Generic Keys is a way to define keys between tables in a more general way so that their values can represent other things than individual key values; they can represent groups of key values or any key value. As an example, you can combine product IDs, product group IDs and a symbol for all products into one key field.
You can use generic keys to solve many data modeling problems:
- Authorization table with OR-logic between fields
If you have an authorization table you sometimes want to have a slightly more complex access restriction than a simple logical AND between fields. It could be e.g., that a user is allowed to see sales for all regions for a specific product and at the same time the European sales for all products. Generic keys can be used here.
- Mixed dimensional granularity in a single fact table
Often you want to compare actual numbers with budget numbers. The standard method is to concatenate these two tables into one common fact table. However, this new fact table could have mixed granularity in many of the dimensions. Generic keys can be used here.
- Multiple fact tables linked using a master link table
Sometimes you have fact tables that are so different that you don’t want to concatenate them. To solve this problem you can make a data model that has a central link table and uses generic keys.
See more in the attached files.
PS I have been asked to make an example on comparing budget and actual numbers, so here it comes as a second attachment. It is a zip file with a mock-up order database with a budget. Create a new empty qvw; expand the zipped files in the same folder as the qvw; insert one of the two included script files into the qvw and run the script.