Data About Execution Plans

SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016
If you look at the Properties for the first operator of a graphical execution plan, you get all sorts of great information. I've talked about the data available there and how important it is in this older post. Checking out the properties of a plan you're working on is a fundamental part of tuning that plan. What happens when you don't know which plan you should be working on? What do you do, for example, if you want to see all the plans that are currently using ARITHABORT=FALSE or some other plan affecting setting? The "easy" answer to this question is to run an XQuery against the XML of the query plan itself. You can identify these properties and retrieve the appropriate values from within the plan. However, XQuery consumes quite a…
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Reinforcing the Importance of Statistics on Row Estimate

SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016, TSQL
I recently wrote an introductory post about the importance of statistics. I just received a reinforcement on how important they are during my own work. Bad Estimate I hit a weird problem while I was setting up a query to illustrate a point (blog to be published next week). Let's take the basis of the problem and explain it. I wanted data with distribution skew, so I ran this query to find out if there was a wide disparity between the top and bottom of the range: SELECT i.BillToCustomerID, COUNT(i.BillToCustomerID) AS TestCount FROM Sales.Invoices AS i GROUP BY i.BillToCustomerID ORDER BY TestCount ASC; Sure enough, the bottom of the range returned three (3) rows and the top returned 21,551. If I then run a query to retrieve just a few rows…
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SELECT * Does Not Hurt Performance

SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016, TSQL
I read all the time how SELECT * hurts performance. I even see where people have said that you just have to supply a column list instead of SELECT * to get a performance improvement. Let's test it, because I think this is bunkum. The Test I have here two queries: SELECT * FROM Warehouse.StockItemTransactions AS sit; --and SELECT sit.StockItemTransactionID, sit.StockItemID, sit.TransactionTypeID, sit.CustomerID, sit.InvoiceID, sit.SupplierID, sit.PurchaseOrderID, sit.TransactionOccurredWhen, sit.Quantity, sit.LastEditedBy, sit.LastEditedWhen FROM Warehouse.StockItemTransactions AS sit; I'm basically going to run this a few hundred times each from PowerShell. I'll capture the executions using Extended Events and we'll aggregate the results. The Results I ran the test multiple times because, funny enough, I kept seeing some disparity in the results. One test would show a clear bias for one method, another test would…
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Correlated Datetime Columns

SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016, TSQL
SQL Server is a deep and complex product. There's always more to learn. For example, I had never heard of Correlated Datetime Columns. They were evidently introduced as a database option in SQL Server 2005 to help support data warehousing style queries (frequently using dates and times as join criteria or filter criteria). You can read up on the concept here from this older article from 2008 on MSDN. However, doing a search online I didn't find much else explaining how this  stuff worked (one article here, that didn't break this down in a way I could easily understand). Time for me to get my learn on. The concept is simple, turning this on for your database means that dates which have a relationship, the example from MSDN uses OrderDate and…
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Query Store and What Happened Earlier On Your Server

SQL Server 2016, TSQL
Here's a great question I received: We had a problem at 9:02 AM this morning, but we're not sure what happened. Can Query Store tell us? My first blush response is, no. Not really. Query Store keeps aggregate performance metrics about the queries on the database where Query Store is enabled. Aggregation means that we can't tell you what happened with an individual call at 9:02 AM... Well, not entirely true. The aggregations that Query Store keeps are actually broken up into intervals that you can control. The default interval is 60 minutes. This means that the information stored in the DMV covers sets of intervals. This means that if, at 9:02AM, you had a query, or queries, that ran considerably longer than normal, you may be able to take a look…
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Query Store and Plan Forcing: What Do You Use It For

SQL Server 2016, TSQL
If you're working with Azure SQL Database or you've moved into SQL Server 2016, one of the biggest new tools is the Query Store. It provides a mechanism of capturing query performance over time and persisting it with the database. You also get the execution plans for those queries. Finally, you can choose to have the Query Store override execution plan selection by use of Plan Forcing. I've written about Query Store a few times: Query Store, Force Plan and "Better" Plans Query Store, Force Plan and Dropped Objects Precedence Goes to Query Store or Plan Guide Query Store, Forced Plans and New Plans Query Store and Optimize For Ad Hoc Query Store and Recompile Finding Your Query in Query Store Removing All Query Store Data Monitor Query Performance OK,…
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Query Store, Force Plan and Dropped Objects

Azure, SQL Server 2016
I love the Query Store. Seriously. It’s a huge leap forward in the capabilities of Azure SQL Database and SQL Server in support of performance monitoring and query optimization. One of my favorite aspects of the Query Store is the ability to force plans. Frankly though, it’s also the scariest part of the Query Store. I do believe that plan forcing will be one of the most ill-used functions in SQL Server since the multi-statement table-valued user-defined function (don’t get me started). However, unlike the UDF, this ill-use will be because of poor understanding on the part of the user, not a fundamental design issue. No, plan forcing and the Query Store are very well constructed. Let me give you an example of just how well constructed they are. Let’s…
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Common Table Expression, Just a Name

SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016, TSQL
The Common Table Expression (CTE) is a great tool in T-SQL. The CTE provides a mechanism to define a query that can be easily reused over and over within another query. The CTE also provides a mechanism for recursion which, though a little dangerous and overused, is extremely handy for certain types of queries. However, the CTE has a very unfortunate name. Over and over I've had to walk people back from the "Table" in Common Table Expression. The CTE is just a query. It's not a table. It's not providing a temporary storage space like a table variable or a temporary table. It's just a query. Think of it more like a temporary view, which is also just a query. Every time I explain this, there are people who don't…
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CASE Statement in GROUP BY

SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016
Set based operations means you should put everything into a single statement, right? Well, not really. People seem to think that having two queries is really bad, so when faced with logical gaps, they just cram them into the query they have. This is partly because SQL Server and T-SQL supports letting you do this, and it's partly because it looks like a logical extension of code reuse to arrive at a query structure that supports multiple logic chains. However, let's explore what happens when you do this on particular situation, a CASE statement in a GROUP BY clause. You see this a lot because a given set of data may be needed in slightly different context by different groups within the company. Like many of my example queries, this…
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On the Buckeye Blitz!

TSQL
In just a few weeks I'll be doing the Buckeye Blitz. That is, a tour of user groups in Ohio (aka, the Buckeye state, after a tree, not a sports team), one per day across a week. Here's how it breaks down: Cleveland: 6/13 Toledo: 6/14 Columbus: 6/15 Cincinnati: 6/16 I'll be talking on this topic at each of the groups: Change Your Habits: Tips to Tune Your T-SQL T-SQL proides many different ways to accomplish the same task, and as you might expect, some ways are better than others. In this session, you will learn specific techniques, that when followed make you a better T-SQL developer. The session is jam-packed with practical examples and is designed for administrators and developers who want to bring their T-SQL skills to the…
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