Monday, January 15, 2018

When uncompressing data, make sure to use the correct function



SQL Server has offered data compression for a while now, you could either use PAGE compression or ROW compression, you had no ability so specify which columns.  That changed in SQL Server 2016

SQL Server 2016 added the ability to compress data yourself by using the COMPRESS function. The COMPRESS function compresses the input expression using the GZIP algorithm. The result of the compression is byte array of type varbinary(max).


Let's take a quick look at how this function works

We will create a table, insert one row and then update the SomeOtherColumn value by using the COMPRESS function on the SomeColumn column

CREATE TABLE test (Somecolumn varchar(200), SomeOtherColumn varbinary(max))
go
INSERT test VALUES ('aaaaaaaaaaaaa', null)


UPDATE test
SET SomeOtherColumn = COMPRESS(Somecolumn)
go

SELECT Somecolumn,SomeOtherColumn 
FROM test

Here is what the output looks like


What if if told you now to create a new table by uncompressing the data via a SELECT INTO query followed by dropping the old table

No problem, if there is a COMPRESS function then surely there must be an UNCOMPRESS function... right?  Let's find out......


SELECT Somecolumn,CAST( UNCOMPRESS(SomeOtherColumn) AS varchar(max))  AS SomeOtherColumn
INTO SomeNewTable
FROM test

DROP TABLE test

SELECT *
FROM SomeNewTable


Wrong, while the UNCOMPRESS function exists, it is not the correct function

Hopefully you ran a test before just dropping a table after doing select into

The correct function is DECOMPRESS

Here is what it all looks like

SELECT Somecolumn,SomeOtherColumn,
 CAST( DECOMPRESS(SomeOtherColumn) AS varchar(max)) AS CastedDecompressed,
 DECOMPRESS(SomeOtherColumn) as Decompressed FROM test

 SELECT Somecolumn,SomeOtherColumn, 
CAST( UNCOMPRESS(SomeOtherColumn) AS varchar(max)) AS CastedUncompressed,
 UNCOMPRESS(SomeOtherColumn) as Uncompressed FROM test

This is the output



As you can see the UNCOMPRESS function returns a bunch of nonsense while the DECOMPRESS function works as expected

So the question is really wth is the uncompress function?


Friday, December 29, 2017

The 15 most popular posts in 2017


Another year is almost over. As the last post of this year I decided to share with you the 15 most popular posts in 2017. I just used Google Analytics to grab this info, I excluded the home page from the top 15.  Some of these post are so old, we didn't even have windowing functions in SQL Server when these were written.,....

Here they are in order of popularity

01. Ten SQL Server Functions That You Hardly Use But Should
A post from 2007 showing some hardly used functions like NULLIF, PARSENAME and STUFF

02. Five Ways To Return Values From Stored Procedures
A very old post that shows you five ways to return values from a stored proc

03. Your lack of constraints is disturbing
A post showing the type of constraints available in SQL Server with examples

04.  Use T-SQL to create caveman graphs
One of the shortest post on this site, show you how you can make visually appealing output with a pipe symbol

05. Convert Millisecond To "hh:mm:ss" Format
A very old post showing you how to convert from milliseconds to "hh:mm:ss" format

06. T-SQL Tuesday #92, Lessons learned the hard way
Some of my mistakes put together in 1 post

07. SQL Server 2017: SQL Graph
Me messing around with the Graph functionality in SQL Server 2017

08. Query Analyzer Trick
A very old post explaining how you can drag the columns into the query window from object explorer. I think by now everyone knows this one right?

09. ISO-11179 Naming Conventions
A very old post linking to the ISO-11179 Naming Conventions document

10. Not sure that I like the message from Online Resumable Index Rebuild in SQL Server 2017
After playing qround with resumable index rebuilds I think the kill state and severe error occurred is a little over the top

11. Some cool SQL Server announcements SQL Graph, Adaptive Query Plan, CTP1 of SQL vNext, SQL Injection detection
This is my recap of the chalkboard session with the SQL Server team at the SQL Server PASS summit in Seattle.

12.  Five great SQL Server GitHub repos that every SQL Server person should check out
What the titles says, 5 GitHub repos you need to use

13. Chaos Isolation Level In SQL Server
This is linked from  dba.stackexchange.com, it is kind of interesting because it was a silly post I made

14. T-SQL Tuesday #86: String or binary data would be truncated
A pet peeve of many people

15. Microsoft releases SQL Server Horizontica, a Vertica killer
Probably the best version of SQL Server ever created, was only available for download for 24 hours.


That is all for this year... see you in 2018...  the year of Linux on the desktop, DevOps, Ethereum, AR/VR, bendable phones and much more......

Out of focus Christmas tree,

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Use T-SQL to create caveman graphs



I found this technique on Rich Benner's SQL Server Blog: Visualising the Marvel Cinematic Universe in T-SQL and decided to play around with it after someone asked me to give him the sizes of all databases on a development instance of SQL Server

The way it works is that you take the size of the database and then divide that number against the total size of all databases. You then use the replicate function with the | (pipe) character to generate the 'graph'  so 8% will look like this ||||||||

You can use this for tables with most rows, a count per state etc etc. By looking at the output the graph column adds a nice visual effect to it IMHO


Here is what the final query looks like


SELECT 
       database_name = DB_NAME(database_id) 
     , total_size_GB = CAST(SUM(size) * 8. / 1024/1024 AS DECIMAL(30,2))
  , percent_size = (CONVERT(decimal(30,4),(SUM(size) /
     (SELECT SUM(CONVERT(decimal(30,4),size))  
     FROM sys.master_files WITH(NOWAIT)))) *100.00)
  , graph = replicate('|',((convert(decimal(30,2),(SUM(size) / 
    (SELECT SUM(CONVERT(decimal(30,2),size))  
     FROM sys.master_files WITH(NOWAIT)))) *100)))
FROM sys.master_files WITH(NOWAIT)
GROUP BY database_id
ORDER BY 3 DESC

And here is the output (I blanked out the DB name in the output below), there are 48 databases, 15 of them show a bar, the rest don't because they use less than 0.5% of space.


Do you see how you can quickly tell visually that the top DB is about twice as large as the next DB? 

Those guys in Lascaux would have been so proud, only if they could see this  :-)



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

How to update 2 tables with 1 statement in SQL Server..the hard way....



Every now and then you will get someone asking how to update two tables with one statement in SQL Server. The answer is usually, no that is not possible... the person then walks away muttering something about how MySQL allows it.

So I decided to try to see if I could update two tables with one statement. I decided to try a couple of different things


  • view
  • common table expression
  • indexed view
  • instead of trigger

In order to begin we need two tables, each table will have one row of data so we can update those rows

CREATE TABLE test1(id int primary key, someVal char(1) not null)
CREATE TABLE test2(id int primary key, someVal char(1) not null)

INSERT test1 VALUES(1,'a')
INSERT test2 VALUES(1,'a')
Go

Now we can start with plan A... the mighty view

CREATE VIEW Testview1
AS
SELECT t1.*,t2.SomeVal as SomeVal2
FROM test1 t1
JOIN test2 t2 on t1.id = t2.id

Running a simple select against the view

SELECT * FROM testview1

id someVal SomeVal2
1 a         a

Time to update the view

UPDATE testview1 SET SomeVal = 'b', SomeVal2 = 'b'
WHERE id = 1


Msg 4405, Level 16, State 1, Line 1
View or function 'testview1' is not updatable because the modification affects multiple base tables.

As you can see that didn't work since even though you are updating one view, you are still trying to update two tables.

Time to implement plan B... the versatile common table expression

Since you can update a common table expression, can you update a common table expression if it updates more than one table?  Let's try it out

;WITH cte AS (SELECT t1.*,t2.SomeVal as SomeVal2
FROM test1 t1
JOIN test2 t2 on t1.id = t2.id)

UPDATE cte SET SomeVal = 'b', SomeVal2 = 'b'
WHERE id = 1

Msg 4405, Level 16, State 1, Line 1
View or function 'cte' is not updatable because the modification affects multiple base tables.

So plan B ended like plan A... also pretty much the same error message


Plan C.... the mighty indexed view.

If you ever tried working with indexed views you are probably busy cursing at the moment.
Let's create this view and add an index

CREATE VIEW testviewIndexed 
WITH SCHEMABINDING  
AS  
SELECT t1.id, t1.someVal, t2.SomeVal as SomeVal2
FROM dbo.test1 t1
JOIN dbo.test2 t2 on t1.id = t2.id
GO


CREATE UNIQUE CLUSTERED INDEX IDX_V1   
    ON testviewIndexed (id);  

Fingers crossed....but if the regular view didn't work..why would this?

UPDATE testviewIndexed SET SomeVal = 'b', SomeVal2 = 'b'
WHERE id = 1

Msg 4405, Level 16, State 1, Line 2
View or function 'testviewIndexed' is not updatable because the modification affects multiple base tables.

That is right... plan C is also bad, very bad.

So we are left with one more thing... plan D (as in Denis)....

We will now use an instead of trigger on the regular view from before

CREATE TRIGGER InsteadTrigger on testview1
INSTEAD OF UPDATE
AS
BEGIN

 UPDATE t  SET t.SomeVal = i.SomeVal
 FROM INSERTED i JOIN test1 t on i.id = t.id

 UPDATE t  SET t.SomeVal = i.SomeVal2
 FROM INSERTED i JOIN test2 t on i.id = t.id
END

GO

Let's see what happens now.. fingers crossed

UPDATE testview1 SET SomeVal = 'b', SomeVal2 = 'b'
WHERE id = 1

No error, let's see what is in the table

SELECT * FROM test1
SELECT * FROM test2

id someVal SomeVal2
1 b         b

And as you can see, you can update two tables with one statement.

Should you really go through all this trouble because you don't want to do something like this?

BEGIN TRAN

 UPDATE test1 SET SomeVal = 'c'
 WHERE id = 1

 UPDATE test2 SET SomeVal = 'c'
 WHERE id = 1

COMMIT-- hmm where is the error checking/begin try xact_state()?

Nope I would not go this route,  if the table changes you now need to also update the trigger. What if someone drops the trigger? There are too many ways this can go wrong


Foreign Keys don't always need a primary key

In the post Your lack of constraints is disturbing we touched a little upon foreign key constraints but today we are going to take a closer look at foreign keys. The two things that we are going to cover are the fact that you don't need a primary key in order to define a foreign key relationship, SQL Server by default will not index foreign keys

You don't need a primary key in order to have a foreign key

Most people will define a foreign key relationship between the foreign key and a primary key. You don't have to have a primary key in order to have a foreign key, if you have a unique index or a unique constraint then those can be used as well.

Let's take a look at what that looks like with some code examples


A foreign key with a unique constraint instead of a primary key


First create a table to which we will add a unique constraint after creation

CREATE TABLE TestUniqueConstraint(id int)
GO
Add a unique constraint to the table

ALTER TABLE TestUniqueConstraint ADD CONSTRAINT ix_unique UNIQUE (id)
GO
Insert a value of 1, this should succeed

INSERT  TestUniqueConstraint VALUES(1)
GO

Insert a value of 1 again, this should fail

INSERT  TestUniqueConstraint VALUES(1)
GO

Msg 2627, Level 14, State 1, Line 2
Violation of UNIQUE KEY constraint 'ix_unique'. Cannot insert duplicate key in object 'dbo.TestUniqueConstraint'. The duplicate key value is (1).
The statement has been terminated.



Now that we verified that we can't have duplicates, it is time to create the table that will have the foreign key



CREATE TABLE TestForeignConstraint(id int)
GO
Add the foreign key to the table

ALTER TABLE dbo.TestForeignConstraint ADD CONSTRAINT
 FK_TestForeignConstraint_TestUniqueConstraint FOREIGN KEY 
(id) REFERENCES dbo.TestUniqueConstraint(id) 



Insert a value that exist in the table that is referenced by the foreign key constraint


INSERT TestForeignConstraint  VALUES(1)
INSERT TestForeignConstraint  VALUES(1)

Insert a value that does not exist in the table that is referenced by the foreign key constraint


INSERT TestForeignConstraint  VALUES(2)

Msg 547, Level 16, State 0, Line 1
The INSERT statement conflicted with the FOREIGN KEY constraint "FK_TestForeignConstraint_TestUniqueConstraint". The conflict occurred in database "tempdb", table "dbo.TestUniqueConstraint", column 'id'.

The statement has been terminated.


As you can see, you can't insert the value 2 since it doesn't exist in the TestUniqueConstraint table



A foreign key with a unique index instead of a primary key

This section will be similar to the previous section, the difference is that we will use a unique index instead of a unique constraint
First create a table to which we will add a unique index after creation

CREATE TABLE TestUniqueIndex(id int)
GO

Add the unique index



CREATE UNIQUE NONCLUSTERED INDEX ix_unique ON TestUniqueIndex(id)
GO
Insert a value of 1, this should succeed


INSERT  TestUniqueIndex VALUES(1)
GO
Insert a value of 1 again , this should now fail


INSERT  TestUniqueIndex VALUES(1)
GO

Msg 2601, Level 14, State 1, Line 2
Cannot insert duplicate key row in object 'dbo.TestUniqueIndex' with unique index 'ix_unique'. The duplicate key value is (1).
The statement has been terminated.


Now that we verified that we can't have duplicates, it is time to create the table that will have the foreign key


CREATE TABLE TestForeignIndex(id int)
GO

Add the foreign key constraint

ALTER TABLE dbo.TestForeignIndex ADD CONSTRAINT
 FK_TestForeignIndex_TestUniqueIndex FOREIGN KEY 
 (id) REFERENCES dbo.TestUniqueIndex(id)  




Insert a value that exist in the table that is referenced by the foreign key constraint

INSERT TestForeignIndex  VALUES(1)
INSERT TestForeignIndex  VALUES(1)

Insert a value that does not exist in the table that is referenced by the foreign key constraint


INSERT TestForeignIndex  VALUES(2)


Msg 547, Level 16, State 0, Line 1
The INSERT statement conflicted with the FOREIGN KEY constraint "FK_TestForeignIndex_TestUniqueIndex". The conflict occurred in database "tempdb", table "dbo.TestUniqueIndex", column 'id'.
The statement has been terminated.


That failed because you can't insert the value 2 since it doesn't exist in the TestUniqueIndex table

As you have seen with the code example, you can have a foreign key constraint that will reference a unique index or a unique constraint. The foreign key does not always need to reference a primary key

Foreign keys are not indexed by default

When you create a primary key, SQL Server will by default make that a clustered index. When you create a foreign key, there is no index created

Scroll up to where we added the unique constraint to the TestUniqueConstraint table, you will see this code

ALTER TABLE TestUniqueConstraint ADD CONSTRAINT ix_unique UNIQUE (id)

All we did was add the constraint, SQL Server added the index behind the scenes for us in order to help enforce uniqueness more efficiently

Now run this query below


SELECT OBJECT_NAME(object_id) as TableName,
name as IndexName, 
type_desc as StorageType
FROM sys.indexes
WHERE OBJECT_NAME(object_id) IN('TestUniqueIndex','TestUniqueConstraint')
AND name IS NOT NULL

You will get these results

TableName         IndexName StorageType
---------------------   -----------     --------------
TestUniqueConstraint ix_unique NONCLUSTERED
TestUniqueIndex         ix_unique NONCLUSTERED

As you can see both tables have an index

Now let's look at what the case is for the foreign key tables. Run the query below


SELECT OBJECT_NAME(object_id) as TableName,
name as IndexName, 
type_desc as StorageType
FROM sys.indexes
WHERE OBJECT_NAME(object_id) IN('TestForeignIndex','TestForeignConstraint')

Here are the results for that query

TableName       IndexName StorageType
--------------------- --------- -------------
TestForeignConstraint NULL HEAP
TestForeignIndex NULL HEAP




As you can see no indexes have been added to the tables. Should you add indexes? In order to answer that let's see what would happen if you did add indexes. Joins would perform faster since it can traverse the index instead of the whole table to find the matching join conditions. Updates and deletes will be faster as well since the index can be used to find the foreign keys rows to update or delete (remember this depends if you specified CASCADE or NO ACTION when you create the foreign key constraint)

I wrote about deletes being very slow because the columns were not indexed here: Are your foreign keys indexed? If not, you might have problems
So to answer the question, yes, I think you should index the foreign key columns



Thursday, October 19, 2017

Your lack of constraints is disturbing

It has been a while since I wrote some of my best practices posts. I decided to revisit these posts again to see if anything has changed, I also wanted to see if I could add some additional info.

SQL Server supports the following types of constraints:

NOT NULL
CHECK
UNIQUE
PRIMARY KEY
FOREIGN KEY

Using constraints is preferred to using DML Triggers, rules, and defaults. The query optimizer will also use constraint definitions to build high-performance query execution plans.
When I interview people, I always ask how you can make sure only values between 0 and 9 are allowed in an integer column. I get a range of different answers to this question, here are some of them:
  • Convert to char(1) and make sure it is numeric
  • Write logic in the application that will check for this
  • Use a trigger
  • Create a primary key table with only the values from 0 till 9 then make this column a foreign key in the table you want to check for this
Only 25% of the people will tell you to use something that you can use from within SQL, and only 10% will actually know that this something is called a check constraint, the other ones know that there is something where you can specify some values to be used.


Why do we need constraints at all?

So why do we need constraints? To answer that question, first you have to answer another question: how important is it that the data in your database is correct? I would say that that is most important, after all you can have all the data in the world but if it is wrong it is useless or it might even ending up costing you money. To make sure that you don't get invalid data, you use constraints.

Constraints work at the database level, it doesn't matter if you do the data checking from the app or web front-end, there could be someone modifying the data from SSMS. If you are importing files, constraints will prevent invalid data from making it into the tables.

Constraints don't just have to have a range, constraints can handle complex validations. You can have regular expressions in check constraints as well, check out SQL Server does support regular expressions in check constraints, you don't always need triggers for some examples


Constraints are faster than triggers

The reason that check constraints are preferable over triggers is that they are not as expensive as triggers, you also don't need an update and an insert trigger, one constraint is enough to handle both updates and inserts.


Constraints are making it hard for us to keep our database scripts from blowing up

This is a common complaint, when you script out the databases and the primary and foreign key tables are not in the correct order you will get errors. Luckily the tools these days are much better than they were 10 years ago. If you do it by hand just make sure that it is all in the correct order. Another complaint is that constraints are wasting developers time, they can't just populate the tables at random but have to go in the correct order as well.


Some examples of constraints


First create this table

CREATE TABLE SomeTable(code char(3) NOT NULL)
GO


Now let's say we want to restrict the values that you can insert to only accept characters from a through z, here is what the constraint looks like

ALTER TABLE SomeTable ADD CONSTRAINT ck_bla
CHECK (code LIKE '[a-Z][a-Z][a-Z]' )
GO


If you now run the following insert statement....

INSERT SomeTable VALUES('123')

You get this error message back

Msg 547, Level 16, State 0, Line 1
The INSERT statement conflicted with the CHECK constraint "ck_bla". The conflict occurred in database "tempdb", table "dbo.SomeTable", column 'code'.
The statement has been terminated.


What if you have a tinyint column but you want to make sure that values are less then 100? Easy as well, first create this table

CREATE TABLE SomeTable2(SomeCol tinyint NOT NULL)
GO

Now add this constraint

ALTER TABLE SomeTable2 ADD CONSTRAINT ck_SomeTable2
CHECK (SomeCol < 100 )
GO

Try to insert the value 100

INSERT SomeTable2 VALUES('100')

Msg 547, Level 16, State 0, Line 2
The INSERT statement conflicted with the CHECK constraint "ck_SomeTable2". The conflict occurred in database "tempdb", table "dbo.SomeTable2", column 'SomeCol'.
The statement has been terminated.


Okay, what happens if you try to insert -1?

INSERT SomeTable2 VALUES('-1')

Msg 244, Level 16, State 1, Line 1
The conversion of the varchar value '-1' overflowed an INT1 column. Use a larger integer column.
The statement has been terminated.


As you can see you also get an error, however this is not from the constraint but the error is raised because the tinyint datatype can't be less than 0
Check constraint can also be tied to a user defined function and you can also use regular expressions. Ranges can also be used, for example salary >= 15000 AND salary <= 100000

For a post about foreign key constraints, go here: Foreign Keys don't always need a primary key



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

SQL Server does support regular expressions in check constraints, you don't always need triggers



Someone posted the following question
I need to add table called group with a column called code How do I add a check constraint to the column so it will only allow the following alphabetic characters (D, M, O, P or T) followed by 2 numeric characters.
Someone posted the following answer
You cannot do this out of the box - MS SQL Server does support CHECK CONSTRAINTS - but for things like a maximum or minimum INT value, or a string length or such. What you're looking for would be a CHECK based on a regular expression - and out of the box, SQL Server does not offer that capability. You could theoretically write a .NET assembly, deploy it inside SQL Server, and then use it to enforce the CHECK - not a trivial undertaking.
While SQL server does not support a full implementation of regular expression, you can do what the person asked for without a problem in T-SQL. Here is what the regular expression looks like

[DMOPT][0-9][0-9]

A constraint like that will allow allow the following alphabetic characters (D, M, O, P or T) followed by 2 numeric characters. Enough talking let's look at some code, first create this table

CREATE TABLE blatest(code char(3))

Now add the check constraint


ALTER TABLE blatest ADD  CONSTRAINT ck_bla 
CHECK (code like '[DMOPT][0-9][0-9]' )
GO

Now we can run some tests by inserting some data

INSERT blatest VALUES('a12') --fails
INSERT blatest VALUES('M12')  --good
INSERT blatest VALUES('D12') --good
INSERT blatest VALUES('DA1') --fails

As you can see we got the following message twice

Server: Msg 547, Level 16, State 1, Line 1 The INSERT statement conflicted with the CHECK constraint "ck_bla". The conflict occurred in database "Test", table "dbo.blatest", column 'code'. The statement has been terminated. 

If you want to insert D12 but not d12, in other words you need the constraint to be case sensitive.

You will need to create the constraint like this check (code like '[DMOPT][0-9][0-9]' COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CS_AS ) What we did is used the SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CS_AS collation, to find out what this collation does, run the following


SELECT * FROM ::fn_helpcollations()
WHERE name = 'SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CS_AS'

Here is what is returned as the description

Latin1-General, case-sensitive, accent-sensitive,
kanatype-insensitive, width-insensitive for Unicode Data,
SQL Server Sort Order 51 on Code Page 1252 for non-Unicode Data

Let's create the constraint, first we need to drop the old constraint


ALTER TABLE blatest DROP CONSTRAINt ck_bla
GO
 
Now we will create the new case sensitive constraint

ALTER TABLE blatest ADD CONSTRAINT ck_bla 
CHECK (code LIKE '[DMOPT][0-9][0-9]' COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CS_AS )
GO


INSERT blatest VALUES('D12') --good
INSERT blatest VALUES('d12') --fails


The insert with D12 will succeed but the one with d12 will not.

As you can see you can use regular expressions in check constraints, there is no need to use a trigger in a case like this.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Standardized Naming And Other Conventions

It has been a while since I wrote some of my best practices posts. I decided to revisit these posts again to see if anything has changed, I also wanted to see if I could add some additional info.

Today we are going to look at standardized naming conventions and other conventions that you should standardize as well. Every company needs to have standards that developers need to follow in order to make maintenance easier down the road. There are several things that you can standardize on, here are just a few:

The naming of objects
The layout of code including comments
The way that error handling is done

The naming of objects

I am not a fan of underscores,  we tend to name our objects CamelCased

Stored procedures are usually prefixed with usp_ or pr but never sp_


One tool that ships with SQL Server that you can use is policy management, you can set it so that it checks if procs start with sp_


And here is what happens after the policy is evaluated





Since this is Adam Machanic's proc.. we will let this fly  :-)


Something like this can also be accomplished with DDL triggers, there are many ways to skin the cat, there is no excuse for having all kind of crazy named objects.

I also wrote about naming conventions in the using the ISO-11179 Naming Conventions post


Never use Hungarian notation on column names or variables, I have worked with tables that looked like this

CREATE TABLE tblEmployee(
strFirstName varchar(255),
strLastName varchar(255),
intAge int,
dtmBirthDate datetime
.......
.......
)
If you have intellisense in SSMS, having every table start with tbl is making it pretty useless. Also sometimes the data type of a column will change but of course nobody goes back to rename the column to reflect this because it will break code all over the place



Instead of having something like the following

-- the salary for the employee
declare @decValue decimal(20,2)

It would be better to have something like this

declare @EmployeeSalary decimal(20,2)

Now I don't have to scroll all the way to the top to figure out what is actually stored in this variable, EmployeeSalary pretty much describes what it is and I can also pretty much assume that this will be some amount and not a date

The layout of code including comments

I have worked with code that was all in lowercase and all in uppercase. I have no problem with either but if you at least standardize on one or the other it will be a little easier to jump from your code to someone else's code


You can setup standard templates in SSMS for your organization, you can get to it from the menu bar, View--> Template Explorer or hit CTRL + ALT + T
Now expand the Stored Procedures folder


The basic stored procedure template looks like this
-- =============================================
-- Create basic stored procedure template
-- =============================================

-- Drop stored procedure if it already exists
IF EXISTS (
  SELECT * 
    FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.ROUTINES 
   WHERE SPECIFIC_SCHEMA = N'<Schema_Name, sysname, Schema_Name>'
     AND SPECIFIC_NAME = N'<Procedure_Name, sysname, Procedure_Name>' 
)
   DROP PROCEDURE <Schema_Name, sysname, Schema_Name>.<Procedure_Name, sysname, Procedure_Name>
GO

CREATE PROCEDURE <Schema_Name, sysname, Schema_Name>.<Procedure_Name, sysname, Procedure_Name>
 <@param1, sysname, @p1> <datatype_for_param1, , int> = <default_value_for_param1, , 0>, 
 <@param2, sysname, @p2> <datatype_for_param2, , int> = <default_value_for_param2, , 0>
AS
 SELECT @p1, @p2
GO

-- =============================================
-- Example to execute the stored procedure
-- =============================================
EXECUTE <Schema_Name, sysname, Schema_Name>.<Procedure_Name, sysname, 
Procedure_Name> <value_for_param1, , 1>, <value_for_param2, , 2>
GO


You can modify this template, give it to every developer and now you all have the same template. What can be done with templates can also be done with snippets, if you do Tools-->Code Snippets Manager, you can see all the snippets that are available, you can add your own snippets so that all developers will have the same snippets for comment tasks.
Standardize on comments as well.  Besides what ships with SSMS, there are also commercial tools that will do an even better job than SSMS

The way that error handling is done

I like to have all the errors in one place, this way I know where to look if there are errors. Capture the proc or trigger that threw the error, it if is a multi-step proc then also note the code section in the proc, this will greatly reduce the time it will take you to pinpoint where the problem is. Michelle Ufford has a nice example here: Error Handling in T-SQL that you can use and implement in your own shop.
There are many more things that you need to standardize on, the thing that bothers me the most is when I see dates in all kind of formats when passed in as strings, use YYYYMMDD, this will make it non ambiguous.