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«October 2015»

Data Warehouse from the Ground Up at SQL Saturday Orlando, FL on Oct. 10th

SQL Saturday #442SQL Saturday #442 is upon us and yours truly will be presenting in Orlando, Florida on October 10th alongside Mitchell Pearson (b|t). The session is scheduled at 10:35 AM and will last until 11:35 AM. I’m very excited to be presenting at SQL Saturday Orlando this year as it’ll be my first presenting this session in person and my first time speaking at SQL Saturday Orlando! If you haven’t registered yet for this event, you need to do that. This event will be top notch!

My session is called Designing a Data Warehouse from the Ground Up. What if you could approach any business process in your organization and quickly design an effective and optimal dimensional model using a standardized step-by-step method? In this session I’ll discuss the steps required to design a unified dimensional model that is optimized for reporting and follows widely accepted best practices. We’ll also discuss how the design of our dimensional model affects a SQL Server Analysis Services solution and how the choices we make during the data warehouse design phase can make or break our SSAS cubes. You may remember that I did this session a while back for Pragmatic Works via webinar. I’ll be doing the same session at SQL Saturday Orlando but on-prem! ;)

So get signed up for this event now! It’s only 11 days away!

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Create Date Dimension with Fiscal and Time

Here are three scripts that create and Date and Time Dimension and can add the fiscal columns too. First run the Dim Date script first to create the DimDate table. Make sure you change the start date and end date on the script to your preference. Then run the add Fiscal Dates scripts to add the fiscal columns. Make sure you alter the Fiscal script to set the date offset amount. The comments in the script will help you with this.

This zip file contains three SQL scripts.

Create Dim Date

Create Dim Time

Add Fiscal Dates

These will create a Date Dimension table and allow you to run the add fiscal script to add the fiscal columns if you desire. The Create Dim Time will create a time dimension with every second of the day for those that need actual time analysis of your data.

Make sure you set the start date and end date in the create dim date script. Set the dateoffset in the fiscal script.

Download the script here:


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Excel Tip #29: Forcing Slicers to Filter Each Other when Using CUBE Functions

As I mentioned in my original post, Exploring Excel 2013 as Microsoft’s BI Client, I will be posting tips regularly about using Excel 2013 and later.  Much of the content will be a result of my daily interactions with business users and other BI devs.  In order to not forget what I learn or discover, I write it down … here.  I hope you too will discover something new you can use.  Enjoy!


You have went to all the trouble to build out a good set of slicers which allow you to “drill” down to details based on selections. In my example, I have created a revenue distribution table using cube formulas such as:

=CUBEVALUE(“ThisWorkbookDataModel”,$B6, Slicer_Date, Slicer_RestaurantName, Slicer_Seat_Number, Slicer_TableNumber)


Each cell with data references all the slicers. When working with pivot tables or pivot charts, the slicers will hide values that have no matching reference. However, since we are using cube formulas the slicers have no ability to cross reference. For example, when I select a date and a table, I expect to see my seat list reduce in size, but it does not. All of my slicers are set up to hide options when data is available. There are two examples below. In the first, you can see that the seats are not filtered. However, this may be expected. In the second example, we filter a seat which should cause the tables to hide values and it does not work as expected either.



As you can see in the second example, we are able to select a seat that is either not related to the selected table or has no data on that date. Neither of these scenarios is user friendly and does not direct our users to see where the data matches.

Solving the Problem with a “Hidden” Pivot Table

To solve this issue, we are going to use a hidden pivot table. In most cases we would add this to a separate worksheet and then hide the sheet from the users. For sake of our example, I am going to put the pivot table in plain sight for the examples.

Step 1: Add a Pivot Table with the Same Connection as the Slicers

In order for this to work, you need to add a pivot table using the same connection you used with the slicers. The value you use in the pivot table, should only be “empty” or have no matches when that is the expected result. You want to make sure that you do not unintentionally filter out slicers when data exists. In my example, I will use the Total Ticket Amount as the value. That will cover my scenario. In most cases, I recommend looking for a count type valu

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SSRS - Custom Code with External Assemblies

  • 26 January 2012
  • Author: DevinKnight
  • Number of views: 6772

In a previous post I wrote about how you can use embedded custom code to extend the capabilities of Reporting Services.  This week I will show you another method of using custom code but this time with external assemblies.  Ideally when using custom code you would choose to do so using external assemblies.  External assemblies help developers manage code from outside Reporting Services and share the exact same code across multiple report.  Here’s a few of the pros and cons of using external assemblies for custom code.


  • Can be any .Net language
  • Updates to code can be managed from outside of SSRS
  • Best way to standardize custom code


  • Deployment is a bit tedious
  • Assemblies will have restricted access to system resource

In this example I’m going to walk you through beginning to end of an example of how to create an external assembly then use it in Reporting Services.  Our goal is to compartmentalize our code into and assembly so every developer does an age calculation the same way.  Calculating age can easily be done in the expression language the Reporting Services provides but using the assembly assures It’s done the exact same way every time.  These steps will walk you through:

  1. Creating an assembly with VB.Net (could be done with C# as well)
  2. Signing the assembly with a strong name.  This must be done because an assembly is deployed to the Global Assembly Cache (GAC)
  3. Provide the proper permissions to the assembly so Reporting services can use it with the declaration
  4. Deploying the assembly to Reporting Services and the GAC
  5. Using the Assembly in Reporting Services.

Creating an External Assembly

  • Open Visual Studio and create a new Visual Basic Class Library project called AgeAssembly. This project can be stored in any location you would like.
  • Ensure the project is set to .NET Framework 2.0 then click OK.  Currently only .NET Framework 2.0 is supported for Reporting Services assemblies.


  • Rename the Class1.vb file to Age.VB and use the following code:

Public Class Age

Public Shared Function CalculateAge(ByVal BirthDate As Date) As Integer

Return DateDiff("yyyy", BirthDate, DateTime.Now())

End Function

End Class


  • Next setup a strong name to sign or version the assembly.  This must be done before the assembly can be deployed to the GAC.  To setup a strong name right-click on the Project in the Solution Explorer and select Properties.
  • Select the Signing page and check Sign the assembly.
  • Select from the Choose a strong name key file dropdown box.
  • Type SNsnk for the Key file name and uncheck Protect my key file with a password before hitting OK. You can close the properties after this is complete.


  • To allow the Reporting Services engine to call this code, you must apply a new assembly attribute. In the Solution Explorer click the Show All Files button to expose the My Project folder.


  • Inside the My Project folder find and open the AssemblyInfo.vb file.
  • Add the namespace to the top of the code called Imports System.Security
  • Add the assembly attribute
  • This will allow Reporting Services to have access to the assembly. The last step it so build the project. Right-click on the project in the Solution Explorer and click Build.


  • Navigate to the folder that contains the project you just created. Once you find the project open Debug folder (…AgeAssembly\bin\Debug).
  • Copy the AgeAssembly.dll to the “C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSRS10_50.MSSQLSERVER\Reporting Services\ReportServer\bin” folder then drag and drop the assembly to the C:\Windows\assembly too.
  • Open BIDS and create a new Reporting Services project.
  • Create a new Shared Data Source that points to AdventureWorksDW2008R2 on your local SQL Server database instance and name the data source AdventureWorksDW2008R2
  • Create a basic new report that uses the DimEmployee table which has birthdate and a hire date in a tablix.  We can use our assembly to calculate how old someone is and how long they’ve been working for us.  I’m not focusing on the exact report design for this example so go wild with however you would like this to look! 
  • After creating the basics of a report go to the Report menu in the toolbar and select Report Properties. Go to the References page and click Add to add a new assembly.
  • Click the ellipsis then click the browse tab to add the assembly we just created. Browse to the C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSRS10_50.MSSQLSERVER\Reporting Services\ReportServer\bin folder and select AgeAssembly then click OK. Click OK again once you return to the Report Properties window.  Even though we’ve selected the assembly from the Reporting Services folder in actuality the dll deployed to the GAC is what is used. 


  • Change the HireDate field in your report tablix to an expression using the following code: =AgeAssembly.Age.CalculateAge(Fields!HireDate.Value) Then click OK.
  • Rename the column header above the expression to Service Years.
  • Change the BirthDate field to an expression using the following code: =AgeAssembly.Age.CalculateAge(Fields!BirthDate.Value) Then click OK.
  • Rename the column header above the expression to Age.
  • Preview the report to see the result of adding the custom assembly. Results may vary from my screen shot depending on when you run the report because they may have gotten older!


I hoped this step by step helps.  If this topic is something that interest you then you may also be interested in a SSRS Master (Advanced) Class I’m teaching.  You can find when the next one is here.

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