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Excel Data Cubes

In another article titled Creating data cubes with Excel and a database, the Microsoft« Data Analyzer User Assistance team explained how to create cubes by connecting to an Access database, querying the database for information, and then using Excel to convert that information into a cube. But what if you don't have a copy of Access or Microsoft SQL Server or you don't know how to create a database? In that case, you can create limited data cubes from text files or comma-separated-value files, and then explore the results with Data Analyzer.

Consider this scenario: Say your company uses mainframe computers, and the system only provides reports as text files. You can use Excel to query those files for data that you want to place in a set of cubes, and then create the cubes. From there, you can analyze the cubes with Data Analyzer or import your data into PivotTable® reports.

This article explains how to use Excel to create a data cube from a tab-delimited or comma-separated-value text file. It also points you to information about connecting to the cube with Data Analyzer.

Important  Your text file must contain data in columns and rows (tabular data). You cannot convert a PivotTable report to a text file and obtain meaningful results. Also, the text file must contain column headers.

Finding source data and creating a cube

If you have a text file that contains meaningful data such as a sales report, feel free to use it at this point. If you don't have some source data, or you're unsure about how to create some, you can download a sample text file from the Office Download Center. The sample file contains geographic and sales data from the sample Foodmart 2000 database. Most of the data takes the form of ID numbers, so you cannot analyze it, but you can use it to learn the procedures described here.

Once you have your source data, you follow this process to create a cube with Excel:

  • Choose a data source. In this case, you select the .txt or .csv file.
  • Create a query that extracts data from the text file.
  • Create a cube from the extracted data.

The following procedures explain how to perform each task.

To select a data source

  1. On the Data menu in Excel, point to Import External Data, and then click New Database Query.
  2. In the Choose Data Source dialog box, click the Databases tab, select New Data Source, and then click OK.
  3. In the Create New Data Source dialog box, type a name for the data source in the first text box, select Microsoft Text Driver (*.txt; *.csv) from the second list, and then click Connect.
  4. In the ODBC Text Setup dialog box, clear the Use Current Directory box and click Select directory.
  5. In the Select Database dialog box, locate the folder that contains the sample file that you downloaded, or your own text file, and then click OK.

Important  Do not select the file, just the folder.

  1. Click OK twice more to return to the Choose Data Source dialog box.

To create the query

  1. In the Choose Data Source dialog box, select the data source you created in the previous procedure. Make sure Use the Query Wizard to create/edit queries is selected, and then click OK.
  2. In the Query Wizard - Choose Columns dialog box, select the file that you want to query. If you're using the sample text file, click it and move all the columns from the Available tables and columns pane to the columns in our query pane. If you're using your own file, move the columns that you want to use.
  3. Click Next, and then click Next in the next two dialog boxes.
  4. In the Query Wizard - Finish dialog box, select Create an OLAP Cube from this query and click Finish. This launches the OLAP Cube Wizard, which you use to build your cube.

To create the cube

  1. Click Next in the Welcome to the OLAP Cube Wizard dialog box.
  2. In step 1 of the wizard, select only the source fields that you want to use as measures. To do so, check the box in the Source field column. If you're using the sample text file, select only store_sales, store_cost, and unit_sales. Make sure that "Sum" is selected for each of those fields in the Summarize by column, and then click Next.
  3. In step 2 of the wizard, move the fields that you want to use as dimensions from the Source fields pane to the Dimensions pane. If you're using the sample text file, create the following data structure:
  4. Click Next.
  5. In step 3 of the wizard, select Save a cube file containing all data for the cube. Enter a path and filename for the cube, and then click Finish.
  6. In the Save As dialog box, type a file name for the query definition that you just created and click Save. Saving the query definition allows you to reuse it later. Excel saves the file with a .oqy filename extension, and the OLAP Cube Wizard creates the cube file. This may take several minutes.

Using the cube

After the OLAP Cube Wizard creates the cube, the PivotTable and PivotChart Wizard - Step 3 of 3 dialog box appears. At this point, you can:

  • Use the dialog box to create a PivotTable report. For more information about creating PivotTable reports, see Excel help.
  • Connect to the cube with Data Analyzer.

For information about connecting to a cube, see Connecting to data cubes and creating views, on Office Online.


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