Working with Strings in ASO

Brian Marshall

I needed a break from the Planning repository and recently had a colleague inquire about getting the name of a member as a string value in ASO.  This is a relatively simple process, but it occurred to me that when working with strings in Essbase, sometimes it helps to actually see what you are working with.  So how do we display text in Essbase based on an MDX formula?

First, we have to turn on typed measures.  In Essbase, the idea of typed measures are things like dates and text lists.  Typed measures also give us the ability to display formula-based text from Essbase in Smart View.  I specify Smart View because this functionality does not work in the Excel Add-In.  So let’s start by enabling typed measures:

  1. Make sure you really want to do this, because there is no undo.
  2. Open your outline (I’m using ASOsamp in this example) and go to the properties tab.
  3. Change Typed measures enabled to True.MemberName1
  4. Click OK when prompted.MemberName2

Now that we have typed measures enabled, we can try to display some text.  First let’s open the Measures dimension and add a member.  I chose ProductName as my member.  Once we have that member added, we can follow a few more steps and be ready for a retrieve:

  1. Open the Properties of the newly created member (in my case, ProductName).
  2. On the information tab, modify the Associate Format String to the following: MdxFormat([Products].CurrentMember.Member_Name)MemberName3
  3. Next we need to associate a formula for the member.  We do this because Essbase will not display a format string for a missing member.  I just used a literal zero to ensure we always have a value.MemberName4
  4. Save and restructure your cube.

We should be ready to see some text in Smart View:MemberName5

Now that we have some text, we can start to manipulate that text and see things.  First let’s do something simple, like get the length of our member name:

Set our format string: MdxFormat(NumToStr(Len([Products].CurrentMember.Member_Name)))

And in Smart View:MemberName6

Quick side-note…notice that we use the NumToStr function because the MdxFormat function requires a string parameter.

As one last sample, here’s how we use a text function like Left:

Set our format string:


And in Smart View:MemberName7

There we have it.  Text manipulation that you can see.  Once you get your formula just right, you can use the strings in other formulas.  You can use all of your regular functions and go nuts with strings.



  1. Gary
    January 11, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Your example above to generate a 0 does not match the screen capture and therefore does not result in a 0 in SV.
    1. Open the Properties of the newly created member (in my case, ProductName).
    2. On the information tab, modify the Associate Format String to the following: MdxFormat([Products].CurrentMember.Member_Name)

    Please advise,

    • Brian Marshall
      Brian MarshallReply
      January 11, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      Hi Gary,

      The example above will only a generate a 0 under two circumstances. First, if you use the classic Excel Add-In, you will see a 0, as Essbase Format Strings are not supported by the classic Add-In. Second, if you have disabled Essbase Format Strings in Smart View, it will display the actual value of the calculation. That would of course be 0 in this example. I’ll probably try to make another post soon to show this.

      Let me know if this answers your question. I just went back and tested it one more time to make sure it works.


  2. January 13, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    […] year I had a post about working with strings in Essbase.  To illustrate how to work with strings, I used a features […]

  3. Kommu
    June 27, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Hi Brian,
    we are planning to get the format strings functionality in our production cubes.

    Does it impact any existing functionality?

    Can we enable the Typed measures in Planning/ ASO/ BSO cubes without any impact?


    • Brian Marshall
      Brian MarshallReply
      June 29, 2016 at 1:45 am

      In general it shouldn’t restrict functionality. Typed measures shouldn’t have any massive impact. Having said that, we’ve experienced certain performance impacts when you have the option enabled in Smart View. Specifically, when you have a large suppress missing retrieve, it can make performance more sluggish than usual. If you experience this, you may have to disable the option in Smart View in some instances. Clear as mud?

  4. Kumar
    May 8, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Hi Brian,

    Is it possible to retrieve the associated attributes for the current member. Ex in Sample.Basic we have Caffeinated: True, Intro Date:03-25-1996, Ounces:12, Pkg Type:Can associated with ‘100-10’ member….Is it possible to retrieve them…


    • Brian Marshall
      Brian MarshallReply
      June 11, 2017 at 12:13 am

      Hi Kumar,

      Yes you can. In ASO, you would use [Dimension].CurrentMember.[AttributeName]. This returns a string value, so handle accordingly. For BSO, you would use @AttributeSVal(“AttributeName”). This only works on the current member and cannot be cross-joined, but it will return the string. Is that what you were looking for, albeit super-late…


  5. Kumar
    July 17, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Hi Brian,
    Is it possible to have Typed measures in Planning? we don’t have the following options in planning.
    1. Enable Typed measures on the outline
    2. Associate format string – to add MDX

    If we enable Typed measures on the outline, and refresh the DB from planning the outline is refreshed to its earlier state.(enable Typed measures is set to False)

    We don’t have an option to set the MDX in planning…

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