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Posted Apr 17, 2003

MDX in Analysis Services: Intermediate Concepts - Part 1

By William Pearson

About the Series ...

This is the second tutorial article of the series, MDX in Analysis Services. The series is designed to provide hands-on application of the fundamentals of MDX from the perspective of MS SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services (to which I will refer in most cases as simply "Analysis Services" to save time and space). Our primary focus is the manipulation of multidimensional data sources, using MDX expressions in a variety of scenarios designed to meet real-world business intelligence needs.

For more information on the series, as well as the hardware / software requirements to prepare for the tutorials we will undertake, please see Tutorial 1: MDX Concepts and Navigation.

Note: At the time of writing, Service Pack 3 updates are assumed for MSSQL Server 2000, MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services, and the related Books Online and Samples.


In the first lesson of our series, we set out to develop a broad understanding of the rudiments of multidimensional expressions by exposing fundamental concepts and terms. We explored basic MDX syntax, introducing the use of the language to return information from multidimensional data sources. We created a calculated member, and then used it as a vehicle from which to navigate the structure of our cube, through the use of MDX expressions. Using illustrated examples, we explored ways to return information about members and practiced using basic conversion functions. Finally, we explored putting simple conditional tests and comparisons to work in our expressions.

In this tutorial, we will look beyond using MDX to retrieve member names and properties, and focus on leveraging the capabilities of the language to return values from a multidimensional cube. We will create calculated members / measures that derive their values from current members / within the context of current measures, to illustrate the versatility within these arrangements. We will then further explore returning values from an OLAP cube, taking opportunities along the way to discuss relevant parts of the MDX system of notation.

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