Offline OLAP – Working with Disconnected Analysis Service Cube

Microsoft introduced a cool feature in Excel 2007 called Offline OLAP that enables you to work with an Analysis Services Cube in disconnected mode. The Offline OLAP feature basically snapshots a version of the cube into a local cube file which can be used by Pivot Tables.

Some potential scenarios where the offline cube file can be really helpful:

  • Proof of concept demos to client can be done using the local cube file without having to worry about the network bandwidth, access and unfamiliar environments.
  • Accessing your reports while commuting or in places where internet facility is not available.
  • Snapshoting the stable version of cube during development phase especially when certain development activities can potentially bring down the cube.

Creating Offline Cube File

To create the Offline Cube file, click on you Pivot Table and navigate to PivotTableTool>>Options>>OLAP Tools>>Offline OLAP (shown in Figure 1)

Figure 1 - Offline OLAP
Figure 1 – Offline OLAP

A wizard pops up. Click Create Offline Data File button (shown in Figure 2).

Figure 2 - Create offline data file
Figure 2 – Create offline data file

The subsequent wizard steps allow you to select the dimension attributes, members, hierarchies, measures and calculated measures. By default the cube members used in the PivotTable is selected. (Figures 3 and 4) .

Figure 3 - Select Dim

Figure 4 -Select Measures and Dim Members
Figure 4 -Select Measures and Dim Members

The final step is to save the data to a local cube file (figure 5)

Figure 5 - Local Cube File
Figure 5 – Local Cube File

Switching to Online mode

To switch from offline to online mode, navigate as before PivotTableTool>>Options>>OLAP Tools>>Offline OLAP and select the On-line OLAP option which is now enabled (figure 6).

Figure 6 - Switch Modes
Figure 6 – Switch Modes

Editing Offline Cube File

To edit the offline cube file, navigate to PivotTableTool>>Options>>OLAP Tools>>Offline OLAP and select Edit offline data file option.

Figure 7 - Edit offline data file
Figure 7 – Edit offline data file

Offline OLAP is a really cool feature in certain scenarios. One improvement that I would prefer to see is some kind of visual differentiation to indicate that the PivotTable is in offline mode which is currently not available.