SSMS Query Plans and Arrow Sizes

Brent Ozar clarifies what arrow sizes actually mean in execution plans:

That means the entire concept of the arrow is made up by the rendering application – like SQL Server Management Studio, Azure Data Studio, SentryOne Plan Explorer, and all the third party plan-rendering tools. They get to decide arrow sizes – there’s no standard.

SSMS’s arrow size algorithm changed back in SQL Server Management Studio 17, but most folks never took notice. These days, it’s not based on rows read, columns read, total data size, or anything else about the data moving from one operator to the next.

There’s an answer, but it’s not particularly intuitive. I think SentryOne Plan Explorer has the upper hand on this one.

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