Fun times at SSAS Workshop

I had the extreme pleasure of attending the SSAS Workshop by PragmaticWorks this week, which was a two-day session with a bonus third day entirely focused on Denali (Expedition Denali). Brian Knight (blog | @brianknight), Dustin Ryan (blog | @SQLDusty) and Lonnie Mejia (LinkedIn) were on site at the Microsoft Southwest District office in Tempe, AZ which has a beautiful view of Tempe Town Lake.

I have only had a little exposure to SQL Server Analysis Services before this and from what I have learned I do know that our own data warehouse group could significantly benefit from this workshop. I am not mocking them whatsoever, but I am saying some processes could be handled differently. For example cube updates. Instead of providing me the entire visual studio solution they can easily provide me a XMLA script which I can use in SSMS to deploy the dimension update. Things like this I never knew, so this was a real eye opener for me and gives me the needed ammo to fight with our developers. Kidding! It does however allow me to extend my freshly acquired knowledge to that group in a non-confrontational way of course (fingers crossed behind back).

Business intelligence has a warm place in my heart and the time I did spend developing reports was exciting. To be honest I would love nothing more than to be able to go from zero to data warehouse to SSAS slice and dice to full publish on reporting services, sharepoint, etc… in a week or so. I believe as a DBA that would be a valuable skill-set to have under my belt. This course is my step towards that direction.

There is no doubt that this workshop packs in a lot of information. The two days are literally bursting at the seams with information but this is definitely a MUST for those looking to get into the SSAS world. The PragmaticWorks staff really demystified SSAS. Their lectures and labs are delivered in such a manner that it is really easy to keep up with the pace. Throughout the course you are walked through the process of setting up an SSAS project all the way through creating cubes, dimensions, mining structures, roles and everything in between. The price of the course is a bargain given everything you walk away with.

I think the most action came towards the ending of day two. The room was divided down the middle and the groups were paired against each other to build an SSAS project from start to finish following a set of requirements. Then you needed to create a report in either reporting services or excel based on the cube we published. Everyone participated either by being the designated drivers (at the computer), yelling out the requirements, providing assistance and so on. It was intense! I must mention that “Team Dustin” my group WON the challenge against “Team Brian”. Better luck next time Brian! We literally beat them by 1-2 seconds at best. Nonetheless a fantastic method to illustrate not only what we had learned but more importantly what we had retained. If you get the opportunity to attend this workshop I would highly recommend it. You will not be sorry!

Expedition Denali (Day 3) was very exceptional. I have not touched Denali at all but from what Roger Doherty (blog | @Doherty100) and Brian Knight were covering and demoing I cannot wait till RTM. I would totally spill the beans because there are so many very cool and sexy things coming… but their “body-guard/new sales guy” Lonnie is a pretty big guy so I will refrain. Here he is working through the demo.

Random pics


Reporting Services Date Parameters

Being the guy that I am I often try to implement pure TSQL solutions especially when working with parameters via Reporting Services. I know it seems like they go hand-in-hand and to a great extent they do, but there are some cases where it is best to use expressions for the report parameters over a stored procedure. Don’t get me wrong my TSQL approach worked fine but when I used the expression I was able to accomplish the exact same results with slightly less syntax to write and possibly less overhead. I stumbled upon the blog post “Calculating the first and last day of the month” by datageek on blogspot which illustrates the expressions I used for my report.

TSQL Syntax

SELECT DATEADD(Month,DATEDIFF(Month,0,getdate()),-1)+1 'StartDate'
SELECT DATEADD(Month,DATEDIFF(Month,0,getdate())+1,-1) 'EndDate'

RS Expression Syntax

Note: The following can be used for Access as well to get the first and last days of the month from what I understand.

First Day of the Month

=DateSerial(Year(Now), Month(Now), 1)

Last Day of the Month

=DateSerial(Year(Now), Month(Now) + 1, 0)

So for illustration purposes I put together a report based on the AdventureWorks database and used the RS Expression Syntax to populate the date fields, but first let’s create the stored procedure.

Stored Procedure

	@StartDate datetime
	,@EndDate datetime


SELECT	e.EmployeeKey
	--, e.ParentEmployeeKey
	--, e.EmployeeNationalIDAlternateKey
	--, e.ParentEmployeeNationalIDAlternateKey
	--, e.SalesTerritoryKey
	, e.FirstName
	, e.LastName
	--, e.MiddleName
	--, e.NameStyle
	, e.Title
	, e.HireDate
	--, e.BirthDate
	--, e.LoginID
	--, e.EmailAddress
	, e.Phone
	--, e.MaritalStatus
	--, e.EmergencyContactName
	--, e.EmergencyContactPhone
	, e.SalariedFlag
	--, e.Gender
	--, e.PayFrequency
	, e.BaseRate
	--, e.VacationHours
	--, e.SickLeaveHours
	--, e.CurrentFlag
	--, e.SalesPersonFlag
	--, e.DepartmentName
	--, e.StartDate
	, e.EndDate
	--, e.Status
	--, st.SalesTerritoryCountry
	--, st.SalesTerritoryRegion
	--, st.SalesTerritoryGroup

FROM AdventureWorksDW2008.dbo.DimEmployee AS e
JOIN AdventureWorksDW2008.dbo.DimSalesTerritory AS st
ON e.SalesTerritoryKey = st.SalesTerritoryKey
WHERE (HireDate BETWEEN @StartDate AND @EndDate)
ORDER BY e.HireDate

Now that we have the sProc in place building the report is pretty much the same for the most part; however, the report parameters have relocated. They are now found on the left hand side under the report data section. In 2005 you would have found the parameters under the Report menu.

Now to set default values for the parameters

1) Right click on the StartDate parameter and select “Parameter Properties”

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2) At the Properties screen click on “Default Values”

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3) Then select “Specify Values”

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4) Click on the “Expression” button

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5) Use the RS Expression Syntax for the “First Day of the Month”

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6) Now follow the steps 1-5 and set the default value for the EndDate parameter but this time use the RS Syntax for the “Last Day of the Month”

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7) Let’s preview the report, there won’t be any data though but the parameters are defaulting as intended

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To see the data simply change the date range to reflect 1/1/1996 to 7/1/1999 then press “View Report”

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1) If you just want to see the date only and not the time just right click on the field and select “Text Box Properties”

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2) In the Text Box Properties dialog select Number

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3) From within the Category section select “Date”

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4) Then select the format under “Type”

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And here is the outcome…

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