Getting Started with MicroStrategy

MicroStrategy and Business Intelligence in general has been a fantastic career space to me.  I love doing it (as evidenced by this blog I hope), and there’s definitely no shortage of opportunities in the market.  It’s exciting to be on ever changing projects as your priorities are always directly in line with the company’s.  Working on the front end aspect of Business Intelligence gets you valuable face time with high executives of the company and everything you produce is helping someone do their job a little better and a little easier.  It’s a great feeling, a fun space and a great career path.

So how do you get in on it?  I’ve always said the barrier to entry for a budding MicroStrategy Professional is very high.  There are no 3rd party books, it’s difficult to acquire the software for your own research and even if you did, it’s tough to find data to use or come up with use cases that would make good exercises.  I like to think that this blog serves as one of the better free resources to help those getting started in MicroStrategy, and I’d like to continue that by rounding up as many resources as I can, coupled with some advice and strategies, that can help anyone interested in joining the MicroStrategy or Business Intelligence ranks and getting over that barrier.

MicroStrategy is one of the few companies that will give you their full software for a trial period during a POC.  Simply call them up and tell them you’d like to evaluate it, and you get the whole thing.  They’ve extended that offer in recent years with the Free Reporting Suite.  This is a slightly stripped down version of MicroStrategy, but it is one that you can use for a longer period of time in a production environment whereas the Trial software you get during a POC is for non-production use for a limited time.  You need to create an account to request the Free Software, but you can’t use a free email service (ie, gmail, yahoo, hotmail), so you’ll need to make the request through a corporate email account.

The best thing you can do is to get a working knowledge of Data Warehousing and Visualizations in general.  I’ve hand picked my favorite books on the subject and I’ll continue adding to the list as time goes on.

There are several free online resources available depending on how deep you want to go:

  1. MicroStrategy Free Online Courses – This requires a MicroStrategy account.  The Online Courses are all free and are high level introductions to each area.  They’re a good self-paced starting spot and include little quizes along the way to test your knowledge.  If you’re completely new to MicroStrategy or even BI in general, this is a great place to start.
  2. Online Videos – Seeing is doing.  MicroStrategy provides some high level video demonstrations of the product which when coupled with the Online Courses above can give you a good picture of what MicroStrategy is like and how the workflow operates.  You can find even more videos are MicroStrategy’s YouTube page.
  3. eBooks – The free MicroStrategy Mobile app includes links to download most of the full courseware which includes far more details than the Free Online Classes.  These includes thousands of pages of descriptions, exercises and examples.  This is most useful if you can follow along with the MicroStrategy software if you’re able to obtain it via a POC with your company or via the Free Reporting Suite.
  4. Perennial Education Passes – While certainly not free, the absolute best way to learn is to attend MicroStrategy Instructor Led Classes.  These are full day/week classes that are mostly hands on.  They’re performed in person at various education facilities worldwide or via online live meetings.  Both are excellent sources of knowledge, though it’s a little expensive.
  5. MicroStrategy World – Even if you can’t make the annual user conference, most of the content from 2012 is available for free online.  This includes several keynote presentations and full slide decks from most of the presentations. (Thanks Carlos for the comment).
If you’re working through the software yourself and run into trouble, you have a lot of various options:
  1. Knowledge Base – This is the MicroStrategy Tech Support Knowledge Base, which includes articles written about nearly every potential problem or task you need to do.  You need a MicroStrategy account to gain access.
  2. Discussion Forums – The forums are a tremendous wealth of information.  You can read through questions and answers other users have had, search for relevant information for your issue or post and share your questions and answers with others.  They’re a great resource for even experienced MicroStrategy Professionals.  I think we fall into little rutts on projects where we only work on the same area of the product and solve the same problems.  The forums offer a way to help others while still exposing yourself to problems or areas of the tool you don’t use daily.  I like to say it’s like lifting weights for athletes.  It keeps your skills sharp and it’s for a good cause.
  3. Ask Bryan – You can always ask me questions directly and I’d be happy to help out where I can.
  4. Technical Support – Included with your POC or Free Reporting Suite software is access to MicroStrategy Technical Support (some restrictions apply with the FRS).  If you have any question at all, no matter how large or small, they can help you and walk you through it via a Live Meeting.  I learned a lot in my early days of MicroStrategy from the support technicians, so don’t forget about this valuable resource at your disposal.
Getting Test Data
If you’ve acquired the software and are ready to explore yourself, here are some places you can get some data:
  1. MicroStrategy Tutorial – This is the default database that ships with the software and is a pretty full example of a simple data warehouse.  It contains all of the pre-modeled dimensions and fact tables for a variety of situations and examples.  It’s definitely where you want to start to see the product working as designed.
  2. Microsoft Adventure Works – This is a sample SQL Server Data Warehouse that serves as a good starting point for building a MicroStrategy project around.
  3. Not Northwind – This free community built Warehouse sample is a knock against the overly simplistic, classical sample database included with Microsoft database products.  They describe it as, “Complex enough to be called Real World but simple enough that someone could “get it” in 5-10 minutes“. Thanks Claus for pointing out this project died with no official release.  If anyone else has any other recommended test Warehouses, send them my way and I’ll update.

Landing The First Job
It probably seems like a Catch-22: MicroStrategy Developer jobs require X years experience, but you can’t get that experience until you get a MicroStrategy Developer job.  The trick is to find a shop that will hire you based on your existing skill set and potential and will fund your training and certification.  While it may seem impossible to find such a place, know that almost every Developer I’ve ever had a hand in hiring had minimal or no prior experience.  The key is to find someone with relevant knowledge, interest and skill.  Learning software is cheap, but critical thinking and problem solving are not.  (For more on my opinions on that, you can read my Interview Questions post).

The most direct path could be to work for MicroStrategy directly.  Their Associate Consultant position is perpetually hiring and doesn’t require prior MicroStrategy experience, only relevant skills like I mentioned above.  They’ll send you to bootcamp to learn the details of the product and set you up at various clients (travel probably required).  You can also follow @MstrJobs on twitter for new opportunities.

Doing some initial research and work on your own prior to reaching out will go a long way.  Not only does it start to build some of the basic knowledge you’ll need, but demonstrates great qualities of self starting, passion and initiative.  A lot of it is luck, but one of my favorite sayings is, “Luck favors the prepared“.

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59 Responses

  1. Here are some other resources I have found online.

    This is a great blog, and he is doing mostly hands on video blogging now.

    Some other blogs:

  2. Hi Bryan,

    Thanks for the blog.. I am just started to learn MS.. This is of very good help for me…

  3. Hi Bryan, just to tell you that your blog is an unvaluable resource for the MSTR community. Thank you so much!

    I also want to add the presentations of MicroStrategy World 2012 as a good learning resource shared @


  4. This is really an amazing post.

  5. Reiner says:


    What about getting certified in the MSTR realm? Are there any certs?


  6. Thanks for the fruitful post Bryan. You are my first Guru to start with Mstr……………………..!

  7. Hello,

    I would like to drill links in a graph. I managed to make links in the tables. But I can not find how to put it in the graphics?

    Could you help me?

    thank you

    Good day!


  8. Hi Bryan,
    I have created image viewer widget in my report for iPad.
    I want the change the properties of widget , but widget icon is not visible in the properties and formatting dialog box.
    How can i change the it’s properties.

    • Bryan says:

      You can edit the properties in web by running the report, right clicking the widget, and going to it’s properties there. Once you’ve set it how you like, save the report and those will become the new defaults when that report is run on the iPad.

    • Thanks Bryan for your reply,
      I am doing as per you guided , but the widget icon is not appearing in the properties and formatting dialog box under the widget link.

      when i work on other widgets like map one , the icon appears there and i can change map properties.

    • Bryan says:

      It depends on whether the widget has properties available. It sounds like that one may not, and it just is what it is.

  9. I have added a screenshot in microstrategy forum.

  10. I would do a predictive analysis of the coming year. Eg we are in 2012 and I want the data points to rappport predictive 2013. How can I do to get there?

  11. Also, Also, I would like to compare the current year with the previous year. And that changing year, I always current year and the previous year. Eg I select I get 2012 and 2011 and 2012. I select or 2011, and I get 2010 and 2011. How can I get there?

  12. Richa Bansal says:

    Hello Bryan,

    We have three attributes as check boxes and the user can have multiple selections.
    We had space constraint(as there were many selections) so we had two panels, one for choosing the selections of check boxes and other to display the fetched data according to the selections made(a spoof to appear it like a pop up).
    Now the requirement is that we need to display the selections made by the user.
    Am I clear with my question?
    Is this possible?
    Also, is it possible that the selections are not displayed on the dashboard but only when that panel gets printed.
    Help needed.


    • Bryan says:

      If you don’t have space to show the selector, then where will you have space to show the selected elements? You could create a text box with {Attribute@DESC} in it, put it in it’s own small panel and target it with the Attribute selector, but you’ll end up with the same amount of text as just having the checkboxes to begin with (if all 3 are chosen).

      There’s no way out of the box to print the selections without displaying them on the dashboard, unless you want to go very crazy. You could conceivably do something like this, which would execute in web and hide a text box, but not execute in a PDF (how MicroStrategy prints), hence only displaying it on the export.

  13. Hello Bryan,

    Thank you for your support for whole MicroStrategy community.

    Here is my issue…
    I have a command manager procedure to trigger subscription to execute the incremental cube report. In normal scenario it executes as expected…

    Now I intentionally deactivated the cube and executed the CM procedure. Procedure says successfully triggered the subscription, that’s correct. But incremental report failed to execute as the cube is deactivated.

    How can I catch the error and stop the procedure to trigger other subscriptions.


    • Bryan says:

      You can’t, and honestly it’s a big problem in my opinion. Command Manager is just a broadcaster, so the “success” you see just means that CM successfully sent it’s request. It doesn’t have any capability to get a response or status back. That’s where the new tool System Manager comes into play, though honestly I don’t see why that wasn’t just a CM enhancement. Also, I believe System Manager can’t actually do this either for the same reason CM can’t. Good times.

    • Yes, you are correct. Even system manager does not catch the exception. I raised a ticket with support team.
      They are saying that “Command Manager and System Manager have no way of interacting with the subscription or the cube itself to know whether or not cube has been updated. Therefore there is no way to catch the exception when the cube is deactivated in the I-Server.”

      The ticket is still open and they will be considering for future enhancement.


  14. kusi says:

    hii bryan,

    Custom Groups and Consolidations are in which clause they appears?

    Regards raju

    • Bryan says:

      Consolidations are in the select and where (limiting by the elements in the consolidation). Custom Groups are in the select and group by.

  15. Hello Brian,

    I would like my mstr ipad dashboard login page to remember the last login details. How can I enable this?


  16. Hi,

    I want to include Prompts on Dashboard. I saw there is one plugin called IncludingPromptOnReport. Same feature I want to apply on dashboard. I have tried steps involved in IncludingPromptOnReport plugin for dashboard but not able to achieve this.

    Please let me know how to achieve this.

    Shyam Agrawal.

  17. ramakrishna says:

    Hi Brian,
    I want know the install the microstrategy in xp operating system.
    Few days back i tried to microstrategy in xp os i didn’t set the IIS features.
    Please tell me the steps.

    Thanks & Regards,

    • Bryan says:

      That’s not a MicroStrategy question, just a general Windows question. You have to install IIS for Web to work, so just go into Control Panel and Add/Remove Programs to install it. (Google for specifics)

  18. Proficient says:

    Hi Brayn,
    This is vikram, i’m new into the microstrategy environment.I want to know about Dynamic Sourcing concept and what is the main use while in Intellignet cube.


  19. Hi Bryan,

    I’m fairly new to MSTR and our shop will not be using a data warehouse. I am struggling with building attributes and facts in the Architect tool by tapping directly into the db tables. I can’t wrap my head around how to tell Architect how the physical tables are related to each other and by what keys. Do you have any suggestions or other resources you can point me to?


    • Bryan says:

      The list in this post is the most comprehensive I know of. From here, you could get a PEP ( and take the Architecture classes (among others) to get more training. There is a difference though between a database that is optimized for writing (OLTP) and one optimized for reading (OLAP). While I’m a proponent of not doing things because you’re supposed to do them and instead do what works for your environment, you may have a bad time if what works for your environment really is to build a more structured data warehouse and you’re skipping that step because it’s not deemed to be worth it by someone else. Do what’s best for your MicroStrategy project and build the structures you need. The point of all of this is to get data out, not put data in.

  20. ikay says:

    Many Thanks Brian,

    This has been an immense help to me. Just a quick question. Are the free resources enough for one to pass the MCD exams? I am fairly new to Business Intelligence in general.

  21. Hi Bryan,

    I am using MicroStrategy 9.3.1. After we create a project we can drag and drop all the dimension fields as attributes, and Fact fields as Fact measures. When we try to drag and drop filed from meta data layer to create report,we can’t drag the fact measures to the report (Fact columns & measures are not display). Could you please clarify this issue and reasons for that?

    Thanks & Regards,

  22. Raghu says:

    Hi Bryan,

    Wanted to ask if there is a way to put a MSTR 9.4.1 project into MSTR 9.2.1.
    We got delayed with getting access to Client MSTR, and were working on 9.4.1 version we had.

    Client has 9.2.1 and it seems project duplication, Object manager export do not work to migrate the project from 9.4.1 to 9.2.1 I have also tried repointing the metadata DB, but 9.2.1 simply does not read the project! If there is way we to make this work, we will save 25 days of effort. Please suggest.


  23. Guru says:

    Hi Bryan,

    I am configuring the Health Center for MicroStrategy Web server, am not sure which path and what is the syntax for the path to be mention in “Application Server Configuration Path”

    Please note our i server and web server not in same box, so how to give the path for the same.

    Kindly help me on this, please let me know you require any other information


  24. sri says:

    Hi Bryan,
    when i’m trying to create empty metadata shells for our new project source in configuration wizard,in the end it throwing some execution failed error.

    i connected MSTR through RDC
    both mstr and sql server r different servers

    MSTR – 9.2.1m different server machine Windows 2003 32 bit
    DB -sql server 2012 SP1 X64

    Execute Query failed.
    Error type: Odbc error. Odbc operation attempted: SQLExecDirect. [42000:102: on SQLHANDLE] [Microsoft][ODBC SQL Server Driver][SQL Server]Incorrect syntax near ‘@ERRNO’.

    • bryan says:

      I’d suggest contacting Technical Support so that they can diagnose it for you. One guess off the top of my head though is that you are using a version of SQL Server below what’s supported (I think it requires Enterprise Edition, and maybe you have Standard Edition or something). That happened to me once.

  25. Juan says:

    Hi, i am a begginer…

    I am working with microstrategy ver 9.4.1

    I have installed the product, activated and my intelligence server ir running.

    I have created a project and my project has a database instance.

    I want to create schema objects like attributes or facts, but the option is disabled. I can’t do anything related with schema, also ‘warhouse catalog’ is disabled.

    Any advice will be greatly apreciatted

  26. vasan says:

    Report created with filter X and in that report I put metric which is conditional with filter X only. After execution which filter will activate first…..

  27. Mukush says:

    what difficulty do you face when reports are created in microstrategy

  28. Mukush says:

    what difficulty do you face when reports are created in microstrategy and who to solve those issue please replay for this query


  29. Sam says:

    Hi Bryan
    Your website really made day
    I am a graduate i got a Internship with a company
    but i want to do some self studies
    And want an external mentor.

    can you help me or hook me up with someone

  30. pradeep says:

    Missing common values in resultant WebReportData:

    Hi Bryan,

    I wrote code to execute prompted report. Finally i got result in form of WebReportData object and then by iterating webReportData am coping rows to ExcelSheet using POI api. But my problem here is , some common values missing in rows when iam iterating over webReportData.

    Sample Code: WebReportData results = instance.getResults();
    WebReportGrid reportGrid = results.getWebReportGrid();

    WebGridRows gridRows=reportGrid.getGridRows();

    for (int i=0;i<gridRows.size();i++) {
    HSSFRow rw = worksheet.createRow((short) (i+1));
    WebRow row=gridRows.get(i);
    WebHeaders rowHeaders=row.getHeaderElements();
    for (int k=0;k<rowHeaders.size();k++) {
    WebHeader header=rowHeaders.get(k);

    For ex report has below 3 rows:

    Id name address

    101 A X

    101 B Y

    101 C Z

    Here id is common for 3 rows then reportGrid.getGridRows() giving data like below

    Id name address

    101 A X

    B Y

    C Z

    How to solve this problem?Please help me on this.If possible provide some sample code.


    Pradeep A.

  31. vishnu says:

    i am unable to see the videos in microstrategy online learning it is asking for corporate e-mail.what to do can you help

  32. Jennifer says:

    Hi Bryan,

    We have a project that the author on the reports is ‘Administrator’. No matter what settings we change we don’t seem to be able to give certain users write access to the reports in this project. They can save as, but cannot save as the same name. Any ideas on what to check?

  33. Dileep says:

    I Installed command manager in my windows2012 server while iam clicking the exe its not opening up can you please advice

  34. raju says:

    Can you please tell me what are all the differences between 9.4.1 and 10 version microstrategy?

  35. Pooja Gupta says:

    i am new to microstategy and wanted to know, suppose if we download microstrategy tool, then from where do we bring the database to connect if we are just in the learning phase?

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