This section introduces the concepts of outlines, dimensions, and members within a multidimensional database. If you understand dimensions and members, you are well on your way to understanding the power of a multidimensional database.
A dimension represents the highest consolidation level in the database outline. The database outline presents dimensions and members in a tree structure to indicate a consolidation relationship. For example, in Figure 2, Hierarchical Structure, Year is a dimension (of type Time) and Qtr1 is a member.
Standard dimensions represent the core components of a business plan and often relate to departmental functions. Typical standard dimensions: Time, Accounts, Product Line, Market, and Division. Dimensions change less frequently than members.
Attribute dimensions are associated with standard dimensions. Through attribute dimensions, you group and analyze members of standard dimensions based on the member attributes (characteristics). For example, you can compare the profitability of noncaffeinated products that are packaged in glass to the profitability of noncaffeinated products packaged in cans.
Members are the individual components of a dimension. For example, Product A, Product B, and Product C might be members of the Product dimension. Each member has a unique name. Essbase can store the data associated with a member (referred to as a stored member in this chapter), or it can dynamically calculate the data when a user retrieves it.