Intrinsic Member Properties: The MEMBER_NAME Property

About the Series …

This article is a member of the series, MDX
Essentials
. The series is designed to provide hands-on
application of the fundamentals of the Multidimensional Expressions (MDX) language,
with each tutorial progressively adding features designed to meet specific
real-world needs.

For more information about the series in general, as well as
the software and systems requirements for getting the most out of the lessons
included, please see my first article, MDX at First Glance: Introduction to MDX Essentials.

Note: Current updates are assumed for MSSQL
Server
, MSSQL Server Analysis Services, and the related Books
Online
and Samples.

Overview

In this lesson, we will examine an intrinsic member
property
, MEMBER_NAME. As many of us are aware, the intrinsic member properties supported by SQL
Server 2005 Analysis Services
are of two types: context sensitive
member properties and non-context sensitive member properties. MEMBER_NAME
belongs to the second group of properties. As
a general group, intrinsic member properties
provide additional information that can be used by applications to enhance the
user’s experience. Support for the non-context sensitive member properties is
the same for all members, regardless of individual context.

The
purpose of the MEMBER_NAME property is to support the return of a name
for the member with which it is associated. MEMBER_NAME can be useful in a host of
different applications. Moreover, as I have noted to be the case for
other functions and properties within the MDX Essentials series,
MEMBER_NAME allows us to exercise a great deal
of presentation “sleight of hand,” in working with MDX in Analysis Services,
as well as within Reporting Services and various other reporting
applications that can access an Analysis Services cube.

The MEMBER_NAME
property can be leveraged in activities that range from generating simple
lists to supporting sophisticated presentations. It is a particularly
effective tool when we need to provide parameter picklist support and
the like, as we shall see. We will introduce the function, commenting upon its
operation and touching upon examples of effects that we can employ it to
deliver. As a part of our discussion, we shall:

  • Examine the syntax surrounding the function;
  • Undertake illustrative examples of the uses of the function in
    practice exercises;
  • Briefly discuss the results datasets we obtain in the practice
    examples.

The MEMBER_NAME Property

Introduction

According to the Analysis Services
Books Online
, the MEMBER_NAME property specifies, quite simply, “the
name of the member.” MEMBER_NAME has many applications, including the
rather obvious uses with Analysis
Services
members that are included
in the definition, as well as its pairing with other MDX functions to leverage
its power even further. As an example, as we have seen is the case with the .Name
function (among many other functions), in earlier articles of this series, MEMBER_NAME can also be synergistically combined with the .CurrentMember function; we will see an example of
this specific combination within the practice exercises that follow.

We will examine the syntax involved in
leveraging the MEMBER_NAME property after our customary overview in the Discussion
section that follows. Following that, we will conduct practice examples within
a couple of scenarios, constructed to support hypothetical business needs that
illustrate uses for the property. This will afford us an opportunity to
explore some of the presentation options that MEMBER_NAME can offer the
knowledgeable user. Hands-on practice with MEMBER_NAME, where we will
create expressions that leverage the function, will help us to activate what we
learn in the Discussion and Syntax sections that
follow.

Discussion

To restate our initial explanation of its operation, the MEMBER_NAME
property
, when acting upon a member, returns the member name
of the object to which it is appended with the period (“.”) delimiter. MEMBER_NAME
can be used for a great deal more than the support of simple lists of
unique object names, as we have intimated. When we couple it with other
functions, we can leverage MEMBER_NAME to deliver a wide range of
analysis and reporting utility. As in so many cases with the Microsoft integrated
business intelligence solution, consisting of MSSQL Server, Analysis
Services
and Reporting Services, this function, residing within the Analysis
Services
layer, can be extended to support capabilities and attributes in
the Reporting Services layer. Knowing “where to put the intelligence”
among the various layers is critical to optimization, in many cases. For more
of my observations on this subject, see Multi-Layered
Business Intelligence Solutions … Require Multi-Layered Architects
.

The MEMBER_NAME property returns, as we have noted, a
name associated with the member, primarily for display purposes. Recall,
as an aside, that if we are using MEMBER_CAPTION (we explored the MEMBER_CAPTION
intrinsic member property in Intrinsic Member Properties: The MEMBER_CAPTION Property,
a member of my MDX
Essentials
series here at Database Journal) in conjunction
with a member for which a caption does not exist, the query returns MEMBER_NAME,
effectively holding MEMBER_NAME as a default caption.

Let’s look at some syntax illustrations to further clarify
the operation of MEMBER_NAME.

Syntax

Syntactically, anytime we
employ the MEMBER_NAME property to return the associated name,
the member for which we seek to return the name is specified to
the left of MEMBER_NAME. The property takes the object to which
it is appended as its argument, and returns, within a string, the Name
of the object specified. The general syntax is shown in the following
string:

<<Member_Expression>>.MEMBER_NAME

In short, putting MEMBER_NAME to
work couldn’t be easier. When specifying the property to return the name
of a member or members, we simply append it to the right of the member(s)
under consideration.

As is typically the case with
MDX functions, operators and properties, the MEMBER_NAME property can
often be best leveraged by combining it with other functions, operators or
properties, particularly “relative” functions, to generate lists of names, and
so forth, as we shall see in short order.

NOTE: For
information on several of the “relative” functions, see my article MDX
Member Functions: "Relative" Member Functions
,
within the Database Journal MDX Essentials series.

We will practice some uses of the MEMBER_NAME property
in the section that follows.

Practice

Preparation

To reinforce our understanding of the basics we have covered
so far, we will use the MEMBER_NAME property in a couple of examples
that illustrate its operation. We will do so in simple scenarios that place MEMBER_NAME
within the context of meeting business requirements similar to those we
might encounter in our respective daily environments. The intent, of course, is
to demonstrate the operation of the MEMBER_NAME property in a
straightforward, memorable manner.

We will turn to the SQL Server Management Studio as a
platform from which to construct and execute the MDX we examine, and to view
the results datasets we obtain. If you do not know how to access the SQL
Server Management Studio
in preparation for using it to query an Analysis
Services
cube (we will be using the sample Adventure Works cube in
the Adventure Works DW Analysis Services database), please
perform the steps of the following procedure, located in the References
section of my articles index:

This procedure will take us through opening a new Query
pane, upon which we can create our first query within the section that follows.

Procedure: Satisfy Business Requirements with MDX

As a basis for our practice example, we will assume that we
have received a call from the Reporting department of our client, the Adventure
Works
organization, requesting our assistance in meeting a specific report
presentation need. The client has implemented the integrated Microsoft BI solution
– in addition to using Analysis Services as an OLAP data source, they
use Reporting Services as an enterprise reporting solution. The MDX we
explore together, we are told, will thus be adapted and extended for ultimate
use within Reporting Services, in multiple parameterized reports.

A group of report authors want to display the Names of
the Customer Geography Cities (the City level members of the Customer
Geography
hierarchy of the Customer dimension), alongside the
respective “MDX Qualified Names” (their term for the qualified names / Unique
Names
within Analysis Services), to provide an index, or map, for a
developer who needs the Unique (“MDX”) Names, alongside the total
Internet Sales Amount for each, for a reporting project he has undertaken.

This represents a simple, yet practical, need that we can
readily satisfy using the MEMBER_NAME property in conjunction with a
relative function, .CurrentMember. The solution we will propose also
includes the .UniqueName function, so our example will also serve, to a
small extent, as a review of what we covered in String
Functions: The .UniqueName Function
, an earlier article within
this series. We will create a basic query that returns the City
names for each U.S. City in which we have customers (whether we have
conducted Internet Sales with them or not) with the Unique Name
for each respective U.S. City. Some of the Unique Names we
generate with the query will ultimately find their way into the Dataset
definition of reports that the developer intends to construct within Reporting
Services
– the “MDX” name for the City can be used in axes, slicers,
and so forth, within queries against the Analysis Services cube under
consideration.

The requests relayed by the client representatives evidence
a need to present multidimensional data in a manner that we think might best be
served with the MEMBER_NAME property. Once our colleagues provide an
overview of the business requirements, and we conclude that MEMBER_NAME is
likely to be a key component of the option we offer, we provide the details
about the function and its use, much as we have done in the earlier sections of
this article. We convince the authors that they might best become familiar
with the MEMBER_NAME property by examining an introductory example,
where our objective is to generate a straightforward list of the unique City
members, together with corresponding Names and Internet Sales Amounts,
in a results dataset.

Procedure: Use the MEMBER_NAME Property to Generate a
Simple List of Members with a Measure in a Results Dataset

Let’s construct a simple query, therefore, to return the
requested Customer City information, presenting the
Names, Unique Names, and Internet Sales Amount in three,
side-by-side columns, with the corresponding City member names as rows.

1. 
Type (or cut
and paste) the following query into the Query pane:


— MDX068-01 Using MEMBER_NAME and .UniqueName
— to generate a name / unique name list within the data grid

WITH
MEMBER
[Measures].[Customer Geography – Name]
AS
‘[Customer].[Customer Geography].CurrentMember.MEMBER_NAME’
MEMBER
[Measures].[Customer Geography – MDX Qual Name]
AS
‘[Customer].[Customer Geography].CurrentMember.UNIQUENAME’

SELECT
{[Measures].[Customer Geography – Name],
[Measures].[Customer Geography – MDX Qual Name],
[Measures].[Internet Sales Amount]}
ON AXIS(0),

{DESCENDANTS(
[Customer].[Customer Geography].[Country].&[United States],
[Customer].[Customer Geography].[City]
)}
ON AXIS(1)
FROM
[Adventure Works]

The Query pane appears,
with our input, as depicted in Illustration 1.



Illustration 1: Our Query in the Query Pane …

2. 
Execute the
query by clicking the Execute (!) button in the toolbar.

The Results pane is populated by Analysis
Services
, and the dataset partially shown in Illustration 2 appears.



Illustration 2: Results Dataset (Partial View) – Combined Use of MEMBER_NAME and .UniqueName with
.CurrentMember

We see Customer Geography City names,
the output of the Customer Geography – Name calculated member,
populating the first data column. The respective Customer Geography City
Unique Name
(a “qualified” MDX name that can, itself, be used within a
query against the Adventure Works cube) for each occupies the second
data column (which we populate via the Customer Geography – MDX Qual Name
calculated member in the query), alongside the corresponding Internet Sales
Amount
measure. The Customer Geography City members themselves
occupy the row axis, as the client has requested.

The calculated members Customer
Geography – Name
and Customer Geography – MDX Qual Name employ the MEMBER_NAME
property and the .UniqueName function, respectively, in conjunction
with the “relative” .CurrentMember function, which, as we can easily see
from our practical example, results in a combination list of the captions
/ qualified names of the members that we specify in our row axis.
(Similarly, if we had specified the Customer Geography State – Province
or Customer Geography Country levels in the row axis instead, we would
have obtained a list of the members of those levels as a result). Intersecting
the calculations with the members under consideration can be leveraged, in
similar fashion, to produce sophisticated results within more elaborate
structures and processes.

3. 
Select File
> Save As, name the file MDX068-01,
and place it in a meaningful location.

Our
client colleagues express satisfaction with our initial solution, and state
that it satisfactorily displays the names of the Customer Geography
Cities
, alongside the respective qualified / unique names within Analysis
Services
. They state that they expect this approach to provide the desired
index for the developer who needs the Unique (“MDX”) Names,
alongside the total Internet Sales Amount for each of the Customer
Geography Cities
, and that this “map” will equip him to complete the
reporting project he has undertaken.

William Pearson
William Pearson
Bill has been working with computers since before becoming a "big eight" CPA, after which he carried his growing information systems knowledge into management accounting, internal auditing, and various capacities of controllership. Bill entered the world of databases and financial systems when he became a consultant for CODA-Financials, a U.K. - based software company that hired only CPA's as application consultants to implement and maintain its integrated financial database - one of the most conceptually powerful, even in his current assessment, to have emerged. At CODA Bill deployed financial databases and business intelligence systems for many global clients. Working with SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase and Informix, and focusing on MSSQL Server, Bill created Island Technologies Inc. in 1997, and has developed a large and diverse customer base over the years since. Bill's background as a CPA, Internal Auditor and Management Accountant enable him to provide value to clients as a liaison between Accounting / Finance and Information Services. Moreover, as a Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) - a Certified Public Accountant recognized for his or her unique ability to provide business insight by leveraging knowledge of information relationships and supporting technologies - Bill offers his clients the CPA's perspective and ability to understand the complicated business implications and risks associated with technology. From this perspective, he helps them to effectively manage information while ensuring the data's reliability, security, accessibility and relevance. Bill has implemented enterprise business intelligence systems over the years for many Fortune 500 companies, focusing his practice (since the advent of MSSQL Server 2000) upon the integrated Microsoft business intelligence solution. He leverages his years of experience with other enterprise OLAP and reporting applications (Cognos, Business Objects, Crystal, and others) in regular conversions of these once-dominant applications to the Microsoft BI stack. Bill believes it is easier to teach technical skills to people with non-technical training than vice-versa, and he constantly seeks ways to graft new technology into the Accounting and Finance arenas. Bill was awarded Microsoft SQL Server MVP in 2009. Hobbies include advanced literature studies and occasional lectures, with recent concentration upon the works of William Faulkner, Henry James, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, Honoré de Balzac, and Charles Dickens. Other long-time interests have included the exploration of generative music sourced from database architecture.

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