MDX in Analysis Services: Named Sets in MDX: An Introduction

About the Series …

This is the thirteenth tutorial article of the series, MDX
in Analysis Services
. The series is designed to provide hands-on
application of the fundamentals of MDX from the perspective of MS SQL Server
2000 Analysis Services
("MSAS,"); our
primary focus is the manipulation of multidimensional data sources, using MDX
expressions, in a variety of scenarios designed to meet real-world business
intelligence needs.

For more
information on the series, as well as the hardware / software requirements to
prepare for the tutorials we will undertake, please see the first lesson of
this series, MDX
Concepts and Navigation
.

Note: At the time of writing, Service
Pack 3
updates
are assumed for MSSQL Server 2000, MSSQL Server 2000 Analysis
Services
, and the related Books Online and Samples.
The screen shots that appear in this article were taken from a Windows 2003
Server, and may appear somewhat different from coinciding views in other
operating systems.

Introduction

With
this lesson, we will begin an examination of named sets, from the
perspective the MDX query language. We obtained brief exposure to the concept of
named sets earlier in the series (Using
Sets in MDX Queries
), touching upon
them from the perspective of the MSAS Analysis Manager, the Cube
Editor
, and related interfaces in MSAS. We will be
focusing in this lesson upon named sets that we create within an MDX query,
through the use of the WITH statement.

Named
sets are in most ways similar to calculated members (See Calculated
Members: Introduction
and Calculated
Members: Further Considerations and Perspectives
, both within the MDX
in Analysis Services
series), as we shall see. The syntax shared by
the two is almost identical: we are required to name the set and to
provide the specifications for its calculation inside the WITH clause,
just as we must perform these steps for a calculated member.

In
this article, we will introduce the concepts behind named sets, and then
discuss the MDX syntax used in their creation. Next, we will undertake illustrative
practice examples, based upon hypothetical business needs, and assembled
step-by-step, to illustrate the value that named sets can offer us. Within the context of each step, we will discuss
the results we obtain, to reinforce the subject matter in a way that activates
the concepts involved, as well as to perhaps suggest expanded uses in our own
business environments.

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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