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# Wednesday, 07 February 2007

SQL Server 2005 has got built-in partitions. As result, I have been given a task to port a database from SQL Server 2000 to 2005, and replace old style partitions with new one. It seems reasonable, but before modifying a production database, which is about 5TB in size, I've tested a small one.

Switch the data - it's an easy part. I need also to test all related stored procedures. At this point I've found shortcomings, which tightly related to a nature of the partitions.

In select statement SQL Server 2005 iterates over partitions, in contrast SQL Server 2000 rolls out partition view and embeds partition tables into an execution plan. The performance difference can be dramatic (the case I'm dealing with).

Suppose you are to get 'top N' rows of ordered set of data from several partitions. SQL Server 2000 can perform operations on partitions (to get ordered result per partition), and then merge them, and return 'top N' rows. However, if execution plan just iterates partitions and applies the same operations to each partition in sequential manner the result will be semiordered. To get 'top N' rows the sort operator is required. This is the case of SQL Server 2005.

The problem is that the SQL Server 2005 never uses merge operator to combine results!

To illustrate the problem let's define two partitioned tables:

create partition function [test](smalldatetime) as range left for values (N'2007-01-01', N'2007-02-01')
go

create partition scheme [testScheme] as partition [test] to [primary], [primary], [primary])
go

CREATE TABLE [dbo].[Test2000_12](
    [A] [smalldatetime] NOT NULL,
    [B] [int] NOT NULL,
    [C] [nvarchar](50) NULL,
CONSTRAINT [PK_Test2000_12] PRIMARY KEY CLUSTERED
(
    [A] ASC,
    [B] ASC
)
)
GO

CREATE NONCLUSTERED INDEX [IX_Test2000_12] ON [dbo].[Test2000_12]
(
    [B] ASC,
    [A] ASC
)
GO

CREATE TABLE [dbo].[Test2000_01](
    [A] [smalldatetime] NOT NULL,
    [B] [int] NOT NULL,
    [C] [nvarchar](50) NULL,
CONSTRAINT [PK_Test2000_01] PRIMARY KEY CLUSTERED
(
    [A] ASC,
    [B] ASC
)
)
GO

CREATE NONCLUSTERED INDEX [IX_Test2000_01] ON [dbo].[Test2000_01]
(
    [B] ASC,
    [A] ASC
)
GO

CREATE TABLE [dbo].[Test2000_02](
    [A] [smalldatetime] NOT NULL,
    [B] [int] NOT NULL,
    [C] [nvarchar](50) NULL,
CONSTRAINT [PK_Test2000_02] PRIMARY KEY CLUSTERED
(
    [A] ASC,
    [B] ASC
)
)
GO

CREATE NONCLUSTERED INDEX [IX_Test2000_02] ON [dbo].[Test2000_02]
(
    [B] ASC,
    [A] ASC
)
GO

CREATE TABLE [dbo].[Test2005](
    [A] [smalldatetime] NOT NULL,
    [B] [int] NOT NULL,
    [C] [nvarchar](50) NULL,
CONSTRAINT [PK_Test2005] PRIMARY KEY CLUSTERED
(
    [A] ASC,
    [B] ASC
)
) ON [testScheme]([A])
GO

CREATE NONCLUSTERED INDEX [IX_Test2005] ON [dbo].[Test2005]
(
    [B] ASC,
    [A] ASC
) ON [testScheme]([A])
GO

ALTER TABLE [dbo].[Test2000_01] WITH CHECK ADD CONSTRAINT [CK_Test2000_01] CHECK (([A]>='2007-01-01' AND [A]<'2007-02-01'))
GO
ALTER TABLE [dbo].[Test2000_01] CHECK CONSTRAINT [CK_Test2000_01]
GO

ALTER TABLE [dbo].[Test2000_02] WITH CHECK ADD CONSTRAINT [CK_Test2000_02] CHECK (([A]>='2007-02-01'))
GO
ALTER TABLE [dbo].[Test2000_02] CHECK CONSTRAINT [CK_Test2000_02]
GO

ALTER TABLE [dbo].[Test2000_12] WITH CHECK ADD CONSTRAINT [CK_Test2000_12] CHECK (([A]<'2007-01-01'))
GO
ALTER TABLE [dbo].[Test2000_12] CHECK CONSTRAINT [CK_Test2000_12]
GO

create view [dbo].[test2000] as
select * from dbo.test2000_12
union all
select * from dbo.test2000_01
union all
select * from dbo.test2000_02
go


/*
Returns numbers table.
Table has a following structure: table(value int not null);
value is an integer number that contains numbers from 0 to a specified value.
*/

create FUNCTION dbo.[Numbers]
(    
/* Number of rows to return. */
@count int
)
RETURNS TABLE
AS
RETURN
with numbers(value) as
(
select 0
union all
select value * 2 + 1 from numbers where value < @count / 2
union all
select value * 2 + 2 from numbers where value < (@count - 1) / 2
)
select
row_number() over(order by U.v) value
from
numbers cross apply (select 0 v) U

Pupulate tables:

insert into dbo.Test2005
select
cast(N'2006-01-01' as smalldatetime) + 0.001 * N.Value,
N.Value,
N'Value' + cast(N.Value as nvarchar(16))
from
dbo.Numbers(500000) N
go

insert into dbo.Test2000
select
cast(N'2006-01-01' as smalldatetime) + 0.001 * N.Value,
N.Value,
N'Value' + cast(N.Value as nvarchar(16))
from
dbo.Numbers(500000) N
go

Perform a test:

select top 20
A, B
from
dbo.Test2005
--where
--(A between '2006-01-10' and '2007-01-10')
order by
B

select top 20
A, B
from
dbo.Test2000
--where
--(A between '2006-01-10' and '2007-01-10')
order by
B
--option(merge union)

The difference is obvious if you will open execution plan. In the first case estimated subtree cost is: 17.4099; in the second: 0.0455385.

SQL server cannot efficiently use index on columns (B, A). The problem presented here can appear in any select that occasionally accesses two partitions, but regulary uses only one, provided it uses a secondary index. In fact this covers about 30% of all selects in my database.

Next day

I've meditated a little bit more and devised a centaur: I can define a partition view over partition table. Thus I can use either this view or table depending on what I'm trying to achieve either iterate partitions or roll them out.

create view [dbo].[Test2005_View] as
select * from dbo.Test2005 where $partition.test(A) = 1
union all
select * from dbo.Test2005 where $partition.test(A) = 2
union all
select * from dbo.Test2005 where $partition.test(A) = 3

The following select is running the same way as SQL Server 2000 partitions:

select top 20
A, B
from
dbo.Test2005_View
-- dbo.Test2005
order by
B

Wednesday, 07 February 2007 18:32:54 UTC  #    Comments [0] -
SQL Server puzzle
# Thursday, 23 November 2006

In one of our latest projects (GUI on .NET 2.0) we've felt all the power of .NET globalization, but an annoying thing happened too...

In our case such an annoying thing was sharing of UI culture info between main (UI) thread and all auxiliary threads (threads from ThreadPool, manually created threads etc.). It seems we've fallen into a .NET globalization pitfall.

We guessed that the same as main thread UI culture info for, at least, all asynchronous delegates' calls is used. This is a common mistake, and what's more annoying, there is no a single line in MSDN documentation about this issue. :-S

Let's look closer at this issue. Our application starts on computer with English regional settings ("en-En"), and during application starting we are changing UI culture info to one specified in configuration file:

	// set the culture from the config file
	try
	{
	  Thread.CurrentThread.CurrentUICulture =
              new CultureInfo(Settings.Default.CultureName);
	}
	catch
	{
	   // use the default UI culture info
	}
	

Thus, all the screens of this GUI application will be displayed according with the specified culture. There are also localized strings stored in resource files that are used as log, exception messages etc., which can be displayed from within different threads (e.g. asynchronous delegates' calls).

So, when application is running and even all screens are displayed according with the specified culture, all the exceptions from auxiliary threads still in English. :'( This happened since threads for asynchronous calls are pulled out from ThreadPool, and all these threads were created using default culture.

Conclusion
Take care about CurrentUICulture in different threads by yourself, and be careful - there are still pitfalls on this way...

Thursday, 23 November 2006 10:55:10 UTC  #    Comments [0] -
Tips and tricks
# Friday, 17 November 2006

I need to log actions into log table in my stored procedure, which is called in context of some transaction. The records in the log table I need no matter what happens (no, it's even more important to get them there if operation fails).

begin transaction
...
execute some_proc
...
if (...)
commit transaction
else
rollback transaction

some_proc:

...

insert into log...

insert ...
update ...

insert into log...

...

How to do this?

November 25

I've found two approaches:

  • table variables, which do not participate into transactions;
  • remote queries, which do not participate into local transactions;

The second way is more reliable, however not the fastest one. The idea is to execute query on the same sever as if it's a linked server.

Suppose you have a log table:

create table System.Log
(
  ID int identity(1,1) not null,
  Date datetime not null default getdate(),
  Type int null,
  Value nvarchar(max) null
);

To add log record you shall define a stored procedure:

create procedure System.WriteLog
(
  @type int,
  @message nvarchar(max)
)
as
begin
  set nocount on;

  execute(
    'insert into dbname.System.Log(Type, Value) values(?, ?)',
    @type,
    @message)
    as user = 'user_name'
    at same_server_name;
end

Whenever you're calling System.WriteLog in context of local transaction the records are inserted into the System.Log table in a separate transaction.

Friday, 17 November 2006 13:35:05 UTC  #    Comments [0] -
SQL Server puzzle
# Sunday, 12 November 2006

Читая его впервые, студентом, видишь его вещающим оракулом.
Перечитывая, замечаешь, что он в значительной степени критик
прошлого и настоящего.

Какая ирония - он ведь предупреждал о вреде истории для творца!
Кто изменилcя - я или Ницше?

Sunday, 12 November 2006 10:39:39 UTC  #    Comments [2] -

# Saturday, 04 November 2006

My next SQL puzzle (thanks to fabulous XQuery support in SQL Server 2005) is how to reconstruct xml from the hierarchy table. This is reverse to the "Load xml into the table".

Suppose you have:

  select Parent, Node, Name from Data

where
  (Parent, Node) - defines xml hierarchy, and
  Name - xml element name.

How would you restore original xml?


November 8, 2006 To my anonymous reader:

declare @content nvarchar(max);

set @content = '';

with Tree(Node, Parent, Name) as
(
  /* Source tree */
  select Node, Parent, Name from Data
),
Leaf(Node) as
(
  select Node from Tree
  except
  select Parent from Tree
),
NodeHeir(Node, Ancestor) as
(
  select Node, Parent from Tree
  union all
  select
    H.Node, T.Parent
  from
    Tree T inner join NodeHeir H on H.Ancestor = T.Node
),
ParentDescendants(Node, Descendats) as
(
  select
    Ancestor, count(Ancestor)
  from
    NodeHeir
  where
    Ancestor > 0
  group by
    Ancestor
),
Line(Row, Node, Text) as
(
  select
    O.Row, T.Node, O.Text
  from
    ParentDescendants D
    inner join
    Tree T
    on D.Node = T.Node
    cross apply
    (
      select D.Node * 2 - 1 Row, '<' + T.Name + '>' Text
      union all
      select (D.Node + D.Descendats) * 2, '</' + T.Name + '>'
    ) O
  union all
  select
    D.Node * 2 - 1, T.Node, '<' + T.Name + '/>'
  from
    Leaf D inner join Tree T on D.Node = T.Node
)
select top(cast(0x7fffffff as int))
  @content = @content + Text
from
  Line
order by
  Row asc, Node desc
option(maxrecursion 128);

select cast(@content as xml);

Saturday, 04 November 2006 09:50:22 UTC  #    Comments [0] -
SQL Server puzzle
# Thursday, 02 November 2006

Well, I like DasBlog Engine, however it does not allow to add new comments in our blog. This is unfortunate. :-S

In the activity log I regulary see errors related to the CAPTCHA component. For now I have switched it off. I believe we'll start getting comments at least one per year. :-)

Thursday, 02 November 2006 14:03:15 UTC  #    Comments [0] -

# Friday, 27 October 2006

Say you need to load a table from an xml document, and this table defines some hierarchy. Believe me or not, but this is not that case when its better to store xml in the table.

Let's presume the table has:

  • Node - document node id;
  • Parent - parent node id;
  • Name - node name.

The following defines a sample xml document we shall work with:

declare @content xml;

set @content = '
<document>
  <header/>
  <activity>
    <title/>
    <row/>
    <row/>
    <row/>
    <row/>
    <total/>
  </activity>
  <activity>
    <title/>
    <row/>
    <total/>
  </activity>
  <activity>
    <title/>
    <row/>
    <total/>
  </activity>
  <activity>
    <title/>
    <row/>
    <row/>
    <row/>
    <total/>
  </activity>
</document>';

How would you solved this task?

I've been spending a whole day building acceptable solution. This is probably because I'm not an SQL guru. I've found answers using cursors, openxml, pure xquery, and finally hybrid of xquery and sql ranking functions.

The last is fast, and has linear dependency of working time to xml size.

with NodeGroup(ParentGroup, Node, Name) as
(
  select 
    dense_rank() over(order by P.Node),
    row_number() over(order by N.Node),
    N.Node.value('local-name(.)', 'nvarchar(max)')
  from 
    @content.nodes('//*') N(Node) 
    cross apply
    Node.nodes('..') P(Node)
),
Node(Parent, Node, Name) as
(
  select 
    min(Node) over(partition by ParentGroup) - 1, Node, Name
  from 
    NodeGroup 
)
select * from Node order by Node;

Is there a better way? Anyone?

Friday, 27 October 2006 12:23:25 UTC  #    Comments [0] -
SQL Server puzzle
# Monday, 02 October 2006

Return a table of numbers from 0 up to a some value. I'm facing this recurring task once in several years. Such periodicity induces me to invent solution once again but using contemporary features.

November 18:

This time I have succeeded to solve the task in one select:

declare @count int;

set @count = 1000;

with numbers(value) as
(
  select 0
  union all
  select value * 2 + 1 from numbers where value < @count / 2
  union all
  select value * 2 + 2 from numbers where value < (@count - 1) / 2
)
select
  row_number() over(order by U.V) value
from
  numbers cross apply (select 1 V) U;

Do you have a better solution?

Monday, 02 October 2006 07:27:51 UTC  #    Comments [0] -
SQL Server puzzle | Tips and tricks
# Saturday, 19 August 2006

Do you think they are different? I think not too much.

Language, for a creative programmer, is a matter to express his virtues, and a hammer that brings a good salary for a skilled labourer.

Each new generation of programmers tries to prove itself. But how?

Well, C++ programmers invent their strings and smart pointers, and Java adepts (as they cannot create strings) design their springs and rubies.

It's probably all right - there is no dominance, but when I'm reading docs of someone's last pearl, I'm experiencing deja vu. On the whole, all looks as a chaotic movement.

Other time I think - how it's interesting to build something when you should not design the brick, even if you know that bricks aren't perfect.

Saturday, 19 August 2006 14:34:42 UTC  #    Comments [0] -

# Monday, 14 August 2006

I've been given a task to fix several xsls (in fact many big xsls) that worked with msxml and stoped to work with .NET. At first I thought it will be easy stuff, indeed both implementations are compatible as both implement http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform.

Well, I was wrong. After a 10 minutes I've been abusing that ignorant who has written xsls. More over, I was wondering how msxml could accept that shit.

So, come to the point. I had following xsl:

<xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform
   version="1.0"
   xmlns:msxsl="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:xslt"
   xmlns:user="http://mycompany.com/mynamespace">

<xsl:template match="/">
<HTML dir="rtl">
...
<BODY dir="rtl">
...
 <TD width="68" dir="ltr" align="middle">
 <FONT size="1" face="David">
  <xsl:variable name="DegB" select="//*[@ZihuyMuzar='27171']" />
  </FONT>
  </TD>
...
 <TD height="19" dir="ltr" align="middle">
 <FONT size="2" face="David">
  <xsl:value-of select="$DegB/*/Degem[1]/@*[3]" />
  %
  </FONT>
  </TD>
...

I don't want to talk about "virtues" of "html" that's produced by this alleged "xsl", however about xsl itself. To my amazement msxml sees $DegB, which is declared and dies in different scope. At first I thought I was wrong: "Must be scope is defined defferently then I thought?", but no. OK, I said to myself I can fix that. I've created another xsl that elevates xsl:variable declarations to a scope where they are visible to xsl:value-of.

But that wasn't my main head ache. Some genius has decided to use third, forth, and so on attribute. What does this mean in the god's sake? How one could rely on this? I'll kill him if I'll find him! There was thousands of such @*[3]. Even if I'll see the original xml how can I be sure that msxml and .NET handle attribute collections in the same order?

There was no other way, but check this assumption. I've verified that both implementations store attributes in xml source order. This easied my pains.

To clarify implementation details I have digged in XmlDocument/XPathDocument implementations in .NET 1.1 and 2.0. I was curious how they store a set of attributes. It's interesting to know that they has decided to keep only ordered list of attributes in either implementation. This means that ordered attribute access is fast, and named access leads to list scan. In my opinion it's dubious solution. Probably the idea behind is that there is in average a few attributes to scan when one uses named access. In my case there were up to 100 attributes per element.

Conclusion?
1. Don't allow to ignorants to come near the xsl.
2. Don't design xmls that use many attributes when you're planning to use .NET xslt.

Monday, 14 August 2006 13:42:06 UTC  #    Comments [0] -

# Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Recently we were creating a BizTalk 2006 project. A map was used to normalize input data, where numbers were stored with group separators like "15,000,000.00" and text (Hebrew in our case) was stored visually like "ןודנול סלפ קנב סדיולל".

We do need to store the output data the xml way, this means numbers as "15000000.00" and Hebrew text in logical form "ללוידס בנק פלס לונדון". Well, it's understood that there are no standard functoids that deal with bidi, as there are no too many people that know about the problem in the first place. However we thought at least that there will not be problems with removing of "," in numbers.

BizTalk 2006 does not provide functoids to solve either of these tasks! To answer our needs we have designed two custom functoids.

"Replace string":
Returns a string with text Replaced using a regular expression or search string.
First parameter is a string where to Replace.
Second parameter is a string or regular expression pattern in the format /pattern/flags to Replace.
Third parameter is a string or regular expression pattern that Replaces all found matches.

"Logical to visual converter":
Converts an input "logical" string into a "visual" string.
First parameter is a string to convert.
Optional second parameter is a start embedding level (LTR or RTL).

Wednesday, 21 June 2006 11:01:49 UTC  #    Comments [0] -
BizTalk Server
# Friday, 02 June 2006

Download sample code.

In our recent .NET 2.0 GUI project our client ingenuously asked us to implement undo and redo facility. Nothing unusual nowadays, however it's still not the easiest thing in the world to implement.

Naturally you want to have this feature for a free. You do not want to invest too much time to support it. We had no much time to implement this "sugar" also. I know, I know, this is important for a user, however when you're facing a big project with a lot of logic to be implemented in short time you're starting to think it would be nice to have undo and redo logic that works independently (at least almost independently) on business logic.

Thus, what's that place where we could plug this service? - Exactly! - It's data binding layer.

When you're binding your data to controls the "Type Descriptor Architecture" is used to retrieve and update the data. Fortunately this architecture is allowing us to create a data wrapper (ICustomTypeDescriptor). Such wrapper should track property modifications of the data object thus providing undo and redo service. In short that's all, other are technical details.

Let's look at how undo and redo service goes into the action. Instead of:

  bindingSource.DataSource = data;

you have to write:

  bindingSource.DataSource = Create-UndoRedo-Wrapper(data);

There should also be a class to collect and track actions. User should create an instance of this class to implement the simplest form of code with undo and redo support:

  // Create UndoRedoManager.
  undoRedoManager = new UndoRedoManager();
  // Create undo and redo wrapper around the data object.
  // Bind controls.
  dataBindingSource.DataSource =
    new UndoRedoTypeDescriptor(data, undoRedoManager);

Now turn our attention to the implementation of the undo and redo mechanism. There are two types in the core: UndoRedoManager and IAction. The first one is to track actions, the later one is to define undo and redo actions. UndoRedoManager performs either "Do/Redo", or "Undo" operations over IAction instances. We have provided two useful implementations of the IAction interface: UndoRedoTypeDescriptor - wrapper around an object that tracks property changes, and UndoRedoList - wrapper around the IList that tracks collection modifications. Users may create their implementations of the IAction to handle other undo and redo activities.

We have created a sample application to show undo and redo in action. You can download it from here.

Friday, 02 June 2006 22:49:40 UTC  #    Comments [0] -
Announce
# Tuesday, 30 May 2006

We're building a .NET 2.0 GUI application. A part of a project is a localization. According to advices of msdn we have created *.resx files and sent them to foreign team that performs localization using WinRes tool.

Several of our user controls contained SplitContainer control. We never thought this could present a problem. Unfortunately it is!

When you're trying to open resx for a such user control you're getting:

Eror - Failed to load the resource due to the following error:
System.MissingMethodException: Constructor on type 'System.Windows.Forms.SplitterPanel' not found.

We started digging the WinRes.exe (thanks to .NET Reflector) and found the solution: we had to define the name of split container the way that its parent name appeared before (in ascending sort order) than splitter itself.

Say if you have a form "MyForm" and split container "ASplitContainer" then you should rename split container to say "_ASplitContainer".  In this case resources are stored as:

Name Parent Name
MyForm  
_ASplitContainer MyForm
_ASplitContainer.Panel1 _ASplitContainer
_ASplitContainer.Panel2 _ASplitContainer

This makes WinRes happy. :-)

Tuesday, 30 May 2006 10:13:18 UTC  #    Comments [0] -
Tips and tricks
# Tuesday, 01 November 2005

Today we had spent some time looking for samples of web-services in RPC/encoded style, and we have found a great site http://www.xmethods.com/. This site contains a lot of web-services samples in Document/literal and RPC/encoded styles. We think this link will be useful for both developers and testers.

Tuesday, 01 November 2005 10:51:37 UTC  #    Comments [0] -
Tips and tricks
# Tuesday, 18 October 2005

Actually this build is used WSE 2.0 SP3 and contains minor bug fixes. All the sources published on GotDotNet site (SCCBridge workspace). Pay attention that for now the sources include SCCProvider project that is MSSCCI implementation. I've decided to publish this project since Microsoft freely publish their interface and documentation for all VSIP.

Tuesday, 18 October 2005 16:08:21 UTC  #    Comments [6] -
SCCBridge
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