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January 13, 2010 - Roland Bouman - OLAP and Analysis for web applications using XMLA

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Roland Bouman, Co-author of Pentaho Solutions, gave this presentation.

XML/A (XML for Analysis) is a de facto standard method to work with OLAP data sources using a (SOAP) webservice protocol. What this boils down to is that you can use ordinary HTTP client requests, such as those emitted by common internet browsers, to discover the structure of OLAP cubes, and to execute MDX queries. While HTTP is used as communication protocol, XML/A uses XML documents as the actual carrier of the information.

Being a de facto standard, XML/A is broadly implemented by OLAP servers from different vendors, such as Microsoft, SAP, SAS, and also Pentaho/Mondrian. Some vendors support XML/A simply as compatibility feature next to a proprietary binary communication protocol, while other vendors use XML/A as the principal gateway for OLAP clients.

Typically, XML/A is not directly visible to end users and application developers alike. End user tools like cube browsers will usually work with OLAP datasources through an API that shields the application from creating and interpreting the XML/A SOAP messages. One example of such a library is the org.olap4j.driver.xmla java package, which implements the olap4j to XML for Analysis bridge (see:

With the rise of various high quality client side AJAX/javascript frameworks for data visualization, it becomes increasingly more important to access OLAP datasources directly from the web client. One example of a platform that uses these techniques is the Community Dashbard Framework. In this light it is striking that there is no publicly available javascript API for XML/A.

During this presentation I will present Xmla4Js. Xmla4Js is a standalone light weight cross browser javascript library that can be used to interact with XML/A datasources. It can be used as a component for building web applications that need to work with XML/A datasources. Some of the features include:

  • discovery (OLAP metadata) as well as execution (MDX queries)
  • responses can be consumed as raw XML text, DOM document, or javascript objects
  • supports synchronous an asynchronous communication

Xmla4Js is available under the terms of the LGPL license. It is hosted as a google code project at

In the presentation, I will show the basics of connecting to mondrian using Xmla4Js, discovering data sources, issuing MDX queries, and consuming results. Using a simple application, I will show how you can use Xmla4Js in your own web applications to deliver rich, provider independent OLAP.

Slide Deck

Xmla4js.pdf - PDF format


The recording is now available on the WebEx service site. Click the link below to download or play it:

Pentaho Community Techncal WebEx - OLAP and Analysis for web applications using XMLA-20100113 1502
Wednesday, January 13, 2010 10:02 am New York (Eastern Time, GMT-05:00)
1 Hour 6 Minutes

Other Resources

Project with source code, doc and samples


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