Intrinsic Member Properties: The MEMBER_UNIQUE_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
, MSSQL Server Analysis Services, and the related Books
and Samples.


In this lesson, we will examine an intrinsic member
, MEMBER_UNIQUE_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
member properties. MEMBER_UNIQUE_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_UNIQUE_NAME property is to support the return of a unique
for the member with which it is associated. MEMBER_UNIQUE_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_UNIQUE_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.

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



According to the Analysis Services
Books Online
, the MEMBER_UNIQUE_NAME property specifies “the unique name of the member.” Moreover, the Books Online state that “for providers
that generate unique names by qualification, each component of this name is

MEMBER_UNIQUE_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 have seen is the case with the .Name
function (among many other functions), in earlier articles of this series, MEMBER_UNIQUE_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_UNIQUE_NAME property after our customary overview
in the Discussion section that follows. After 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_UNIQUE_NAME
can offer the knowledgeable user. Hands-on practice with MEMBER_UNIQUE_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.


To restate our initial explanation of its operation, the MEMBER_UNIQUE_NAME
, when acting upon a member, returns the unique member name
(the MDX “qualified” name) of the object to which it is appended with the
period (“.”) delimiter. MEMBER_UNIQUE_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_UNIQUE_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
, 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_UNIQUE_NAME property returns, as we have
noted, a unique, qualified name associated with the member, and
can be used for querying and display, among other, purposes. Let’s look at
some syntax illustrations to further clarify the operation of MEMBER_UNIQUE_NAME.


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


In short, putting MEMBER_UNIQUE_NAME to
work couldn’t be easier. When specifying the property to return the unique
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_UNIQUE_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.

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_UNIQUE_NAME property
in the section that follows.



To reinforce our understanding of the basics we have covered
so far, we will use the MEMBER_UNIQUE_NAME property in a couple of
examples that illustrate its operation. We will do so in simple scenarios that
place MEMBER_UNIQUE_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_UNIQUE_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
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
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
hierarchy of the Customer dimension), alongside the
respective “MDX Qualified Names” (their term for the 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_UNIQUE_NAME property in conjunction
with a relative function, .CurrentMember. (We accomplished a similar
objective using the MEMBER_NAME property, so our example will also
serve, to a small extent, as a review of what we covered in Intrinsic
Member Properties: The MEMBER_NAME Property
, as well as other earlier
articles 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) together
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
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_UNIQUE_NAME property. Once our colleagues
provide an overview of the business requirements, and we conclude that MEMBER_UNIQUE_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_UNIQUE_NAME property by examining an
introductory example, where our objective is to generate a straightforward list
of City member Names and Unique Names, and together with
corresponding Internet Sales Amounts, in a results dataset.

Procedure: Use the MEMBER_UNIQUE_NAME Property within
the Generation of 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.

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

— to generate a name / unique name list within the data grid

[Measures].[Customer Geography – Name]
‘[Customer].[Customer Geography].CurrentMember.MEMBER_NAME’
[Measures].[Customer Geography – MDX Qual Name]
‘[Customer].[Customer Geography].CurrentMember.MEMBER_UNIQUE_NAME’

{[Measures].[Customer Geography – Name],
[Measures].[Customer Geography – MDX Qual Name],
[Measures].[Internet Sales Amount]}

[Customer].[Customer Geography].[Country].&[United States],
[Customer].[Customer Geography].[City]
[Adventure Works]

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

Illustration 1: Our Query in the Query Pane …

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

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

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

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
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 MEMBER_UNIQUE_NAME property, 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
names (which might be used as captions / labels within a given report
layout) / qualified names of the members that we specify in our row
axis. (Similarly, if we had specified the Customer Geography State –
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.

Select File
> Save As, name the file MDX069-01,
and place it in a meaningful location.

client colleagues express satisfaction with our initial solution, and state
that it satisfactorily displays the names of the Customer Geography
, alongside the respective qualified / unique names within Analysis
. They state that they expect this approach to provide the desired
index for the developer who needs the Names and 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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