SSAS Static Named Sets Vs. Dynamic Named Sets

So I’m 95% sure that I blogged about this topic at some point over the last couple years, but every time I try to find the link to show a class I’m teaching or to show a client, I can never find the darn thing. This is why I’m writing this blog. That and its also nice to have a good example of this on hand, which is what we have here.

In SSAS we have the ability to create named sets. An named set is basically an aliased set expression that we can use within our MDX queries. This is very useful if we have a set that is commonly used in our organization’s reporting solution.

But there are two types of named sets: static and dynamic. Static and dynamic sets appear very similar but they actually behave very differently, which is why I present to you the following example.

Below you will see a snippet of MDX from my cube script that creates a named set called Top 10 Customers – Static. This is the basic syntax for creating a named set in your cube’s MDX script. You’ll notice the static keyword, highlighted in blue. This specifies that we wish this named set to be static. The static keyword is actually optional, because if we leave the static keyword out of the create set statement, the set will still be created as a static named set.

CREATE STATIC SET CURRENTCUBE.[Top 10 Customers – Static]

AS topcount(

[Customer].[Customer].children,

10,

[Measures].[Internet Sales Amount]

) ;

The next create set statement creates a dynamic named set called Top 10 Customers – Dynamic, the big difference here being obviously the keyword dynamic, highlighted in blue. This specifies that this named set should be created as a dynamic named set.

CREATE DYNAMIC SET CURRENTCUBE.[Top 10 Customers – Dynamic]

AS topcount(

[Customer].[Customer].children,

10,

[Measures].[Internet Sales Amount]

) ;

Here you can see the create set statements in my Adventure Works cube script.

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And here we can see the two sets as they appear in our cube’s metadata tab in SQL Server Management Studio.

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Now this is where it gets interesting. Below we have an example of our static named set being used in a query on the row axis. And we can see that it works fine.

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But what happens if add a constraint in the Where clause? Uh oh, we run into an issue. The static named set does not respect the Where clause (or a subselect statement in the From clause for that matter). The named set displays the same members instead of displaying the top 10 customers from the year 2006. This could be a problem for our users depending on the requirements of the reporting solution.

image

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This could be where a dynamic named set may be more useful. Here you can see an example of  a query that uses our dynamic named set.

image

Except when we provide a constraint in the Where clause, the named set listens to the Where clause and displays the correct data. I know the Internet Sales Amount numbers are all the same but that’s just the nature of the Adventure Works data.

image

I think this perfectly demonstrates the differences between static and dynamic named sets. Static named sets behave exactly as their name suggests: They are static and do not respect the Where clause or a subselect statement in the From clause. The dynamic named set is dynamic and will listen to a Where clause slicer or a subselect in the From clause.

If this is all a little overwhelming to you and anytime someone mentions using MDX you curl up into the fetal position, suck your thumb, and sob uncontrollably, I would suggest taking a look at the BI xPress calculation builder. BI xPress has a nifty little wizard that will help you create MDX calculations and named sets without you having to do any of the tough MDX writing on your own.

To create a named set with the BI xPress calculation builder, click the little calculate icon in the Calculations tab of the cube designer in BIDS or SSDT. This will open up the MDX Calculation Builder Wizard part of BI xPress.

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Choose the Top 10 Count template under the Sets folder and click Next.

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On the next screen we can pick the attribute required for our set. In this case, I’ll select the Customer attribute of the Customer dimension in order to create the Top 10 Customers set we were playing with earlier.

image 

Then we select the measure we want to use to rank our customers. I’m selecting the Internet Sales Amount measure.

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Lastly we give our named set a name and click finish. On this screen we can preview the MDX the BI xPress MDX Calculation Builder wrote for us.

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And we’re done!

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The BI xPress MDX Calculation Builder wrote all the MDX for us without us having to know a lick of MDX! Pretty nifty if I do say so myself. For more information on BI xPress or the BI xPress MDX Calculation Builder, head over to PragmaticWorks.com and download the free trial of BI xPress.

And if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment or shout out on Twitter @SQLDusty! Thanks!

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