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Build an OLAP Cube in SSAS from USPS Data

Connect to USPS data in an Analysis Services project using the USPS Data Provider and build OLAP cubes for use in analytics, reporting, and more.

SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) is an analytical data engine used in decision support and business analytics. It provides enterprise-grade semantic data models for business reports and client applications, such as Power BI, Excel, Reporting Services reports, and other data visualization tools. When paired with the CData ADO.NET Provider for USPS, you can create cubes from USPS data for deeper and faster data analysis.

This article walks through creating an Analysis Services project in Visual Studio to build and deploy a multi-dimensional model of USPS data. You will need to have an accessible SSAS instance and the ADO.NET Provider installed.

Creating a Data Source for USPS

Start by creating a new Analysis Service Multidimensional and Data Mining Project in Visual Studio. Next, create a Data Source for USPS data in the project.

  1. In the Solution Explorer, right-click Data Source and select New Data Source.
  2. Opt to create a data source based on an existing or new connection and click New.
  3. In the Connection Manager, select CData ADO.NET Provider for USPS, enter the necessary connection properties, and click Next.

    To authenticate with USPS, set the following connection properties.

    • PostageProvider: The postage provider to use to process requests. Available options are ENDICIA and STAMPS. If unspecified, this property will default to ENDICIA.
    • UseSandbox: This controls whether live or test requests are sent to the production or sandbox servers. If set to true, the Password, AccountNumber, and StampsUserId properties are ignored.
    • StampsUserId: This value is used for logging into authentication to the Stamps servers. This value is not applicable for Endicia and is optional if UseSandbox is true.
    • Password: This value is used for logging into Endicia and Stamps servers. If the postage provider is Endicia, this will be the pass phrase associated with your postage account. It is optional if UseSandbox is true.
    • AccountNumber: The shipper's account number. It is optional if UseSandbox is true.
    • PrintLabelLocation: This property is required to use the GenerateLabels or GenerateReturnLabels stored procedures. This should be set to the folder location where generated labels should be stored.

    The Cache Database

    Many of the useful task available from USPS require a lot of data. To ensure this data is easy to input and recall later, utilize a cache database to make requests. Set the cache connection properties in order to use the cache:

    • CacheLocation: The path to the cache location, for which a connection will be configured with the default cache provider. For example, C:\users\username\documents\uspscache

    As an alternative to CacheLocation, set the combination of CacheConnection and CacheProvider to configure a cache connection using a provider separate from the default.

    When you configure the connection, you may also want to set the Max Rows connection property. This will limit the number of rows returned, which is especially helpful for improving performance when designing reports and visualizations.

  4. Set the impersonation method to Inherit and click Next.
  5. Name the data source (CData USPS Source) and click Finish.

Creating a Data Source View

After you create the data source, create the data source view.

  1. In the Solution Explorer, right-click Data Source Views and select New Data Source View.
  2. Select the data source you just created (CData USPS Source) and click Next.
  3. Choose a foreign key match pattern that matches your underlying data source and click Next.
  4. Select USPS tables to add to the view and click Next.
  5. Name the view and click Finish

Based on the foreign key match scheme, relationships in the underlying data will be automatically detected. You can view (and edit) these relationships by double clicking Data Source View.

Note that adding a secondary data source to the Data Source View is not supported. When working with multiple data sources, SSAS requires both sources to support remote queries via OpenRowset which is unavailable in the ADO.NET Provider.

Creating a Cube for USPS

The last step before you can process the project and deploy USPS data to SSAS is creating the cubes.

  1. In the Solution Explorer, right-click Cubes and select New Cube
  2. Select "Use existing tables" and click Next.
  3. Select the tables that will be used for measure group tables and click Next.
  4. Select the measures you want to include in the cube and click Next.
  5. Select the dimensions to be created, based on the available tables, and click Next.
  6. Review all of your selections and click Finish.

Process the Project

With the data source, data source view, and cube created, you are ready to deploy the cube to SSAS. To configure the target server and database, right-click the project and select properties. Navigate to deployment and configure the Server and Database properties in the Target section.

After configuring the target server and database, right-click the project and select Process. You may need to build and deploy the project as a part of this step. Once the project is built and deployed, click Run in the Process Database wizard.

Now you have an OLAP cube for USPS data in your SSAS instance, ready to be analyzed, reported, and viewed. Get started with a free, 30-day trial of the CData ADO.NET Provider for USPS.