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A cool new feature that is offered by Analysis for Office versions 2.4 and above is the ‘Combine’ functionality. You use several data sources in a workbook and any action performed on a dimension affects the same dimension in other data sources in the same way. It allows you to stick/link two crosstabs together so that they look and behave as one single crosstab.
On performing ‘Combine’, the crosstab from which you trigger the grouping is defined as master and the other one is servant crosstab.

Two functionalities that include Combine are:
1. Link/ Synchronize dimension member
2. Group Crosstabs

Link Dimension

The linked dimensions behave simultaneously, especially with regards to filters, hierarchy navigation and drilldown.
Let us take up a scenario where a dimension “Region” is merged between two data sources.

For example, you want to have the above dimension to be filtered by the same member (Region) or have the same hierarchy drill operation.
Procedure:
Select a dimension in the crosstab.
• Choose Combine –> Link Dimension –> Region

• Filter Region on R_01

• The result of linking dimension looks like below

On the Analysis tab in the design panel, you can recognize linked dimensions by an icon that is displayed next to the dimension name.

Group Dimensions

Grouping allows sharing axis from one master crosstab to several dependent crosstabs. Crosstabs will be rendered next to each other, having only one dimension block as below.

This is achieved by following,
Choose Combine –> Group Crosstab –> <Crosstab 3>

Once done,
Grouped cross-tabs use master attributes to drive grouped cross-tabs which is “Region” in the above scenario.

Conclusion:

The major difference between linking and grouping is that grouping will have only one dimension block, whereas this is not the case for linking. In linking process, the slave cross tab will be moved adjacent to the master crosstab.

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