Querying OLAP 11g Cubes

Purpose

In this tutorial, you query OLAP data that was created using Analytic Workspace Manager 11g (AWM 11g). Using SQL Developer, you query OLAP cubes directly using SQL.

You learn how to create analytic reports of cube data, including both stored and calculated measures, and apply techniques that leverage unique characteristics of cubes.

Optionally, you learn how SQL summary queries against the relational fact table may be automatically re-written to the cube using Cube MVs.

Time to Complete:

Approximately 60 minutes

Topics

This tutorial covers the following topics:

 Overview
 Scenario
 Prerequisites
 Connecting to the OLAPTRAIN Schema in SQL Developer
 Executing a Simple OLAP Cube Query
 Using Level and Member Conditions in a Query
 Adding Calculated Measures to a Query
 Leveraging Embedded Total Features of Cubes in a Query
 Performing Drill-down in a Query
 Using Parameterized Drilling
 Using Cube MVs for Query Rewrite
 More Information

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Overview

Oracle OLAP cube data is made directly accessible to SQL by a set of relational views. These views represent an OLAP cube as a star schema with the following characteristics:

- A cube view plays the role of a fact table.

- Dimension views and hierarchy views play the role of dimension tables.

The star design exposed by OLAP cubes is very similar to traditional table-based star models. The dimension views form a constellation around one or more cube views. However, there are two key differences:

- Fact tables in a star schema store detail data (called leaves), while the cube views reveal many summary levels.

- Calculations in a cube are simply exposed as columns in the cube view, and the computation for the equations occurs in the OLAP engine.

These differences impact the way you query data. With star queries, you aggregate the data by combining aggregation functions (such as sum) and the GROUP BY clause. With OLAP queries, you simply select the data you want (either stored or calculated) as a column. Typically, no aggregation function is necessary since the data has already been summarized by the cube.

For the vast majority of cube-based queries, there are four basic steps:

  1. Select measures and dimension attributes.
  2. Join the cube and dimension views.
  3. Apply measure and dimension attribute conditions.
  4. Use “All” filters to leverage summaries for excluded dimension columns.

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Scenario

The OLAP data for this tutorial was created using steps found in the Building OLAP11g Cubes tutorial. For information about the OLAP model used in this tutorial, and for step-by-step instructions on how to create OLAP 11g cubes, click the link.

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Prerequisites

Before you perform this tutorial, you should:

1.

Install Oracle Database 11g with the OLAP Option (Patch level 11.1.0.7 or higher).

 

2.

Create a desktop launcher for SQL Developer. (SQL Developer is shipped free with Oracle Database 11g.)

Then, download the following files to a location on the machine that contains SQL Developer:

cube_queries.sql

summary_queries.sql

Note: These files contain the completed olap cube and sql summary queries used in this tutorial.

 

3.

Have access to the OLAP data model which is part of the Oracle OLAP 11g Sample Schema package. You can either:

A. Succesfully complete the Building OLAP11g Cubes tutorial, or

B. Install the OLAPTRAIN sample schema and the SALESTRACK analytic workspace, using the instructions found in Installing the Oracle OLAP 11g Sample Schema.

Note: The SALESTRACK analytic workspace that is contained in the Sample Schema installation package contains all of the OLAP data elements that are created in the Building OLAP11g Cubes tutorial. It also contains some extra data elements that are referenced in other OLAP 11g collateral.

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Connecting to the OLAPTRAIN Schema in SQL Developer

In this tutorial, SQL Developer is used to query OLAP data, although any SQL tool may be used

To connect to the OLAPTRAIN schema, perform the following steps:

1.

Launch SQL Developer.

 

2.

Select View > Connections to display the Connections tab in the navigator pane.

 

3.

In the Connections tab, right-click the Connections node, and select New Connection from the menu.

 

4.

In the New / Select Database Connection window, enter a Connection Name, Username and Password. Then, in the Oracle tab, enter or select the following options:

Notes:

- Username is olaptrain.

- Password is the password that you created when you installed the OLAPTRAIN schema.

- Hostname is the host name of the server where Oracle Database is installed.

 

5.

Click Connect. The connection appears in the navigator.

 

6.

Select olaptrain > Views to display the cube views for your OLAP data in the olaptrain schema.

Note: The cube views are automatically created and maintained by Oracle OLAP when you create cubes using AWM 11g.

Next, you will use these views to directly query the OLAP data that you created in the Building OLAP 11g Cubes tutorial (or, that you created by using the Sample Schema installation program).

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Executing a Simple OLAP Cube Query

In this topic, you open a .sql file that contains a number of SQL queries against the OLAP data.

Then, you examine and run a very simple OLAP query that returns total SALES for products at the DEPARTMENT level.

1.

Select File > Open, and navigate to the folder where you download the SQL query files. Then, open cube_queries.sql.

Result: the contents of cube_queries.sql appears in the Enter SQL Statement pane.

 

2.

Close the local (olaptrain) tab by clicking the X.

 

3.

Vertically resize the SQL statement pane so that you can view the first query. Then, at the top-right corner of the Enter SQL Statement pane, select the olaptrain connection from the list.

Result: The queries in this .sql file may now be executed against the olaptrain schema.

Query Notes:

- Sales is simply selected as a column. There are no SQL aggregation functions applied.

- A level within the Product dimension hierarchy -- DEPARTMENT -- is used to filter product members.

- All of the dimensions are qualified in the WHERE clause, even though only the Product dimension is selected. In OLAP cube queries, dimensions that are not selected in the query require an '"ALL" condition -- which specifies the top-level hierarchy value for each of the dimension columns -- in order to leverage summaries that are already computed by the cube.

 

4.

Place the cursor somewhere in the midst of the query.

For example:

 

5.

Select the Execute tool (or press F9).

Result: The query should return three rows, and results should look like this:

By using the "All" filters, the aggregation is performed in the OLAP engine. Data is returned almost instantaneously.

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Using Level and Member Conditions in a Query

In the first query, a "Level" Condition was used for the Product dimension (which was the only dimension selected). You can apply level conditions to all dimensions in an OLAP query, as you will see in this next example.

Every OLAP hierarchy and dimension view contains a LEVEL_NAME column. The value in this column is the name of the OLAP hierarchy Level object that you created when modeling the dimension in AWM. By simply specifying a value for this column in the WHERE clause, you filter the data to include only those dimension members at the specified level in the hierarchy.

As shown below, you can examine the OLAP cube, dimension, and hierarchy views, including column names and values for your queries, by using SQL Developer’s Connections navigator. Simply drill on the view that you want to examine. You can also view the data values for any column by double-clicking the desired view and then selecting the Data tab.

As shown in the Connections tab of the navigation pane, OLAP truncates column names at 24 characters. Therefore, it is helpful to view the names of columns before using them in your queries.

The following query returns SALES for channels at the CLASS level, products at the DEPARTMENT level, QUARTERS in calendar year 2007, and ALL REGIONS.

1.

In the Enter SQL Statement window, scroll down to view the second query:

Query Notes:

(A) Three of the four dimensions are selected -- Channel, Product, and Time.

(B) For each of the selected dimensions, the dimension hierarchy view is used, and the Long Description column is selected in each case. (Notice that column names are truncated at 24 characters, exactly matching the display shown in the SQL Developer navigation pane.)

(C) Even though the Geography dimension is not in the SELECT statement, the geography hierarchy view is specified in the FROM clause. This technique enables you to specify the "ALL" condition for the missing dimension using the dimension's hierarchy view, instead of the cube view.

(D) Since the Geography dimension is not in the query, an "ALL" condition is required to leverage the cube aggregations over geography. This is specified in the WHERE clause using the following Level condition: g.level_name = 'ALL_REGIONS'

(E) Level conditions are used to filter the data for the three dimensions in the query, using the appropriate dimension hierarchy views, and the appropriate hierarchy level values:

  • c.level_name = 'CLASS'
  • p.level_name = 'DEPARTMENT'
  • t.level_name = 'CALENDAR_QUARTER'

(F) The filter on the Time dimension is further narrowed by applying a "Member" condition. This type of condition selects a specific dimension member, rather than all members at a particular level. The member condition is: t.calendar_year_long_descr = 'CY2007'

(E) For the time dimension, the combination of the level condtion (selecting all members at the 'QUARTER' level), and then the member condition (selecting -- from this subset -- all members where the calendar year long description is 'CY2007') returns only those quarters in the calendar year 2007.

 

2.

Place the cursor somewhere in the midst of the query, as you did in the previous topic.

3.

Select the Execute tool (or press F9).

Result: the query result should look like this:

Scroll down to view the remaining results.

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Adding Calculated Measures to a Query

The cube view exposes calculations as columns, which greatly simplifies the specification of analytic queries. Columns for calculated measures show data as completely solved. However, the calculations are computed within the OLAP engine and passed through the cube view.

For example, only the SALES and QUANTITY measures in the SALES_CUBE_VIEW are stored measures. All of the other measure columns are calculated measures.

The OLAP calculations work perfectly across all summary levels, even when the aggregation rules are complex.

In this next query, three OLAP calculated measures are added to the previous query.

1.

In the Enter SQL Statement window, scroll down to view the third query:

Three calculated measures are added to the SELECT statement.

  • round(s.SALES_YTD) as ytd
  • round(s.SALES_YTD_PY_PCT_CHG, 2) as ytd_PY_pct_chg
  • how_is_sales_ytd

No other modifications are necesary. The calculated measures are computed within the OLAP engine and simply passed through the cube view

 

2.

Place the cursor somewhere in the midst of the query and press F9.

Result: The query executes just as fast as though all four measures were stored. The query results should look like this:

Scroll down to view the remaining results.

Note: For more information on how the calculated measures were created using AWM 11g, see Building OLAP11g Cubes.

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Leveraging Embedded Total Features of Cubes in a Query


Because of the embedded total nature of OLAP cubes, you can easily query multiple levels at the same time to select values across any summary level within a dimension. Due to this feature of the OLAP model:

 Any dimension member may be selected—regardless of the summary level.
 Complex aggregations rules (for example, balances) and calculations are automatically resolved in the OLAP engine.

In this next example, the previous query is modified to return data for different levels for time: Month, Quarter, and Year in 2007.

1.

In the Enter SQL Statement window, scroll down to view the fourth query:

Notice how the filter for the Time dimension is modified:

- In the previous query, all quarter members in the year 2007 are returned.

- In this query, a multiple-level "Member" condition is applied, using the Long Description attribute. This condition selects three time dimension members at different levels within the Calendary Year hierarchy: t.long_description in ('CY2007', 'Q3-CY2007', 'Nov-2007') .

 

2.

Place the cursor somewhere in the midst of the query and press F9.

Results: All of the calculations work perfectly and query performance is unaffected.

The query results should look like this:

Scroll down to view the remaining results.

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Performing Drill-down in a Query

Since dimension hierarchies are part of the data model, you can specify drills as part of your queries in order to return the children of a specified parent member. You can drill with any type of hierarchy, including level-based, skip-level, ragged, and value-based hierarchies.

In this example, the previous query is modified to show a drill on the Product and Geography dimensions. Specifically, the query:

Drills on the "ALL_PRODUCTS" member in order to return its children -- the product Department members.

 Drills on the "ALL_REGIONS" member in order to return its children -- the geographical Regional members.
 Selects Channel members at the top level in the hierarchy (rather than at the Class level)

1.

In the Enter SQL Statement window, scroll down to view the fifth query:

Query Notes:

- In the previous query, the Geography dimension was not selected.

- In this query, Geography is included, and Channel is left out of the SELECT statement. Therefore, an "ALL" condition must be applied to the Channel dimension.

- A drill on the Geography dimension is executed by specifying a member in the PARENT column of the geography hierarchy view's: G.PARENT = "ALL_REGIONS" . This condition returns the children of All Regions, which are the geographic regional members.

- A drill on the Product dimension is executed by specifying a member in the PARENT column of the product hierarchy view's: P.PARENT = "ALL_PRODUCTS" . This condition returns the children of All Products, which are the product Department members.

 

2.

Place the cursor somewhere in the midst of the query and press F9.

The query results should look like this:

Scroll down to view the remaining results. Notice how the drills on Product and Geography select the appropriate hierarchial children, and all of the calculations work perfectly.

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Using Parameterized Drilling

You can use parameterized drilling in OLAP cube queries as well. Simply use a substitution parameter with the PARENT column to enable the user to enter a valid dimension member value.

In the following query example, a substitution parameter is used to enable the user to enter a valid Time dimension member value.

1.

In the Enter SQL Statement window, scroll down to view the sixth query:

Query Notes:

- In this query, Geography is removed from the query, and Channel is included. Therefore, an "ALL" condition is applied to the Geography dimension.

- Drills on the Channel and Product dimensions are executed in the same way as the previous query.

- In addition, a parameterized drill is performed on the Time dimension using the hierarchy view's PARENT column. In addition, the nvl function is used so that if no value is provided, the "ALL_YEARS" member is automatically used as the parent value.

 

2.

Place the cursor somewhere in the midst of the query and press F9.

Result: the Enter Bind Values window appears

Notes: Since the nvl function is used, "ALL_YEARS" is specified if no value is entered.

 

3.

Do not enter anything in the Value box, and click Apply.

The query results should look like this:

Notes:

- The query returns data for each year in the Time dimension -- these are the children of ALL_YEARS in the Calendar Year hierarchy..

- Also notice that for CY2005, there are no data values for the YTD calculations. This is correct, because 2005 is the first year in the data model (there is no 2004).

 

4.

Once again, place the cursor somewhere in the midst of the query and press F9. Then, in the Enter Bind Values window, enter CY2007 in the Value box, as shown here:

 

5.

Click Apply.

The query results should look like this:

The data is displayed for the quarters of 2007 (the children of CY2007).

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Using Cube MVs for Query Rewrite

In an extension of the Materialized View capabilities for Oracle Database 11g, OLAP cubes can be represented as a cube-organized materialized views (Cube MVs). The query optimizer automatically recognizes when an existing Cube MV can and should be used to satisfy a SQL query was issued against a detailed fact table. A Cube MV represents a significant summary space, and benefits include both ease of manageability and improved query performance.

In this topic, you run a set of summary SQL queries against the OLAPTRAIN schema. These summary queries were captured from an Oracle BI Answers ad-hoc query session against the olaptrain schema and are reflective of summary queries generated by general BI tools..

First, you turn query rewrite off to see how the summary queries perform against the fact table. Then, you turn on rewrite and run the queries again. When you execute the queries after turning on rewrite, you will:

Observe how the database automatically rewrites the summary queries to the OLAP Cube MVs

 Compare the performance of the SQL summary queries to the OLAP Cube MVs queries.

Notes:

- For information on how to enable Cube MVs for query rewrite, see the Enabling Query Rewrite to Cube MVs topic in Building OLAP11g Cubes.

- In order to perform the steps in this topic, you must have completed the (optional) Enabling Query Rewrite to Cube MVs topic in the Creating OLAP11g Cubes OBE, or installed the Sample Schema AW as described in the Prerequisites section.

Follow these steps:

1.

In the Connections tab of the navigator pane, select the Materialized Views node under the olaptrain connection.

Result: The Cube organized materialized views (CB$ tables) appear. There is one MV each for the cube and the associated dimension hierarchies. These cube MVs are automatically created and maintained by the OLAP option of Oracle 11g Database.

 

2.

Select File > Open, and navigate to the folder where you download the SQL query files. Then, open summary_queries.sql.

At the top-right corner of the Enter SQL Statement pane, select the olaptrain connection from the list, then vertically resize the SQL statement pane so that it takes up at least half of the space in the SQL Developer window, as shown here:

 

3.

To ensure that Query Rewrite to the Cube MV is turned off, click the ALTER materialized VIEW cb$sales_cube disable query rewrite statement, and then press F9.

 

4.

Scroll down to view the first summary query, shown here:

This query returns Quantity and Sales by Year and product Category.

 

5.

Place your cursor in the midst of the query, and press F6 to display the Explain Plan for the query, as shown here:

The Explain Plan shows that the query joins the fact table to the dimension tables specified in the query, and then performs a full table scan of the fact table in order to return data the requested data.

 

6.

With the cursor still in the midst of the query, and press F9 to execute the query.

The query results should look like this:

Make a note of the query performance, which is shown value appears at the top of the SQLStatement pane, as shown above. In this example, the query took approximately 3.05 seconds to run. The performance that you observe will depend on a number of factors related to the configuration of your database server.

 

7.

Click inside the second summary query, which is designed to return Sales by Year, Department, Class and Country.

a. Press F6 to show the Explain Plan. As is the case with all the summary queries, a full table scan of the fact table will be performed in order to return data the requested data.

b. Press F9 to execute the query, as shown here. Again, record your query time.

 

8.

Using the same techniques shown above, execute the third and fourth queries. Record each of the query times.

In our example:

Summary query number 3 performed like this:

Summary query number 4 performed like this:

 

9.

Scroll back up in the SQL file and enable query rewrite for the session, and to the OLAP cube MV, by performing the following:

a. Click the ALTER SESSION SET query_rewrite_integrity=stale_tolerated statement, and then press F9.

b. Click the ALTER SESSION SET query_rewrite_enabled = force statement, and then press F9.

c. Click the ALTER materialized VIEW cb$sales_cube enable query rewrite statement, and then press F9.

 

10.

To confirm that the queries will rewrite, click within the first query and press F6 to display the Explain Plan, as shown in the following screenshot:

Now, the summary queries will be rewritten to the cube MVs.

 

11.

Press F9 to execute the query, and make note of the improved performance.

 

12

Scroll down and click inside the second summary query. Press F6 to confirm the rewrite, and then press F9 to execute the query.

 

13.

Execute the remaining queries. Record each of the query times.

Note: Query times for a Cube MV rewrite commonly are 10 to 50 times faster than summary queries against relational fact tables.

 

14. When you are done working with the query files, close them and exit SQL Developer.

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More Information

For more information on OLAP-related education, use the following links:

 Oracle Database 11g: OLAP Essentials (Oracle University inClass)

Building OLAP11g Cubes (OBE)

 Using Oracle OLAP 11g With Oracle BI Enterprise Edition (OBE)
 Creating Interactive APEX Reports Over OLAP 11g Cubes (OBE)

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