Creating and Using a SQL Calculated Column

This topic outlines the purpose and uses of the Calculation column type that can be added to tables using the Data Warehouse Manager. Below is an explanation of what SQL calculations do, why they are used, the process for creating a SQL calculation, and two examples.


In the past, columns that were deemed advanced could only be done by an analyst on the Customer Success team here at Magento BI. Now all the power is in the hands of the end user, and advanced columns can be created in the form of SQL Calculation columns on the new Magento BI architecture.

The Calculation column type, now available as an option in the Data Warehouse Manager, is a same table operation that allows you to transform the columns on a table using PostgreSQL logic. Documentation on the functions and operators that can be used in the Calculation column type can be found on the PostgreSQL website here.

The different columns that can be created with the Calculation column are almost unlimited, but most columns can be created using IF-THEN statements and basic arithmetic, which will be used in the examples below.

Example 1: Is customer’s last order?

Most accounts have a column called Is customer's last order? on their Orders table in order to perform analyses on repeat purchase rates and churned customers. If your account is on the new architecture, this column is built using a Calculation column and can be seen in the screenshot below:


The Is customer's last order? column uses the inputs Customer's lifetime number of orders and Customer's order number aliased as A and B respectively.

Line by line, the meaning of the PostgreSQL is:

  • case : This starts a series of If – Then statements
  • when A is null or B is null then null : If either input is empty, then the output should also be empty. This is to prevent SQL errors
  • when A=B then 'Yes' : If Customer's lifetime number of orders equals Customer's order number for this row, then return Yes. So if a customer has placed 4 orders, the row for their 4th order would return Yes for Is customer's last order?
  • else 'No' : If none of the other when statements are met, return No
  • end : This ends the If – Then statements

The possible values that can be returned by this column (NULL, Yes, No) contain non number characters, so the data type here is String.

Example 2: Order item total value (quantity * price)

Many of our clients like to analyze revenue at the item level, slicing it by fields like product name or category. Most databases do not actually give you the revenue from a product in an order; instead they provide the quantity sold in the order, and the price of the item.

To enable product revenue analyses, most accounts have a column called Order item total value (quantity * price) on their Orders Items table. If your account is on the new architecture, this column is also built using a Calculation column and can be seen in the screenshot below:


In the Magento schema, the Order item total value (quantity * price) column uses the inputs qty_ordered and base_price aliased as A and B respectively.

The values that will be returned by this new column will be a dollars and cents, so the correct data type is Decimal(10,2).


A new Calculation column can be added to a table by navigating to Manage Data > Data Warehouse as shown below:

From here you can create a new Calculation column by following the steps below:

  1. Select the table upon which you would like to add the Calculation column
  2. While on the correct table, click the green Create New Column button at the top right of the screen
  3. From the Select a definition dropdown, select Same Table
  4. Select Calculation as the column definition equation
  5. Enter the column name
  6. Choose the input columns from the table that will be used in the logic for your new column. Each column you add will get a letter alias, so the first column will be A, the second will be B and so on
  7. In the window, type the PostgreSQL logic for your new column using the letter aliases of your inputs. The SQL calculation should be limited to a single column definition, including all logic between the SELECT and FROM statements of a SQL query. Note that SQL keywords using any of the input letters should be in lowercase. For example, when using the CASE statement, it should be written in lowercase - case. The system assumes that an uppercase A refers to one of the inputs.
  8. Choose the appropriate datatype
    • Integer – Whole number
    • Decimal(10,2) - a decimal number with 10 total digits, of which 2 are to the right of the decimal point
    • String – Any type of text or series of characters that uses non numbers
    • Datetime – yyyy-MM-dd hh:mm:ss format
  9. Click the test column button. This will generate a list of 5 test values for each of your inputs, and show the result of the logic from step 6 for each set of test values. If any portion of the SQL generates an error, the appropriate error message will be returned. Note that sample results can only be generated if all input columns are native fields. If any of the input columns are calculated columns, you will need to validate the results by adding the column to a metric and viewing in the Visual Report Builder
  10. When you are satisfied with the results of step 8, click Save, and your column will be available for use.