12 March 2012

Conversion Functions OBIEE

Conversion Functions

The conversion functions convert a value from one form to another. You can also use the VALUEOF function in a filter to reference the value of an Oracle BI system variable. Functions include:

  • CAST


This function changes the data type of an expression or a null literal to another data type. For example, you can cast a customer_name (a data type of Char or Varchar) or birthdate (a datetime literal). The following are the supported data types to which the value can be changed:


Depending on the source data type, some destination types are not supported. For example, if the source data type is a BIT string, the destination data type must be a character string or another BIT string.

Use CAST to change to a DATE data type. Do not use TO_DATE.

The following describes unique characteristics of the CHAR and VARCHAR data types:

· Casting to a CHAR data type. You must use a size parameter. If you do not add a size parameter, a default of 30 is added. Syntax options appear in the following list:
oThe recommended syntax is:
  • CAST(expr|NULL AS CHAR(n))
For example:
  • CAST(companyname AS CHAR(35))

You can also use the following syntax:
  • CAST(expr|NULL AS data_type)
For example:
  • CAST(companyname AS CHAR)

If you use this syntax, the Oracle BI Server explicitly converts and stores as CAST(expr|NULL AS CHAR(30))

Casting to a VARCHAR data type. You must use a size parameter. If you omit the size parameter, you cannot can save the change.

CAST(hiredate AS CHAR(40)) FROM employee

SELECT CAST(hiredate AS VARCHAR(40)), CAST(age AS double precision), CAST(hiredate AS timestamp), CAST(age AS integer) FROM employee

CAST("db"."."table"."col" AS date)


This function takes an arbitrary number of parameters and returns the first item in the list that the user has permission to see. However, administrators must model the column permissions in the Administration Tool to enable this behavior. See "INDEXCOL"for an alternate method.


CHOOSE(expr1, expr2, ..., exprN)

For example, a single query can be written to return security-based revenue numbers for the entire organization. The function could look like the following:

CHOOSE(L1-Revenue, L2-Revenue, L3-Revenue, L4-Revenue)

If the user issuing this function has access to the column L1-Revenue, then that column value would be returned. If the user does not have visibility to the column L1-Revenue but does have visibility to L2-Revenue, then L2-Revenue is returned.


This function tests if an expression evaluates to a null value, and if it does, assigns the specified value to the expression.


IFNULL(expr, value)


expr is the expression to evaluate.

value is the value to assign if the expression evaluates to a null value.


This function can use external information to return the appropriate column for the logged-in user to see. The Oracle BI Server handles this function in the following ways:

  • ODBC Procedures. NQSGetLevelDrillability and NQSGenerateDrillDownQuery return the context-specific drill-down information based on the expression translated from INDEXCOL. This applies to both INDEXCOL expressions specified in the Logical SQL query and INDEXCOLexpressions specified in a derived logical column.

  • Query Log and cache. The Logical SQL query with INDEXCOL function appears in the SQL string in the query log. But the logical request does not show the INDEXCOL function because the Oracle BI Server translates INDEXCOL to one of the expressions in its expression list in the logical request generator.

The query cache uses the resulting translated expression for cache hit detection.

  • Usage Tracking.Usage tracking inserts the Logical SQL query string with the INDEXCOL function.

  • Security. As long as the user has the privileges to access the columns in the expression translated from INDEXCOL, then the query executes.

When the first argument to INDEXCOL is a session variable and if a default expression is expected to be returned even if the initialization block fails, then you should set a default value for the session variable. Otherwise, the query fails because the session variable has no value definition.


INDEXCOL(integer_literal, expr_list)


expr_list equals the following:

expr1 [, expr_list ]

The INDEXCOL function takes in an integer literal value as its first argument, followed by a variable length expression list and translates to a single expression from the expression list. The literal value is the 0-based index of the expression in the expression list to translate to. Consider the following expression:

INDEXCOL(integer_literal, expr1, expr2, …)

If the literal value is 0, the above expression is equivalent to expr1. If the literal value is 1, then the value is equivalent to expr2, and so on.

The primary use case for INDEXCOL is for the first argument to contain a session variable. Specifying a constant literal would result in INDEXCOL always choosing the same expression.

Example With Hierarchy Levels

Company ABC has a geography dimension with the hierarchy Country, State, City. The CEO can access the Country level down to the City level, and the sales manager can access the State and City levels, and the sales people can only access the City level. Table C-2 shows the back-end database for Company ABC.

Table C-2 IndexCol Example of Back-End Database

US Dollars
Sales Manager
Japanese Yen
Sales Manager
Japanese Yen
Sales Person
Japanese Yen
Sales Person
US Dollars

The following steps illustrate one way to create a single query where each user sees the top level to which they have access:

  • The administrator creates a new session variable called GEOOGRAPHY_LEVEL that is populated by the following initialization block: SELECT GEO_LEVEL from T where USER_NAME = ':USER'.

This assumes that the Oracle BI Server instance has the same user names.

  • UsingSELECT INDEXCOL(VALUEOF(NQ_SESSION.GEOGRAPHY_LEVEL), Country, State, City), Revenue FROM Sales, the following occurs:

Bob logs in and INDEXCOL translates to the Country column because the GEOGRAPHY_LEVEL session variable is 0. He gets the same result and can drill down on Country to State as if he had used SELECT Country, Revenue FROM Sales.
Jackson logs in and INDEXCOL translates to the State column because the GEOGRAPHY_LEVEL session variable for Jackson is 1. He gets the same result and can drill down on State to City as if he had used SELECT State, Revenue FROM Sales.
Mike logs in and INDEXCOL translates to the City column because theGEOGRAPHY_LEVEL session variable for Mike is 2. He gets the same result and cannot drill down on City as if he had used SELECT City, Revenue FROM Sales.


This function converts string literals of dateTime format to a DateTime data type.


TO_DATETIME('string1', 'DateTime_formatting_string')


string1 is the string literal you want to convert

DateTime_formatting_string is the DateTime format you want to use, such as yyyy.mm.dd hh:mi:ss. For this argument, yyyy represents year, mm represents month, dd represents day, hh represents hour, mi represents minutes, and ss represents seconds.


SELECT TO_DATETIME('2009-03-03 01:01:00', 'yyyy-mm-dd hh:mi:ss') FROM snowflakesales

SELECT TO_DATETIME('2009.03.03 01:01:00', 'yyyy.mm.dd hh:mi:ss') FROM snowflakesales


Use the VALUEOF function to reference the value of a repository variable. Repository variables are defined using the Administration Tool. You can use the VALUEOF function both in Expression Builder in the Administration Tool, and when you edit the SQL statements for an analysis from the Advanced tab of the Analysis editor in Answers.


Variables should be used as arguments of the VALUEOF function. Refer to static repository variables by name. Note that variable names are case sensitive. For example, to use the value of a static repository variables namedprime_begin and prime_end:

CASE WHEN "Hour" >= VALUEOF("prime_begin")AND "Hour" < VALUEOF("prime_end") THEN 'Prime Time' WHEN ... ELSE...END

You must refer to a dynamic repository variable by its fully qualified name. If you are using a dynamic repository variable, the names of the initialization block and the repository variable must be enclosed in double quotes ( " ), separated by a period, and contained within parentheses. For example, to use the value of a dynamic repository variable named REGION contained in an initialization block named Region Security, use the following syntax:

SalesSubjectArea.Customer.Region = VALUEOF("Region Security"."REGION")

The names of session variables must be preceded by NQ_SESSION, separated by a period, and contained within parentheses, including the NQ_SESSION portion. If the variable name contains a space, enclose the name in double quotes ( " ). For example, to use the value of a session variable named REGION, use the following syntax in Expression Builder or a filter:

"SalesSubjectArea"."Customer"."Region" = VALUEOF(NQ_SESSION.REGION)

Although using initialization block names with session variables (just as with other repository variables) may work, you should use NQ_SESSION. NQ_SESSION acts like a wildcard that matches all initialization block names. This lets you change the structure of the initialization blocks in a localized manner without impacting requests.

Reference : otn.oracle.com