dataset fields, dataset calculated fields, and built-in fields.

  • Dataset fields. The metadata that represents the collection of fields that will be returned when the dataset query runs on the data source.

  • Dataset calculated fields. Additional fields that you create for the dataset. Each calculated field is created by evaluating an expression that you define.

  • Built-in fields. The metadata that represents a collection of fields provided by Report Builder that provide report information such as the report name or the time when the report was processed. For more information, see Built-in Globals and Users References (Report Builder and SSRS).

    Dataset field names are saved as part of the report dataset definition. For more information, see Report Embedded Datasets and Shared Datasets (Report Builder and SSRS).


You can create and modify paginated report definition (.rdl) files in Report Builder and in Report Designer in SQL Server Data Tools. Each authoring environment provides different ways to create, open, and save reports and related items.

Dataset Fields and Queries

Dataset fields are specified by the dataset query command and by any calculated fields that you define. The collection of fields that you see in your report depends on the type of dataset you have:

  • Shared dataset. The field collection is the list of fields for the query in the shared dataset definition at the time that you directly added the shared dataset to your report, or when you added a report part that included the shared dataset. The local field collection does not change when the shared dataset definition changes on the report server. To update the local field collection, you must refresh the list for the local shared dataset.

  • Embedded dataset. The field collection is the list of fields that is returned from running the current query against the data source.

    For more information see, Add, Edit, Refresh Fields in the Report Data Pane (Report Builder and SSRS)

Calculated Fields

You specify a calculated field manually by creating an expression. Calculated fields can be used to create new values that do not exist on the data source. For example, a calculated field can represent a new value, a custom sort order for a set of field values, or an existing field that is converted to a different data type.

Calculated fields are local to a report and cannot be saved as part of a shared dataset.

For more information, see Add, Edit, Refresh Fields in the Report Data Pane (Report Builder and SSRS).

Entities and Entity Fields

If you are working with a report model data source, you specify the entities and entity fields as your report data. In the query designer for a report model, you can interactively explore and select related entities and choose the fields that you want to include in your report dataset. After you finish designing the query, you can see the collection of entity identifiers and entity fields in the Report Data pane. Entity identifiers are generated automatically by the report model and are typically not displayed for the end user.

Using Extended Field Properties

Data sources that support multidimensional queries, such as SQL Server Analysis Services, support field properties on fields. Field properties appear in the result set for a query, but are not visible in the Report Data pane. They are still available to use in your report. To refer to a property for a field, drag the field onto the report, and change the default property Value to the field name of the property you want. For example, in an Analysis Services cube, you can define formats for values in the cube cells. The formatted value is available by using the field property FormattedValue. To use the value directly instead of using a value and setting the format property of the text box, drag the field to the text box and change the default expression =Fields!FieldName.Value to =Fields!FieldName.FormattedValue.


Not all Field properties can be used for all data sources. The Value and IsMissing properties are defined for all data sources. Other predefined properties (such as Key, UniqueName, and ParentUniqueName for multidimensional data sources) are supported only if the data source provides those properties. Custom properties are supported by some data providers. For more information, see specific topics about extended field properties for your data source type in Report Embedded Datasets and Shared Datasets (Report Builder and SSRS). For example, for a SQL Server Analysis Services data source, see Extended Field Properties for an Analysis Services Database (SSRS).

Understanding Default Expressions for Fields

A text box can be a text box report item in the report body, or a text box in a cell in a tablix data region. When you link a field with a text box, the location of the text box determines the default expression for the field reference. In the report body, a text box value expression must specify an aggregate and a dataset. If only one dataset exists in the report, this default expression is created for you. For a field that represents a numeric value, the default aggregate function is Sum. For a field that represents a non-numeric value, the default aggregate is First.

In a tablix data region, the default field expression depends on the row and group memberships of the text box that you add the field to. The field expression for the field Sales, when added to a text box in the detail row of a table, is [Sales]. If you add the same field to a text box in a group header, the default expression is (Sum[Sales]), because the group header displays summary values for the group, not detail values. When the report runs, the report processor evaluates each expression and substitutes the result in the report.

For more information about expressions, see Expressions (Report Builder and SSRS).

Field Data Types

When you create a dataset, the data types of the fields on the data source may not be exactly the data types used in a report. Data types may go through one or two mapping layers. The data processing extension or data provider may map data types from the data source to common language runtime (CLR) data types. The data types returned by data processing extensions are mapped to a subset of common language runtime (CLR) data types from the .NET Framework.

On the data source, the data is stored in data types supported by the data source. For example, data in a SQL Server database must be one of the supported SQL Server data types such as nvarchar or datetime. When you retrieve data from the data source, the data passes through a data processing extension or data provider that is associated with the data source type. Depending on the data processing extension, data may be converted from the data types used by data source into data types supported by the data processing extension. Reporting Services uses data types supported by the common language runtime (CLR) that is installed with SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT). The data provider maps each column in the result set from the native data type to a .NET Framework common language runtime (CLR) data type.

At each stage, the data is represented by the data types as described in the following list:

  • Data source The data types supported by the version of the type of data source to which you are connecting.

    For example, typical data types for a SQL Server data source include int, datetime, and varchar. Data types introduced by SQL Server 2008 added support for date, time, datetimetz, and datetime2. For more information, see Data Types (Transact-SQL).

  • Data provider or data processing extension The data types supported by the version of the data provider of the data processing extension you select when you connect to the data source. Data providers based on the .NET Framework use data types supported by the CLR. For more information about .NET Framework data provider data types, see Data Type Mappings (ADO.NET) and Working with Base Types on MSDN.

    For example, typical data types supported by the .NET Framework include Int32 and String. Calendar dates and times are supported by the DateTime structure. The .NET Framework 2.0 Service Pack 1 introduced support for the DateTimeOffset structure for dates with a time zone offset.


    The report server uses the data providers that are installed and configured on the report server. Report authoring clients in Preview mode use the installed and configured data processing extensions on the client machine. You must test your report in both the report client and the report server environment.

  • Report processor The data types are based on the version of the CLR installed when you installed Reporting Services.

    For example, the data types the report processor uses for the new date and time types introduced in SQL Server 2008 are shown in the following table:

    SQL Data Type CLR Data Type Description
    Date DateTime Date only
    Time TimeSpan Time only
    DateTimeTZ DateTimeOffset Date and time with time zone offset
    DateTime2 DateTime Date and time with fractional milliseconds

    For more information about SQL Server database types, see Data Types (Database Engine) and Date and Time Data Types and Functions (Transact-SQL).

    For more information about including references to a dataset field from an expression, see Data Types in Expressions (Report Builder and SSRS).

Detecting Missing Fields at Run Time

When the report is processed, the result set for a dataset may not contain values for all of the columns specified because the columns no longer exist on the data source. You can use the field property IsMissing to detect whether values for a field were returned at run-time. For more information, see Dataset Fields Collection References (Report Builder and SSRS).

See Also

Dataset Properties Dialog Box, Fields (Report Builder)
Report Parts and Datasets in Report Builder
Report Embedded Datasets and Shared Datasets (Report Builder and SSRS)