MDX: The Basis for SAP NetWeaver BI Third-Party Interfaces

  • by Larry Sackett, President and CEO, E.J. Barry Company and author of Reporting and Analytics with MDX in NetWeaver BW
  • January 14, 2010
SAP NetWeaver BI 7.0 offers the option of using SAP Multidimensional Expressions (MDX) query and calculation language to develop queries. The use of MDX-based third-party application programming interfaces and SAP NetWeaver BI tools expands the reporting and analysis capabilities of SAP NetWeaver BI.
Key Concept
SAP Multidimensional Expressions (MDX) is the basis of SAP NetWeaver BI interfaces for third-party reporting and analysis tools. The use of MDX in these tools simplifies reporting tasks such as adding variables, setting exceptions, creating calculated key figures, and performing time-series analyses.

SAP Multidimensional Expressions (MDX) allows you to navigate, query, filter, and perform calculations against multidimensional structures, including dimensions (characteristics), hierarchies, sets, measures (key figures), and members. People often refer to this kind of multidimensional analysis as Online Analytical Processing (OLAP).

MDX is comprised of nearly 200 expressions that cover mathematical, statistical, logical (Boolean), conditional, member, set, time series, and navigation functions, such as up and down dimension hierarchies and levels. You can combine MDX expressions to create advanced calculations and filters, such as identifying at-risk customers that did business with you on a regular basis in the last 26 weeks but have not in the most recent four weeks.

I’ll show you how MDX works, and then explain how you can apply it to SAP NetWeaver BI. I’ll provide examples of MDX expressions using the MDXTEST transaction and MDX Testeditor. I’ll also briefly introduce how you can use third-party tools to simplify MDX queries. I’ll end with a discussion of the pros and cons of using MDX.

Larry Sackett

Larry Sackett, president of E.J. Barry, has more than 20 years of experience designing and implementing database marketing and business intelligence systems. He is a specialist in the use of data, technology, and marketing best practices to increase revenues and profits. He is also the author of the SAP PRESS book MDX Reporting and Analytics with SAP NetWeaver BW. Visit his Web site at

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