Introduction to SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services: Handling Time Dimensions


About the Series

This is the third article of the series, Introduction to Microsoft SQL
Server 2000 Analysis Services
. As I stated in the first article, Creating Our First
Cube
, the primary focus of this series will be 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
(Analysis Services), with
each installment progressively adding features 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
.

Introduction

In the first article of the series, we
used the Cube Wizard to build an initial cube with the assistance of the
Dimension Wizard. Included in the dimensions we built through this
wizard-guided process was a calendar time dimension. In this article we
will recreate the calendar time dimension, this time focusing on the
process through which the Dimension wizard converts existing time/date fields
to a time dimension, along with its hierarchy of levels and members.

Next, we
will expose ways to customize the predefined, time-related properties that the
wizard establishes in building the time dimension, suggesting options for
customization of these properties to enhance the cube, from the dual
perspectives of user-friendliness and the reporting needs of the organization.
We will create an example of an alternate time dimension for fiscal
time reporting, and then we will discuss some of the considerations surrounding
the simultaneous housing of both hierarchies in the same OLAP cube structure.

In this article, we will:

  • Discuss briefly the sources of time dimension data;
  • Recreate the calendar time dimension that we
    built “automatically” in Lesson One;
  • Examine the setpoints of the time–related
    properties
    that the Dimension Wizard generates as part of the
    dimension build process;
  • Explore the expressions that the Dimension
    Wizard
    puts into place to create hierarchical levels from a date /
    time column
    ;
  • Modify the dimension properties to facilitate
    ease of use by Information Consumers;
  • Customize the time dimension hierarchy to fit the
    business environment;
  • Create a fiscal year time
    hierarchy
    ;
  • Explore considerations with regard to handling multiple
    time hierarchies
    in the same cube.

Page 2: Introducing Time Dimensions




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William E. Pearson, III

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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