Introduction to MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services: Reporting Options for Analysis Services Cubes: ProClarity Part II

About the Series …

This
is the twentieth article of the series, Introduction to MSSQL Server 2000
Analysis Services
.  As I stated in the first article, Creating Our First Cube,
the primary focus of this series is an introduction to the practical creation
and manipulation of multidimensional OLAP cubes. The series is designed to
provide hands-on application of the fundamentals of MS SQL Server 2000 Analysis
Services, with each installment progressively adding features and techniques
designed to meet specific real – world needs.  For more information on the
series, as well as the hardware / software requirements to prepare for the
exercises
we will undertake, please see my initial article, Creating Our First Cube.

Note:  Service Pack 3 updates are assumed for MSSQL Server 2000, MSSQL
Server 2000 Analysis Services
, and the related Books Online
and Samples. Images are from a Windows 2003 Server
environment, but the steps performed in the articles, together with the views
that result, will be quite similar within any environment that supports MSSQL Server 2000 and MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services
("MSAS")
.

Along with MSSQL Server 2000 and MSAS, which we
use in all articles of the series, additional application considerations apply
for this tutorial, because it introduces a third-party reporting solution, ProClarity
Professional ("ProClarity")
.  For those joining the series
at this point because of a desire to work with MSAS and its components from a ProClarity perspective, it is assumed that MSAS is
accessible to / installed on the PC, with the appropriate access rights to the
sample cubes (which are provided in a typical installation of
Analysis Services). 

We will use ProClarity (Platform 5 or higher), and
various components that come along with a typical installation of ProClarity,
to demonstrate the setup of, and some approaches for, using this business
intelligence tool for creating and deploying reports, based upon an MSAS cube
as a data source.  ProClarity provides the capability for establishing
connections to our cubes, among other functions that we will explore. 
Because we are targeting existing or evaluation users of ProClarity, we will
assume installation of the application involved, and focus upon the specific
setup required to enable reporting from MSAS cubes.  If this is the first
time ProClarity is being accessed on your machine, or if ProClarity is not
already installed / configured, you will need to consult the ProClarity
documentation for installation instructions. 

Introduction

In Part I of this article, we returned to the objectives of an
earlier subseries, Reporting Options for Analysis Services Cubes
As we stated in that set of articles, our focus was to respond to a
constant request from readers: to explore options beyond the Analysis Manager /
Sample Application interfaces for analyzing and reporting data in MSAS cubes. 
I began an examination of another such option, ProClarity, based
upon a suggestion I received from a reader, and upon my own favorable
experiences with this outstanding tool in recent months.

After a brief
introduction to the application, together with an overview of establishing
connectivity with an MSAS cube, we examined some of the options offered by
ProClarity for analyzing our MSAS OLAP data.  We began to perform practice
examples of browsing and analyzing our data from within the application,
examining the layout and navigation of the analysis interface that ProClarity
offers as we practiced its use.

In this article, we
will continue our exploration of ProClarity in the same hands-on manner, with a
focus on exposing more of the rich analysis and reporting capabilities of the
application.

Reporting Options for MSAS Cubes:  ProClarity

First, we will return
to the point at which we left our "tour" at the end of Part I,
and finish discussing some features from the rudimentary perspective of the Budget
cube.  Next, we will move our examination to a cube with a bit more
complexity, and take advantage of the opportunities that this avails to
experience additional features of the application.

The
topics within this article will include:

  • An introduction to
    several additional features that are available within ProClarity to provide for
    analyzing, and creating enterprise reporting components from, data in MSAS
    cubes;

  • Various use and navigation tips for the
    ProClarity interface in analyzing, and reporting from, MSAS cubes.

  • Practice examples of
    uses for the ProClarity functionality that we expose.
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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