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Why ThinOLAP?

In 1998 I was hired as a consultant to build a web OLAP client. On the server were SQL Server 7 and IIS. The client was Netscape 4.X (client's corporate standard). While I delivered a pretty impressive solution to the client, the time it required to develop was too long. At this time, there was little if any XML support available on the server-side or the client-side. To create the user experience I wanted, I had to dynamically build JavaScript structures on the web tier and send them to a hidden Frame to be interpreted by my client-side presentation libraries. Towards the end of the project, I began to explore XML technologies. I thought "imagine if I could send a course-granular query to SQL Server, get XML back, and send this directly to the browser to be processed." Needless to say, I was very excited when Microsoft announced XML for Analysis as a new Web Service OLAP API.

XML for Analysis (XML/A) is an emerging standard for declarative analytics which I am pleased to say fulfills my needs precisely. The solutions which XML/A makes possible should be very attractive to any person or organization tasked with report generation from OLAP data sources. In this series of blog articles, I will demonstrate a toolkit approach for using XML/A in a variety of settings. Complete working code samples will be provided.

Building analytic applications with XML/A can be simple or complex. My articles will start with simple desktop applications and will evolve towards complex multi-tiered enterprise web applications. Most users will probably have needs somewhere in the middle. I want to present a toolkit approach so that my readers can learn to assemble their own solution - to solve their unique needs.