There are a number of advantages to the adoption of time ranges.
- They remove sparsity in a model. Time ranges allow you to specify the range of periods applicable to a module/line item. Data in time periods that don’t apply to a line item are not stored on disk or held in memory. The calculation engine can ignore any empty cells, and it is not necessary to perform aggregations in time or in other dimensions.
- They reduce workarounds. It’s often impractical to expand the model calendar to handle all time periods that may be required. In this case the model builder may employ custom time lists to handle the differing ranges of periods which can have undesirable consequences.
- They enable more accessible views. For example, a model calendar may begin in FY18, but in one module, data only appears from FY20. Any view of this module (with time in columns) will have empty cells for FY18 and FY19. The consequence of this is that users must scroll through the cells or manually hide columns or rows to locate any data.
- They give independent, finer-grained control of the available aggregations. Currently, if you enable Quarter totals for the model calendar, they are calculated for all line items that vary by time, and appear in all module views.
- They provide a greater range of time periods. The window for the current model calendar (in 2018) is limited to 81 years; FY1992 to FY2073 (2012 - 20 years to 2022 + 50 years). The maximum range in any one model is 71 years (Current Fiscal Year - 20 + 50 years). The maximum extent for a time range is 98 years; FY1981 to FY2078.
- You can create as many overlapping time ranges as required. Each time range allows independent aggregation of the line items within the span of the time range.
- Additionally, time ranges are supported by Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) to enable you to synchronize your data across environments.
For example, this module has four line items using different time ranges:
Time ranges have some limitations, they:
- can only use units of whole years;
- do not support the Weeks: General calendar type;
- do not vary by version, or by any other list;
- cannot be marked as production data (ALM); and
- have a fixed span, for example, they do not update with the Current Period.