SSAS Dimension Attribute Properties : Part 2

Yesterday, I was reading through some articles and happened to glance through a very memorable quote by  Berthold Auerbach – “ The little dissatisfaction which every artist feels at the completion of a work forms the germ of a new work “. That was when I realized I haven’t yet completed my dimension attribute article and so here I am with the second part. In SSAS Dimension Attribute Properties : Part 1, we reviewed the Advanced and Basic properties of dimension attributes. This article would be continuing with the Misc, Parent-Child and Source properties.

Dimension Attribute Property

The properties are explained below:-


1) AttributeHierarchyOrdered : This particular property specifies whether the members of the attribute are ordered or not. The values of this property can just be True or false. If the order of the members do not matter, setting this property to false for attributes where the attribute hierarchy is enabled or high cardinality attributes can significantly increase the processing performance.

2) GroupingBehavior :  This property is used to give a hint to the client application whether to encourage or discourage users to group on this attribute and does not affect any of the structures on disk. The values are EncurageGrouping and DiscourageGrouping.

3) InstanceSelection : This property also is used to give a hint to the client application’s UI on the recommended means of selection of a member from the attribute. The options available are

  • None – (Default) no selection used.
  • DropDown – Appropriate for situations where the number of items is small enough to display within a dropdown list.
  • List – Appropriate for situations where the number of items is too large for a dropdown list, but not large enough to require filtering.
  • Filtered List – Most useful in scenarios where the number of items is large enough to require users to filter the items to be displayed.
  • Mandatory Filter – Appropriate for situations where the number of items is so large that the display must always be filtered.

4) MemberNamesUnique : This property indicates whether the member names are unique across the attribute hierarchy and this property affects the way member unique names are generated. The available options are True or False.


1) MembersWithData : In a parent-child hierarchy, some of the non-leaf members may also have data associated with them (unlike normal hierarchies, where the non-leaf members have a value equal to the sum of it’s leaf values). These members are called data members and are present only for parent-child hierarchies. This particular property is used to set the visibility of the data members in parent-child hierarchies and the available options are NonLeafDataHidden and NonLeafDataVisible. This MSDN article – Working with Attributes in Parent-Child Hierarchies does a very nice job of explaining this property with an example.

2) MembersWithDataCaption : This particular property is used as a naming template for the system generated data members. For eg, if we have the MembersWithData property set to NonLeafDataVisible, then a leaf member representation of the data member is added. For eg, if Jason is a data member, with Thomas and Tom as his leaf members, then there would be an additional Jason added as a leaf member. Now to differentiate between the leaf member and the data member (in this case, both are Jason) would be difficult and hence we can use a template like *(leaf member) as the value of this property. The asterisk symbol is a placeholder for the original name. So our example would become Jason for the data member and Jason(leaf member) for the leaf member.

3) NamingTemplate : This property specifies how levels in a particular parent-child hierarchy would be named. Click the ellipsis button (..) in this property’s cell and then you should be able to view a popup window as shown below:-

Level Naming Template

You can specify a name for the level by clicking on the Name column of the second row and entering for eg, Employee *. This will ensure that instead of Level 02, Level 03, etc., you will be getting Employee 02, employee 03 and so on. For more details, refer to the MSDN article – Defining Parent Attribute Properties in a Parent-Child Hierarchy.

4) RootMemberIf : This property is used to specify the criteria by which we can identify the members of the highest level (excluding the ALL level). Again quoting from an article of William Pearson – “ The four selection options include the following:

  • ParentIsBlankSelfOrMissing – (Default) Only members that meet one or more of the conditions described for ParentIsBlank, ParentIsSelf, or ParentIsMissing are treated as root members.
  • ParentIsBlank – Only members with a null, a zero, or an empty string in the key column or columns are treated as root members.
  • ParentIsSelf – Only members with themselves as parents are treated as root members.
  • ParentIsMissing – Only members with parents that cannot be found are treated as root members.

The behavior of the RootMemberIf property in determining how the root or topmost members of a parent-child hierarchy are identified, is, therefore, dependent upon which of the selections above is made. The default, as noted above, is ParentIsBlankSelfOrMissing.

5) UnaryOperatorColumn : We can control how members on a hierarchy (usually parent/child, but not necessarily) aggregate up to their parents by defining unary operators. To do this, you must create a new column in your dimension table to hold the unary operator values and then set the attribute’s UnaryOperatorColumn property to point to it. This property specifies the column which holds the unary operator. You will find a very good example under the Unary Operators and Weights heading of this article – Measures and Measure Groups in Microsoft Analysis Services: Part 1. The values are (none) and (new) for this property. On clicking New, a dialog box opens which will prompt us to select the binding type, source table and the source column.


1) CustomRollupColumn : Unary operators do not give enough flexibility for rollup, and in such cases, we can write our own rollup formulas as MDX expressions. This property is used to specify a column which will contain the custom rollup formula. A valid expression will ensure that the aggregation logic defined in the AggregateFunction property of the measure would be overridden for this attribute.

2) CustomRollupPropertiesColumn : This property is used to contain the properties of a custom rollup column. Refer Custom Member Formulas heading of this article – Measures and Measure Groups in Microsoft Analysis Services: Part 1 to learn more about the above two properties.

3) KeyColumns : This property contains the column/columns that constitute the key for the attribute, which is the column in the underlying relational table in the data source view to which the attribute is bound. If the NameColumn property is not defined, the value of KeyColumns property would be used to display the attribute members.

4) NameColumn : In most of the cases, the key of the attribute would be a integer value, and this would not make any sense to the user who is viewing the attribute members. For this, we can specify a column in this property which will have the user friendly name of the attribute member.

5) ValueColumn : This property identifies the column that provides the value of the attribute. If the NameColumn element of the attribute is specified, the same DataItem values are used as default values for the ValueColumn element. If the NameColumn element of the attribute is not specified and the KeyColumns collection of the attribute contains a single KeyColumn element representing a key column with a string data type, the same DataItem values are used as default values for the ValueColumn element. In KeyColumns and NameColumn property, there are additional properties which can be got on expanding the plus symbol on the left. This article gives a pretty good overview on them. With this info, you should be all set and ready to give that killer answer in your next interview. Godspeed and good luck to you! 🙂

Posted by SQLJason


Franky Leeuwerck

Good overview, thx!

Blog Very interesting blog, but it's abnormally slow.

hi how can we we hide a single member of an attribute.

You can't hide a single member of an attribute under normal conditions, but if you let me know the actual business requirements, I might be able to suggest a workaround, if any

Thanks a lot. Been looking for some of that stuff for the bigger part of the day… which you saved.

[…] 5) Usage : This property defines whether the attribute is a key attribute, an additional attribute for the dimension or a parent attribute. (The rest of the properties would be continued in SSAS Dimension Attribute Properties : Part 2) […]

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