About the Series ...

This article is a member of the series, MDX Essentials. The series is designed to provide hands-on application of the fundamentals of the Multidimensional Expressions (MDX) language, with each tutorial progressively adding features designed to meet specific real-world needs.

For more information about the series in general, as well as the software and systems requirements for getting the most out of the lessons included, please see my first article, MDX at First Glance: Introduction to MDX Essentials.

Note: Current updates are assumed for MSSQL Server, MSSQL Server Analysis Services, and the related Books Online and Samples.


Within the world of OLAP, sparsity is pervasive. There are many reasons to want to display something other than an empty space in a report, where a "blank" is about as welcome, to most readers, as silence on a radio show. In an Analysis Services cube, as well as in the reporting layer of an integrated business intelligence solution, we have various options for the elimination or suppression of, and substitution for, nulls. This article concerns itself with one of those options for "handling the emptiness," the CoalesceEmpty() function.

In this article, we will introduce and overview the CoalesceEmpty() function. We will first comment upon the general operation of CoalesceEmpty(), and then we will:

  • Examine the syntax surrounding the function;
  • Undertake illustrative examples of the rudimentary uses of the function in practice exercises;
  • Briefly discuss the results datasets we obtain in the practice examples.