What are OLAP Tools?

OLAP means "online analytical processing". It refers to technologies that enable the dynamic visualization and analysis of data. OLAP tools allow users to redefine these grouping criteria dynamically (on-line), making it easy to perform ad-hoc analysis on the data and discover hidden patterns.

Rather than summarizing data in spreadsheets, which can be tedious, repetitive, and error-prone; add OLAP tools your business solution. OLAP tools help discover new trends and drive efficiency with faster data analysis. For example, consider the following table:

Oct 2007Product ANorth12
Oct 2007Product BNorth


Oct 2007Product CSouth4
Oct 2007Product ASouth3
Nov 2007Product ASouth6
Nov 2007Product CNorth8
Nov 2007Product ANorth10
Nov 2007Product BNorth3

Now suppose you were asked to analyze this data and answer questions such as: Are sales going up or down? Which products are most popular in each region?

In order to answer these simple questions, you would have to summarize the data to obtain tables such as this:

Product A22931
Product B18018
Product C8412

Here, each cell represents a calculation of several cells from the original data source, where one or more value fields are summarized or grouped. This can be done in a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel, but the work is tedious, repetitive, and error-prone. If you wrote a custom application you would have to spend a lot of time maintaining new views to answer an unlimited number of questions the user may have.

OLAP tools allow users to define the views they want interactively, in ad-hoc fashion. They can use pre-defined views or create and save new ones. Any changes to the underlying data are reflected automatically in the views, and users can create and share reports showing these views. In short, OLAP is a tool that provides flexible and efficient data analysis.

OLAP for Silverlight

ComponentOne has recently unveiled a new suite of Silverlight UI controls which provide analytical processing features similar to those found in Microsoft Excel Pivot Tables and Pivot Charts. ComponentOne OLAPT for Silverlight takes raw data in any format and provides an easy-to-use interface so users can quickly and intuitively create summaries that display the data in different ways, uncovering trends and providing valuable insights interactively. As the user modifies the way in which he wants to see the data, OLAP for Silverlight instantly provides pivot grids and charts (and soon reporting) that can be saved and exported. With drag-and-drop views, you get real-time information, insights, and results in seconds.

 OLAP for Silverlight includes four key controls: C1OlapPanel, C1OlapGrid, C1OLAPChart and C1OlapPage.

The C1OlapPanel is the core of the product. It takes raw data as input, and its OLAP engine provides custom views summarizing the data according to criteria provided by the user. The C1OLAPPanel also provides the familar, Excel-like drag and drop interface that allows users to check which fields from their data source they want to summarize in the row, column and values field boxes.

The C1OlapGrid control is used to display OLAP pivot tables. It extends the C1FlexGrid control and provides automatic data binding to C1OlapPanel objects, grouped row and column headers, as well as custom behaviors for resizing columns, copying data to the clipboard, and showing underlying details for any given cell.

The C1OlapChart provides charts for the OLAP data. It extends the C1Chart control and provides automatic tooltips, five different chart types and 22 palette selections.

The C1OlapPage control provides the complete OLAP user interface by combining all of the C1Olap controls, plus a menu and table displaying raw data. The menu is customizable and includes built-in commands for the following: opening and saving views, undo and redo actions, grid settings and chart settings. To create the simplest OLAP application, just drop the C1OlapPage control on the page and connect to a data source. It's that easy. Or you can use the separate controls to build your own UI. For instance, you can hide the C1OlapPanel portion from end-users and give them a preset collection of views to see for more efficient usage.

There's a lot more packed into these controls...

Subtotals and Grand Totals

You can summarize multiple fields across rows and down columns. When you do this, the C1OlapGrid will automatically calculate grand totals and subtotals for each slice of your data. Users can collapse groups displaying only the subtotal value.

 Plus more:

  • Filtering: Filter the data pool on multiple fields.

  • Data Formatting: Format values for dates, currencies, percentages, etc.

  • Totals and Aggregates: Calculate not just sums but also counts, averages and more!

  • Date/Time Grouping: Automatically group DateTime values per years, months, days, etc.

  • Undo/Redo History: Built-in functionality for the C1OlapPage control.

  • Save/Load Views: Persist views in local storage.

This first release of OLAP for Silverlight is considered Beta and is completely free to use and try. Download the controls which support Silverlight 4.

To learn more, visit the OLAP for Silverlight product page. Here you'll find PDF documentation, the forum link and more feature screenshots.