18 June 2011

SQL Reloaded: Pulling the Strings of SQL Server X (Dynamic Queries)

    A dynamic query is a query constructed at runtime, techniques often indispensable in many situations that require a certain flexibility in query’s creation. The creation of a dynamic query is nothing but a set of operations with strings, many of the techniques mentioned before becoming handy. SQL Server provides two functions for the execution of dynamic queries, namely EXECUTE statements (or its shortened form EXEC) and sp_executesql stored procedure. Even if the later it’s more flexible allowing passing parameters from and to the caller and allows reusing executions plans (see Using sp_esecutesql), for the following examples will be used only EXEC. But before let’s look how a static could become dynamic. For this let’s consider the following query based on AdventureWorks database:
-- example 1 - simple query   
FROM Person.Address  
WHERE AddressID = 1 

-- example 2 - query encapsulated in a string: 
EXEC ('SELECT * FROM Person.Address WHERE AddressID = 1') 

-- example 3 - query stored into a string variable      
EXEC ('SELECT * FROM Person.Address WHERE AddressID = 1') 

    Supposing that the AddressID is considered as parameter we can write:

-- example 4 - static query     
DECLARE @AddressID int 
SET @AddressID = 1 
FROM Person.Address  
WHERE AddressID = @AddressID  

-- example 5 - dynamic query  
DECLARE @sql varchar(100) 
DECLARE @AddressID int 
SET @AddressID = 1 
SET @sql = 'SELECT * FROM Person.Address WHERE AddressID = ' + CAST(@AddressID as varchar (10)) 
EXEC (@sql) 

   Until here there is no important conceptual difference. What if is needed to pass multiple AddressIDs? We can create a parameter for which expected values, though that’s not a reasonable solution as the number of values can vary. A more elegant solution would be to create a list of values and provided as a string parameter and then concatenate the original query and the string parameter like below. We just need to accommodate the length of the string variable to the expected size of the list of value.
-- example 6 (dynamic query) 
DECLARE @sql varchar(100) 
DECLARE @AddressIDs varchar(50) -- supposed parameter 
SET @AddressIDs = '1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 10'  
SET @sql = 'SELECT * FROM Person.Address WHERE AddressID IN (' + @AddressIDs + ')' 
EXEC (@sql) 

    There is actually a third solution. As in the previous post on list of values has been introduced the dbo.StringToTable function, the function can be used thus to transform the list in a table:
-- example 7 (list of values) 
DECLARE @AddressIDs varchar(50) -- supposed parameter 
SET @AddressIDs = '1,2,4,5,6,10'  
FROM Person.Address  
WHERE AddressID IN ( 
      SELECT value  
      FROM dbo.StringToTable(@AddressIDs, ',')) 

    In the same post was constructed the DoubleList list of values which can be used in a dynamic query in bulk inserts or table-value constructors. The list needs to be slightly modified by replacing the single quote with two single quotes in order to accommodate value’s storage in a string. Considering that there are no integrity constraints on the targeted table, he query for bulk insert can be written as follows:
-- example 8 (list of values & bulk insert) 
DECLARE @sql varchar(200) 
DECLARE @AddressTypes varchar(150)  
SET @AddressTypes = '(6,''Archive''), (1,''Billing''), (2,''Home''), (3,''Main Office''), (4,''Primary''), (5,''Shipping'')' 
SET @sql = 'INSERT Person.AddressType (AddressTypeID, Name) VALUES ' + @AddressTypes  
EXEC (@sql) 

    The same technique can be used with a table-value constructor:
-- example 9 (list of values & table-value constructor) 
DECLARE @sql varchar(400) 
DECLARE @AddressTypes varchar(150)  
SET @AddressTypes = '(6,''Archive''), (1,''Billing''), (2,''Home''), (3,''Main Office''), (4,''Primary''), (5,''Shipping'')' 
SET @sql = 'SELECT VA.AddressID, VA.AddressTypeID, AT.NAME FROM Purchasing.VendorAddress VA JOIN ( VALUES ' + @AddressTypes + ') AS AT(AddressTypeID, Name) ON VA.AddressTypeID = AT.AddressTypeID' 
EXEC (@sql) 

    The above examples are basic, in daily problems such queries can involve multiple parameters and operations. In addition, in the last examples the concatenation step was left out.

17 June 2011

SQL Reloaded: Pulling the Strings of SQL Server VII (List of Values)


    Lists are one of the basic structures in Mathematics, the term referring to an (ordered) set of elements separated by comma, space or any other delimiter (e.g. “:”, “;”). The elements of a list can be numbers, words, functions, or any other type of objects. In the world of databases, a list is typically formed out of the values of a given column or a given record, however it could span also a combination of rows and records, is such cases two delimiters being needed – one for column and one for row. From here comes probably the denomination of list of values. In a more general accept a list of values could be regarded as a delimited/concatenated subset. Such lists are formed when needed to send the data between the layers of an application or applications, this type of encoding being quite natural. In fact, also the data in a database are stored in similar tabular delimited structure, more complex though.  

    An useful example in which the list of values are quite handy is the passing of multiple values within the parameter of stored procedure or function (see example). This supposes first building the list and then use the values in a dynamic build query (like in the before mentioned example) or by building a table on the fly. We can call the two operations composition, respectively decomposition of list of values.


Composition, whether on vertical or horizontal is nothing but a concatenation in which the values alternate with one or more delimiters. Let’s reconsider the concatenation based on the values of a Person.AddressType AdventureWorks table. As the logic for concatenating for one or more attributes is the same, the below example concatenates a list based on a single attribute, namely AddressTypeID in SingleList, respectively two attributes, AddressTypeID and Name.

-- concatenation of values across a table 
;WITH CTE (AddressTypeID, Name, Ranking) 
AS (--preparing the data       
     SELECT AddressTypeID  
     , Name 
     , ROW_NUMBER () OVER(ORDER BY Name) Ranking 
     FROM Person.AddressType 
     -- WHERE ... 
, DAT (SingleList, DoubleList, Ranking) 
AS ( -- concatenating the values 
     SELECT Cast(AddressTypeID as varchar(max)) SingleList 
     , Cast('('+ Cast(AddressTypeID as varchar(10)) + ',''' + Name + ''')' as varchar(max)) DoubleList 
     , Ranking 
     FROM CTE 
     WHERE Ranking = 1 
     SELECT DAT.SingleList + ',' + Cast(CTE.AddressTypeID as varchar(20)) SingleList 
    , Cast(DAT.DoubleList + ', ('+ Cast(CTE.AddressTypeID as varchar(10)) + ',''' + CTE.Name + ''')' as varchar(max)) DoubleList 
    , CTE.Ranking  
     FROM CTE          
       JOIN DAT           
          ON CTE.Ranking = DAT.Ranking + 1       

-- the lists 
SELECT SingleList 
, DoubleList 
WHERE Ranking = (SELECT MAX(Ranking) FROM DAT) 

 List of values - concatenation

   The second example is based on atypical delimiters, resembling to the structure built for a batch insert or table value constructor-based statement, and as we’ll see later, ideal to be used in a dynamically-built query


Decomposition follows the inverse path, though it’s much easier to exemplify. In fact it’s used the same technique introduced in the last example from the previous post belonging to the same cycle, Subparts of a String, in which a space was used as delimiter. Another example is the dbo.SplitList function which decomposes a string using a loop.

-- decomposition of a string to a table using CTE 
CREATE FUNCTION dbo.StringToTable( 
 @str varchar(500) 
,@Delimiter char(1)) 
Id int NOT NULL 
,Value varchar(50)) 
     ;WITH CTE (PrevString, Position, Word)  
     AS (  
     SELECT LTrim(RTrim( CASE  
           WHEN CharIndex(@Delimiter, @str)>;0 THEN Right(@str, Len(@str)-CharIndex(@Delimiter, @str))  
           ELSE ''  
      END)) PrevString  
     , 1 Position  
     , LTrim(RTrim(CASE  
           WHEN CharIndex(@Delimiter, @str)>0 THEN LEFT(@str, CharIndex(@Delimiter, @str)-1)  
           ELSE @str  
       END)) Word  
      UNION ALL  
      SELECT LTrim(RTrim(CASE  
            WHEN CharIndex(@Delimiter, PrevString)>0 THEN Right(PrevString, Len(PrevString)-CharIndex(@Delimiter, PrevString))  
             ELSE ''  
       END)) PrevString  
      , Position + 1 Position  
      , LTrim(RTrim(CASE  
           WHEN CharIndex(@Delimiter, PrevString)>0 THEN LEFT(PrevString, CharIndex(@Delimiter, PrevString)-1)  
          ELSE PrevString  
      END)) Word      FROM CTE  
     WHERE Len(PrevString)>0  
     INSERT @Temp(Id, Value) 
     SELECT Position  
     , Word      FROM CTE  
     OPTION (maxrecursion 100)  

Here are two examples based on the single list created above and another one based on alphabet:

-- decomposing a list
, value 
FROM dbo.StringToTable('6,1,2,3,4,5', ',')     

-- decomposing the "alphabet" 
, value 
FROM dbo.StringToTable('a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,q,r,s,t,u,v,w,x,y,z', ',') 

List of values - simple decomposition    

List of values - alphabet decomposition
Even if the function deals only with a delimiter, it could be used to decompose lists involving multiple delimiters, as long the list is adequately built:

-- decomposing double list 
, value 
, Left(value, CHARINDEX(',', value)-1) LeftValue 
, Right(value, len(value)-CHARINDEX(',', value)) RightValue 
FROM dbo.StringToTable('6,Archive;1,Billing;2,Home;3,Main Office;4,Primary;5,Shipping', ';')     

List of values - double decomposition 

 The tables built thus from list of values can be further used in queries when needed to create a table on the fly. It would be interesting maybe to show that the composition and decomposition are inverse functions, however that’s out of scope, at least for current set of posts. 

13 June 2011

SQL Server: Procedure Cache (Definitions)

"An area of SQL Server memory used to hold trees and query plans that have recently been used or are currently in use by SQL Server." (Owen Williams, "MCSE TestPrep: SQL Server 6.5 Design and Implementation", 1998)

"A temporary storage location for the current, executing version of a specific stored procedure." (Microsoft Corporation, "SQL Server 7.0 System Administration Training Kit", 1999)

"The part of the SQL Server memory pool that is used to store execution plans for Transact-SQL batches, stored procedures, and triggers." (Anthony Sequeira & Brian Alderman, "The SQL Server 2000 Book", 2003)

"A shared, reserved memory area that stores the most recently executed SQL statements or PL/SQL procedures (including triggers and functions). Also called SQL cache." (Carlos Coronel et al, "Database Systems: Design, Implementation, and Management" 9th Ed., 2011)

"The part of the SQL Server memory pool that is used to store execution plans for Transact-SQL batches, stored procedures, and triggers." (Microsoft, "SQL Server 2012 Glossary", 2012)

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