Comments on my last post left by fellow Oracle ACE Glenn Schwartzberg has prompted me to expand on my comments about the Date and Text Measures features coming up in Essbase 11.1.1. This information if from a Collaborate 08 session by Aneel Shenker regarding future features of Essbase. This presentation, as any presentation you see from Oracle on unshipped product, has the following disclaimer:
"The following is intended to outline our general product direction. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for Oracle’s products remains at the sole discretion of Oracle."
As I have said before, the fact that you hear it from me certainly doesn't change the above disclaimer as I can't/don't speak for Oracle (sorry I had to start this post with the same disclaimer again, but it is just something I think I have to do to prevent angering the Oracle legal gods).
This new feature coming in Essbase will enable you to do new things that you really couldn't do before in Essbase. Under the covers, the data will still be stored numerically but numbers, or ranges of numbers, appear to be mapped to text or date labels on the client side. Here is a screenshot from the presentation:
The 'Satisfaction' and 'Transaction date' columns in this screenshot both come from Essbase but have associated labels. This functionality will also work on summaries and averages:
I haven't seen how they plan to provide this functionality 'under-the-covers' at the API level; to warn you, it gets a little geeky past this point. In the current version of the Essbase Java API, the data is provided in a multiple 2-dimensional arrays. The member names and data is in one array of strings, and returned as an int, the cell types are returned in an array of bytes and the attributes, which hold the information such as dimension numbers, read/write status and LRO information that make Excel add-in 'Styles' work (and is used in our datapoint mapping work in our Dodeca product) are returned in an array of int types.
I doubt they add another layer for for date/text measures to work as it seems like a whole bunch of overhead; the date/text labels could possibly be repeated many, many times in the array. I guess it would be easier to work with from the programming side if it is in a array. The other option they may implement would be to provide a mapping of the values to the strings at retrieve time. If this were the case, the network traffic would be reduced at the cost of programmers ease of use. I guess I will find out soon enough; when I get a build of 11.1.1 to play with, I will need to look at how they implemented this new feature to make sure we support it properly in our Dodeca product.