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MDX Solutions: With Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services 2005 and Hyperion Essbase [Paperback]

George Spofford , Sivakumar Harinath , Christopher Webb , Dylan Hai Huang , Francesco Civardi

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Book Description

March 6 2006 0471748080 978-0471748083 2
  • Serving as both a tutorial and a reference guide to the MDX (Multidimensional Expressions) query language, this book shows data warehouse developers what they need to know to build effective multidimensional data warehouses
  • After a brief overview of the MDX language and a look at how it is used to access data in sophisticated, multidimensional databases and data warehousing, the authors move directly to providing practical examples of MDX in use
  • New material covers changes in the MDX language itself as well as major changes in its implementation with the latest software releases of Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services 2005 and Hyperion Essbase
  • Also covers more advanced techniques, like aggregation, query templates, and MDX optimization, and shows users what they need to know to access and analyze data to make better business decisions

Note: CD-ROM/DVD and other supplementary materials are not included as part of eBook file.


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Product Description

From the Back Cover

An updated version of the leading tutorial and reference on the MDX query language

Now in its second edition, this invaluable reference explains why MDX (MulitDimensional eXpressions) is the most widely accepted software used for dimensional application. You'll learn how to build effective multidimensional data warehouses and you'll gain the necessary skills to access and analyze data to make better business decisions.

After a brief overview of the syntax and semantics of the MDX language, the authors move directly to the tutorial, providing practical examples of MDX in use. With more than 60 percent revised and updated content, this new edition addresses the increased number of analytical applications that use MDX. The authors cover both the changes in the MDX language itself as well as major changes in its implementation with the latest software releases of Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services 2005 and Hyperion Essbase.

This unrivaled book includes:

  • The range of possibilities specific to Microsoft and Hyperion
  • Techniques and tricks of combining the different functions of MDX to solve a variety of problems
  • Capabilities of SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services, and how its relationship with MDX has changed from the prior version
  • The standard syntax of MDX that handles the constructs and capabilities of numerous servers
  • Detailed reference appendices for MDX operators, functions, and related connection settings

The companion Web site includes a collection of sample databases and code for use in Analysis Services and Essbase, and an MDX query interface for Essbase.

About the Author

George Spofford is a Distinguished Engineer at Hyperion Solutions, Inc. and the author of the first edition of MDX Solutions (Wiley).

Sivakumar Harinath is the Test Lead for Analysis Services 2005 at Microsoft.

Christopher Webb is a technical architect who specializes in BI solutions at IMS Health in London.

Dylan Hai Huang is currently working as a program manager in Microsoft Office Business Application Team. Before joining the current team, he had been working in Microsoft Analysis Service Performance Team. His main interests are business intelligence, high performance computation and data mining.

Francesco Civardi is Chief Scientist at DaisyLabs, a Business Intelligence Company. He is also Professor of Data Analysis Tools and Techniques at the Catholic Universities of Brescia and Cremona.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
This first chapter introduces the syntax and semantics of the MDX (MultiDimensional expressions) language, looking at basic queries and the language's modular nature. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The [MDX] Bible just got better April 12 2006
By Nicholas Barclay - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The first edition of MDX Solutions is without a doubt the MDX bible. My copy goes with me wherever I may encounter any MDX-writing requirements. It is by far the most tattered, thumbed-through textbook I own.

From a purely superficial perspective the second edition is about 40% bigger than the original. Just from the size difference alone I am surprised they would consider this a second edition. Did they just keep the title for name recognition? Probably a wise idea. I would almost class this as first edition; a new book.

As the new title suggests the book covers both Microsoft Analysis Services 2005 and Hyperion Essbase's implementation of the MDX specification. Both products and their subtle differences are detailed clearly and wherever possible. There are plenty of product-specific hints, tips & code samples throughout the book. In actual fact you could say that the book actually covers three products if you count AS2000 as a product unto itself. Naturally AS2000 takes a back seat to SSAS but there is still plenty in there.

The tone of the book is balanced so as not to be partial to one product over the other, it simply tells it like it is: Microsoft does it this way, Hyperion does it that way. In a few areas the authors give examples of particular functions/features that may exist in one product but not the other. This is often followed by details of techniques to mimic that behaviour in the other product. A good example of this is Member aliasing (p.158).

Where appropriate complete chapters are dedicated to the specifics of one particular product but mostly are covered together where they share a common MDX foundation. Because of the UDM and attribute-based dimensional model a chapter has been dedicated to going over the new SSAS architecture. Hyperion's User Defined Attributes (UDAs) also has its own chapter.

If you liked the first edition because of its depth of detail and relevant examples you will not be disappointed, this one goes even deeper. I think I could almost feel some of the pain the authors went through as they tried, as succinctly and clearly as possible, to explain some particularly complex concepts within several short paragraphs and a few code samples. Even more so than its predecessor this book *will* make your brain hurt.

To me one of the hallmarks of a good technical book is that it contains information that is simply not available anywhere else i.e. you're getting good value for your money. The book details some MDX features that do not even get a mention in the current (Dec '05) BOL (don't know about Essbase documentation...). Best example is the HAVING clause, the only other place I was able to find any information about this new language feature was on co-author Chris Webb's blog. Ken Henderson's SQL 2000 Guru's Guides were also great examples of "stuff you won't find in BOL or anywhere else".

If I had a criticism of the book it would be (and I am nit-picking here) that on a few occasions sample code is presented containing a concept or syntax shortcut that has not been fully explained to the reader in preceding chapters.

Often appendices get written but never really read and are rarely referenced. Some technical appendices don't really add much value to what you can already find on line or in help files. I often wonder whether some are just put there to, y'know provide a bit of padding to get the publication into the "bloody big technical book" category. To me probably the most valuable part of both versions of MDX Solutions is Appendix A . It is the back of the book that really promotes it to Bible status. Appendix A in this edition now has a 100 page Function and Operator Reference (the original was about 70 pages). MDX function documentation of this quality does not exist anywhere else, not in BOL, not anywhere.

One of the reasons there aren't as many people in the world who use MDX to its fullest is because the underlying concepts take a while to grasp. Many become disillusioned early on and say "I'll just do it in T-SQL, it's easier for me." George et al have tried to provide a little more beginner detail in the first few chapters of this edition, nonetheless the book still goes deep quite quickly. Beginners to MDX could potentially get lost whilst still trying to come to grips with the basic concepts of tuples and sets before being thrown in the multi-dimensional deep end. If you are an OLAP novice or someone who has never written any MDX at all then this is not the book for you to start on. Don't get me wrong, you should still get a copy just don't read it *first*. I would recommend beginning with some lighter MDX reading. "Fast Track to MDX Second Edition" may help ease you into the MDX world without drowning in a sea of square and curly braces. Admittedly, it is based on AS2000 but the essence of MDX itself has not changed between 2000 and 2005, everything is still tuples, sets and axes. "Fast Track" is a smaller book, a lighter read and will serve to get you in the right mind set. So buy both books, read Fast Track first and *then* take MDX Solutions Second Edition off the shelf - you will get much more out of it. If you need more of an overall OLAP base with a bit of MDX mixed in then get a copy of Teo Lachev's "Applied Microsot Analysis Services 2005"

If you own the MDX Solutions first edition and were tossing up whether to get a copy of the latest let me put your mind at ease in that this is, in essence, a new book. Sure you'll see some of the same chapter and section headings and recognise some of the text from the original book but that is pretty-much where it ends. The 300-ish new pages are certainly not padding, the new MDX features and nuances are covered along with even more detail on the ones we already know. If you are committed to making the most of OLAP technology and hence MDX then you will want a copy of this book. Whether you are going to use MDX on the odd occasion or design and build a full-blown OLAP browsing app there is no other equivalent end-to-end MDX publication available. The only other book which comes remotely close is the first edition.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reference Book with Little Competition Sept. 18 2006
By Terry Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
MDX Solutions is an essential reference book for anyone using Analysis Services 2005. No other book covers the subject as thoroughly as this one. However, it remains only a reference book. It is thick, extremely dense, and not a tutorial that you can read cover to cover. Believe me; I've tried, more than once in fact.

It's five authors are experts on MDX and know their stuff, but unfortunately there is no correlation between their raw knowledge and the ability to teach the subject in a step-wise, easy-to-follow manner for someone new to MDX. The text is dense and the examples often difficult to follow. That said, you will need this book if you are planning to do very much MDX programming simply because as of this writing there not better alternatives out there. I wish there were.

A lot of time has obviously been put into this book and I applaud the authors for sharing as much as they have; however, it's very unfortunate that the authors didn't have it edited by multiple reviewers new to MDX who could have turned the book into a better tutorial.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best MDX reference book out there! March 18 2012
By Shabnam Watson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is a treasure for MDX authors. This book and its previous version have been my companion since 2001. I started studying MDX using this book in 2001. I began reading the first few chapters for an introduction and read through the rest of the chapters as I ran into questions for different business problem. Throughout the years I kept going back to this book and to this date I keep learning from this book. I don't know of a more comprehensive MDX reference book out there.

The highlight of this book for me is a summary section at the end of the book that has short descriptions of each function with a small example and sometimes a picture; this is the part of the book that is worth a million to me! This was priceless when BOL did not have a good coverage of MDX.

This book does not teach how to design and create a multidimensional database or data- warehouse. There are plenty of good books out there for these subjects. What makes this book a powerhouse is its excellent focus on pure MDX. If you are new to data warehousing, SSAS and MDX, you need to have another book to go with this one.

This is not a book that someone can read cover to cover to grasp all the concepts in a couple of days. This is because of the volume and complexity of the information provided. The concepts really sink in when one uses them in real projects to solve problems. I found the text of this book well written and it was easy to understand the logic and thought behind each section. This book is well worth the money spent!

Although this book is an older book now, the material still applies to SSAS 2008. To this date, this book is on top my recommendation list to friends and coworkers who want to lean MDX.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Issues with samples Sept. 19 2007
By Priya Satheesh - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
My biggest problem is that I am unable to execute most of the samples because of the "dimension contains more than one hierarchy, therefore the hierarchy must be explicitly specified" issue - a behavior change in SSAS 2005. Very frustrating. Are there any corrected samples available for download anywhere?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Good If You're New to MDX Feb. 29 2008
By C. D. Waage - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I think that this book is probably not for the beginning MDX developer. I am having trouble getting the examples to work, perhaps because the full text of the example is normally not in the book. I'm not seeing where I can download the examples from the book's website. Additonally, the examples often don't match the strucure of the database that is available from the website. If the database matched the examples, and if the full code of the examples was available on the website it would go a long way to making the book a better buy.

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