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Using InterSystems MDX
Background
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This chapter provides an overview of InterSystems IRIS Business Intelligence and explains how Business Intelligence supports MDX (MultiDimensional eXpressions), which is a query language implemented by many vendors.
Be sure to consult the online InterSystems Supported Platforms document for this release for information on system requirements for Business Intelligence.
Purpose of Business Intelligence
The purpose of Business Intelligence is to enable you to embed business intelligence (BI) into your applications so that your users can ask and answer sophisticated questions of their data. Your application can include dashboards, which can include pivot tables.
A pivot table is an interactive, drillable display of data, designed for specific user roles or for specific areas of your user interface.
Each pivot table has an underlying MDX query that is executed at runtime. Instead of directly querying your transactional tables, the system queries its cubes, which are synchronized with the transactional tables. (For information on defining cubes, see Defining Models for InterSystems Business Intelligence.)
Introduction to Pivot Tables
Pivot tables are central to Business Intelligence; they select and aggregate data and display it in an interactive format.
The following figure shows an example pivot table. It shows the number of patients and the average allergy count per patient, grouped by age and gender.
Because the concepts are interrelated, making it difficult to discuss each concept without reference to the others, it is useful for us to start with preliminary definitions:
Introduction to MDX
MDX is a standard query language for OLAP (online analytical processing) databases. The MDX language provides syntax for referring to cube elements. Most of the statements and functions in the language enable you to execute queries against a cube. The returned data is a result set, which can be displayed as a pivot table.
MDX also provides the capability of extending a cube definition. In particular, you can define new elements based on existing elements, and then use those new elements in MDX queries.
Business Intelligence supports MDX as follows:
Note that some MDX queries are too complex to create within the current user interface. You can execute such queries in the shell or via the API, but you cannot create them via drag and drop actions in the Analyzer.
For further information, see the following sources:
Note:
The system provides an implementation of MDX. Results may differ from other implementations.
MDX in Business Intelligence Models
In Business Intelligence models, you can use MDX expressions and queries in the following places:
For information, see Defining Models for InterSystems Business Intelligence and the Implementing InterSystems Business Intelligence.
Accessing the Samples Shown in This Book
Most of the samples in this book are part of the Samples-BI sample (https://github.com/intersystems/Samples-BI) or the Samples-Aviation sample (https://github.com/intersystems/Samples-Aviation).
InterSystems recommends that you create a dedicated namespace called SAMPLES (for example) and load samples into that namespace. For the general process, see Downloading Samples for Use with InterSystems IRIS™.