Implementing Fact-to-Dimension Mapping on Lakehouse using Synapse Mapping Data Flow

By:   |   Updated: 2022-05-19   |   Comments   |   Related: > Azure Synapse Analytics


This tip is part of the series of posts, dedicated to the building of end-to-end Lakehouse solutions leveraging Azure Synapse Analytics. In the previous post (see Implementing Facts on Lakehouse using Synapse Mapping Data Flow-part1, Implementing Facts on Lakehouse using Synapse Mapping Data Flow-part2), we've explored the implementation of incremental data upload for the fact tables. In this tip, we'll discuss another common fact processing task: fact-to-dimension mapping.


On a typical transactional database, the fact-to-dimension relationship is based on the natural keys. However, for analytical data warehouses, it's recommended to base this relationship on surrogate keys. Surrogate key usage on dimensions allows for preserving historical changes to them. This means the relationship between facts and dimensions needs to be based on surrogate keys.

Data model

Let me illustrate this with an example taken from the Adventure Works database that we have been using throughout this series. This database is transactional, and as you can see from the following diagram, the relationship between SalesOrderHeader and Customer tables is based on the CustomerID key, which is a natural key:

data model

Figure 1

This relationship needs to be transitioned into the following surrogate key-based relationship when moving to the data warehouse:

data model

Figure 2

Notice that CustomerKey is the surrogate key for the Customer table.

The ETL pipeline design

The data flow we're going to build needs to have a logic to replace natural keys with surrogate keys. In addition, it needs to handle empty values for the natural key column, by assigning them a surrogate key for an unknown dimension member.

Here are a few more details regarding the flow we're going to cover here:

INSERT INTO DimDate (DateID,Date,Year,Quarter,Month,Day) VALUES (19000101,'1900-01-01',1900,1,1,1)
  • Finally, you'll also need to build the relevant pipelines to fetch SalesOrderHeader data from Azure SQL DB up to the Silver layer (see my previous posts in this series).

Let's create a new data flow and name it DataflowSilverGold_SalesOrderHeader. Next, add a source transformation of Delta format and point it to the delta/silver/SalesOrderHeader folder, as follows:

create a new data flow

Figure 3

We'll need to schematize this data source, so navigate to the Projection tab and click the Import schema button to fetch the table schema, as follows:

schematize this data source

Figure 4

Next, add a Derived column transformation with the following expressions:

Column Expression
CustomerID iifNull(CustomerID, -1,CustomerID)
OrderDate iifNull(OrderDate, toDate('1900-01-01','yyyy-MM-dd'), OrderDate)

These calculated columns convert empty natural keys to their corresponding unknown-member surrogate keys. Here's the required screenshot:

calculated columns convert empty natural keys

Figure 5

Next, add a source transformation to read the DimCustomer Delta table and name it DimCustomerGold, as follows:

source transformation to read the DimCustomer Delta table 

Figure 6

Switch to the Projection tab and import the schema for this data source.

Now, because the DimCustomer table is a type 2 SCD dimension, we need to read only the active version of each dimension. So, let's add a Filter transformation with the following condition:


Here's the related screenshot:

add a Filter transformation

Figure 7

Now we can join these two streams using a Lookup transformation, as follows:

join these two streams using a Lookup transformation

Figure 8

Notice that I've selected a natural key for the lookup join.

Next, let's add a source for the DimDate table, and name it DimTimeGold, as follows:

add a source for the DimDate table

Figure 9

Switch to the Projection tab and import the schema for this data source as well.

The Date field in the DimDate table comes with the date data type, but because my calculated column from ConvertEmptyKeys transformation is of timestamp type, I've added an extra type conversion component. Add Derived columntransformationafter the DimTimeGold, name it ConvertDate and include the following expression:

Column Expression
Date toTimestamp(toString(Date, 'yyyy-MM-dd'),'yyyy-MM-dd')

Here's the screenshot:

add an extra type conversion component

Figure 10

Now we can link the fact and time dimension, using the previously used method-so, add a lookup transformation at the end of the main data stream with the following settings:

 link the fact and time dimension

Figure 11

Now it's time to refine our column list- let's add Select transformation, keep all the fields from the SalesOrderHeadertable, except natural keys CustomerID and OrderDate. Also include surrogate keys from the relevant dimensions, as follows:

add Select transformation

Figure 12

Now that we have core components in place, let's turn on Debug mode and validate the results:

turn on Debug mode

Figure 13

Finally, let's add Alter row transformation, as our data flow is expected to have an upsert logic. Here's a screenshot with the relevant settings:

 add Alter row transformation

Figure 14

As always, we'll conclude the data flow by adding the Delta Sink transformation, pointing to the delta/gold/FactSalesOrderHeader folder. Here are the required settings:

add the Delta Sink transformation

Figure 15

This concludes the data flow's design. Here's the end-to-end data flow design:

end-to-end data flow design

Figure 16

Next Steps

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About the author
MSSQLTips author Fikrat Azizov Fikrat Azizov has been working with SQL Server since 2002 and has earned two MCSE certifications. Hes currently working as a Solutions Architect at Slalom Canada.

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Article Last Updated: 2022-05-19

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