Dimension Attributes: Introduction and Overview, Part V

Monday Jul 7th 2008 by William Pearson
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Join Business Intelligence Architect Bill Pearson as he continues his subseries surrounding components of the Analysis Services dimensional model. In this article we conclude our introduction to dimension attributes, focusing upon the Source group of attribute properties.

About the Series ...

This article is a member of the series Introduction to MSSQL Server Analysis Services. The series is designed to provide hands-on application of the fundamentals of MS SQL Server Analysis Services (“Analysis Services”), with each installment progressively presenting features and techniques designed to meet specific real-world needs. For more information on the series, please see my initial article, Creating Our First Cube. For the software components, samples and tools needed to complete the hands-on portions of this article, see Usage-Based Optimization in Analysis Services 2005, another article within this series.

Introduction

In Dimensional Model Components: Dimensions Parts I and II, we introduced the dimensional model in general, noting its wide acceptance as the preferred structure for presenting quantitative and other organizational data to information consumers. We then began our examination of dimensions, the analytical “perspectives” upon which the dimensional model relies in meeting the primary objectives of business intelligence, including its capacity to support:

  • the presentation of relevant and accurate information representing business operations and events;
  • the rapid and accurate return of query results;
  • “slice and dice” query creation and modification;
  • an environment wherein information consumers can pose questions quickly and easily, and achieve rapid results datasets.

Having covered the general characteristics and purposes of attributes, we fixed our focus upon the properties underlying them, based upon the examination of a representative attribute within our sample cube. We discussed the Advanced group of properties in Dimension Attributes: Introduction and Overview, Part I, and continued with an examination of the Basic, Misc and Parent-Child properties in Part II, Part III, and Part IV, respectively, looking forward to each subsequent part of our introduction and overview of dimension attributes, where we explored the remaining attribute properties. In this part of our overview of attributes, our examination will include:

  • A continuation of our introduction to dimension attributes from a conceptual perspective;
  • Extended discussion surrounding the general characteristics of attributes;
  • An examination of the Source group of attribute properties (including what these properties define and support, and how we can manage them) underpinning attributes.

Dimensions in Analysis Services: Attributes (continued ...)

We learned, in Dimensional Model Components: Dimensions Parts I and II, that dimensions form the foundation of the dimensional model. They represent the perspectives of a business or other operation, and reflect the intuitive ways that information consumers need to query and view data. We noted that we might consider dimensions as nouns that take part in, or are otherwise associated with, the verbs (or actions / transactions undertaken by the business) that are represented by the facts or measures contained within our business intelligence systems.

We discovered in these two articles that, within the Analysis Services model, database dimensions underlie all other dimensions, whose added properties distinguish them from the database dimensions they reference, within the model. Each dimension within our model contains one or more hierarchies. As we will learn in later articles of this subseries, two types of hierarchies exist within Analysis Services: attribute hierarchies and user (sometimes called “multi-level”) hierarchies. For purposes of most of our articles, the term “attribute” means the same thing as “attribute hierarchy”. (We will examine user hierarchies, to which we will simply refer as “hierarchies,” in subsequent articles.)

As we noted in Dimension Attributes: Introduction and Overview, Part II, we might summarize our introduction in earlier articles of this subseries by extending the metaphor we have used in describing dimensions as nouns and measures as verbs, and consider attributes as somewhat similar to adjectives. That is, attributes help us to define with specificity what dimensions cannot define by themselves. Dimensions alone are like lines in geometry: they don't define “area” within multidimensional space, nor do they themselves even define the hierarchies that they contain. A database dimension is a collection of related objects called attributes, which we use to specify the coordinates required to define cube space.

As we discussed in Part I, within the table underlying a given dimension (assuming a more-or-less typical star schema database) are individual rows supporting each of the members of the associated dimension. Each row contains the set of attributes that identify, describe, and otherwise define and classify the member upon whose row they reside. For instance, a member of the Patient dimension, within the Analysis Services implementation for a healthcare provider, might contain information such as patient name, patient ID, gender, age group, race, and other attributes. Some of these attributes might relate to each other hierarchically, and, as we shall see in subsequent articles of this subseries (as well as within other of my articles), multiple conceptual hierarchies of this sort are common in real-world dimensions.

As we further discussed in Part I, Dimensions and dimension attributes should support the way that management and information consumers of a given organization describe the events and results of its business operations. Because we maintain dimension and related attribute information within the database underlying our Analysis Services implementation, we can support business intelligence for our clients and employers even when these details are not captured within the system where transaction processing takes place. Within the analysis and reporting capabilities we supply in this manner, dimensions and attributes are useful for aggregation, filtering, labeling, and other purposes.

In looking forward to each of our practice sessions in Parts I, II, III and IV, we stated that, in addition to a few key values, several properties (each of which has, in its own right, multiple possible values) are associated with each attribute residing in a given model. We got some hands-on exposure to some of these key values and properties in the practice session – focusing upon the Advanced properties group of attribute properties (including what they define and support, and how we can manage them). We examined the Basic, Misc, and Parent-Child groups of attribute properties in Parts II, III, and IV, in like manner. We will examine the Source group of attribute properties in the practice section of this article, where we conclude our introduction and overview of dimension attributes.

Before we get started working within a sample cube clone, we will need to prepare the local environment for the practice session. We will take steps to accomplish this within the section that follows.

Preparation: Locate and Open the Sample Basic UDM Created Earlier

In Dimensional Model Components: Dimensions Part I, we created a sample basic UDM within which to perform the steps of the practice sessions we set out to undertake in the various articles of this subseries. Once we had ascertained that the new practice database appeared to be in place, and once we had renamed it to ANSYS065_Basic AS DB, we began our examination of dimension properties. We will continue our examination of attributes within the same practice environment, which we will access taking the following steps within the SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio, as we did within Dimensional Model Components: Dimensions Parts I, II, III, and IV.

NOTE: Please access the UDM which we prepared in Dimensional Model Components: Dimensions Part I before proceeding with this article. If you have not completed the preparation to which I refer in the previous article, or if you cannot locate / access the Analysis Services database with which we worked there, please consider taking the preparation steps provided in Dimensional Model Components: Dimensions Part I before continuing, and prospectively saving the objects with which you work, so as to avoid the need to repeat the preparation process we have already undertaken for subsequent related articles within this subseries.

1.  Click Start.

2.  Navigate to, and click, the SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio, as appropriate.

We briefly see a splash page that lists the components installed on the PC, and then Visual Studio .NET 2005 opens at the Start page.

3.  Close the Start page, if desired.

4.  Select File -> Open from the main menu.

5.  Click Analysis Services Database ... from the cascading menu, as depicted in Illustration 1.


Illustration 1: Opening the Analysis Services Database ...

The Connect to Database dialog appears.

6.  Ensuring that the Connect to existing database radio button is selected, type the Analysis Server name into the Server input box atop the dialog.

7.  Using the selector just beneath, labeled Database, select ANSYS065_Basic AS DB, as shown in Illustration 2.


Illustration 2: Selecting the New Basic Analysis Services Database ...

8.  Leaving other settings on the dialog at default, click OK.

SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio briefly reads the database from the Analysis Server, and then we see the Solution Explorer populated with the database objects. Having overviewed dimension attributes in previous articles, we will continue to get some hands-on exposure to properties for an example attribute, from within our sample UDM.

Procedure: Examine Further Attribute Properties in Analysis Services 2005

Having begun an examination of the properties that define and support a representative attribute in Dimension Attributes: Introduction and Overview, Part I, we focused upon the Advanced group of attribute properties within the associated practice session. In the practice procedures that follow, we will examine the properties that are classified within the Source group of the same attribute with which we worked in Part I, namely Geography Key, one of the attributes belonging to the Geography dimension.

We will conduct our practice sessions within the SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio, from which we will perform our examination of attribute properties within our Analysis Services database, ANSYS065_Basic AS DB. In Dimension Attributes: Introduction and Overview, Part I, we noted that, to access the properties settings for attributes within a representative dimension, we needed to open that dimension within the Dimension Designer first. (Recall that, because database dimensions, and not cube dimensions, contain attributes, we access properties supporting dimension attributes via the Dimension Designer, and not the Cube Designer.)

1.  Within the Solution Explorer, right-click the Geography dimension (expand the Dimensions folder as necessary).

2.  Click Open on the context menu that appears, as depicted in Illustration 3.


Illustration 3: Opening the Dimension via the Dimension Designer ...

The tabs of the Dimension Designer open.

3.  Click the Dimension Structure tab, if we have not already arrived there by default.

We noted in Part I that five attributes appear within the Attributes pane of the Dimension Structure tab. The attributes belonging to the Geography dimension appear as shown in Illustration 4.


Illustration 4: The Member Attributes, Geography Dimension

We will continue our examination of the properties associated with attributes by re-entering the Geography Key attribute, as we did in the preceding articles of this subseries.

Overview of the Attribute Properties

As we noted in previous articles of this subseries, Analysis Services exposes many properties that determine how dimensions and dimension attributes function. We can review the properties for our selected attribute, Geography Key, within our sample UDM, by taking the following steps.

1.  Within the Attributes pane of the Dimension Structure tab, right-click the Geography Key attribute.

2.  Click Properties on the context menu that appears, as depicted in Illustration 5.


Illustration 5: Select Properties from the Context Menu ...

The Properties pane appears for the Geography Key attribute. (The Properties pane likely appeared when we selected the Geography Key attribute within the Dimensions pane, by default, below the Solution Explorer. The design environment can, of course, be customized in many ways to accommodate our local development needs.)

We can, at this stage, see the thirty DimensionAttribute properties for the Geography Key attribute within the Properties pane. We examined the first eleven properties, the members of the Advanced properties group, in Dimension Attributes: Introduction and Overview, Part I. We noted that these properties include the following:

  • AttributeHierarchyDisplayFolder
  • AttributeHierarchyEnabled
  • AttributeHierarchyOptimizedState
  • AttributeHierarchyVisible
  • DefaultMember
  • DiscretizationBucketCount
  • DiscretizationMethod
  • EstimatedCount
  • IsAggregatable
  • OrderBy
  • OrderByAttribute

The five Basic properties, which we examined in Dimension Attributes: Introduction and Overview, Part II, and which appear underneath the Advanced properties group, include the following:

  • Description
  • ID
  • Name
  • Type
  • Usage

The Misc group, which we examined in Dimension Attributes: Introduction and Overview, Part III, comes next, and includes the following four properties:

  • AttributeHierarchyOrdered
  • GroupingBehavior
  • InstanceSelection
  • MemberNamesUnique

Beneath the Misc group in the Properties pane lies the Parent-Child group, which we overviewed in Dimension Attributes: Introduction and Overview, Part IV, and which includes the following five properties:

  • MembersWithData
  • MembersWithDataCaption
  • NamingTemplate
  • RootMemberIf
  • UnaryOperatorColumn

Finally, the five Source properties, appearing underneath the Parent-Child properties group, include the following:

  • CustomRollupColumn
  • CustomRollupPropertiesColumn
  • KeyColumns
  • NameColumn
  • ValueColumn

The Properties pane for the Geography Key attribute, with the Source properties group (which we will examine in the practice session that follows) expanded, appears as shown in Illustration 6.


Illustration 6: The Properties Pane for the Geography Key Attribute (Source Properties Expanded)

Having finished our overview of the Advanced, Basic, Misc, and Parent-Child attribute properties for a select dimension attribute, Geography Key, we will examine the last attribute properties group remaining for within our introduction and overview of dimension attributes, the Source attribute properties.

Examine Attribute Properties: Source Properties

The Source properties group appears, within the Properties pane, just underneath the Parent-Child properties. We will next examine each property within the Parent-Child group for our chosen attribute example. As we did for the other properties groups, we will discuss / examine, in most cases, the purposes of, as well as the possible settings for, each property.

Source Property: CustomRollupColumn

The CustomRollupColumn property specifies a column within the underlying data source that defines a custom rollup formula.

1.  Click the downward arrow selector button that appears to the immediate right of the CustomRollupColumn label, to expose the two basic options for selection, as shown in Illustration 7.


Illustration 7: CustomRollupColumn Property Value Selection Options

The two selection options that are available are “None” and “New.”

2.  Select the “New” option within the selector.

The Object Binding dialog appears, as we saw earlier. Here again, we can employ the Object Binding dialog box to define bindings between the property of an Analysis Services object and a table / column in a data source view. As is the case with any of the several properties of Analysis Services objects we listed in our last section, we can call the Object Binding dialog box by selecting (new) from the drop-down list for the CustomRollupColumn value.

With the value we place into the CustomRollupColumn property, we can specify a column that contains an MDX (Multidimensional Expressions) expression to be used to aggregate measures for the attribute under consideration. An appropriate expression whose location (that is, the column within which it resides in the underlying data source) we specify within this value will override the AggregateFunction property (whose value can be one of twelve or so possible additive, semiadditive, or nonadditive functions – with SUM as the default) of the measure.

Using the Object Binding dialog, we select Binding type, Source table and Source column as appropriate to our needs, and then save our changes. Because we will not be making changes to this property setting in our practice example, we will simply dismiss the dialog via the Cancel button, as we have done earlier.

3.  Click the Cancel button at the bottom of the Object Binding dialog box to dismiss the dialog.

Source Property: CustomRollupPropertiesColumn

CustomRollupPropertiesColumn affords us a means of specifying a column containing the properties of the custom rollup.

4.  Click the downward arrow selector button that appears to the immediate right of the CustomRollupPropertiesColumn label, to expose the two basic options for selection, as depicted in Illustration 8.


Illustration 8: CustomRollupPropertiesColumn Property Value Selection Options

The two selection options that are available are “None” and “New,” as we have seen in earlier properties.

5.  Select the “New” option within the selector.

The Object Binding dialog appears, as we saw earlier, offering the same opportunities we have discussed for the definition of bindings between the property of an Analysis Services object and a table / column in a data source view.

With the value we place into the CustomRollupPropertiesColumn property, we can specify a column that contains the properties of a custom rollup formula. Using the Object Binding dialog, once again, we select Binding type, Source table and Source column as appropriate to our needs, and then save our changes.

Because we will not be making changes to this property setting in our practice example, we will simply dismiss the dialog via the Cancel button, as we have done earlier.

6.  Click the Cancel button at the bottom of the Object Binding dialog box, as before, to dismiss the dialog.

Source Property: KeyColumns

The value we select for the KeyColumns property specifies, in a manner similar to the CustomRollupColumn and CustomRollupPropertiesColumn properties, a column or columns within the underlying data source. The KeyColumns property specifies the column(s) containing the member key(s).

7.  Click the ellipses (“ ... “) button that appears to the immediate right of the KeyColumns property label, as shown in Illustration 9.


Illustration 9: Click the Ellipses ( “... “) Button to the Right of the KeyColumns Property

The DataItem Collection Editor appears, as depicted in Illustration 10.


Illustration 10: The DataItem Collection Editor Appears

The DataItem Collection Editor is used throughout the Business Intelligence Development Studio to edit the collection of data items associated with the KeyColumns property of various Analysis Services objects. The Members pane on the left side of the dialog lists the data items contained by the collection. Here, we can add or remove data items to the Members pane, as well as move the items up or down as appropriate to meet our business requirements.

8.  Expand the Misc group in the Properties pane (right half of the Editor) by clicking the “+” sign that appears to the immediate left of the Misclabel, as shown in Illustration 11.


Illustration 11: Expand the Misc Group in the Properties Pane

9.  Expand the Source properties group in the Properties pane, atop the list that appears under the newly expanded Misc group, by clicking the “+” sign that appears to the immediate left of the Source label.

The Properties pane displays a list of properties available for the data item that is selected within the Members pane (left half of the Editor), as depicted in Illustration 12.


Illustration 12: The Expanded Misc Properties Appear

Because we will not be making changes to these property settings in our practice example, we will simply dismiss the dialog via the Cancel button, as we have done in steps before.

10.  Click the Cancel button at the bottom of the DataItem Collection Editor to dismiss the dialog.

Source Property: NameColumn

The NameColumn property is related to the KeyColumns property. It allows us to specify the column that provides the name of the attribute that is displayed to users, rather than the value in the key column for the attribute (the default if no Name is specified).

11.  Expand the NameColumn group in the Properties pane by clicking the “+” sign that appears to the immediate left of the NameColumn property label, as shown in Illustration 13.


Illustration 13: Expand the NameColumn Group in the Properties Pane

12.  Expand the Source properties group in the Properties pane, atop the list that appears under the newly expanded NameColumn group, by clicking the “+” sign that appears to the immediate left of the Source label.

The Properties pane displays a list of properties settings available for the NameColumn property, as depicted in Illustration 14.


Illustration 14: The Expanded NameColumn Properties Appear

The value we supply to NameColumn is used to specify the column within the underlying data source that provides the name of the attribute that is displayed to users, as we have noted. This column is used to display a user-friendly column to users when the key column value for an attribute member is cryptic or not otherwise useful to the user, when the key column is based on a composite key or where other scenarios exist that dictate the use of an “alias” for a Name.

13.  Click the downward arrow selector button that appears to the immediate right of the NameColumn label, to expose the three basic options for selection, as shown in Illustration 15.


Illustration 15: NameColumn Property Value Selection Options

The three selection options that are available are “None,” and “New,” and a preselected column, such as the one we see in our example attribute, “DimGeography.GeographyKey” (simply a notation of the Table / Column).

14.  Select the “New” option within the selector.

The Object Binding dialog appears, once again. As we mentioned earlier, we use the Object Binding dialog box in Business Intelligence Development Studio to define bindings between the property of an Analysis Services object and a table or column in a data source view. As we have seen, selecting (new) from the drop-down list for this and several other property values (such as the CustomRollupColumn, CustomRollupPropertiesColumn and UnaryOperatorColumn, as we saw within an earlier segment of this multi-part article) calls the Object Binding dialog box.

As we have noted, we can use the Object Binding dialog to select Binding type, Source table and Source column as appropriate to our needs, and then save our changes. Because we will not be making changes to these property settings in our practice example, we will simply dismiss the dialog via the Cancel button, as we have done earlier.

15.  Click the Cancel button at the bottom of the Object Binding dialog box to dismiss the dialog.

We are returned to the Properties pane, where we will examine the settings that we can see within the expanded NameColumn property.

Source Property: NameColumn – Source

The value we select for the Source property specifies, in a manner similar to the KeyColumns property we examined in Dimension Attributes: Introduction and Overview, Part IV, a column or columns within the underlying data source. The KeyColumns property specifies the column(s) containing the member key(s).

16.  Click the ellipses (“ ... “) button that appears to the immediate right of the Source property label, as depicted in Illustration 16.


Illustration 16: Click the Ellipses ( “... “) Button to the Right of the Source Property

The Object Binding dialog again appears, where we can, as we are now probably well aware, select Binding type, Source table and Source column as appropriate to our needs, and then save our changes. Because we will not be making changes to these property settings in our practice example, we will simply dismiss the dialog via the Cancel button, once again.

17.  Click the Cancel button at the bottom of the Object Binding dialog box to dismiss the dialog, as we have done earlier.

Source Property: NameColumn - DataType

We use the DataType property to specify the data type used by Analysis Services.

18.  Click the downward arrow selector button that appears to the immediate right of the DataType label, to expose many options for selection, as partially shown in Illustration 17.


Illustration 17: DataType Property Value Selection Options (Partial View)

The fifteen standard selection options that are available (as of this writing) include the following:

  • BigInt
  • Binary
  • Boolean
  • Currency
  • Date
  • Double
  • Integer
  • Single
  • SmallInt
  • TinyInt
  • UnsignedBigInt
  • UnsignedInt
  • UnsignedSmallInt
  • UnsignedTinyInt
  • WChar (the value assigned our example selection)

Having the DataType property setting available at the Analysis Services level affords us the advantage of being able to specify a data type here that can differ from the data type of the corresponding column in the underlying data source.

Source Property: NameColumn – DataSize

The value we select for the DataSize property specifies the data size used by Analysis Services. Having the DataSize property setting available at the Analysis Services level affords us the advantage of being able to specify a data size here that can differ from the data size of the corresponding column in the underlying data source.

Source Property: NameColumn – NullProcessing

The NullProcessing property dictates the processing of null values.

19.  Click the downward arrow selector button that appears to the immediate right of the NullProcessing label, to expose our options for selection, as depicted in Illustration 18.


Illustration 18: NullProcessing Property Value Selection Options

The five selection options, each of which dictates what action the Analysis Server should take when it encounters a NULL value, include the following:

  • Preserve: Server preserves the NULL value. The server has the ability to store NULL just like any other value.
  • Error: Server generates a data integrity error and discards the record; a NULL value is illegal in a data item with this setting.
  • UnknownMember: Server interprets the NULL value as the unknown member. Server will also generate a data integrity error. This option is applicable only for attribute key columns (such as the selection for our practice example, Geography Key).
  • ZeroOrBlank: Server converts the NULL value to a zero (for numeric data items) or a blank string (for string data items). (This was how NULLS were managed in Analysis Services 2000).
  • Automatic: (Conditional Default) Implies assignment of ZeroOrBlank value for dimensions and cubes, and UnknownMember value for mining structures and models.

NOTE: For more information about handling Unknown Members in Analysis Services, see my articles Manage Unknown Members in Analysis Services 2005, Part I and Manage Unknown Members in Analysis Services 2005, Part II. Both articles are members of my Introduction to MSSQL Server Analysis Services series at Database Journal.

Source Property: NameColumn – Collation

We use the Collation property to specify the collation applied by Analysis Services. The Collation string consists of the locale identifier (LCID) and the comparison flag, separated by an underscore character. (For example, Latin1_General_CI_AS is an acceptable string for the Collation property value).

The value that we provide sets the character set and case sensitivity for the column under consideration.  When collation is not set at the column level it inherits the setting from the parent object, usually all the way up to the default settings specified at the Analysis Server level (typically first done when Analysis Services is installed).

Source Property: NameColumn - Format

The Format property affords us a means of specifying the format string applied by Analysis Services.

Source Property: NameColumn – InvalidXmlCharacters

The InvalidXmlCharacters property specifies the treatment of any characters that exist in the data that are invalid in XML.

20.  Click the downward arrow selector button that appears to the immediate right of the InvalidXmlCharacters property label, to expose the options for selection, as shown in Illustration 19.


Illustration 19: InvalidXMLCharacters Property Value Selection Options

The three selection options, each of which dictates what action the Analysis Server should take when it encounters an invalid XML character(s), include the following:

  • Preserve: (Default) Server preserves invalid XML characters.
  • Remove: Server removes invalid XML characters.
  • Replace: Server replaces invalid XML characters with a question mark (“?”) character.

To enhance performance in general, Analysis Services does not check for invalid XML characters unless we set the InvalidXmlCharacters property. For this reason, if such characters exist, the response the Analysis Server sends to the client may contain invalid XML.

Source Property: NameColumn – MimeType

The MimeType property value reflects the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) type, if applicable, of the data represented by the parent DataItem element. The default value is None (blank), and the value data type is a string.

Source Property: NameColumn – Trimming

The value that we supply for Trimming specifies how data from the data source is trimmed.

21.  Click the downward arrow selector button that appears to the immediate right of the Trimming property label, to expose the options for selection, as depicted in Illustration 20.


Illustration 20: Trimming Property Value Selection Options

The four selection options, each of which dictates what action the Analysis Server should take when specifying the details for the trimming of strings, include the following:

  • Left: Data is trimmed on the left.
  • Right: (Default) Data is trimmed on the right.
  • LeftRight: Data is trimmed on the left and the right.
  • None: Data is not trimmed.

Having examined the settings that we can see within the expanded NameColumn property, we are ready to overview the last member of the Source property group, ValueColumn.

Source Property: ValueColumn

The ValueColumn property allows us to specify the column within the underlying data source from which Analysis Services derives the value of the attribute. ValueColumn is similar to the NameColumn property we discussed earlier, in that it offers a downward arrow selector button that appears to the immediate right of the property label. We can use this selector to choose either the None or the New option (a third option representing a preselected column will exist if a column has already been selected – not the case in our current example, but possibly different elsewhere).

If we select the New option within the selector, the Object Binding dialog appears, just as it does in our examination of the NameColumn property above. We can use this dialog to define bindings between the property of an Analysis Services object and a table or column in a data source view, via the same Binding type, Source table and Source column settings that we used for NameColumn and other attribute properties.

If we specified a value in the NameColumn property, then the same value is used as the default in ValueColumn. If we did not specify a value in the NameColumn property, and the KeyColumns collection of the attribute contains a single KeyColumn element representing a key column with a string data type, the same values are used as default values for the ValueColumn element.

This article concludes our examination of the dimension attributes properties groups, which we began in Dimension Attributes: Introduction and Overview, Part I.

NOTE: Please consider saving the project we have created to this point for use in subsequent related articles of this subseries, so as to avoid the need to repeat the preparation process we have undertaken, initially, to provide a practice environment.

1.  Select File -> Save All to save our work, up to this point, within the originally chosen location, where it can be easily accessed for our activities within subsequent articles of this subseries.

2.  Select File -> Exit to leave the design environment, when ready, and to close the Business Intelligence Development Studio.

Conclusion

In this, the final part of a multi-part article introducing dimension attributes, we continued our current subseries focusing upon dimensional model components, with an objective of discussing the associated concepts, and of providing hands-on exposure to the properties supporting each. We reviewed our initial introduction to the dimensional model and summarized its role in meeting the primary objectives of business intelligence. Next, we provided a brief review of dimension attributes in general.

We overviewed many of the general characteristics and purposes of attributes, including their names, and the names of the groups within which each is classified. We then continued our focus upon the properties underlying them, based upon the examination of a representative attribute within our sample cube. In this article, we extended our discussion beyond the Advanced, Basic, Misc, and Parent-Child attribute properties, which we covered in Part II, Part III, and Part IV, and examined the attribute properties belonging to the Source group, including what they define and support, and how we can manage them.

» See All Articles by Columnist William E. Pearson, III

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