OLAP Cube as a Mind Map

If you’ve worked with OLAP technologies for any length of time you’ll undoubtedly have been in the situation where you’ve had to explain the concept of an OLAP Cube to a “newbie”.  If the person in question has come across Excel pivot-tables, then you can probably short-circuit the conversation some what, explaining that a pivot table is in essence an OLAP cube, maybe highlighting the differences between it and whatever OLAP tool you’re proposing; ragged hierarchies, ability to update cells and ‘spread’ values down hierarchies etc.  Even better if you can show the user an working cube populated with hierarchies and elements that match the user’s business.

But what if the person is a complete novice to the world of analytics and you don’t have a relevant demo cube that you can demonstrate, what then?  I guess, you could start by first trying to fry the victim’s user’s brain by explaining the concepts behind multi-dimensional spaces and/or a quick intro into the world of de-normalised databases, with examples of snow and star schemas. The glazed look in the eyes of your audience may however suggest this doesn’t always work.  And it’s not just business-users who have problems getting their heads around cubes, many programmers also have difficulty the first time they’re exposed to OLAP concepts.

I’ve found that Mind Maps offer a good way to help both me and the client to visualise the domain model that a cube will eventually address; having worked through the mind mapping process it’s then easier to take the user with you as you translate this model to a physical cube or star-schema.  Well Hugo (who’s back blogging after a long absence) promises to take this method a step further, his modifications to FreeMind will allow for the export of a mindmap as a Palo cube!  Check it out …


3 responses to “OLAP Cube as a Mind Map

  1. Pingback: Talend ETL Excel report generator « Gobán Saor

  2. Pingback: Pembuatan OLAP Cube dengan Mind Map « .:: Peta Konsep Anak Bangsa ::.

  3. Still waiting Hugo publish his freemind plugin to export into OLAP model