MDX Essentials: String / Numeric Functions: More on the IIF() Function

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: Service Pack 3 updates are assumed for MSSQL
Server 2000
, MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis Services, and the related Books
and Samples.


this lesson, we will continue our examination of the IIF() function,
which we began in my article String / Numeric Functions: Introducing the IIF() Function. In that introductory session, we explored the IIF()
function, discussing its primary purpose, and touching upon its many
capabilities, particularly when used in conjunction with other MDX functions.
We discussed generalities about the use of the function, and then undertook
practice examples that focused on two basic uses of IIF() to meet
hypothetical business requirements that mirrored needs we might find in the "real
world." If you are joining the series with this article, please consider
reading String / Numeric
Functions: Introducing the
IIF() Function to gain a general overview of the function before you delve
into the multi-step exercise in sections below.

this article, we will continue our examination of the IIF() function,
focusing on more evolved uses of the function, within a more involved practice
scenario. We will not rehash the introduction, discussion or syntax sections
that we provided in our last article, except in situations where we wish to
emphasize points from those sections in the context of our current activities.
Our focus here will be to provide another hands-on illustration, where we can
experience firsthand the capabilities that the function can offer, and to
expose a sequential set of steps aimed at getting to a specific outcome in the
support of a set of hypothetical business requirements.

As has
been the case with most of my articles, we will introduce a business
requirement as requested by a group of information consumers. After we discuss
their needs in detail, we will begin a multi-step exercise that builds to a
successful end result. Along with the introduction of the expressed business
needs, this lesson will include:

  • Creation of a core query, upon which we will build our end

  • Creation of interdependent calculated members, to provide
    requested measures that do not exist "natively" in the cube

  • Use of the IIF() function, in conjunction with a member
    to achieve intended behavior within a calculated member;

  • Addition of the VBA VAL() function, to convert the member
    property to a usable data type;

  • Addition of the FILTER() and ORDER() functions, to
    render a presentation that meets the needs of the intended audience;

  • A brief discussion of the results DataSets we obtain in each of the
    steps of the practice example.
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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