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Introduction to MDX: Basic Concepts and Navigation

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Get up to speed quickly on how to create MDX expressions based on single and multiple values. This tutorial helps beginners jump right into creating expressions for use with multidimensional data sources.
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Introduction to the Series

This is the first tutorial of a series, "Introduction to MDX," that I hope will help new users get up to speed quickly on multidimensional expressions. The series is designed to provide hands-on application of the fundamentals of MDX as it is delivered within Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services (to which I will refer in most cases as simply Analysis Services to save time and space). The primary focus of the series will be the creation of MDX expressions based on single and multiple values, the objective of which will be to create queries for use with multidimensional data sources. Each installment in the series will progressively add more features, allowing us to create and apply MDX queries in a variety of scenarios designed to meet specific real-world needs.

In the "Introduction to MDX" series, we'll focus on building a practical foundation, based on a pragmatic approach that "exercises" each newly explored concept in a way that I hope will give it practical meaning. We'll move through a discussion of the fundamental components of basic MDX queries, and perform steps to use MDX enough to gain a good understanding of how it allows us to retrieve information from OLAP cubes. The tutorials will rely heavily on the samples provided when installing Microsoft SQL 2000 Analysis Services, allowing us to focus on grasping MDX as our primary objective without being distracted by the rather vast subject matter surrounding cube design and building, Analysis Services in general, and other equally fascinating (but voluminous) domains that lie outside the scope of our introduction to MDX.

The "Introduction to MDX" series will do the following:

  • Introduce basic MDX concepts, focusing on the calculation of single values with MDX expressions

  • Progress to advanced MDX features, demonstrating some of their practical applications

  • Explore the creation of MDX queries through the use of MDX sets, where we'll expand our understanding of MDX to include the creation of multiple value expressions

  • Focus on the creation of calculated members

  • Explore the creation and uses of calculated cells

  • Examine the value and flexibility of user-defined functions

Introduce performance-tuning procedures and other efficiency tips for using MDX

This session, "Basic Concepts and Navigation," is intended to provide a broad understanding of the components and capabilities of an MDX expression. We will do the following:

  • Use MDX to navigate the structure of an OLAP data source (our cube)

  • Obtain information about the dimension hierarchy and its members with MDX expressions

  • Create a calculated member via an MDX expression, focusing our initial efforts on using constant values

  • Use MDX to perform conditional tests and comparisons within expressions

Query the multidimensional data source (our cube) and return values

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