Creating Graph Objects In SQL Server

Steve Jones creates a simple graph relationship in SQL Server 2017:

What does all that mean? No idea. Clearly there is JSON that’s returned here and can be deserialized to gather meanings. Is this useful? I think graphs solve a certain set of problems very well, and more efficiently than relational systems. Certainly I could implement a graph structure relationally, but at scale I’m not sure the queries would be as easy to write or run as quickly.

I don’t know if I’d use a graph structure in any of the problems we try to solve in the SQLServerCentral app, but who knows. Maybe we would if we could.

Steve leaves this with more questions than answers, but he does give a very simple repro script if you want to futz about with graphs.


Kenneth Fisher describes what QUOTENAME is and why you might want to use it:

Basically, it escapes any occurrence of the second parameter within the first parameter. So when would we be using it in dynamic SQL? Well, probably the most common way I’ve used it is when I’m building a list of commands I want to run.

Click through for more details, including valid quote characters.

UNION ALL Ordering

Paul White shows how UNION ALL concatenation has changed since SQL Server 2008 R2:

The concatenation of two or more data sets is most commonly expressed in T-SQL using the UNION ALL clause. Given that the SQL Server optimizer can often reorder things like joins and aggregates to improve performance, it is quite reasonable to expect that SQL Server would also consider reordering concatenation inputs, where this would provide an advantage. For example, the optimizer could consider the benefits of rewriting A UNION ALL B as B UNION ALL A.

In fact, the SQL Server optimizer does not do this. More precisely, there was some limited support for concatenation input reordering in SQL Server releases up to 2008 R2, but this was removed in SQL Server 2012, and has not resurfaced since.

It’s an interesting article about an edge case.

Dealing With NULL

Kevin Feasel



Jeff Mlakar has a pair of comparisons for NULL handling, with ISNULL vs COALESCE and CONCAT vs + for concatenation:

We expect this much from IsNull. However, coalesce is a little different. will take the data type from the first non-null value passed and use that for the table definition. This might not always be what you want because if you pass bits you might get integers. If you pass an array of integers and floats you will get numeric. Be aware if this isn’t what you wanted.

Read the whole thing.

Graph Data In SQL Server

Terry McCann has a first look at SQL Server 2017’s graph data capabilities:

SQL Graph is a similar concept to what is described above, but built in to the core SQL Server engine. This means 2 new table types NODE and EDGE and a few new TSQL functions in particular MATCH(). SQL Graph at the time of writing is only available in SQL 2017 ctp 2.0. You can read more and download ctp2.0 here Once ctp 2.0 is installed there is nothing else you need to do to enable the new graph syntax and storage.

There is an example you can download from Microsoft which is a similar set up to the example in the image above. However I have used some real data shredded from IMDB the internet movie database. This data is available to download from Kaggle

Click through for a video demonstration as well.

SQL Server Graph Database

The SQL Server team announces graph extensions in SQL Server 2017:

Graph extensions are fully integrated in the SQL Server engine. Node and edge tables are just new types of tables in the database. The same storage engine, metadata, query processor, etc., is used to store and query graph data. All security and compliance features are also supported. Other cutting-edge technologies like columnstore, ML using R Services, HA, and more can also be combined with graph capabilities to achieve more. Since graphs are fully integrated in the engine, users can query across their relational and graph data in a single system.

This is interesting.  One concern I have had with graph databases is that graphs are storing the same information as relations but in a manner which requires two distinct constructs (nodes and edges) versus one (relations).  This seems to be a hybrid approach, where the data is stored as a single construct (relations) but additional syntax elements allow you to query the data in a more graph-friendly manner.  I have to wonder how it will perform in a production scenario compared to Neo4j or Giraph.

Using OUTPUT To Get Change Counts

Manoj Pandey shows how to use the OUTPUT clause to determine the number of records inserted, updated, or deleted after a DML statement:

–> Question:

How can I get the numbers of records affected in the Merge statement, INSERT,UPDATE,DELETE separately and store it in a variable so I can get it in the application side?

Thanks !
–> My Answer:

You need to use OUTPUT clause with MERGE statement

Click through for a code sample.  The OUTPUT clause also works for non-MERGE statements like INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE, though the “get changes by type” problem is really limited to the MERGE statement.


Erik Darling shows how the NOLOCK hint works with common table expressions:

So, for all you NOLOCKers out there, you can now save yourselves oodles of time by only using the hint in outer references to your CTEs and Views.

Congratulations, I suppose.

(Please stop using NOLOCK.)

Agreed, whenever possible.

T-SQL Variable Scoping

Bill Fellows points out an oddity of T-SQL variable declarations and scoping:

Crazy enough, the last two are correct. It seems that unlike every other language I’ve worked with, all variables are scoped to the same local scope regardless of where in the script they are defined. Demo the first

Wanna see something even more crazy? Check this version out

I should note that I wanted a submit button.


Andy Kelly shows how to prevent part of a script from running:


If we were to hit F5 (or however you execute your TSQL statements in SSMS) without highlighting any statement(s) they would all be executed, one batch after the other. Even if one batch were to fail or we had a THROW in that batch it would fail at that point but execution would continue immediately after the next GO until the end. This is where SET NOEXEC ON comes into play. If I add that at the beginning of the script all succeeding code would not be executed. The statements would only be compiled and not actually run. It would look like this:


PRINT ‘Got Here 1’ ;
PRINT ‘Got Here 2’ ;
PRINT ‘Got Here 3’ ;
PRINT ‘Got Here 4’ ;

This is a useful “accidental F5” protection:  you can put it at the top of your long script to keep from running the whole thing at once.


July 2017
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