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Posted Sep 12, 2008

Intrinsic Member Properties: The MEMBER_VALUE Property - Page 5

By William Pearson

Procedure: Use the MEMBER_VALUE property in another example to Provide Parameter Picklist Support within the Reporting Layer

Let’s look at an example that expands upon our first, this time to meet a mechanical need within the reporting layer of an integrated BI application. As many of us are aware, enterprise reporting applications typically allow for parameterization (via what are sometimes known as “prompts” or “parameter prompts”) to enable information consumers to quickly find the information they need from a report. These parameters, whose values are physically passed to an axis specification or a slicer in the dataset query, often act to put filters into place “on the fly;” the “filters” are thus enacted when the consumer types or selects a value, or a series of values, at run time.

In general, there are two primary types of parameters, type-in and picklist, which can be mechanized through various means. Type-in parameters accept directly typed user input for the value upon which the report is based. An example of input might, for a report based upon an Analysis Services cube, consist of the Postal Code for a given filter, say, for one of the Customer Geography Cities in the list we created earlier. (Cities routinely have multiple postal codes.)

The trouble with type-in parameters is that they are subject to input error, and thus can fail to produce the desired results if they are not precisely correct. This can be particularly cumbersome for information consumers when the report is based upon an Analysis Services cube, because, even with a list like we generated above with the Unique Names mapped to the “English” names for various filter selections, the precise MDX qualified name might present a typing challenge for some.

For this reason the alternative parameter type, the picklist, provides a more user-friendly experience. A picklist presents a selection of choices to a consumer, based upon a static file, a dataset from a larger data source, or through other means. The picklist is often the tool of choice, because of its inherent elimination of typing errors. A well-constructed picklist makes selection easy for the consumer (who is not often pleased with a long scrolling process, or other cumbersome method, as the initial step in generating a commonly requested report). An investment in developing a good picklist often pays great dividends in consumer satisfaction.

The list we have generated above provides virtually all we need to support parameterization within Reporting Services and other enterprise reporting applications. Let’s do another example, this time with the primary objective of picklist support. We will construct a dataset upon which the picklist selections can be based, and then overview an illustration of the use of this dataset in MSSQL Server Reporting Services.

NOTE: For details surrounding hands-on approaches (as you will see, they are Legion) to constructing picklists in Reporting Services, see these articles in my MSSQL Server Reporting Services series here at Database Journal:

Let’s assume, as a background scenario, that, in contacting us to say that they are happy with the index we have provided for the developer as outlined in our previous example, the Reporting department with which we worked earlier asks for further assistance of a similar nature. Their next request is a common one: they want to provide picklist support within an OLAP report, which they have constructed using MSSQL Server Reporting Services. The data source is, once again, the Adventure Works sample cube that accompanies an installation of MSSQL Server Analysis Services 2005 (and with which most of us are familiar). The consumers want the selector for the parameter picklist to display the Postal Codes for the organization’s Customer list each time an information consumer runs the report – while the Report Parameter is to reference (and thus “pass”) the unique, “MDX - qualified,” name that corresponds to the selected Postal Code to Reporting Services for purposes of filtering the report.

While the focus of our article is the MDX required in meeting this request, and specifically upon the use of the MEMBER_VALUE property within an MDX query, the dataset that this query generates would be added in Reporting Services’ Report Designer, among other steps, to meet the requirement for parameterization within the designated OLAP report. Let’s create a query to generate the list, and then take a look at how we might use the data returned within the reporting layer.

Our initial approach is quite similar to the previous example – it’s in the intended end use of the returned data where we do something different. We again have a need that we can readily answer using the MEMBER_VALUE property in conjunction with a relative function, .CurrentMember. The solution also includes the MEMBER_UNIQUE_NAME property. We will be targeting the Postal Code column in the resulting dataset (we’ll call it Customer Postal Code – Postal Code) for the name that is displayed in the selector for the parameter picklist. The Unique Name column of the returned dataset (the qualified “MDX” name for each Postal Code attribute member of the Customer dimension, Customer Geography attribute hierarchy), which we call Customer Postal Code - MDX Qual Name in the query we construct, will serve as the value that is actually passed to the cube in the MDX of the query. The happy result is that we insulate report consumers from the MDX altogether, while providing them ad hoc selection of a simple Postal Code upon which to filter the report data.

Our first step is to construct a query to return the requested Postal Code list, presenting the selector Codes and Unique Names in two side-by-side columns. The corresponding Postal Code attribute members of the Customer dimension (Customer Geography attribute hierarchy) will inhabit the row axis, as we shall see.

1.  Select File --> New from the main menu, once again.

2.  Select Query with Current Connection from the cascading menu that appears next, as shown in Illustration 18.

Illustration 18:  Create a New Query with the Current Connection ...
Illustration 18: Create a New Query with the Current Connection ...

A new tab, with a connection to the Adventure Works cube (we can see it listed in the selector of the Metadata pane, as expected) appears in the Query pane.

3.  Type (or cut and paste) the following query into the Query pane:

--    to generate a postal code / unique name list within the data grid
   [Measures].[Customer Postal Code - Postal Code]
   '[Customer].[Customer Geography].CurrentMember.MEMBER_VALUE'
   [Measures].[Customer Postal Code - MDX Qual Name]
   '[Customer].[Customer Geography].CurrentMember.MEMBER_UNIQUE_NAME'
   {[Measures].[ Customer Postal Code - Postal Code], 
      [Measures].[Customer Postal Code - MDX Qual Name]} 
   ON AXIS(0),
      [Customer].[Customer Geography].[Country].&[United States], 
         [Customer].[Customer Geography].[Postal Code]
   ON AXIS(1)
   [Adventure Works]  

The Query pane appears, with our input, as depicted in Illustration 19.

Illustration 19:  Our Second Query in the Query Pane ...
Illustration 19: Our Second Query in the Query Pane ...

4.  Execute the query by clicking the Execute (!) button in the toolbar.

The Results pane is populated by Analysis Services, and the dataset shown in Illustration 20 appears.

Illustration 20:  Results Dataset – Another Use of MEMBER_VALUE and MEMBER_UNIQUE_NAME with .CurrentMember
Illustration 20: Results Dataset – Another Use of MEMBER_VALUE and MEMBER_UNIQUE_NAME with .CurrentMember

We see Postal Code for the individual Customers, the output of the Customer Postal Code – Postal Code calculated member, populating the first data column. The respective Postal Code Unique Names (again, the “qualified” MDX name for the associated Postal Code attribute members, which can be used within a query against the Adventure Works cube) - the output of the Customer Postal Code – MDX Qual Name calculated member - occupy the second data column. The Postal Code attribute hierarchy members themselves occupy the row axis, as our client colleagues have requested (the row axis will not be used in the reporting environment). The calculated members Customer Postal Code – Postal Code and Customer Postal Code – MDX Qual Name employ the MEMBER_VALUE property and MEMBER_UNIQUE_NAME property, respectively, in conjunction (again) with the “relative” .CurrentMember function, which, as we can easily see from our practical example, results in a combination list of the Postal Code values / Qualified Names of the members that we specify in our row axis.

5.  Select File > Save As, name the file MDX070-02, and place it in a meaningful location.

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