What Is a Dimensional Model in VS .NET

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What Is a Dimensional Model
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A dimensional model is a data model organized for the purpose of user understandability and high performance There are two basic parts of a dimensional model: the dimensions and the facts These are the building blocks that comprise all dimensional models, simple or complex
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Dimensions
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Dimensions are groupings of data elements in major business categories Common dimensions include the following: Customers Products Dates
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Modeling the Data for your Business
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Suppliers Vendors Accounts The individual data elements are called dimensional attributes, or reference data The dimensional attributes are used as row and column headings for reports They are used to create lists of options to determine what to include or exclude on a report The relationship between these dimensional attributes creates drill paths or the ability to navigate up and down a hierarchy The need for dimensional data is often recognized while gathering business requirements It may not be directly communicated, but realized when someone needs a report by region, by week, and by product category Each of the terms following the word by is a dimensional attribute These should be included in dimensions to support that type of reporting An example of a customer dimension is shown in Figure 7-1 This is a highly simpli ed example that only shows the customer s address and date of birth attributes Some of these attributes relate to each other in a hierarchy, while others are simply additional characteristics of the customer Any of these attributes could be used to constrain a query or for use in a report
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Customer Country
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Customer State
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Date of Birth Customer City
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Customer Postal Code
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Customer
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Figure 7-1 Sample customer dimension
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T I P A dimension can include attributes that are descriptive and that relate to
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each other, creating hierarchies
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Part III
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The arrows represent one-to-many or one-to-one relationships This notation is used because it is more meaningful to business users to visualize the drill paths, rather than the more traditional representation of crow s feet In fact, if looking at the arrows causes technical staff members to furrow their brows, this is the same reaction that crow s feet have to business staff members The intent of the business dimensional model is to communicate with the business
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Facts
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Facts are the measurement of business events These are captured as speci c information about a business event or transaction These are measured, monitored, and tracked over time Facts are typically the amounts and counts that show up as the body of reports Facts are used as the basis for all calculations Examples of facts include units ordered, retail price, amount paid, claim payment amount, gross margin, budgeted dollars, revenue forecast, and loan balance, among others The facts are only interesting within the proper context, and the context comes from the dimensions For example, the fact that a company had $10,000 in sales is not useful unless you know that it was from red shoes, in the Chicago market, the week before Valentine s Day
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Using Both Parts of the Model
Dimensional models can represent very complex businesses Although there can be many different aspects of a business, most people deal with only a few variables at a time Most of us can easily draw a three-dimensional cube, but it is much more dif cult to draw a four dimensional cube Similarly, while the overall model may contain over ten dimensions, often only three are re ected on a single report at a time The way that people think about data is often de ned by the layout of a spreadsheet: rows and columns with perhaps a separate worksheet to represent another variable For example, Figure 7-2 is a common sales performance report showing the monthly pro t results for the current year, reported by product category Each region of the organization is represented as a separate page This report is constrained to the current year of data, and uses product, date, and sales organization dimensions The Product Category attribute is from the Product dimension The constraint for the current year is on the year attribute of the Date dimension The months are also from the Date dimension The Sales Regions (per sheet) are from the Sales Organization dimension The fact itself is the Sales Pro t, listed in thousands of dollars