Comparison data are usually regional or national averages of your indicators which you would like to display in your report. You can display comparison areas in table and chart widgets or show their values in text widgets by using variables.

You can add comparison areas via your feature service, CSV file or Table in ArcGIS Online. Please note that while you can use multiple sources of data together in a report, comparison data will always depend on the currently selected indicator. Comparison values will thus be taken from the same source as the indicator (e.g. a CSV file) if available and will be displayed as ‘no data’ if undefined.

Adding comparison areas via the feature service

  • Add an additional row to your feature service for each comparison area you want to display in your report. You will probably have to do this in your source data before you make it a feature service.  It is easy to add additional rows to a shapefile using ArcGIS Desktop.
  • The additional rows should not have any geometry associated with them.
  • For each additional row populate it with the relevant comparison data in each data field.
  • In your ID field give it an ID beginning with ‘#’, e.g. #US. This tells Report Builder to treat it as comparison data. Note if you don’t have a suitable ID column you will need to create one.
  • Fill in your name field with a relevant description for your comparison area.
Example of a feature layer with one additional row added for US comparison data


You will need to make sure you switch the Feature ID field from the default of ‘FID’ to the field that holds your features and comparison areas ID codes with ‘#’. You can change this in the Report Properties dialog (in the Report Design Page select the cogwheels icon at the top left hand side to open up the Report Settings tab and then click on Properties).

How to set up comparison areas in CSV/ ArcGIS Online table

The first two columns of the CSV / table are where you set the IDs and Names for the comparison areas. In a CSV file / table,

  1. define a header for the first column. You can set the header to be identical to the feature service field you use as the report Feature ID (set this in Report Settings > Properties). Report Builder will use this common field to create a link between the feature service and the CSV / table.
    CSV Feature ID field header
  1. Copy all records of the Feature ID field from the feature service table to the first column of the CSV / table. Here the feature service only contains 3 features, their feature ids are ‘EH11’, ‘EH12’ and ‘EH13’.CSV feature ID field with geography features
  1. Specify the comparison area IDs in the first column below the feature service feature IDs. The IDs must be given a prefix of ‘#’ (e.g. #001 or #UK) to distinguish them from the feature service features. Here there are two comparison areas: the City of Edinburgh and Scotland with ‘#Edinburgh’ and ‘#Scotland’ as their IDs.CSV feature ID field with comparison areas
  1. Now specify the header of the second column. The header name must be identical to the feature service field you use as the report Feature Name (set this in Report Settings > Properties).CSV feature name field header
  1. Add the names of the comparison areas on the second column. Note you do not need to specify the names for the features from the feature service in the CSV / table as Report Builder will take the information from the feature service itself.CSV feature name field with comparison areas
  1. Once you have set up the first two columns, you can then add the indicators starting from the third column. Note that each indicator set in Report Builder can only retrieve information from one data source, e.g. it is not possible for an indicator ‘Population 2015’ to retrieve field data from a feature service for your geography features and then retrieve field data from a CSV file / table for your comparison areas. Therefore the indicator values for all geography features must be included in conjunction with the values for comparison areas.CSV indicators for geography features and comparison areas
  1. Once you have finished with setting up all the data for the comparison areas in the CSV file / table, please refer to the CSV / Table Data section of the Report Builder help pages to link the CSV file to the report. You will be able to display indicator values for comparison areas in a range of widgets.

Note you can combine CSV files / tables which contain comparison areas with ones which do not contain any comparison areas. However, any CSV files / tables that do contain comparison areas must contain the exact same comparison areas. Even if you do not have data for all of them you still have to add them and leave the data cells blank.


Using comparison areas with an InstantAtlas Data Catalog

If the source of data for your report is an InstantAtlas data catalog, the core feature layer item in ArcGIS Online must have the following tag for the comparison areas list to be visible when editing the report widgets:


The available comparison areas will be defined by the relationship classes in the feature services belonging to the data catalog.

NB Following any update to the core feature layer, check that the above tag is still applied. If the tag has been removed, comparisons shall no longer display in widgets if they are edited following the layer update.