Find Queries Using a Key Lookup Operator

SQL Server
While teaching about Extended Events and Execution Plans last week, Jason, one of the people in the class, asked: Is there a way in Extended Events to find queries using a Key Lookup operation? Sadly, the answer is no. However, you can query the Execution Plans in cache or in the Query Store to find this. Thanks for the question Jason. Here's your answer. Finding Key Lookups Since we can't have Extended Events just feed us the information, we have to query the plans. That means pulling out data from the XML. So, to find queries that are using the Key Lookup operator, we can do this: SELECT DB_NAME(detqp.dbid), SUBSTRING( dest.text, (deqs.statement_start_offset / 2) + 1, (CASE deqs.statement_end_offset WHEN -1 THEN DATALENGTH(dest.text) ELSE deqs.statement_end_offset END - deqs.statement_start_offset ) / 2…
Read More

Query Store as an Upgrade Tool

SQL Server, Tools
There are a lot of uses for Query Store, but one of the most interesting is as an upgrade tool. We all know that upgrades in SQL Server can be more than a little bit nerve wracking. No matter how much you tested stuff in lower environments, deploying an update to production might result in performance issues as your code hits a regression. This is even more true when upgrading from versions of SQL Server prior to 2014 to anything 2014 and above. That's because of the new cardinality estimation engine introduced in 2014. Most queries won't notice it. Some queries will benefit from the better estimates. A few, problematic, queries will suffer. This is where Query Store can be used as an upgrade tool. The Steps We're going to…
Read More

Getting Started Reading Execution Plans: Highest Cost Operator

SQL Server, T-SQL
Reading execution plans in SQL Server is just hard. There's a lot to learn and understand. I previously outlined the basics I use to get started when I'm looking at an execution plan for the first time. However, just those pointers are not enough. I want to explain a little further why and how those basic steps are how you get started reading execution plans. To begin with, instead of talking about the first operator, which I've detailed before, we'll talk about the highest cost operators. Highest Cost Operator Every execution plan within SQL Server includes what the optimizer has determined to be the estimated cost of each operation. All these estimated operator costs are tallied up, and that makes up the estimated cost of the whole execution plan. You…
Read More

Can We Get Row Counts After Execution?

SQL Server, T-SQL
The general idea for this question came from dba.stackexchange.com: could we, and if we can, how, get row counts after execution. I was intrigued with the idea, so I ran some tests and did a little digging. I boiled it all down in the answer at the link, but I figured I could share a little here as well. Properly Retrieve Row Counts After Execution The right way to do this is obvious and simple. Before you need it, set up an Extended Events session. Done. The only question is what goes into the Session. First blush, sql_batch_completed and/or rpc_completed. Both will return a rows affected value. Although, interestingly, the row_count value is documented as rows returned. However, it's both. But, if you really want to get picky, batches and…
Read More

A Rose By Any Other Name

SQL Server
There is only one kind of execution plan within SQL Server. I've said this several times on this blog. Now, I'd like you to go and read this excellent blog post by Hugo Kornelis. Hugo, Erin Stellato and I are working with Microsoft to hopefully, at long last, make this issue clear. In the grand scheme of life, like Shakespeare's rose, the name we use for execution plans doesn't really matter. However, the fact is, language really does matter. Clarity is so important in communications, of any kind. When we try to teach execution plans, the confusion caused by the old naming standards is one of the first things we have to spend time getting people to un-learn. I fully support this newly proposed naming standard: Execution PlanExecution Plan Plus…
Read More

Execution Plans: First Operator

SQL Server, T-SQL
The first time you see a new execution plan that you're examining to fix a performance problem, something broken, whatever, you should always start by looking at the first operator. First Operator The first operator is easily discerned (with an exception). It's the very first thing you see in a graphical execution plan, at the top, on the left. It says SELECT in this case: This is regardless of how you capture the execution plan (with an exception). Whether you're looking at an execution plan from the plan cache, Query Store, or through SSMS, the execution plan, regardless of complexity, has this first operator. In this case, it says UPDATE: If you get an execution plan plus runtime metrics (previously referred to as an "actual" execution plan), you'll still see…
Read More

Query Store and Plan Cache Plans Compared

SQL Server 2016, SQL Server 2017
Query Store plans and the plans in cache are identical, right? There won't be differences because the plan that is in cache is the plan that was used to execute the query. Similarly, the plan that is in the Query Store is the plan that was used to execute the query as well. Therefore, they will be the same. However, some small differences actually can show up. Differences Between Plans In order to compare the two plans, first, we need a query. Here's a stored procedure that I'm going to use to generate a plan that will be in cache and in the query store: CREATE PROC dbo.ProductTransactionHistoryByReference ( @ReferenceOrderID int ) AS BEGIN SELECT p.Name, p.ProductNumber, th.ReferenceOrderID FROM Production.Product AS p JOIN Production.TransactionHistory AS th ON th.ProductID = p.ProductID…
Read More

Actual Execution Plan Costs

T-SQL
Why don't "actual execution plans" have "actual execution plan costs"? This is a question and a myth I have to fight against all the time. It's so hard to convince people that all execution plans are estimated plans in the first place (by the way, all execution plans are estimated plans). If we execute a query at the same time we capture a plan, we have enabled SQL Server to also capture run-time metrics with that plan. So we end up with what is known as an actual plan, but it's still just an estimated plan plus those run-time metrics. Execution Plan Costs When you look at a given operator within an estimated plan, it's going to show you four numbers related to cost: Estimated CPU Cost Estimated I/O Cost…
Read More

Measuring Query Execution Time: What Is Most Accurate

SQL Server, SQL Server 2016, SQL Server 2017, T-SQL, Tools
Probably the single most important factor when deciding which query to tune, or actively tuning a query, is how you go about measuring query execution time. SQL Server provides a number of different mechanisms (really, maybe too many) to get this done. However, all measures are not created equally. In fact, they frequently disagree with one another. Let's take a look at this odd phenomenon. Measuring Query Execution Time Before we get into all the choices and compare them, let's baseline on methodology and a query to use. Not sure why, but many people give me blow back when I say "on average, this query runs in X amount of time." The feedback goes "You can't say that. What if it was just blocking or resources or..." I get it.…
Read More

Analyze Actual Execution Plan

SQL Server
One of the many new sets of functionality introduced in SQL Server Management Studio 17 is the new option "Analyze Actual Execution Plan." If Microsoft continues down this path, there will be a lot of useful functionality at some point. If you haven't yet looked at Analyze Actual Execution Plan, well, read on. Analyze Actual Execution Plan To get to the new functionality, you have to have an Actual Execution Plan open within SSMS 17. After that, it's just a matter of right clicking to bring up the context menu: If you select the menu choice, then a new window opens at the bottom of the execution plan, showing each of the batch statements in one tab, and some interesting stuff in the next tab: You can click that to…
Read More