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Posted Aug 29, 2008

Attribute Member Keys - Pt 1: Introduction and Simple Keys - Page 3

By William Pearson

Procedure: Examine Key Attribute Properties and Characteristics in Analysis Services 2005

In the practice procedures that follow, we will select and examine a representative key attribute within the sample cube, focusing upon the properties that define and support a representative attribute. We will perform our practice sessions within the SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio, from which we will perform our examination of attribute properties within our Analysis Services database, ANSYS065_Basic AS DB.

In Dimensional Model Components: Dimensions Part I and II, and Dimensional Attributes: Introduction and Overview Parts I through V, respectively, we overviewed the properties underpinning Database and Cube dimensions, and then examined the properties supporting dimension attributes. Just as we did in those articles, we will examine the detailed settings for a representative attribute member key here. To access these settings for the attribute member key within a representative dimension, we will need to open that dimension within the Dimension Designer first.

1.  Within the Solution Explorer, right-click the Geography dimension (expand the Dimensions folder as necessary).

2.  Click Open on the context menu that appears, as depicted in Illustration 4.

Opening the Dimension via the Dimension Designer
Illustration 4: Opening the Dimension via the Dimension Designer ...

The tabs of the Dimension Designer open.

3.  Click the Dimension Structure tab, if we have not already arrived there by default.

4.  Examine the member attributes that appear within the Attributes pane of the Dimension Structure tab.

The attributes belonging to the Geography dimension appear as shown in Illustration 5.

The Member Attributes, Geography Dimension
Illustration 5: The Member Attributes, Geography Dimension

We note that five attributes appear within the Attributes pane. Let's get some exposure to the properties associated with attributes by examining a representative member among the attributes we see here.

Review Key Attribute Properties

As we discovered in Dimensional Attributes: Introduction and Overview Part V, within the Source properties of every attribute lays the KeyColumns property. Let’s examine the property and the underlying KeyColumns collection for the Geography attribute key, which represents a simple key within the sample Analysis Services database, by taking the following steps.

1.  Within the Attributes pane of the Dimension Structure tab, right-click the Geography Key attribute.

2.  Click Properties on the context menu that appears, as depicted in Illustration 6.

Select Properties from the Context Menu
Illustration 6: Select Properties from the Context Menu ...

The Properties pane appears for the Geography Key attribute. (The Properties pane likely appeared when we selected the Product dimension within the Dimensions pane, by default, below the Solution Explorer. The design environment can, of course, be customized in many ways to accommodate your local environment and development needs.)

We can, at this stage, see the thirty DimensionAttribute properties for the Geography Key attribute within the Properties pane, arranged into five properties groups, which we examined in detail within the earlier articles we have cited.

3.  Expand the Source group, at the bottom of the Properties pane, by clicking the “+” sign that appears to the immediate left of its label, if necessary, as shown in Illustration 7.

Expand the Source Group in the Properties Pane
Illustration 7: Expand the Source Group in the Properties Pane

The expanded Source properties group of the Properties pane for the Geography attribute key appears as depicted in Illustration 8.

The Source Properties for the Geography Attribute Key
Illustration 8: The Source Properties for the Geography Attribute Key

Let's take a look at each of the individual properties (and “subproperties”), as relevant to a simple key, discussing the purpose of the property, and examining possible settings with which we can come into contact. (We will examine these settings for a composite key in Part II.) In most attributes, we find that only the KeyColumns property is relevant, although NameColumn and ValueColumn can certainly offer opportunities for employment, as we see in other articles of this series. We will skip the CustomRollupColumn and CustomRollupPropertiesColumn properties for this reason – both are set to “(none)” in the case of our example, the Geography attribute key.

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