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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Setting default member in role playing dimensions

Today I got a call from one of my colleagues asking how to set a default member for a dimension attribute . I was a little surprised as I thought setting a default member is quite straight forward and was even more surprised to learn that the dimension had processed successfully but the cube had failed with errors.

P.S. : If you are a SSAS beginner, please read this msdn article on how to set the default member of a cube to grasp my blog contents completely – Specifying the Default Member

I straightaway went to my colleague’s desk as I clearly saw it as an opportunity to learn something new. First thing I did was to check up the dimension in the dimension designer and to verify that the default member was set up correctly.

Set default member

The default member looked to be correct and then I processed the cube to see the error message.

error message

The error message clearly mentions that the level [Brand Family] (which is the name of the dimension) was not found in the cube when the default member string was parsed. So this could mean two things:-

a) either the default member would have been misspelt

b) there would be no dimension / level called [Brand Family]

But as I could see, there really was a dimension called [Brand Family] and the default member was not misspelt also. That is when it struck me to have a look at the dimension usage tab.

Dimension Usage tab

As you can see from the above screenshot, the Brand Family dimension was set up as role playing dimensions, and later I understood from my colleague that the requirement was to setup a common default member in all those 5 role playing dimensions. Now it made sense why the error was coming, because the [Brand Family] dimension is not existent in the cube. Instead, it is being referenced by the role playing dimensions [Main Brand], [Dualist TMC Main Brand], [Other Brand Family]. [Awareness Brand] and [Seg ClassF Brand]. So I suggested to set the default member in the format of <level>.value instead of <dimension>.<level>.value. Since the level names are unique across dimensions, I presumed it should get resolved properly.

Setting the edited Default member

As expected, with this workaround, the cube processed successfully and we were able to get the same default member set correctly in all the role playing dimensions.

After this, I also chanced to view a line from Teo Lachev’s book – Applied Microsoft Analysis Services 2005

“You cannot set the DefaultMember property of a role playing dimension in the Dimension designer because it is not clear which specific role version it is intended for. Instead, the only way to set up the default member is to do it programmatically by using the ALTER CUBE statement.”

Syntax of Alter Cube is

ALTER CUBE CurrentCube | YourCubeName

UPDATE DIMENSION <dimension name>,

DEFAULT_MEMBER='<default member>';

Eg:

ALTER CUBE CURRENTCUBE

UPDATE DIMENSION [DATE].[CALENDAR DATE],

DEFAULT_MEMBER = [DATE].[CALENDAR DATE].&[729]

The default member would be set up at run time if the ALTER CUBE statement is used and hence, the dimension designer would not show the value of the default member.

Even though I haven’t tried, I think it should be possible to set different default members to each role playing dimension through the ALTER CUBE script. This would not have been possible with the particular workaround that I suggested in the beginning.

Update

I found an old link in the forums in which Deepak Puri (MVP) confirms that it is possible to set different default members for each role playing dimensions using the ALTER CUBE statement.

http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/forums/en-US/sqlanalysisservices/thread/74feffe2-4706-4a5e-9e56-97d1fcf3f6ba/

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Blog Review

It’s been almost a month of steady posting and I thought it would be good to get some feedback on my blogs. So, last day I got my blog reviewed by the team at BeyondRelational and here is the review. So taking their advice, there is some good news and some bad news that I would like to convey to you. The bad news is that I am going to split up my posts between the 2 blogs, which means you would not find all my blogs here. The good news is that I will be posting links / updates here whenever I post something unique at my blog in beyondrelational, so that you guys don’t miss anything :)

By the way, I just blogged on Improving cell security performance in SSAS, feel free to have a look and comment. I would love to hear your views on the topic.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Creating solution file from a SSAS database

In many of my projects, I have heard my developers asking each other whether it is possible to get the solution file of a SSAS database and I have turned a deaf ear to almost all the cases in spite of knowing the answer. Now before you give me that flabbergasted look, let me try to justify my position. As an IT company, we do have certain processes and one of them is to keep your code in VSS (used for version management). Unless you follow this rule, there is every chance that you might miss upon a particular Change Request / functionality and end up implementing a new fix on an outdated version. And it is not common to see people doing their development work on the online version of SSAS (which is the SSAS database) because it is much easier. You just have to save your work to see the changes while if you need to do the same changes in the offline version (which is the solution file), you will need to save it and then deploy to see the changes (talking about changes like modifying the calculated members script. For most other changes, the cube has to be processed for the changes to be reflected). So I would rather not let them know the answer so that they are extra careful in the future and avoid making changes in the online version.

But sometimes, in support scenarios, it is necessary to know this technique. Let's say, you have been supporting an application which has been live from the past 5 years and now a change request has come in. Now let us face the ground reality, the application has changed hands so many times that you don't know how many vendors have been involved nor do you know where the latest source code is. At this time, the best option is to retrieve the source file from the online version and this post will show you exactly how to do that.

1) Go to Start-->Programs-->Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and click on Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 which will launch the IDE (If your SSAS database is 2008 version, use Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 instead)

2) Click on File-->New Project

Select the Import Analysis Services option and after giving the required Name, Location and Solution Name, click OK.

3) A Wizard message will pop up prompting to continue by clicking Next. Click Next and the fill in the server name as well as the DB which you need to import. Click on Next after that

4) The Wizard will start importing the source files from the database and on completion, the Finish button will be activated. Click on Finish.

5) Presto! You have the source files right in front of you.

Disclaimer: Use with caution, Tech Lead advice recommended. I don't want companies coming after my neck just because my blog meddled with their processes :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Report selection in parameter toolbar

The MSDN forum has been the inspiration for most of my blogs, but in all those cases, I was sure that I could attain the end result and my blogs were usually a graphical step by step depiction of what needs to be done, so that I could post it as an answer to the question. But this blog is quite different, I almost wrote a no saying that it is not possible. And that was when I decided to give it a try before replying No :)

To give a background of the problem, the user wants to display the list of reports in a dropdown list and on pressing the view report button, the selected report must be displayed. On reading this question, I started typing – no, it is not supported by design in SSRS and suddenly I thought whether I am doing any value-addition to the post by typing this answer, I might as well as not write it and wait for some expert to confirm it. So I just thought of trying it while some expert gives his answer, and by chance, I stumbled upon a workaround.

To implement this, follow the steps below:-

1) Create a report parameter (say RP) and in the report parameter properties, specify the default values. The labels should contain the report names and in the values, use integers as shown in the figure below

RP Properties

2) Create a matrix in the layout and for each report add a row. In this example there are 3 reports hence add 3 rows.

3) For each of the row, drag and drop a subreport  from the toolbox into the data cell. Then right click and select the subreport properties.

Subreport properties

In the General tab, select the required report from the dropdown list which contains the list of reports (as shown in the figure above). Press OK.

4) Once you have modified the properties of all the subreports, select the entire row and right click on it.

Row visibility

Select Row Visibility option.

5) Select the Show or hide based on an expression radio button

Setting row visibility expression

For the first row, enter the following expression:-

=iif(Parameters!RP.Value="1",False,True)

This expression will ensure that the first row will only display if the parameter value is 1, else the row will be hidden.

6) Repeat steps 4 and 5 for each row. Substitute the number 1 by the appropriate value in the expression specified in the 5th step.

7) In the matrix column header, use the below expression to display the name of the report

=Parameters!RP.label

8) Save and deploy the reports. Now you can preview the report in internet explorer, and when you select the report name from the parameter dropdown and click on view report button, the appropriate report will be displayed.

order count by product

Image visibility

Rich text

This technique can be extended to pass other report parameters also by passing the required parameters to the subreports. Don’t you think I deserve a pat on the back for this? ;)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

SSRS reports using embedded images

Ok, this post is dedicated to all those zillion questioners asking how to use embedded images on your report based on a condition. Yet again, I will be making use of my favourite dataset from AdventureWorks – Order Count by Product (people who are following me would understand that this is the same dataset that has been featuring in many of my blogs. I admit it guys, I am too lazy to make a new dataset. On second thoughts, this doesn't look  that bad, considering I have created a re-usable component in the form of my dataset. Woah, high fives!)

For making this report, I am going to make use of three images mainly:-

a) Home                  b) Thumbs Up        c) Thumbs Down

Home                 thumbsup               thumbs_down

The home image would just be used in the top left of the report, which could be used for hyper linking to the home page. The other 2 images would be used in a matrix, and would be displayed based on a condition.

(P.S. : This report is made in SSRS 2008, although the steps are quite similar in SSRS 2005 also)

To make the report, follow the steps below:-

1) On the Report Data panel, go to Images and right click on it. Click on Add Image and select the images you need to embed by giving the source path.

Add Image

2) Once you have uploaded the 3 images, drag and drop Home image from the report data to the body of the report and press ok on the popup that appears (This is one method to bring embedded images in your layout)

3) Make a matrix underneath the Home image like shown in the figure below

Tablix

4) Now the matrix will be having Products on it’s rows and order counts on it’s columns. Now let us add the Thumbs up image for the row which has the highest value of Order Count and the Thumb down image for the row which has the least value for Order Count. For this, go to the toolbox and drag and drop the Image tool to the vacant column in the right end of the matrix (This is the second method to bring embedded images in your layout). You would be getting the Image Properties popup on doing this. Click on the expression symbol in the image name.

Image Properties

5) Once you get the Expression editor open, enter the following expression:-

=iif(Fields!Order_Count.Value=max(Fields!Order_Count.Value,"DataSet1"),"thumbsup",iif(Fields!Order_Count.Value=min(Fields!Order_Count.Value, "DataSet1"),"thumbs_down",""))

where thumbsup and thumbs_down are the names of the images embedded in the report. Notice that they are enclosed in double quotes. Also notice that if none of the conditions are true, empty string would be displayed.

6) Save the report and deploy it. Now you should be able to preview the report in internet explorer.

Image Visibility report

This is all it takes to embed images in your reports and use them. You can use them for a wide variety of purposes, though I usually use them for showing indicators or for using them as hyperlinks. However, if you want to store images in your database and use them in your reports, you might want to check out this post.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Adding breadcrumbs to your drillthrough reports

In one of my projects, I was asked to implement a drillthrough report, which had a depth of around 6 pages. After the development, I was sitting with the user who was testing the reports and I noticed that the user was frequently shifting between the sixth and the third report to change the values. As most of us, she was also just using the back button of the internet explorer 3 times to reach the third report from the sixth report. That was when I quizzed her whether this was going to be a common requirement and suggested the idea of using breadcrumbs as a navigation aid. Though I can’t show you the original report, I will illustrate the idea here by making some sample reports.

Here, I have created three chart reports using the AdventureWorks database to simulate the drillthrough effect –

a) Order by Category

Design Mode - Order by Category

b) Order by SubCategory

Design Mode - Order by SubCategory

c) Order by Product

Design Mode - Order by Product

The Order by Category will be used as the starting point and on clicking a particular category in the chart, it will drill down to the subcategories of that category. Similarly, on clicking a particular subcategory, the chart will drill down to the products of that subcategory. Now, follow the steps detailed below to add the breadcrumbs:-

1) Now in the first report, add a textbox with the text – Order by Category as shown below

Text in Order by Category report

2) In the second report, copy the same textbox and just to the right, make another textbox with the text – Order by Subcategory and do the formatting as shown below

Text in Order by SubCategory report

3) Right click on the first textbox, select the textbox properties and click on the action property. Now click on the Go to URL radio button and enter the following expression

=”javascript:history.go(-1)”

Setting the action property for breadcrumbs

This particular javascript will retrieve one page back in history.

4) Similarly, in the third report, add the textboxes in the format shown below.

Text in Order by Product report

5) Edit the action property of the first textbox (as shown in step 3) and enter the following expression

=”javascript:history.go(-2)”

For the second textbox, enter the following expression

=”javascript:history.go(-1)”

6) Save and deploy all the three reports and view them in internet explorer.

Order by Category

Order by SubCategory

Order by Product

As you can see from the images below, the breadcrumbs would be displayed. The active links would be displayed in blue while the inactive (the present page) would be displayed in black. You can click on the breadcrumbs directly to navigate between pages. This makes the drillthrough reports more user friendly and professional. The user for whom I designed this was extremely happy with the end result and gave me a BIG hug for making her life easier. As for me, I have included this trick in my list of best practices when designing drillthrough reports, who knows whether I would get another hug some other day by implementing this again ;)

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Rich text in SSRS 2008

One of the most irritating and common requirements that I faced as a developer in SSRS 2005 was when I had to colour words in the same line differently. Even though SSRS 2005 didn’t provide an inbuilt feature to do this, this could always be done by placing the words in different textboxes.

Suppose I had a title as

Category = Accessories and Order Count = 19523

where Accessories and 19523 are retrieved from the dataset, and if I just wanted them in a single colour, I could write the below expression in a textbox.

=”Category = “+Fields!Category.Value+” and Order Count = “+Fields!Order_Count.Value

The hassle was when the customer gave the requirement that the values should be in a different colour and in bold. Now for this, we need to break the expression into different parts such that only consecutive words of the same colour appear in one textbox. Hence, the above expression had to be broken down into 4 textboxes:-

1) Category =

2) Fields!Category.Value

3) and Order Count =

4) Fields!Order_Count.Value

and then each textbox could be given it’s own property.

simulating rich text in SSRS 2005

This would prove to be very annoying for the developers especially if the sentence was a very long one which had alternating colours in between.

Preview of rich text in SSRS 2005

Also, unless you painstakingly spend hours in it, the spacing would not be 100% accurate. For eg, if you see in the above image, you can notice that spacing between the words is not uniform

But with the advent of SSRS 2008, this issue is a matter of the past. Now you can directly type in your sentence and/or drag and drop the fields from the dataset or the report parameters. To change the properties of the required text, just highlight the part and then press F4 to view the property panel of the selected text.

Rich text in SSRS 2008

In the example above, I have highlighted the [Category] text. Notice how the property panel displays Selected Text, and not the name of the textbox. Now you can change the properties as you like be it the colour, indentation, font, etc. Another thing to notice is that instead of displaying <<Expr>>, we can actually see the words and the Field names have a placeholder. Eg, for Fields!category.Value, we actually see [Category]. Also see below how neat the result looks compared to what we had in 2005.

Preview of rich text in SSRS 2008

This can be extended to objects like tables and matrixes also. In SSRS 2005, if it was required to have a column partially bold or coloured, we had to make different textboxes and then enclose them within a rectangle. Then the rectangle could be used in the matrix.

Table in Design mode - SSRS 2005  Table in preview mode - SSRS 2005

In SSRS 2008, you can just select the required text and edit as mentioned in the previous section.

Matrix in Design Mode - SSRS 2008 Table in preview mode - SSRS 2008

It is small features like this which makes me an ardent fan of SSRS 2008.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Searching substrings in MDX

A quick tip for the beginners. Most of you would be familiar with substring searches in SQL. Today, we will see how to replicate the same scenario in MDX.

1) Suppose we have to find all the employee names having ‘David’ as a substring, we write the following SQL query

SELECT EmployeeName, [Internet Sales Amount]

FROM Employee

WHERE EmployeeName LIKE ‘%David%’

This same query can be replicated in MDX as below

SELECT [Measures].[Internet Sales Amount] on columns,

filter([Employee].[Employees].allmembers,

instr([Employee].[Employees].currentmember.member_caption,'David')>0) on ROWS

from [Adventure Works]

Query result

2) To find all the employee names not having ‘David’ as a substring, we write the following SQL query

SELECT EmployeeName, [Internet Sales Amount]

FROM Employee

WHERE EmployeeName NOT LIKE ‘%David%

This same query can be replicated in MDX as below

SELECT [Measures].[Internet Sales Amount] on columns,

filter([Employee].[Employees].allmembers,

instr([Employee].[Employees].currentmember.member_caption,'David')=0) on ROWS

from [Adventure Works]

3) You can write multiple conditions also. For e.g., to find all the employee names having ‘David’ as a substring but not having ‘am’ as a substring, we write the following SQL query

SELECT EmployeeName, [Internet Sales Amount]

FROM Employee

WHERE EmployeeName LIKE ‘%David%

AND ’EmployeeName NOT LIKE ‘%am%’ 

This same query can be replicated in MDX as below

SELECT [Measures].[Internet Sales Amount] on columns,

filter([Employee].[Employees].allmembers,

instr([Employee].[Employees].currentmember.member_caption,'David')>0 and

instr([Employee].[Employees].currentmember.member_caption,'am')=0) on ROWS

from [Adventure Works]

Update (25/08/2010)

You can also do the same using Stored Procedures. You can create your own Stored Procedures to achieve this or you can also download Analysis Services Stored Procedures project from:
http://www.codeplex.com/wikipage?ProjectName=ASStoredProcedures
 
After that, you can use the code like this:

SELECT 
{} ON 0
,ASSP.Like([Employee].[Employees].Members
,"%RA%"
,[Employee].[Employees].CurrentMember.Name)
ON 1
FROM [Adventure Works];

Update Courtesy – Charles Wang (MSDN Moderator)

Title MDX

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Highlighting threshold values in a chart

One of my favourite activities is playing around with the charts in SSRS and trying to tweak their properties. Knowing my penchant for this, one of my colleagues asked my help in verifying whether it is possible to have charts where the columns will have a different colour based on a certain threshold value. From the moment I heard it, I knew it should be possible but then I didn’t want to end up in a “You-told-me, now-you-solve-it” situation at the end of implementation. And also, I didn’t want to end up in the bad books of a pretty lady (Oh, did I forget to mention that my colleague is a gorgeous woman? :D ). So I thought of giving a quick try to confirm.

For implementing this functionality, I used the Adventure Works R2 analysis services database to create a column chart with Order Count measure on data and Category from product dimension on the categories part. Now, click on the column and select the dropdown in the Color property as shown below

Setting the color property

Now, click on the Expression and then give the conditions for which the threshold value should be highlighted, lets say the maximum value for Category should be Green while all others should be Maroon.

=iif(Sum(Fields!Order_Count.Value)=max(Fields!Order_Count.Value, "DataSet1"),"Green","Maroon")

And now, when you preview it, the Category with the highest value would be highlighted in Green.

Chart highlighted with Green for max value

You can also modify your expressions to highlight both the max & min value, or just highlight all columns above or below a particular value.

=iif(Sum(Fields!Order_Count.Value)=max(Fields!Order_Count.Value, "DataSet1"),"Green",iif(Sum(Fields!Order_Count.Value)=min(Fields!Order_Count.Value, "DataSet1"),"Red","Maroon"))

Chart with max and min values highlighted

=iif(Sum(Fields!Order_Count.Value)>10000,"Green","Maroon")

Chart highlighted with green above 10000

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