Thursday, June 28, 2007

Guess What I Will Be Doing Tomorrow (June 29th 2007) At 6PM

Did you think I would be waiting in line like a dummy to purchase the iPhone? Wrong my friend, I will pick up a birthday cake for my wife. As a matter of fact my home is Apple free. That is right not even Quicktime is installed ;-)

Anyway why would I buy the iPhone? I checked my bill last month and I have used a whopping 6 minutes. I don’t really use my phone except for emergencies. It is good that my wife and I share the minutes, if not she would go over every month.

So are you buying an iPhone? And if yes then please tell me why?

The next post will be technical again; it will be about Scrum and Poker.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Summer SQL Teaser #4 Nulls and Counts

First create this table

CREATE TABLE Teaser (ID int)

Without running this try to figure out what the result will be

FROM Teaser

For some more NULL fun you can read NULL Trouble In SQL Server Land

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Good Distributed Partitioned Views / Federated Databases Article

The Microsoft SQL Server Development Customer Advisory Team has a nice blog post about Distributed Partitioned Views / Federated Databases

They cover the following definitions

Definition 1: Local Partitioned View – A single table is horizontally split into multiple tables, usually all have the same structure.

Definition 2: Cross Database Partitioned View – tables are split among different databases on the same server instance

Definition 3: Distributed (across server or instance) Partitioned View. Tables participating in the view reside in different databases which reside on different servers or different instances.

Make sure you read the list of 13 items under Lessons Learned on Distributed Partitioned Views: (multiple servers involved)

Link to the article:

Monday, June 18, 2007

Which SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services Book Should I Get?

Who can recommend a good SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services book?

I know SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services but did not work with SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services yet. As a matter of fact I haven’t touched Analysis Services in 2 years. I don’t need a book which explains what a start or join schema is, I know what a slowly changing dimension is, I also know the difference between a fact table, a dimension table and MOLAP/ROLAP/HOLAP.

The 2 books that I used previously are the WROX book (Professional SQL Server 2000 Data Warehousing with Analysis Services) and the MS Press Step by Step book. I remember liking both of them, are their successors as good?
The problem with the reviews on Amazon is that it doesn’t match my expectations; the WROX 2000 book only got 2.5 stars which I think is way too low. While the book is not perfect it deserves more than 2.5 stars.

Here are the 5 books I am considering

Microsoft SQL Server(TM) 2005 Analysis Services Step by Step

Delivering Business Intelligence with Microsoft SQL Server 2005

Professional SQL Server Analysis Services 2005 with MDX

Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services

The Microsoft Data Warehouse Toolkit: With SQL Server 2005 and the Microsoft Business Intelligence Toolset

BTW I don’t need the book right now, I won’t actually start working with this until next year. If you know of a book that is coming out between now and January please let me know also.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Book Review: Expert SQL Server 2005 Development By Adam Machanic

Expert SQL Server 2005 DevelopmentIf you are an advanced or intermediate SQL Server developer then this is the book for you. Adam understands real world scenarios and understands that databases are part of a bigger group in the business world. The database is usually the most important asset in an organization. All your data is in the database, you need to secure it, this is where encryption, privilege and authorization comes in. The ratio of web servers to database servers is usually many to one, it is easy to scale out with web servers however with database servers this is not so easy. This is a reason why your code needs to be optimized and designed for application concurrency.

I recommend this book to any intermediate or advanced SQL Server developer. This book is not a book that is like the other book you have but 2 chapters are different. NO, this book contains a lot of good info which is not available in other books. I learned a lot from reading this book and you will too. Here is the breakdown of what is covered in the chapters.

Chapter 1 Software Development Methodologies for the Database World
Adam explains what Cohesion, Coupling and Encapsulation is, where the business logic should live and the balance between maintainability, performance, security and more.

Chapter 2 Testing Database Routines
This chapter is worth the price of the book by itself. You will learn how to unit test your procedures, evaluate performance counters and this chapter introduces the SQLQueryStress Performance Tool (see picture below) which will be used in other chapters. This is a very useful tool if you have to tune a query. How many times do you set statistics time and statistics IO on and off to see the reads and CPU time? This tool does it all for you, paste in your query or proc call, specify how many times you want to run it that is it. This tool will save you many stressful (pun intended) hours

Chapter 3 Errors and Exceptions
This chapter explains the different type of exceptions and how to do error handling. You will also find out what a ‘doomed transaction’ is, this is the one where you get this user friendly message: “The current transaction cannot be commited and cannot support operations that write to the log file. Roll back the transaction.”

Chapter 4 Privilege and Authorization
This chapter explains what impersonation and ownership chaining is. Also covered is how to use EXECUTE AS and how to sign procedures.

Chapter 5 Encryption
This chapter will explain encryption to you in a clear and concise matter. You will learn how to improve performance by using Message Authentication Code. The difference between symmetric and asymmetric key encryption is covered as well as all the terminology that is needed to really understand encryption.

Chapter 6 SQLCLR: Architecture and Design Considerations
What this chapter covers is SQLCLR security, why to use SQLCLR and how to enhance Service Broker Scale-Out with SQLCLR

Chapter 7 Dynamic T-SQL
You want to protect your data? Then this is something you have to read. You will learn how to deal with sql injection, why sp_executesql is much better than exec and the performance implications of parameterization and caching.

Chapter 8 Designing Systems for Application Concurrency
If you are running an OLTP system and you are suffering from blocking/locking then this is the chapter for you. Isolation levels and how they affect concurrency is explained. This chapter uses the SQLQueryStress Performance Tool to show you the difference it makes in performance when you slightly change your proc.

Chapter 9 Working with Spatial Data
Spatial data, this is what a lot of people are storing these dates, unfortunately calculating the distance between 2 points is not as easy as it seems (the earth is not flat you know ;-( ) This chapter covers a couple of ways to represent Geospatial Data.

Chapter 10 Working with Temporal Data
Dates are everywhere in the database but unfortunately a lot of people do not know how dates are stored internally and how to write efficient queries which will cause an index seek instead of a scan. Calendar tables, time zones and intervals are all covered in this chapter

Chapter 11 Trees, Hierarchies, and Graphs
The difference between Nested Set Model, Persisting Materialized Paths and Adjacency list Hierarchies are explained. There is code included that shows you how to traverse up or down the hierarchy, insert new nodes and much more.

Amazon Link: Expert SQL Server 2005 Development

I have also interviewed Adam Machanic a while back, you can find that here: Interview with Adam Machanic Author Of Expert SQL Server 2005 Development

C# IsNullOrEmpty Function In SQL Server

Mladen Prajdic has created a SQL equivalent of the C# IsNotNullOrEmpty
I looked at it and thought that there was way too much code

Here is my version which I have modified, you pass an additional parameter in to indicate whether you want blanks only to count or not

CREATE FUNCTION dbo.IsNotNullOrEmpty(@text NVARCHAR(4000),@BlanksIsEmpty bit)

@ReturnValue bit

@BlanksIsEmpty = 0
@ReturnValue= SIGN(COALESCE(DATALENGTH(@text),0))


Here are some calls where we want blanks to return as empty or null
The function returns = if it is empty and 1 if it is not empty

SELECT dbo.IsNotNullOrEmpty(null,1),dbo.IsNotNullOrEmpty('azas',1),
dbo.IsNotNullOrEmpty(' ',1),dbo.IsNotNullOrEmpty('',1)

Here are some calls where we don't want blanks to return as empty or null

SELECT dbo.IsNotNullOrEmpty(null,0),dbo.IsNotNullOrEmpty('azas',0),
dbo.IsNotNullOrEmpty(' ',0),dbo.IsNotNullOrEmpty('',0)

My function is the opposite of Mladen's I check for is NOT null or empty instead of IS null or empty (easier to code it with the SIGN function)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

SQL Myth: Truncate Cannot Be Rolled Back Because It Is Not Logged

I am still amazed at how many people still think that TRUNCATE TABLE is not logged. There is some logging going on but it is minimal, here is what Books On Line says:

TRUNCATE TABLE removes the data by deallocating the data pages used to store the table's data, and only the page deallocations are recorded in the transaction log.

The DELETE statement removes rows one at a time and records an entry in the transaction log for each deleted row.

Let’s prove that we can rollback a truncate

Create this table and do the select

CREATE TABLE dbo.Enfarkulator (ID int IDENTITY PRIMARY KEY, SomeOtherCol varchar(49))
INSERT dbo.Enfarkulator VALUES(1)
INSERT dbo.Enfarkulator VALUES(1)

SELECT * FROM dbo.Enfarkulator

ID SomeOtherCol
1 1
2 1

Now run this part

SELECT * FROM dbo.Enfarkulator

ID SomeOtherCol
(0 row(s) affected)

As you can see the table was truncated, now select from the table again

SELECT * FROM dbo.Enfarkulator

ID SomeOtherCol
1 1
2 1

Yep, the data is there, proving that you can rollback a truncate and all the data will be there. There are two other major difference between truncate and delete which I will explain below.

Truncate doesn’t preserve the identity value but delete does

This is another difference between truncate and delete, truncate will reset the identity value but delete does not. Run the following code to see how that works

CREATE TABLE dbo.Enfarkulator2 (ID int IDENTITY, SomeOtherCol varchar(49))
INSERT dbo.Enfarkulator2 VALUES(1)
INSERT dbo.Enfarkulator2 VALUES(1)

SELECT * FROM dbo.Enfarkulator2
SELECT * FROM dbo.Enfarkulator

DELETE dbo.Enfarkulator2
TRUNCATE TABLE dbo.Enfarkulator

INSERT dbo.Enfarkulator VALUES(1)
INSERT dbo.Enfarkulator2 VALUES(1)

SELECT * FROM dbo.Enfarkulator2
SELECT * FROM dbo.Enfarkulator

The Enfarkulator id was reset and the Enfarkulator2 id was not. In order to do the same with delete you will need to run a dbcc checkident reseed command. Here is the code for that.

DELETE dbo.Enfarkulator2
TRUNCATE TABLE dbo.Enfarkulator

DBCC CHECKIDENT (Enfarkulator2, RESEED, 0)

Now insert again and you will see that the values are the same.

INSERT dbo.Enfarkulator VALUES(1)
INSERT dbo.Enfarkulator2 VALUES(1)

SELECT * FROM dbo.Enfarkulator2
SELECT * FROM dbo.Enfarkulator

You can’t truncate tables that are referenced by a foreign key constraint.

If you have a table which is referenced by another table with a foreign key constraint then you cannot truncate that table. Here is the code for that

CREATE TABLE dbo.Enfarkulator3 (ID int IDENTITY, SomeOtherCol varchar(49))
INSERT dbo.Enfarkulator3 VALUES(1)

Now let’s add the foreign key

ALTER TABLE dbo.Enfarkulator3 ADD CONSTRAINT [FK_Fark3_Fark]
FOREIGN KEY ([ID]) REFERENCES [dbo].[Enfarkulator] ([ID])

Now try to truncate.


Server: Msg 4712, Level 16, State 1, Line 1
Cannot truncate table 'Enfarkulator' because it is being referenced by a FOREIGN KEY constraint.

See? You cannot do that

--Clean up time ;-)
DROP TABLE dbo.Enfarkulator3,dbo.Enfarkulator2,dbo.Enfarkulator

Cross-posted from SQLBlog! -

Friday, June 08, 2007

Three New SQL Server Best Practices Articles On TechNet

Predeployment I/O Best Practices

The I/O system is important to the performance of SQL Server. When configuring a new server for SQL Server or when adding or modifying the disk configuration of an existing system, it is good practice to determine the capacity of the I/O subsystem prior to deploying SQL Server. This white paper discusses validating and determining the capacity of an I/O subsystem. A number of tools are available for performing this type of testing. This white paper focuses on the SQLIO.exe tool, but also compares all available tools. It also covers basic I/O configuration best practices for SQL Server 2005.
On This Page


Determining I/O Capacity

Disk Configuration Best Practices & Common Pitfalls


Monitoring I/O Performance Using System Monitor



Partial Database Availability

This white paper outlines the fundamental recovery and design patterns involving the use of filegroups in implementing partial database availability in SQL Server 2005. As databases become larger and larger, the infrastructure assets and technology that provide availability become more and more important.

The database filegroups feature introduced in previous versions of SQL Server enables the use of multiple database files in order to host very large databases (VLDB) and minimize backup time. With data spanning multiple filegroups, it is possible to construct a database layout whereby failure of certain data resources do not render the entire solution unavailable. This increases the availability of solutions that use SQL Server and further reduces the surface area of failure that would render the database totally unavailable.

Comparing Tables Organized with Clustered Indexes versus Heaps

In SQL Server 2005, any table can have either clustered indexes or be organized as a heap (without a clustered index.) This white paper summarizes the advantages and disadvantages, the difference in performance characteristics, and other behaviors of tables that are ordered as lists (clustered indexes) or heaps. The performance for six distinct scenarios where DML operations are performed on these tables are measured and detailed observations presented. This white paper provides best practice recommendations on the merits of the two types of table organization, along with examples of when you might want to use one or the other.
On This Page


Clustered Indexes and Heaps

Test Objectives

Test Methodology

Test Results and Observations


Appendix: Test Environment


Without running the code, try to guess the output


ISNULL(@i1, 15.00) /2,
COALESCE(@i1 , 15.00) /2,
ISNULL(@v1, 'Teaser #2'),
COALESCE(@v1, 'Teaser #2')

I hope you will use COALESCE instead of ISNULL from now on ;-)

Cross-posted from SQLBlog! -

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

How To Protect Yourself From Fat-Finger Sally, Crazy Bosses and Other SQL Villains

You all have been through this at least once in your life. In your shop there is this one person who likes to use Enterprise Manager as their Rapid Data Entry Application. We all know how these people operate; they delete rows, drop tables and all kinds of other funky stuff. SQL Server 2005 has DDL triggers to help you protect against these scoundrels. What about if you are still running that piece of software from the late Triassic period known as SQL Server 2000, what can help you in that case? Don’t worry I will show you a way but first I will tell you a story. About 6 years ago I worked in New York City as a consultant on a project for a nonprofit organization. I looked in the database and found this table which was named YesNoTable. I was curious I opened the table and noticed it had only 2 rows. Here is what was stored in the table.

0 no
1 yes

I dropped it immediately. 5 minutes went by and suddenly the CRM application was broken. They ran the debugger and found out a table was missing. Luckily for me it was very easy to recreate this table. And yes, we did get rid of it soon after. Now had the table be used by a view which had been created with schemabinding I would not be able to drop the table without dropping the view first. You see even I became a SQL villain one time.

What the code below does is it will loop through all the user created tables then union them all, I created a where 1 =0 WHERE clause just in case someone decides to open the view. Since a union can only have 250 selects or so, I have created the code so that you can specify how many tables per view you would like, you do that with the @UnionCount variable.

The code does print statements it does not create the views

If you run the code in the msdb database and you specify 5 as the @UnionCount your output will be this

-- ****************************
-- **** View Starts Here *****
-- ****************************
SELECT 1 As Col1 FROM [dbo].[log_shipping_databases]
SELECT 1 As Col1 FROM [dbo].[log_shipping_monitor]
SELECT 1 As Col1 FROM [dbo].[log_shipping_plan_databases]
SELECT 1 As Col1 FROM [dbo].[log_shipping_plan_history]
SELECT 1 As Col1 FROM [dbo].[log_shipping_plans]

-- ****************************
-- **** View Starts Here *****
-- ****************************
SELECT 1 As Col1 FROM [dbo].[RTblClassDefs]
SELECT 1 As Col1 FROM [dbo].[RTblDatabaseVersion]
SELECT 1 As Col1 FROM [dbo].[RTblDBMProps]
SELECT 1 As Col1 FROM [dbo].[RTblDBXProps]
SELECT 1 As Col1 FROM [dbo].[RTblDTMProps]

The code is not very complex if there are more tables in the DB than you specify in the @UnionCount variable then it will do them in chunks of whatever you specified, if there are less then it will do all of them in 1 view.
Below is the code, if you have any questions then feel free to leave a comment.

USE msdb

DECLARE @UnionCount int
SELECT @UnionCount = 20

IF @UnionCount > 250 OR @UnionCount <1
RAISERROR ('@UnionCount has to be between 1 and 250', 16, 1)

SELECT identity(int,1,1) AS id,QUOTENAME(table_schema) + '.' + QUOTENAME(table_name) AS tablename
INTO #Tables
FROM information_schema.tables
WHERE table_type ='base table'
AND OBJECTPROPERTY(OBJECT_ID(table_name),'IsMSShipped') = 0
ORDER BY table_name

DECLARE @maxloop int
DECLARE @loop int
DECLARE @tablename varchar(200)

SELECT @maxloop = MAX(id)
FROM #Tables

DECLARE @OuterLoopCount int, @OuterLoop int

SELECT @OuterLoopCount = COUNT(*) FROM #Tables
WHERE id %@UnionCount =0

SELECT @OuterLoopCount = COALESCE(NULLIF(@OuterLoopCount,0),1)

IF (SELECT COUNT(*) FROM #Tables) % 10 <> 0
SELECT @OuterLoopCount = @OuterLoopCount +1

SELECT @OuterLoop =1

SELECT @Loop = MIN(id),@maxloop=MAX(id)
FROM #Tables WHERE ID <= @UnionCount * @OuterLoop

WHILE @OuterLoop <=@OuterLoopCount
SELECT @Loop = MIN(id),@maxloop=MAX(id)
FROM #Tables WHERE ID <= @UnionCount * @OuterLoop
AND id > (@UnionCount * @OuterLoop) - @UnionCount

PRINT'-- **************************** '
PRINT'-- **** View Starts Here ***** '
PRINT'-- **************************** '
WHILE @Loop <= @maxloop
SELECT @tablename = tablename
FROM #Tables
WHERE id = @Loop
PRINT 'SELECT 1 As Col1 FROM ' + @tablename + char(10) + 'WHERE 1=0'
IF @Loop < @maxloop
SET @Loop = @Loop + 1

SET @OuterLoop = @OuterLoop + 1


DROP table #Tables

Cross-posted from SQLBlog! -

Monday, June 04, 2007

SQL Server 2008 Is RTM (According to SERVERPROPERTY('productlevel'))


Microsoft SQL Server code name "Katmai" - 10.0.1019.17 (Intel X86)
May 24 2007 15:26:55 Copyright (c) 1988-2007 Microsoft Corporation
Developer Edition on Windows NT 5.1 (Build 2600: Service Pack 2)

RTM (???)

Also interesting is that the tools (SSMS) are the same as with SQL Server 2005, If you have SQL Server 2005 already installed it will skip installing those.

Okay, this is the last Katmai post....for today.....I promise.....

Cross-posted from SQLBlog! -

SQL Server 2008 (Katmai) Cannot Be Installed On A PC With SQL Server 2000 On It

I tried installing the SQL Server 2008 – June CTP on one of my machines which had SQL Server 2000 installed; it does not let you do that. I guess this is the time to uninstall SQL Server 2000. That is just what I did. First thing I noticed is that MERGE statement is back. IIRC the MERGE statement was also in SQL Server 2005 Beta2 but got pull out of the RTM

Here is a small example of using MERGE from the Katmai Books On Line

MERGE FactBuyingHabits AS fbh
USING (SELECT CustomerID, ProductID, PurchaseDate FROM PurchaseRecords) AS src
ON (fbh.ProductID = src.ProductID AND fbh.CustomerID = src.CustomerID)
UPDATE SET fbh.LastPurchaseDate = src.PurchaseDate
INSERT (CustomerID, ProductID, LastPurchaseDate)
VALUES (src.CustomerID, src.ProductID, src.PurchaseDate);

Cross-posted from SQLBlog! -

SQL Server 2008 June CTP now available!

From the connect site

Preview upcoming Releases: SQL Server 2008 June CTP now available!
We are always working on something new to make SQL Server even better. We now have SQL Server 2008 June CTP available for testing.

Link doesn't work yet, check back later here:

SQL Server 2008/Katmai Webcast

TechNet Webcast: The Next Release of Microsoft SQL Server: Overview (Level 200)

Simulcast from Microsoft Tech·Ed 2007 in Orlando, FL.
This session provides an overview of the next release of Microsoft SQL Server that is currently under development. We cover the core value proposition, major themes and scenarios, and some specific improvements. We also discuss the new development processes Microsoft is using to build this release, the release timeline, and the disclosure calendar.

More details here:

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Did You Know SQL Server Has A Black Box Like An Airplane?

Paul Randal writes:
"Kimberly mentioned that SQL Server has a 'black-box' trace, similar to an
aircraft flight-recorder, which I'd never heard of. It's an internal trace that
has the last 5MB of various trace events and it's dumped to a file when SQL
Server crashes. This can be really useful if you're troubleshooting an issue
that causing SQL Server to crash or someone or something is telling SQL Server
to shutdown and its unclear who or what is doing it."

Read here how to turn it on:

Cross-posted from SQLBlog! -

Excel 2007 Files Are WinZip/WinRAR Files In Disguise

I am not going to say anything about the ribbon or the diamond, this not a post about that. Create a new file in Excel 2007 with 250000 (that is a quarter million) rows. Just have 1 column with numbers from 1 to 250000. Save the file but keep it open. I applied a currency format to mine, see pic below.

Just for fun save it also in Excel 2003 format, you will get a warning and the file will only contain 65536 rows. I also captured that as a screenshot, the pic is below.

Now look at the files, do you see that the Excel 2003 file is bigger in size than the Excel 2007 file even though it has only one fourth the rows. Now locate the file and rename the xlsx extension of the Excel 2007 file to rar or zip. That is right the file is compressed, open the file up with WinZip or WinRAR. Open the Worksheets folder inside the xl folder, you will see a worksheet there which is about 17MB unpacked and about 2 MB packed. The pic of the RAR file is below.

Interesting stuff right?

Cross-posted from SQLBlog! -