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Difference between Dropdown List and Lookup RRS feed

  • Question

  • What is the difference between a dropdown list (option set) and a Lookup?  When should I use one or the other? 
    Tuesday, April 23, 2013 6:57 PM

Answers

  • Here is a great article illustrating just what you are looking for (Pros / Cons) between the two :)

    http://www.powerobjects.com/blog/2012/12/07/adding-dropdown-lookup-in-crm-2011/

    OptionSet

    Pros Cons
    Setting up a global option set is fairly straightforward, making this the simpler option. The 50+ values make the dropdown list long, forcing users to scroll when making a selection.
    There is no additional set up using a global option set. The option set is limited to one value. So if you use the two digit state abbreviation, users will not have a reference to what AR means.

    Lookup

    Pros Cons
    Since it’s a custom entity, it can contain separate fields for the state abbreviation and the state’s full name. This is helpful for users who are not familiar with state abbreviations. Setting up a custom entity requires more planning than an option set.
    The system can be set up so users can search by either the state abbreviation or the full name of the state. You must grant permissions to the custom entity.

    • Proposed as answer by Brett Rojas Tuesday, April 23, 2013 7:05 PM
    • Marked as answer by bthumber Wednesday, April 24, 2013 10:58 AM
    Tuesday, April 23, 2013 7:05 PM

All replies

  • Here is a great article illustrating just what you are looking for (Pros / Cons) between the two :)

    http://www.powerobjects.com/blog/2012/12/07/adding-dropdown-lookup-in-crm-2011/

    OptionSet

    Pros Cons
    Setting up a global option set is fairly straightforward, making this the simpler option. The 50+ values make the dropdown list long, forcing users to scroll when making a selection.
    There is no additional set up using a global option set. The option set is limited to one value. So if you use the two digit state abbreviation, users will not have a reference to what AR means.

    Lookup

    Pros Cons
    Since it’s a custom entity, it can contain separate fields for the state abbreviation and the state’s full name. This is helpful for users who are not familiar with state abbreviations. Setting up a custom entity requires more planning than an option set.
    The system can be set up so users can search by either the state abbreviation or the full name of the state. You must grant permissions to the custom entity.

    • Proposed as answer by Brett Rojas Tuesday, April 23, 2013 7:05 PM
    • Marked as answer by bthumber Wednesday, April 24, 2013 10:58 AM
    Tuesday, April 23, 2013 7:05 PM
  • Lookup fields are best used where there is more information to be displayed.  Employees, for example.  You choose an employee and then the lookup field links back to that employee record.  You can click on the chosen employee's name to see the additional information.

    On the other hand, optionsets are good for lists that won't have additional information.  Such as a list of states, a choice of numbers, or even names of people if you don't need the user to be able to see more information about them.  

    Optionsets will use less space and will be quick to create and maintain.  Lookups require a second entity be created and a new record created for each "option".  However, since lookups use records, they obey security roles.  So you can use them to build lists that are contextual to the users that are accessing them.

    Hope that doesn't muddy the waters too much!

    Tuesday, April 23, 2013 7:50 PM
  • Wednesday, April 24, 2013 3:44 AM
  • @Ray while option sets are "quick to create and maintain" an advantage of lookups is that the maintenance can be delegated to one or more users via security roles to allow certain people to add to or edit the list without requiring system customiser rights or knowledge.

    More general points:

    Lookups also make it easy to 'deprecate' options by deactivating the relevant records. This leaves existing child records pointing to the correct parent while disallowing it from being used for new records. Examples might include things such as which base product or service contract type a customer has. When you stop selling a particular model or tariff, you can prevent it being added in future but old customers continue to show the correct value. Option sets either get broken when people remove options, or end up with lots of ugly "AB123 DO NOT USE" type entries.

    Using a lookup, you can view the parent record and immediately see all the children (if the form is so configured), without even reaching for an advanced find or a filter.

    Lookups can be easily filtered on one another without additional code, eg to make it easy for user to select region (eg EMEA) > country (eg France) > city (eg Paris), at each step only seeing relevant records in the system rather than all cities of the world.

    Don't forget that to use a lookup, users will require a minimum of Read and Append To privileges on the custom entity


    Hope this helps.
    Adam Vero, Microsoft Certified Trainer | Microsoft Community Contributor 2011
    Blog: Getting IT Right

    Wednesday, April 24, 2013 9:54 AM