9.6. Data Blending: Calculated Fields & Dealing with Nulls
When working with calculated fields in blended data sources, handling null values is essential. In some cases, null values might indicate an issue with the incoming dataset that needs to be fixed. However, if you know that null values are expected and represent a specific meaning, such as zero sales, you can use functions like IFNULL, NULLIF, or COALESCE to replace null values with a default value.
Handling Nulls in Calculated Fields
- Understand the reason for nulls: Before attempting to replace nulls, make sure you understand why they are present in your data. They might indicate a data gap or an issue with the incoming data that needs to be fixed.
- Use IFNULL, NULLIF, or COALESCE functions: These functions can be used to replace null values with a default value. For example, you can use IFNULL to replace a null sales value with zero, allowing you to calculate the sales conversion rate accurately.
- Be mindful of potential issues: Replacing null values with default values can cause problems in your calculations if not handled correctly. For instance, if you replace a null value with zero and use it as a divisor, you might encounter division by zero errors.
- Choose an appropriate default value: Depending on the use case and the type of data you are working with, you might want to replace null values with different default values. For example, you can replace null text values with "Not Set" or null numerical values with zero or one, depending on the context.
Remember, always investigate the cause of null values before attempting to replace them with default values. Ensuring the accuracy and integrity of your data is critical for reliable calculations and reporting.
Benefits of Calculated Fields at the Data Source Level
Creating calculated fields at the data source level, particularly within blended data sources, has two main benefits:
- Accessibility: When sharing a report with a team member who only has view access to the data source but can edit the report, they might not be able to create calculated fields at the data source level. However, if a blended data source is created within the report, they have ownership of that blended data source and can create calculated fields within it.
- Joint Key Formatting: Sometimes, joint keys might not match due to differences in formatting, case sensitivity, or other issues. Creating calculated fields at the blended data source level allows you to modify and process joint keys to ensure they match and function correctly in the blending process.
These benefits make it easier for team members to collaborate on reports and help ensure that data blending works correctly, even when dealing with joint keys that require special formatting or processing.