Will MDX Go Mainstream?
I always look out for Mark Whitehorn’s articles in the Register, if only because I’m tickled to see any mention of MDX on the front page of the UK’s foremost IT news site. Here’s his latest:
While I agree with his judgement that "MDX will become a highly saleable skill" (it already is for me!), and while I agree with with all his arguments that MDX is a good thing and better than SQL for BI queries, I can’t agree with his central argument that application developers are going to start learning it on a massive scale. I would really, really, really like to believe it but I can’t. A small minority of developers who develop specialist analytical applications will need to learn a bit but everyone else will rely on third-party products like Dundas OLAP Services (what’s going to happen about that with the MS acquisition of the Dundas products? Anyone know?) or the Intelligencia OLAP Controls. It’s not that MDX is difficult per se, but that people who are used to thinking in SQL – and developers are always going to need to know some SQL – find it very difficult to start thinking in MDX, and that’s a big hurdle to overcome. And as the existence of not just the tools I mentioned but the entire AS client tool market proves, it’s also relatively easy to write a generic MDX query generator that will work well on just about any cube whereas you can’t just write a generic SQL query generator that will work on any set of tables without building a metadata layer over the top (eg in the way Report Builder needs its Report Models); and once you’ve built that metadata layer you might as well have built a cube anyway.