barcode vb.net 2010 Transactions, Snapshots, and Accumulating Snapshots 265 in Software

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11 Transactions, Snapshots, and Accumulating Snapshots 265
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Of course, none of this will help in situations described earlier, in which transactions are not kept online or in which the status measurement does not correspond to any type of transaction. Clearly, an alternative solution is required to support the study of status measurements.
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The Snapshot Model
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As you have seen, a transaction fact table will not suffice for storing a measurement of status. The solution is to design a periodic snapshot fact table, or simply snapshot fact table. The snapshot fact table samples the measurement in question at a predetermined interval. This makes it easy to study the measurement in question, without the need to aggregate a long chain of transaction history. A snapshot fact table design has several properties that distinguish it from a transaction fact table design. Whereas a transaction fact table s grain may be expressed in various ways, the grain of a snapshot fact table is usually declared in dimensional terms. While a transaction fact table is sparse, snapshots are dense. Last, while the facts in a transaction fact table are fully additive, a snapshot model will contain at least one fact that exhibits a property known as semi-additivity.
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Sampling Status with a Snapshot
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A snapshot fact table samples a status measurement at a predetermined interval. This interval, combined with one or more dimensions, will be used to define the grain of the snapshot fact table. Each row will contain a fact that records the status measurement in question. The account snapshot fact table in Figure 11-2 records a balance each day for each account. This declaration of grain involves fewer dimensions than were used for the transaction fact table in Figure 11-1. The day dimension captures the interval at which measurements will be sampled, and the account dimension specifies what will be measured. Account branch and primary account holder are also present, but are not part of the grain. The sole fact, balance, records the status measurement: account balance. With this design, it is now very easy to determine balances at any point in time, for individual accounts and across multiple accounts. Simply constrain the query for the day in question and aggregate the balance fact. This technique can be used to determine the combined balance for a customer across multiple accounts, study account balance by demographic characteristic, look at the balance across all accounts at each branch, and so forth.
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ACCOUNT_SNAPSHOT_ FACTS day_key account_key branch_key_account acct_holder_key_primary balance
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Role: branch of account Role: primary account holder
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ACCOUNT
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ACCOUNT_ HOLDER
Figure 11-2
A snapshot fact table tracks account status
Part IV
PART IV
Fact Table Design
Snapshot Grain
Whereas the grain of a transaction fact table can be expressed by referring to a business artifact like an order_line or transaction_id, the grain of a snapshot is almost always declared dimensionally. There are two essential parts to the declaration of grain for a snapshot. The first identifies the snapshot period, and the second identifies one or more dimensions that will be sampled at the end of each period. The account snapshot from Figure 11-2 was described as recording a balance each day for each account. The period in this grain statement is daily; this describes how often balances are sampled. The remaining dimension (account) specifies what will be sampled each period. TIP The grain of a snapshot must include the periodicity at which status will be sampled, and a definition of what is being sampled. This is usually stated in dimensional terms. Snapshots can be taken at periodicities other than day. A financial data mart, for example, might include a star that captures month-end snapshots for each G/L account. Snapshots may also require more than one dimension in their declaration of grain. A star that tracks store inventory, for example, might record daily stock levels for each product in each store. The period of this snapshot is daily; the inventory level is recorded for each combination of store and product. (More on this example will appear later in this chapter.)
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