Found a possible bug in MDS

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UPDATE : Upvote the connect task

UPDATE : Tested on SQL 2016 CTP3.1

Today, working on Master Data Services 2014 (MDS) at a client, I ran into some strange behavior from both the MDS website and the MDS Excel Add-In.

For some reason there is a limit to the length on attributes in an entity, in my opinion there should not be limitations on the attribute length, as it should be up to the users to decide.

We had created an Entity called KPI, with three different attributes, each with the length of 500 characters.

  • Actual
  • Target
  • Status

And as you can imagine, we quickly hit the length limit on the attribute.

Well, let us just change the length on that attribute, should be easy as scratching the elbow, one would think!! But no, this is no trivial task, let me show you what happened.

First let us try by the web interface:

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Find the attribute in the entity, mark it, and click the Pencil and we are ready to change the length of that attribute.

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But wait, the length is GRAYED OUT, meaning that we cannot change the length, for some reason not clear to me???

Another way?

Yes, there are another way to change the length of an attribute, and that is through the Excel Add-in for MDS, let us have a look at it.

Connect to your MDS from Excel, and in my case, it looked like this.

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Now mark the attribute we want to change the length on, and click the Attribute Properties

Change the length and hit OK.

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Now, what happens is the following, the ADD-in will change your 4000 to 1000 and submit that change to MDS, resulting in a max length of the attribute of 1000 characters, but I just wanted it to be 4000, so what is wrong?

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Enter The Twilight Zone

And now the really strange part is starting to show! I then came up with the idea to create a brand new attribute with a length of 4000 characters, and that is possible, BUT only through the web interface. So that was what I ended up doing.

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Now that attribute should be showing in Excel with a max length of 4000? Or should it?

We have no idea of knowing, because nothing happens if you click the Attribute Properties, so what is the correct behavior here?

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Conclusion:

Something is not right here, there are some inconsistency in the way MDS behaves in regard to attribute management.

  • Changes to an attributes length is not supported in web interface
  • Changes to an attributes length is supported in Excel Add-In
  • Changes to an attributes length is limited to max 1000 in Excel Add-in
  • New attributes support a length of max 4000 in web interface
  • New attributes support a length of max 1000 in Excel Add-in
  • It is not at all possible to change an attributes length once it is set to 4000

I have not yet tried this scenario on SQL Server 2016 MDS, but I hope that it has changed.

Tested on SQL 2016 CTP3.1

The issue is the same on SQL server 2016 CTP3.1, well almost!

  • Changes to an attributes length is not supported in web interface
  • Changes to an attributes length is supported in Excel Add-In
  • Changes to an attributes length is limited to max 1000 in Excel Add-in
  • New attributes support a length of max 4000 in web interface
  • New attributes support a length of max 1000 in Excel Add-in
  • It is not at all possible to change an attributes length once it is set to 4000
    • Can be changed in web interface, but not in Excel Add-In

Leave a Reply

4 comments

  1. regbac says:

    The MDM web interface does not allow you to modify an attributes type and length. However, the Master Data add-in for Excel does allow you to modify them, so your best solution as you found out is to use that. Free-form attribute max length is depending on the data type you are using there. For more info about it in MDS fro SQL Server 2014 : https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee633745(v=sql.120).aspx

    • Hi Regbac,

      I know, the strange thing is that the Excel Add-in only allows you to change the length of a freeform attribute to a max of 1000 characters, even though you can create a new attribute of a max length of 4000 characters in the MDM web interface.

      As I stated, it seems like there is no consistency.

  2. guldmann says:

    i think we implemented this as a quick fix in redmond back in v2008 .. to avoid overflow.. I cannot believe its not been fixed yet 🙁

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