Press "Enter" to skip to content

Category: Syntax

Describing the First Result Set

Phil Factor dives into sys.dm_exec_describe_first_result_set_for_object():

I’ve been working on a project unkindly nicknamed ‘The Gloop’ because the code is a bit amorphous. Basically, it is an approach to documenting SQL Server databases, using the facilities provided such as the metadata views and DMFs. Although it is relatively simple to record the result returned by a table-valued function I’d rather neglected the stored procedures because there was no metadata that could produce the first result set produced by a procedure or trigger.

I’d been silly because there is, of course, an Execution system DMF that does it: sys.dm_exec_describe_first_result_set_for_object(). it takes as its parameter the object_id of a procedure or trigger and describes the first result metadata for the module with that ID. It has the same result set definition as sys.dm_exec_describe_first_result_set.

I’m going to have to try this out, but I have problems with sp_describe_first_result_set and how it blows up if you use a temp table in the stored procedure whose result set you’re grabbing.

Leave a Comment

String Aggregation with T-SQL

Andy Levy talks about one of my favorite functions in SQL Server 2017:


This is another in a group of several posts on modernizing T-SQL code with new features and functionality available in SQL Server.

SQL Server 2016 gave us the STRING_SPLIT() function, but what about the reverse – compiling a set of values into one delimited string? We only had to wait 15 months for the release of SQL Server 2017, and the STRING_AGG() function.

I had the STUFF() / FOR XML PATH trick memorized for quite some time, but that was always a solution which felt like it worked on accident. Even if the new solution weren’t faster than the old, I’d still use it.

Leave a Comment

NULL Handling Features not in T-SQL

Itzik Ben-Gan continues a series complexity around NULL:

When using the offset window functions LAG, LEAD, FIRST_VALUE and LAST_VALUE, sometimes you need to control the NULL treatment behavior. By default, these functions return the result of the requested expression in the requested position, irrespective of whether the result of the expression is an actual value or a NULL. However, sometimes you want to continue moving in the relevant direction, (backward for LAG and LAST_VALUE, forward for LEAD and FIRST_VALUE), and return the first non-NULL value if present, and NULL otherwise. The standard gives you control over this behavior using a NULL treatment clause with the following syntax:

offset_function(<expression>) IGNORE_NULLS | RESPECT NULLS OVER(<window specification>)

There are three good examples of functionality around handling NULL which the current implementation of T-SQL is missing.

Leave a Comment

T-SQL Checker ADS Extension

Daniel Janik has a new Azure Data Studio extension for us:

I’ve created a sample ads extension that checks TSQL syntax in real-time for potential bad practice.

Right now the extension is using regex, which isn’t the best for parsing SQL but it works for the few test cases I’ve added.

I’m hoping that the community can help evolve the project into something really cool; so, I’m asking for your help in making that happen.

Click through for a demo, and check out the GitHub repo.

Leave a Comment

SELECT * Doesn’t Keep Views up to Date

Reitse Eskens busts a myth:

Last week i read a comment or a blog somewhere (i can’t remember it anymore but please let me know so i can credit!), that a select * in a view gets a full definition under the covers and doesn’t get updated when the underlying table is updated.

So, i decided to take that for a test, see what i can reproduce.

Spoilers: it doesn’t. Click through for the proof, as well as what does update a view’s definition.

Leave a Comment

Solving Groups of Groups Problems with Window Functions

James McGillivray shows off some of the power of window functions:

Windowing functions are an underused feature in SQL Server, with myriad uses. The most common problems we solve are running totals, seeing group totals on the same line as individual lines from the group (allowing calculations like subtotal %). I don’t know if there are better solutions, but before Windowing Functions, I used to solve these kind of problems with self joins, or nested queries. The performance of Windowing Functions is significantly better than this approach, and that alone has made my life considerably better.

The more I learn about Windowing Functions, the more often I see use cases where they are useful.

I love talking about, and teaching people to use, Windowing functions to make their lives better, so I’m quite excited to be able to use them as the topic for today’s post.

Specifically, James looks at groups of groups problems and aggregates of aggregates problems.

Leave a Comment

RESULT_SCAN() in Snowflake

Koen Verbeeck introduces us to the RESULT_SCAN() function in Snowflake DB:

I’m doing a little series on some of the nice features/capabilities in Snowflake (the cloud data warehouse). In each part, I’ll highlight something that I think it’s interesting enough to share. It might be some SQL function that I’d really like to be in SQL Server, it might be something else.

This post builds upon part 6 of the series, which dealt with query history. There it is explained how Snowflake caches the query results. You can find a query in the history and take a look at what was returned. Using the RESULT_SCAN table function, you can do this with SQL. Let’s take a look at an example.

This is an interesting function. Click through to see it in action.

Leave a Comment

Splitting Strings with T-SQL

Andy Levy recommends using STRING_SPLIT():

Last year, you finally retired the last of your SQL Server 2008R2 instances. Congratulations! But are you taking advantage of everything that your new instances have to offer? Unless you did a review of all of the T-SQL in your applications, I’m guessing not.

At one time or another, we all find ourselves having to do some string parsing, especially splitting strings on a delimiter. Nearly all of us have one (or two or a dozen) functions for doing this somewhere on every instance of SQL Server. But since SQL Server 2016, we’ve had an official way to do it – the STRING_SPLIT() function.

Andy’s example involves splitting strings, but there are plenty of functions which come into the T-SQL lexicon. It might be worth doing a quick review of the available system functions just to see if there’s something useful which slipped with a newer version of SQL Server.

Leave a Comment

Solving the Gaps and Islands Set of Problems

Ed Pollack continues a series on gap and island analysis:

Gaps and islands analysis supplies a mechanism to group data organically in ways that a standard GROUP BY cannot provide. Once we know how to perform an analysis and group data into islands, we can extend this into the realm of real data.

For all code examples in this article, we will use a set of baseball data that I’ve created and maintained over the years. This data is ideal for analytics as it is large and contains data quality that varies between very accurate and very sloppy. As a result, we are forced to consider data quality in our work, as well as scrutinize boundary conditions for correctness. This data will be used without much introduction as we will only reference two tables, and each is relatively straightforward.

The code in this article gets a bit complex, but Ed shows off some powerful techniques.

Comments closed

Fun with SET Options

Dan Guzman takes us through different SET options in T-SQL and where you can go wrong:

ANSI_PADDING OFF has also been deprecated for quite some time and the SQL Server documentation specifically calls out “ANSI_PADDING should always be set to on.” In summary, a column-level ANSI_PADDING OFF setting causes nullable fixed-length char(n) and binary(n) columns to behave like variable-length varchar(n) and varbinary(n) columns. Furthermore, SQL Server automatically trims trailing blank characters from character data and leading binary zeros from binary data and stores the values as variable length instead of storing the provided value as-is during inserts and updates. Varchar(n)/varbinary(n) columns with ANSI_PADDING OFF are similarly trimmed. Note that it is the persisted ANSI_NULLS column meta-data setting that determines the storage and trimming behavior, not the current session ANSI_PADDING setting. The session ANSI_PADDING must still be ON when using features that require proper settings.

Some of these will pop up in occasional errors, like if you’re using filtered indexes or indexed views.

Comments closed