Understanding Power View for Multidimensional Models

APPLIES TO: yesSQL Server Analysis Services noAzure Analysis Services

This article describes the Power View for Multidimensional Models feature in SQL Server, and provides important information for BI professionals and administrators who intend to implement Power View for Multidimensional Models in their organization.

Multidimensional models provide industry leading OLAP data modeling, storage, and analysis solutions. Multidimensional models in SQL Server support ad-hoc data analysis, exploration, and visualization by using Microsoft Power View.

Power View is a thin web client that launches in the browser from a shared Report Data Source (.rsds) file in a SharePoint library. The Report Data Source acts as a bridge between the client and the back-end data source. The back-end data source can be a Power Pivot workbook in SharePoint, a Tabular model on an Analysis Services server running in Tabular mode, or a Multidimensional model on an Analysis Services server running in Multidimensional mode. Power View reports can then be saved to a SharePoint library or gallery and shared with other members in your organization.

Power View for Multidimensional Models architecture

Power View for Multidimensional Models Architecure

Prerequisites

Server Requirements

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2016 Analysis Services running in Multidimensional mode.

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2016 Reporting Services Add-in for Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 or later Enterprise Edition.

    Client Requirements

  • Power View client functionality requires Microsoft Silverlight 5. For more information, see Browser Support for Reporting Services and Power View.

Features

Native support for Power View

With this release, multidimensional models support analysis and visualization by using Power View in SharePoint mode. No special configuration of your multidimensional models is necessary. There are however some differences in how multidimensional model objects are displayed in Power View compared to other client tools such as Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Performance Point. This release does not support analysis and visualization of multidimensional models by using Power View in Excel.

Native support for DAX queries

With this release, multidimensional models support DAX queries and functions in addition to more traditional MDX queries. Some DAX functions, such as PATH, are not applicable in multidimensional modeling. For a better understanding of DAX and how it compares to MDX, see Data Analysis Expressions and MDX.

Multidimensional to tabular object mapping

Analysis Services provides a tabular model metadata representation of a multidimensional model. Objects in a multidimensional model are represented as tabular objects in Power View and in CSDL out with BI annotations.

Object mapping summary

Multidimensional Object Tabular Object
Cube Model
Cube Dimension Table
Dimension Attributes (Key(s), Name) Column
Measure Group Table
Measure Measure
Measure without Measure Group In a table named Measures
Measure Group Cube Dimension Relationship Relationship
Perspective Perspective
KPI KPI
User/Parent-Child Hierarchies Hierarchy
Display Folder Display Folder

Measures, measure groups, and KPIs

Note

Some images and text in this article refer to the Adventure Works Multidimensional Model for SQL Server 2012 sample database.

Measure groups in a multidimensional cube are seen in the Power View Field List as tables with the sigma (∑) sign.

Measure groups in the Power View Field List

Field List in Power View

Measures within a measure group appear as measures. If there are calculated measures that do not have an associated measure group, they will be grouped under a special table called Measures.

To help simplify more complex multidimensional models, model authors can define a set of measures or KPIs in a cube to be located within a display folder. Power View can show display folders and the measures and KPIs in them.

Measures and KPIs in a measure group

Measure group in Power View Field List

Measures as variants

Measures in multidimensional models are variants. This means the measures are not strongly typed and can have different data types. For example, in the image below, the Amount measure in the Financial Reporting table by default is Currency data type, but also has a string value "NA" for the sub-total of "Statistical Accounts", which is String data type. Power View recognizes certain measures as variants and shows the correct values and formatting in the different visualizations.

Measure as variant

Non-aggregatable hierarchy in Power View

Implicit measures

Tabular models provide users the ability to create implicit measures such as count, sum, or average on fields. For multidimensional models, because dimension attribute data is stored differently, querying implicit measures can take a long time. Because of this, implicit measures are not available in Power View.

Dimensions, attributes, and hierarchies

Cube dimensions are exposed as tables in tabular metadata. In the Power View Field List, dimension attributes are shown as columns within display folders. The dimension attributes that have the AttributeHierarchyEnabled property set to false; for example: Birth Date attribute in Customer dimension, or AttributeHierarchyVisible property set to false will not appear in the Power View Field List. Multi-level hierarchies or user hierarchies; for example Customer Geography in the Customer dimension, are exposed as hierarchies in the Power View Field List. Hidden UnknownMembers of a dimension attribute are exposed in DAX Queries and in Power View.

Dimension, attributes and hierarchies in SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) and Power View Field List

Dimensions in SSDT and in Power View Field List

Dimension attribute type

Multidimensional models support associating dimension attributes with specific dimension attribute types. The image below shows the Geography dimension where the City, State-Province, Country and Postal Code dimension attributes have geography types associated with them. These are exposed in the tabular metadata. Power View recognizes the metadata enabling users to create map visualizations. This is indicated by the map icon next to the City, Country, Postal Code and State-Province columns in the Geography table in the Power View Field List.

Dimension attribute geography types in SSDT and Power View Field List

Dimension attribute geography types

Dimension calculated members

Multidimensional models support calculated members for child of All with a single real member. Additional constraints while exposing this type of calculated member are:

  • Must be a single real member when the dimension has more than one attribute.

  • An attribute containing calculated members cannot be the key attribute of the dimension unless it is the only attribute.

  • An attribute containing calculated members cannot be a parent-child attribute.

    Calculated members of user hierarchies are not exposed in Power View; however, end-users will still be able to connect to a cube containing calculated members on user hierarchies.

    The image below shows a Power View report for a cube that contains time-intelligence calculated members on dimension attribute "Fiscal Date Calculations" in the Date dimension.

    Power View report with calculated members

    Calculated members in Power View

Default members

Multidimensional models support default members for dimension attributes. The default member is used by Analysis Services when aggregating data for a query. The default member of a dimension attribute is exposed as default value or filter for the corresponding column in the tabular metadata.

Power View behaves much the same as Excel PivotTables when attributes are applied. When a user adds a column to a Power View visualization (table, matrix, or chart) that contains a default value, the default value will not be applied and all available values are shown. If the user adds the column to Filters, the default value will be applied.

Dimension security

Multidimensional models support dimension and cell level security through roles. A user connecting to a cube by using Power View is authenticated and evaluated for appropriate permissions. When dimension security is applied, the respective dimension members will not be seen by the user in Power View; however if a user has a cell security permission defined where certain cells are restricted, then that user cannot connect to the cube with Power View. In some cases, users can see aggregate data when portions of that data are calculated from secured data.

Non-aggregatable attributes/hierarchies

In a multidimensional model, attributes of a dimension can have the IsAggregatable property set to false. This means the model author has specified client applications should not aggregate the data across hierarchies (attribute or multi-level) when they query the data. In Power View, this dimension attribute is exposed as a column for which sub-totals are not available. In the image below, you can see an example of a non-aggregatable hierarchy: Accounts. The top-most level of the Accounts parent-child hierarchy is non-aggregatable while other levels are aggregatable. In a matrix visualization of the Accounts hierarchy (first two levels), you see sub-totals for Account Level 02 but not for the top-most level, Account Level 01.

Non-aggregatable hierarchy in Power View

Non-aggregatable hierarchy in Power View

Images

Power View provides the ability to render images. In multidimensional models, one of the ways you can provide images to Power View is to expose columns containing URLs (Uniform Resource Locator) of the images. With this release, Analysis Services supports tagging dimension attributes as type ImageURL. This data type is then provided to Power View in the tabular metadata. Power View can then download and display the images specified in the URLs within visualizations.

ImageURL dimension attribute type in SSDT

Dimension attribute properties

Parent-child hierarchies

Multidimensional models support parent-child hierarchies, which are exposed as a hierarchy in the tabular metadata. Each level of the parent-child hierarchy is exposed as a hidden column. The key attribute of the parent-child dimension is not exposed in the tabular metadata.

Parent-child hierarchies in Power View

Parent-child hierarchies

Perspectives and translations

Perspectives are views of cubes where only certain dimensions or measure groups are visible in client tools. You can specify a perspective name as a value to the Cube connection string property. For example, in the following connection string, 'Direct Sales' is a perspective in the multidimensional model:

Data Source=localost;Initial Catalog=AdventureWorksDW-MD;Cube='Direct Sales'

Cubes can have metadata and data translations specified for various Languages within the model. In order to see the translations (data and metadata) you need to add the optional "Locale Identifier" property to the connection string in the RSDS file as shown below.

Data Source=localost;Initial Catalog=AdventureWorksDW-MD;Cube='Adventure Works'; Locale Identifier=3084

When Power View connects to a multidimensional model with an .rsds file that has a Locale Identifier, and if a corresponding translation is contained in the cube, users will see the translations in Power View.

For more information, see Create a Report Data Source.

Power View pinned filters

Power View reports can contain multiple views. With this release, the Pin Filter feature for both tabular and multidimensional models provides the ability to create filters that apply across all views in a report. The image below shows the Pin filter toggle button for a view filter. By default, a view filter is unpinned and applies only to that view. Pinning a view filter applies it to all views; unpinning it removes it from other views.

Pinned Filters

Pinned Filter

Unsupported features

Power View in Excel 2013 - does not support connecting to and creating reports for multidimensional models. However, Power View in Excel 2016 does support connecting to and creating reports for multidimensional models. To learn more, see Power View and OLAP in Excel 2016

Actions - are not supported in Power View reports or in DAX queries against a multidimensional model.

Named sets - in multidimensional models, are not supported in Power View or in DAX queries against a multidimensional model.

Note

Unsupported Actions and Named sets do not prevent users from connecting to and exploring multidimensional models using Power View.

Cell level security - is not supported in Power View reports.

CSDLBI Annotations

Multidimensional cube metadata is exposed as an Entity Data Model (EDM) based conceptual model by Conceptual Schema Definition Language with Business Intelligence annotations (CSDLBI).

Multidimensional metadata is represented as a tabular model namespace in a CSDLBI document, or CSDL out, when a DISCOVER_CSDL_METADATA request is sent to the Analysis Services instance.

Sample DISCOVER_CSDL_METADATA request

<Envelopexmlns="http://schemas.xmlsoap.org/soap/envelope/">  
   <Body>  
      <Discoverxmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:xml-analysis">  
         <RequestType>DISCOVER_CSDL_METADATA</RequestType>  
         <Restrictions>  
            <RestrictionList>  
              <CATALOG_NAME>"catalogname"<CATALOG_NAME>  
            </RestrictionList>  
         </Restrictions>  
         <Properties>  
            <PropertyList>  
            </PropertyList>  
         </Properties>  
      </Discover>  
   </Body>  
</Envelope>  

DISCOVER_CSDL_METADATA request has the following restrictions:

Name Required Description
CATALOG_NAME Yes The catalog\database name.
PERSPECTIVE_NAME Yes, if the cube contains more than one perspective. Optional if there is only one cube or there is a default perspective. The cube name or perspective name in the multidimensional database.
VERSION Yes CSDL version requested by client. Multidimensional features and constructs are supported in version 2.0.

The return CSDL out document represents the model as a namespace, containing entities, associations, and properties.

For more detailed information about CSDLBI annotations for tabular models, see Technical Reference for BI Annotations to CSDL on MSDN, and [MS-CSDLBI]: Conceptual Schema Definitions File Format with Business Intelligence Annotations.

Client Help on Office.com

The following articles are provided on Office.com to help users learn about how Multidimensional Model objects appear in Power View and how to create a sample report:

Understanding Multidimensional Model Objects in Power View

Explore the Adventure Works Multidimensional Model by using Power View