DAXMD and DefaultMembers

With Power View for Multidimensional Models – Preview Microsoft recently made the first SQL Server version available that allows you to query your multidimensional models using DAX, or the be exactly, using DAXMD. As tabular and multidimensional model are fundamentally different in terms of their underlying data structures , there are also some differences in how to query them. Jason Thomas already blogged about some of those differences here and showed how to query attributes in DAXMD. In this blog I will focus on how DefaultMembers are handled in DAXMD.

As you probably know, there is no concept of DefaultMembers in tabular models but they are essential for multidimensional models. In most cases the DefaultMember is the All-Member of the hierarchy. This is also no issue for tabular models but it gets more tricky if there is a DefaultMember defined in the multidimensional model and you query it using a query language that is designed for tabular models like DAXMD.

For my tests I used the AdventureWorks Multidimensional Model (enterprise) from SQL Server 2008R2 which can be downloaded here.

This model contains a Dimension called [Scenario] which is Non-Aggregateable and also has a DefaultMember defined. To get a list of all available scenarios you could simply write the following MDX:

SELECT
{[Measures].[Amount]} ON 0,
[Scenario].[Scenario].[Scenario].allmembers ON 1
FROM [Adventure Works]

The result looks like this:
image

To get the similar result in DAX you would usually write a query like this:

EVALUATE
    SUMMARIZE(
        'Scenario',
        'Scenario'[Scenario],
        "Amount", 'Financial Reporting'[Amount])

If you run this query you get an error that says, that

Column [Scenario] is part of composite key, but not all columns of the composite key are included in the expression or its dependent expression.

This is because the our [Scenario]-attribute has a NameColumn that is different from it’s KeyColumn. DAXMD handles this as it would be a composite key as the NameColumn may not be unique without the KeyColumn. So you always also have to include the Key-Column in your query. This is usually done by using the following syntax: ‘MyTable’[MyColumn.Key0] where Key0 refers to the first column of the composite key. So lets change our query and see what happens:

EVALUATE
    SUMMARIZE(
        'Scenario',
        'Scenario'[Scenario.Key0],
        "Amount", 'Financial Reporting'[Amount])

Now we get a different saying that the column [Scenario.Key0] could not be found in the source table. That’s very strange as this syntax works just well for all other attributes that have different Key- and NameColumns.

(I posted this issue on Connect as for me this is an inconsistent behavior – feel free to vote for it here)

So, to further investigate into this problem we first have to check what columns actually exist in our ‘Scenario’ table. This can be done using this query:

EVALUATE 'Scenario'

image

We notice several things here:
1) the column is called [Scenario.UniqueName] and opposed to [Scenario.Key0]
2) the resultset only contains 1 row
3) this one row is the DAXMD representation of our DefaultMember

Ok, now that we know how to reference the column we can adopt our query accordingly:

EVALUATE
    SUMMARIZE(
        'Scenario',
        'Scenario'[Scenario.UniqueName],
        "Amount", 'Financial Reporting'[Amount])

image

The query works now but still only shows only one row – our DefaultMember. This is the special behavior for DAXMD and how DefaultMembers are handled. It internally applies a filter on the columns where DefaultMembers are set. In this case, whenever you query your ‘Scenario’ table, it is internally handled like

FILTER(
    'Scenario',
    'Scenario'[Scenario.UniqueName] = "[Scenario].[Scenario].&[1]")

 

This internal filter can be removed like any other filter on a table or a column using the same functions that we would usually use – ALL(), ALLEXCEPT(), etc.

So to get our DAXMD equivalent to our MDX query we have to remove the filter from our ‘Scenario’ table:

EVALUATE
    SUMMARIZE(
        ALL('Scenario'),
        'Scenario'[Scenario.UniqueName],
        'Scenario'[Scenario],
        "Amount", 'Financial Reporting'[Amount])

image

Please also note that the last two rows [Budget Variance] and [Budget Variance %] are calculated members that are created in the cubes MDX script and they show up just like regular rows! So calculated members are seamlessly integrated into DAXMD – awesome! Especially  if you consider that DAXMD is NOT translated into MDX but is natively integrated into the engine!

In this blog I showed how DefaultMembers defined in multidimensional models are handled in a tabular query language like DAXMD and what pitfalls I encounter. I hope this blogs helps you to better understand these internals and not to make the same mistakes again that I already did.

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