Watch Those Indexes

Kennie Nybo Pontoppidan explains why that one university registration system was always throwing errors:

Remember that myITU was implemented on an Oracle database. Unlike on SQL Server, all tables in an Oracle database are physically represented as heaps, unless explicitly specified otherwise. That means no indexes. And I didn’t know anything about database performance back then, so I didn’t add any. Effectively any query against the course table would give a full table scans in the EnumerationType and EnumerationValue tables as a side effect. Fast forward to course enrolments…

At ITU, we had implemented a selection algorithm, which considered both the study program you were enrolled into as well as how early you registered for a course. Early birds got the course, so students would be ready when course enrolment was opened at 12pm. And at 12.05 myITU would start failing with 500 Internal Server Errors.

This is a pretty common occurrence, followed up by the “let’s add all the indexes” phase.

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