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Refactoring SQL Applications

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Databases 159

stoolpigeon writes "My past as a DBA probably makes me a bit biased, but the reaction I've seen the most when a database application isn't performing as well as would be liked seems to focus on the database side of things. The search for a solution usually seems to center around tuning db parameters, the building (or removal) of indexes and, if the budget allows, throwing hardware at the problem. In their new work, Refactoring SQL Applications, Faroult and L'Hermite bring a much wider range of options to the table. There is a lot in this little book for the developer charged with fixing an existing application and I think a lot of good information that could save one from making a number of headache-inducing mistakes on a new application." Keep reading for the rest of JR's review.The book is divided into eight chapters; the first two deal with how to approach a problematic application in general. In the preface the authors say, "This book tries to take a realistic and honest view of the improvement of applications with a strong SQL component, and to define a rational framework for tactical maneuvers." I found this to be true throughout the entire book and was impressed by how well the examples, suggestions and problems echoed my real-life experience. This book is first and foremost practical. There is really almost nothing in the book that does not come immediately to bear upon the problem at hand. I've seen others do a lot less with many more pages.

The examples and benchmarks are compared across three different popular relational database management systems. They are MySQL, Oracle RDBMS and Microsoft SQL Server. I thought that this brought up a couple interesting issues that are not directly addressed in the book. First is that the authors are talking about how to improve performance, not comparing platforms, but the numbers are there and may be of some interest to people who would like to compare them. Secondly, I've met a number of people over the years who get quite animated about insisting that a good DBA does not need to know any certain solution, but rather just the fundamentals. I think Faroult and L'Hermite put this idea to rest, though unintentionally. In order to discuss how to best understand what exactly is happening and how best remedy issues, they show that it is necessary to have an understanding of platform specific issues and tools. This is true on two levels. The first is that the location of use of the built in tools for each platform are different. The second is that what works for one platform does not necessarily work for another.

For example, Chapter Two "Sanity Checks" contains a section on parsing and bind variables. The authors compare performance when queries are hard coded, with new prepared statements on each iteration (firm coded) and with one prepared statement and changing the parameter value on each iteration in a loop (soft coded). On Oracle and SQL Server the performance was poorest with hard coded, better with firm coded and best with soft coded. MySQL did best with soft coded as well but actually took a performance hit moving from hard coded to firm coded. This had to do with differences in how MySQL server caches statements. The authors took the time to rewrite their code from java to C in order to ensure that the issue was not related to language or driver issues. This is not to say that one can ignore RDBMS and SQL fundamentals, but rather that to get top performance requires knowledge of platform specific issues. This also comes out again when dealing with optimizers.

With that in mind, the authors recommend that readers have a solid understanding of SQL and some programming language. Most examples are SQL and code is given in Java and PHP. There are also examples that illustrate SQL extensions showing procedures, functions, etc. written for all three RDBMS products covered. The authors stick primarily to standard SQL but do make note and at times show examples of how things will look in each of the other databases. This information is current and reflects the most recent versions of the each product.

The fourth chapter, "Testing Framework" is incredibly useful. The authors cover generating test data and then checking correctness of outcomes through comparison. This is really useful information for anyone working to improve an application, or writing one for the first time. I think it also a large part of why this book could really appeal to new and experienced developers as well as the developer working on existing or brand new applications. I think there is a good chance that only the most extremely experienced developer would find nothing new here, or at least some new way to approach a problem. New developers can learn quite a bit and avoid some bad habits and assumptions without having to gain that information the hard way. And then the tools for generating random data, large amounts of data and comparing results will provide excellent opportunities for learning and real world application.

The next three chapters cover dealing with specific types of issues and how to improve performance. The last chapter then quickly describes a scenario of just how the authors step into real world situations and start to attack a problem. This is followed with two appendices. The first is scripts and samples, the second tools that are available to help in finding issues and resolving them. Some of the authors tools use SQLite, which is discussed briefly in the chapter on creating test data as some of the tools depend upon it.

I think that it has been a while since I've read a book that could have such a rapid return on investment. There are many suggestions and insights that should enable anyone to squeeze better performance out of just about any database application. While the focus is on the application side, there is plenty that requires understanding and work on the database side as well. There is discussion of the parameters and hardware I mentioned at the start of this review. But rather than the only options, they are one part in a much larger and systematic approach.

The authors relate that often refactoring for this type of application comes into play when something that used to work does not work any more. This can often lead to an environment of high pressure and emotion. The desire for a rapid resolution can lead to casting about in the dark for a quick fix or a feeling that cost is no longer as significant since a fix must be had now. The authors argue, and I agree, that this is exactly when a rational, disciplined process of tracking down and fixing issues is the most valuable. I agree. The issue is of course that someone in a position to do something must have the ability to take that approach. This book will get one well on the way to being in that place. Of course it can't take a brand new developer or DBA an expert. Much like a degree it can give them some fundamental tools that will allow them to take full advantage of experience as it comes rather than just crashing and burning.

If I could I'd have any developer on a database centric application read this, and DBAs as well. There is a lot here for both sides to learn about just how much they depend upon and impact one another. This may be an idealistic dream, especially for larger shops where often the relationship between those two groups is adversarial, but I think that such an approach could only make life much better for everyone involved. For anyone looking to enter this world on either side of the DBA or developer equation, this may make a nice addition to their education. For that individual wearing both hats this could be a life saver. In this small book they will learn many things to look out for as well as gain exposure to some of the similarities and differences in what are arguably the top three relational database management systems right now.

You can purchase Refactoring SQL Applications from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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159 comments

Sorry for the stink guys... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27154317)

...I made an Obama in my pants!

We are not responsible for them in any way. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27154587)

"The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way."

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Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (4, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154387)

This study would have carried more weight if it had included PostgreSQL and IBM's DB2. These two databases do more serious work than MySQL although many believe MySQL is more widely deployed.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (4, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154571)

I have to agree. Maybe I'm unfairly biased and it's just past performance (both relayed by others and experienced by myself), but I don't trust MySQL for anything more complex than a backend for a simple website. If I want a reliable open source database for a serious project, I'd go for PostgreSQL in a heartbeat.

I actually was looking at KnowledgeTree recently as a possible solution for a document management system for our organization (we have a clunky old system and some others here are pushing SharePoint as a replacment . . .), but it's use of MySQL pretty much stopped that dead in it's tracks. I know they'd prefer MS SQL Server as an option here. I could *probably* talk with them if it supported PgSQL. But MySQL isn't even an option to discuss for something this important.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (-1, Troll)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154633)

Maybe I'm unfairly biased and it's just past performance (both relayed by others and experienced by myself), but I don't trust MySQL for anything more complex than a backend for a simple website.

Exactly, MySQL is nothing but a toy database.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (2, Funny)

Quintilian (1496723) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154759)

Exactly, MySQL is nothing but a toy database.

You're right! I wanted to catalog all my LEGO sets and G.I.Joes and it was just useful enough.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (3, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154793)

Exactly, MySQL is nothing but a toy database.

This is the problem with most slashdotters. Most of them put up unsupported comments. What I would like you to do is to support your claims by pointing us to websites that have made the "mistake" of first running MySQL and later discovering the "light" in adopting PostgreSQL or otherwise.

Alternatively, you could websites that use MySQL; which websites can be branded as "toy websites" by extension.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (4, Insightful)

not already in use (972294) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155033)

Puh-leez. You don't come to slashdot for objective discussion. You come here to mingle with folks who enforce your inherently held "truths." You come here to post the same Microsoft jokes that haven't been funny for 10 years and get modded +1, Funny. You come here to ridicule the less technically inclined in an attempt to inflate your hollow ego. You come here to partake in a circle-jerk of technical non-conformance. You come here for many things, none of which involve objective, reasonable discussion.

As an aside, some of the toy websites that use mySQL include Flickr, Facebook, Wikipedia, Google, Nokia and YouTube.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (1)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155281)

wait - most of those sites also have memcached frontend for fetching data, custom message passing apis for balancing load, bigtables of google, and a lot of other cruft to make them run reasonably.

I like mySQL, it's great for low to huge sized sites, but a database - any database - would get you only so far.

still, I'd prefer not to handle mysql structural data, as it mangles text removing spaces, changing nulls and making unexpected modification to your data. It thinks it's helping me, but that's good only on certain kind of sites. Now, for the citation needed folks: http://sql-info.de/mysql/gotchas.html [sql-info.de], http://highscalability.com/links/weblink/24 [highscalability.com]

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27155321)

Don't forget about the Jew and nigger jokes. A jew nose is roughly the same length of a nigger penis.

Plus, niggers enjoy eating watermelon [wikipedia.org].

Confusing volume with data integrity (5, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 5 years ago | (#27156611)

The typical argument goes something like: 'MySQL suxorz - nobody uses it for serios work' followed by: 'Yeah? well explain that to =HIGH VOLUME SITE=!'

Such responses show a misunderstanding of what serious work is being discussed.

MySQL does a fabulous job with simple, high-volume transactions, exactly the type seen by Yahoogle/Flicker/Blogsites. They need to sore simple data (EG text) and be able to retrieve it quickly, and for these uses, MySQL is probably a better bet than Postgres or DB2.

But 'serios work' means thing like strong, ACID compliant transactions, row-level locking, strong integrity of field types, and a query scheduler that holds its own when you combine inner, outer, nested, subqueries mashing together a dozen or more tables with millions/billions of records/combinations.

Postgres will do this, MySQL won't. MySQL isn't bad because of this, it's just a tool not well suited to this specific job. I use MySQL for website CMS, I use Postgres for financial applications.

Does your dishwasher suck because it does a piss-poor job cleaning your socks? Use the right tool for the job.

Re:Confusing volume with data integrity (1)

Angvaw (992553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27157793)

I agree 100%. Unfortunately, to many folks, the distinction isn't quite so clear as dishwasher vs. laundry machine. As a friend once told me, without any knowledge of our requirements, "Your company is pissing away tens of thousands of dollars on Oracle, when you could use MySQL for free!"

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (4, Informative)

Splab (574204) | more than 5 years ago | (#27156317)

GP is right, MySQL is a toy database, advanced toy but still a toy database.

The absolutely most important thing for a database is data integrity, the ability to trust in your system - when it says "Yeah I saved that for you", it should take catastrophic events to lose it again.

MySQL treats data in a best effort way, if what you asked it to do doesn't fly with current config, it reverts to something that looks right enough and go with that.

Consider a database setup, admin installs MySQL with default creates some tables, runs it for a while, decides he needs more log space (transaction), he adjusts the settings and restart MySQL. It starts, everything is peachy. Transactions are running, being committed, he adds more tables, and then suddenly shit hits the fan, he does a rollback, MySQL says ok, but lo and behold, the data is still there...

So what went wrong? When he changed the transaction log size MySQL during start up realized an inconsistency between the actual log file size and the wanted, MySQL can't expand this file on the fly so InnoDB is disabled, MySQL now reverts to MyISAM (I am not kidding, this is what MySQL will do). Any subsequent calls to begin and commit transaction will be accepted with an OK. Any tables created afterward will be accepted, even with explicit engine syntax MySQL will just issue query ok, 1 warning.

Now the warning will tell you that the InnoDB engine wasn't available, so MySQL chose MyISAM instead - however, most aren't aware of this behavior, especially since most programming languages does not support this.

A database should at no point _ever!_ say "OK" to a request for something that can't be handled. If I say begin transaction and something isn't right I want my database to shout on top of its binary lungs that something is wrong and my data isn't safe.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (4, Insightful)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 5 years ago | (#27156361)

It isn't quite that simple, but I suppose one of my earlier (and later abandoned) projects qualifies.

I set up HERMES (a CRM suite written in PHP4) originally on MySQL and eventually discovered that the lack of transactions, etc. were a serious problem (this was back in 1999). I tried to move it over to PostgreSQL and discovered that PostgreSQL was really hard to administer (this was back in 1999). I ended up doing all my prototyping on MySQL, then converting the schemas to PostgreSQL using mysql2pgsql.pl because this was the only way I could get the data protections I needed (back in 1999).

Now, both MySQL and PostgreSQL have come a long way in the nearly-a-decade since then. MySQL has added transactions (for some table types not installed by default), foreign keys (for some table types not installed by default), strict mode (which can be circumvented on the app level), and a the planner has gotten much better. On the other hand, nearly every one of my issues with PostgreSQL has been resolved too. 8.3 has some really impressive new features from a developer perspective, and 8.4 will have even more. I haven't had to do prototyping on MySQL since PostgreSQL 7.3 came out.

I still stand by the statement that "compared to PostgreSQL, MySQL is a toy," and I would expect the gap between them to continue to widen. However what was limited to light content management db's in 1999 (MySQL), has become better able to handle a wider range of single-app dbs. MySQL is still no reasonable choice for an enterprise-wide database management solution especially where critical data is involved, but there are an increasing number of special cases where it is an option, in particular when compared to Firebird's embedded version, SQLite, and stuff like Sybase's SQL Anywhere. Comparing MySQL to MS SQL though only comes out favorably for MySQL where MS SQL is quite a bit more than is needed. PostgreSQL OTOH can in most cases compare favorably to Oracle, DB2, and MS SQL.

So the other half of the statement needs to be "but there are some cool things you can do with a toy db...."

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (4, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#27156379)

What I would like you to do is to support your claims by pointing us to websites that have made the "mistake" of first running MySQL and later discovering the "light" in adopting PostgreSQL or otherwise.

It's a toy database because when things aren't set up properly, they don't fail. Instead, they succeed silently and corrupt data (see using the wrong file format for your tablespace). Also, the developers are a treat - "we don't need transactions, do integrity checks in the app", followed by "we now have transactions, aren't we cool". Do they have triggers yet? Meanwhile, I have postgres, which works just fine.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 5 years ago | (#27157035)

Or alternatively, you could find sights detailing the problems with MySQL. I got bitten by one, where if a table was defined with any timestamp, any row update would automatically update the timestamp whether asked for or not. They thought it a feature; I thought it a disaster that took hours to track down. Then I found that it has no validation, taking dates such as 2005-01-42.

I have no idea whether it still has these particular failings, but by the time I wised up and started looking for web sites detailing these bogosities, I was thoroughly fed up with it and will never touch it again.

Actually (1)

voltheir (1087207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154795)

While they focus on MySQL in their examples, these are the same authors of "the Art of SQL", which tackles how to formulate application schema in a optimal way. It's actually a very good read - and if anyone had read and understood their first book, they would have no need for this second one, regardless of what RBDMS they are using. Also, mod parent Flamebait please - because that's all it is.

Re:Actually (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154981)

They don't focus on MySQL - and I don't think the gp (or whatever it was) said they did - but just so it's clear. They do everything evenly between the three. But no - they do not do this for DB2 or PostgreSQL. I don't know how or why they chose those 3 - but that is what they cover. Though I have to imagine much of this will, as in The Art of SQL carry over to any RDBMS.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27155001)

How so? I have a database with over 35 million records and no problems.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (1)

Hecatonchires (231908) | more than 5 years ago | (#27158675)

Wow. 35 million! That's heaps!

Is that the sum of rows in all tables? # of members? Transactions? User audit entries?

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155363)

You forgot the other often repeated/never researched traditional slashdot claims seen in every mysql comment section, such as mysql doesn't do transactions and doesn't do replication, both of which are necessary for each and every database install ever done past present or future... (Of course it has those features for about half a decade, maybe more, certainly since around the 4.0 range, but that never slows down the folks that repeat those claims)

Then there are the re-occurring claims that mysql is useless because it doesn't have some bizarre feature that you might personally think is useful, therefore any database without it is useless for everyone doing anything, like perhaps direct file importation of COBOL ISAM punch cards, or an internal database representation for complex four dimensional vectors. You know, the stuff everyone uses.

Then there are the posts explaining how a failing hard drive on an old gateway 2000 vaporized the filesystem and/or bad ram caused endless kernel lockups, and the mysql software was running on that bad hardware, and correlation always implies causation, so mysql must be bad too.

Finally I expect several posts about how they found an obscure bug in the beta 3.23 version back around eight years therefore they'll never use it again because that is the only software that has ever had a bug.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (3, Interesting)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155765)

Well... I have been using Postgresql since back WHEN MySQL didn't do transactions.... I still don't trust MySQL's transactions or the new strict mode. At the same time, I have watched PostgreSQL do an absolutely terrific job of running horrendously written queries optimally. Here are two criticisms I have about using MySQL for real application work, especially when you are distributing that application (and thus have little control over how users set up their db's):

1) MySQL transactions are built into the table engines, and by default (last I checked, and meaning you don't install innodb, etc), the tables will not be transactional. This means that if you are building an inhouse app, you can trust it more than you can if you are distributing your software. In short, if you are distributing software you can't guarantee that it is running on a system with transactions without a great deal of headache........ The same goes for referential integrity enforcement.

2) Strict mode can be turned off by any application. This means that the more recent data integrity checks cannot be relied upon. This is an issue on both inhouse and distributed software because it adds quite a bit of overhead to the QA process internally, and can add support headaches in software for distribution.

MySQL is a good db for single-app databases, where data integrity is not a tremendous issue or where you are deploying a separate MySQL instance on a different port. It is quite a bit worse than PostgreSQL for anything else.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (2, Interesting)

Leolo (568145) | more than 5 years ago | (#27159067)

I write applications that use MySQL that get installed on servers at the cient's premises. I'm also the one doing with the installation and MySQL config.

Reponding to your points :

  1. If the client were to insist on handling the MySQL part, and screwed it up, it would cease to be my problem. Or rather, I would point at the instalation and tell them were they fucked up;
  2. About turning off strict-mode. If your applications are turning off strict-mode, then don't be supprised if you break data integrity. If your clients are writing apps that turn off strict-mode and mess up data integrity, that isn't really your problem, is it?

Or how about we put it another way: it will always be possible for someone to mess up the data. These are human issue, not a software issue. Deal with them that way.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (2, Interesting)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 5 years ago | (#27159117)

If the client were to insist on handling the MySQL part, and screwed it up, it would cease to be my problem. Or rather, I would point at the instalation and tell them were they fucked up;

Ok, so your point is that this is fine as long as you install MySQL, make sure that Innodb, etc. is installed, etc. Fine. I don't want that responsibility.

About turning off strict-mode. If your applications are turning off strict-mode, then don't be supprised if you break data integrity. If your clients are writing apps that turn off strict-mode and mess up data integrity, that isn't really your problem, is it?

On the other hand, it isn't a support headache I want, since I might be hired to come in and fix it. I would rather be spending my paid development time elsewhere.

However, on that latter point, for inhouse apps where several apps share a db, you have a bigger issue, and that is that you really need to have someone auditing every app to ensure it DOESN'T turn off strict mode. Why bother with that issue? Why not use a db which ALWAYS performs these sorts of checks and where they can't be turned off?

also, please reread this: (2, Interesting)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 5 years ago | (#27159993)

MySQL is a good db for single-app databases, where data integrity is not a tremendous issue or where you are deploying a separate MySQL instance on a different port. It is quite a bit worse than PostgreSQL for anything else.

From your description you are using MySQL for a single-app database where you run a dedicated instance of MySQL for your app. That is not the usage case I was describing, which is a central RDBMS serving out the same data to a myriad of different applications. If you are trying to go beyond ONE app for your data, you should look to PostgreSQL instead of MySQL.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (3, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155783)

I'm not holding anything against it that regard. The simple fact is that I've had two fairly low traffic MySQL databases become corrupted beyond the point of being usable within the last 3 years. The hardware wasn't at fault here (nor was it old or outdated). Now luckily, this was for something that while important, wasn't "OMG somebody's head's gonna roll!" critical (namely, it was the quarantine database for amavisd-new on a mail filter, and then later an internal message/call tracking system that we'd wrote).

For stuff like that, where you can stand to lose the data, or at worst, roll to a backup, then MySQL has it's uses. However, our document management system for example contains tons of documents that we must legally keep archived and available (Government institution - we have to have it available for FOIA requests). We also have for instance land appraisal software keeping databases of property taxing information that we need to bill at the end of the year (with about $50 million annually riding on that - if we don't get those bills out our whole budget shuts down). I just don't trust that type of thing to MySQL. Not to mention that the "nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft" mentality does kick in. If the database fails and I have to restore from backup, then if it's MS SQL Server or Oracle then your bosses will usually not fault me(as long as I have good backups in place, which I do). If something that critical fails and I used MySQL on the project, I very well might be looking for a new job.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 5 years ago | (#27156737)

Seriously, if you believe MySQL to be safe you have no business with database applications, google it - heck, just read the linked sites from sibling posts.

Transactions are only supported by specific engines and even when you think you are running the right engine MySQL might surprise you (usually when you need a rollback the most). Read up on it, your data is being corrupted!

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (1)

DiegoBravo (324012) | more than 5 years ago | (#27159279)

While I mostly agree with your points, I definitively don't understand why MySQL still creates tables without Foreign Key support, if you don't add the silly "engine=innodb" keyword. Please don't reply with "backward compatibility for broken applications/schemas"...
...
Server version: 5.0.67-0ubuntu6 (Ubuntu) ...
mysql> create table testtable ( xx integer);
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> show create table testtable; ...CREATE TABLE testtable( ...
) ENGINE=MyISAM DEFAULT CHARSET=latin1 |

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (1)

Tiro (19535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155773)

I have the same qualms about deploying Wordpress, which requires MySQL. Not to mention that the MySQL commercial license costs $600.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155979)

Oddly enough, I am also looking at KnowledgeTree. Very inexpensive and well put together system. What exactly is your problem with mysql in this instance?

I'd also be interested in hearing more about your view of KnowledgeTree as a whole. I was very impressed with its Office integration and overall ease of use compared with more expensive products.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27156447)

I've had a few MySQL databases become corrupted in production systems. I've not had any corruption in either MS SQL Server or PostgreSQL databases that have been in use longer and are used much more heavily. More or less just a case of "once bitten twice shy".

As to KnowledgeTree specifically, I didn't use it extensively, but it did look promising. I did have some minor issues defining permissions on certain items, but that was probably just a matter of learning curve. The only downside I'd state was that the system did seem a tad on the slow side. Now, that might not be a fair statement given that I was running it on my workstation for testing purposes rather than a big server, but my desktop machine is still pretty decent (Pentium 4 3.0ghz Dual core with 2GB RAM) and with just me on the system it was just barely above what I'd deem "acceptable". Again though, I'm sure that on something with a bit more horsepower it would pick up in performance.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27156907)

Yeah, the speed seems to be the only thing I found lacking. I attributed that to the workstation I have this installed on as well. If it turns out that it runs better on a server, we will likely begin using it.

Do you have another system that you are looking at?

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (1)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155061)

The book is not a study, it is trying to teach refactoring concepts with the idea that you can take and apply them to any SQL project. Surely you can figure out how to apply an Oracle or MySQL example to PostgreSQL, yes?

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (1)

aoteoroa (596031) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155417)

This study would have carried more weight if it had included PostgreSQL and IBM's DB2

MySQL is easy to use, and understand and is therefore perfect for a book on general database concepts. Years ago books on programming concepts had their examples written in C. It didn't matter that C was not the best tool for every job it was just a language that most programmers understood.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155879)

This study would have carried more weight if it had included PostgreSQL and IBM's DB2. These two databases do more serious work than MySQL although many believe MySQL is more widely deployed.

"Study"? This is a book review.

Thanks for getting the "WHAT ABOUT POSTGRES" comment that must accompany every Slashdot story submission that mentions MySQL out of the way early, though.

Re:Should have included PostgreSQL and DB2 (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27157167)

Suboptimal SQL procedures can be slow on any system.

Once I wrote a stored procedure in my first draft (Quick and easy to code) It took 45 minutes to run...

The DBA optimized using server tools brought it down to about 30 minutes.

Then I went back checked for all the bottle necks and fixed them from longest to shortest. It was able to run in 20 seconds. Yea to took more lines and by no way as an elegant SQL call. But for a 13,500% speed improvement lets put elegance to the wast side.

Problem is not the SQL writers..... (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154471)

But with management.

when I spent a few years as a DBA it was common to be told to not work on that project any more as soon as it produced usable data. That means as soon as you have a working prototype you are required to drop it and start the next project. Many times after you get a working prototype you then go back and refine it so that it's faster and uses less resources.

Management is the blame. Unrealistic deadlines for DBA's and if you are honest with them and give a report that you have data they think it's good to go. I actually got wrote up once for taking one of the old procedures we had and rewriting it so that it worked much faster and the resource hog it was was reduced to the point that others could use the DB while it ran. I was told I was wasting time.

Re:Problem is not the SQL writers..... (3, Interesting)

Samalie (1016193) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154663)

Agreed COMPLETELY.

I work as a DBA as well, and the moment the prototype produces reliable data, its immediately off to the next project. Only time I ever get to go back and tweak code is if some random variable that was not thought of was missed in the original design, or a bug, forces me back into the code.

I've got some code out there that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is horribly inefficient...but I'm not given the time and opprotunity to correct that.

Re:Problem is not the SQL writers..... (3, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155897)

This experience speaks to a more general issue that I have with non-technical MBA types who tend to reduce everything to a dollars and cents issue without fully appreciating or even being able to fully appreciate either the technical OR the financial consequences of their decisions. They assume that their MBA piece-of-paper mail-order diploma makes them oh-so-much smarter than anyone else who doesn't have one, when in fact the smartest people tend to study mathematics, physics, engineering, other hard science, or even philosophy while the intellectual light-weights study social science and get their MBA. If anyone is actually a waste of time and resources then it is the middle management social climbers who produce a lot of hot air using the latest "management techniques" that they read about in a trade magazine on an airline flight or heard about at a conference held in a cheap hotel ballroom.

Re:Problem is not the SQL writers..... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27156495)

I actually got wrote up once for taking one of the old procedures we had and rewriting it so that it worked much faster and the resource hog it was was reduced to the point that others could use the DB while it ran. I was told I was wasting time.

You were wasting time. You only have so many hours in your life; why spend them working for those losers?

Re:Problem is not the SQL writers..... (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27158273)

DBA time is expensive but nearly as expensive as Oracle licenses so our DBA gets plenty of time to analyze and tune SQL where he can, but we are mostly a COTS house, we do minimal in house development.

compare SQL to Code (2)

trybywrench (584843) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154541)

I'd like to see some work done on the balancing act of how much to do in code and how much to do in SQL. My coworker can put SQL statements together that if printed on an 8.5x11 would fill the whole sheet if not run over. Me, on the other hand, I tend to break up huge sql statements into a set of smaller ones and then use code to do some of the work that could possible have been done in SQL. I don't have the time to find out what works best on my own but I do have the time to read about it.

btw, how come tech books don't come on tape/cd?

Re:compare SQL to Code (4, Informative)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154945)

On a REAL database, like Oracle, the query optimizer will factor common expressions, eliminate unused branches, and in general execute your SQL in completely different manner than what you write.

Doing things in a "relational calculus" way, where you specify what to be done (i.e., with SQL) is superior to doing things in a "relational algebra" way (individual statements correlated by procedure code).

I've written some queries that were a dozen pages long for a individual statement, mostly because I use a python-like style where the indentation specifies the structure and thus you can string together monstrous subexpressions and not get confused. The DBA was like "you're not running that on MY box," but it ran super fast because of the query optimizer.

That's what I mean when I say MySql is a Toy, compared to DB/2, Oracle, or SQL Server. The query optimizer.

Re:compare SQL to Code (3, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155469)

Chapter 5 - "Statement Refactoring" includes, according to the author, "...how to analyze SQL statements so as to turn the optimizer into your friend, not your foe." It's solid and probably points people towards writing things that work just as you describe.

Re:compare SQL to Code (1)

OG (15008) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154947)

btw, how come tech books don't come on tape/cd?

Only on Slashdot do you find someone who wants to listen to Natalie Portman talk SQL.

Joking aside, I doubt I'd find tech books on tape all that useful. Without diagrams, code examples, etc., you lose quite a bit of the value, IMO.

Oh if only... (4, Funny)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155325)

Only on Slashdot do you find someone who wants to listen to Natalie Portman talk SQL.

SELECT * FROM Memes WHERE Reference LIKE '%Portman%' AND LIKE '%naked%' AND LIKE '%petrified%' ORDER BY SlashdotCommentScore, HotGrits;

27,154,947 Rows Returned.

Re:compare SQL to Code (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155185)

I think the emphasis here is on writing the best sql so you can write the best code. Removing unneeded iteration on either side can be a huge benefit. Repeated calls to a database can be expensive - in numerous ways - so I think they aim the reader towards a state where more work is done with less trips.
 
I think that it is also safe to say that many of the tools they give for testing performance would be very useful in nailing down just where the issue is. It's not an issue of finding what works best - but rather figuring out in each case where the trouble is at.

Re:compare SQL to Code (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155379)

If you are competent you can accomplish 99-100% of your business logic in the database.

Re:compare SQL to Code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27156227)

Yes, because many databases can now run Java stored procedures. :P

Seriously, though...writing all your business logic in SQL and stored procedures may give faster execution, but (IMHO) the development may be slower. Last I knew, the database world was far behind the java/.net/c++/general-purpose language world in the things that ease code maintenance, reuse and legibility:

* rich IDEs
* refactoring plugins/tools
* unit testing tools and plugins.

Also, the vendors' stored procedure languages may lack the rich language paradigms present in general purpose languages, which promote reuse or easy code maintenance in a variety of ways.

I also found that the development resources (examples, mailing lists, forums, etc.) were more numerous and varied for general purpose languages.

Plus, it's easier to staff a shop with 100 java/.net/c++ devs than PL/SQL (or similar) devs. They are simply more general-purpose skillsets.

Re:compare SQL to Code (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#27156523)

The problem is that 'in code' the modules driving the business rules are far and away from the data driving the rules- requiring you to spend an inordinate amount of time ferrying the data back and forth from the db to the code modules.

The real problem is that 'everything is a nail' and most developers do not have a solid handle on data design and database coding concepts.

Re:compare SQL to Code (2, Insightful)

he-sk (103163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27156219)

That's possibly a VERY bad idea. Even with small queries it's possible to create huge intermediate result tables and loading all that data into your application will make it crash. And if that doesn't happen, breaking a complex SQL statement into separate parts robs the SQL query optimizer of useful information. Your code limits the choices for an optimum evaluation plan, but how close is your code to the optimum plan that can be achieved?

Having said that, the optimizers can't work magic. I sometimes split up SQL statements to force a certain strategy, when the result of the optimized plan is garbage.

Re:compare SQL to Code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27156877)

btw, how come tech books don't come on tape/cd?

Would you want to sit through a University mathematics, physics, engineering, or computer science lecture in which the professor talks without using a blackboard or projector? If so, you're unusual. I certainly wouldn't - I am almost completely unable to understand even the simplest formula in spoken form.

Performance Tuning is Not Refactoring (4, Insightful)

puppetman (131489) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154589)

I have the misfortune of working with a database that is primarily a couple of tables with key-value pairs (not a traditional database model).

There is only one column that can be indexed, and it has to be done with a full text index.

Every once in a while, there is a discussion about moving this mess to something more traditional. I was excited to read the review on this book, but as I read through the review, it seemed like this was more of a "performance tuning guide".

Re-factoring a database is a lot more involved - changing tables, stored procedures, maybe even the underlying database.

The term Database Application is fuzzy and poorly defined. Is it the front end? The stored procedures? The database tables? I would consider a database application to be any part of the code that stores, retrieves, removes or modifies data stored in a database, and the entities that have been defined to store that data.

Using that definition, this book is about tuning, not refactoring.

Re:Performance Tuning is Not Refactoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27155141)

The definition of refactoring, according to Martin Fowler, is, "the process of changing a software system in such a way that it does not alter the external behaviour of the code yet improves its internal structure." Performance tuning is not refactoring because, with luck, it makes the system behave in a measurably different way.

I'd guess that the reviewer and perhaps the author is not using Fowler's definition, as is evident in the statement, "The authors relate that often refactoring for this type of application comes into play when something that used to work does not work any more." Refactoring should never fix software that doesn't work as this requires a change in behaviour, something that refactoring explicitly attempts to avoid.

Re:Performance Tuning is Not Refactoring (2, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155571)

Let me explain what I meant by "doesn't work any more". For example a query that originally took 30 seconds now take 3 hours. It still 'works' from a functional perspective but from a business perspective may have become completely useless. Refactoring can make it work again. I should have been more clear on what I meant there.

Re:Performance Tuning is Not Refactoring (1)

puppetman (131489) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160007)

Very good comment. What's funny is that when I hear the term "refactoring" it usually means, "Lets clean up the code so that it's more compatible with new features we need to add".

If the code is cleaned up, then new features added, then it really is refactoring.

But I would suspect that new features are added while the "refactoring" is going on, and thus it's not really refactoring.

Re:Performance Tuning is Not Refactoring (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155293)

It discusses how to change client code - which is definitely not database tuning. There are database tuning techniques involved, but really it is much more than that. I tried to express that in the review but maybe I didn't do as well as I would have liked.
 
Here is how Wikipedia defines refactoring, "Code refactoring is the process of changing a computer program's internal structure without modifying its external functional behavior or existing functionality. This is usually done to improve external or internal non-functional properties of the software, such as code readability, simplify code structure, change code to adhere to a given programming paradigm, improve maintainability, improve extensibility, or increase execution performance."
 
This book is full of examples on how to do that on the client side and on the database side. When I think of tuning, I think of the items mentioned in the first paragraph of the review - changing db parameters, adding or removing indexes and adding hardware. The book does touch on those but spends more time going over how to rewrite code inside and outside of the database - so I wouldn't say it is just tuning.

Re:Performance Tuning is Not Refactoring (1)

puppetman (131489) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160107)

Fair enough. Tuning is a fuzzy term as well. Tuning can imply hints in what you've mentioned (indexes, parameters, hardware, etc), but it can also imply hints, views, etc, etc, which could technically be called refactoring.

You're right - it's hard to summarize a book - I'll take a flip through it the next time I'm at a bookstore that carries it.

Thanks for the reply.

Re:Performance Tuning is Not Refactoring (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#27156493)

Re-factoring a database is a lot more involved - changing tables, stored procedures, maybe even the underlying database.

This particular case is easy: identify one form of data storage (for instance, a customer record) in the tables, build a schema, change the clients, and migrate the data. You will need a history of used queries if your codebase is murky to identify all the users of this data. Follow this process for 1-3 items at a time until you empty the old table.

If you have a dev environment, pull the table apart and identify all the uses of the table, make a schema that supports them, and migrate your code to use the DB. You'll probably break some obscure excel spreadsheet along the way, so do the actual migration in stages (as above) and don't worry if you can only shrink the table by 99% - making it an obscure minor thing is almost as good as killing it outright.Just don't let anyone add use cases to it.

Re:Performance Tuning is Not Refactoring (1)

fgaliegue (1137441) | more than 5 years ago | (#27157375)

Then you may want to "try out" this book:

http://books.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/06/07/1458232 [slashdot.org]

"Incidentally", it was written by... Stéphane Faroult. I've read it a few times, and used its lessons (there are no other words for it, really) to prove by figures that the redesign of the data model that I suggested could improve the performance by a factor of 10.

Before reading that book, I knew that the data model was broke, but couldn't explain why. This book told me why. We use Oracle, but the lessons taught in this book apply to ANY (R)DBMS.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27154607)

There's not Postgres in the book, so, it will be usefull for me?

Server performance is important, but... (3, Insightful)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154655)

I've found that the biggest issues with SQL applications (writing rich clients) is not in performance turning of server/sql but in dealing with ORM issues, where to draw the line between how much work the client does vs. how much the server does, reconciling changes made in memory with data in tables, concurrency, database architecture designed to cope in advance with poorly thought-out requirements you're given, etc. I'd hope that book on refactoring SQL *applications* would touch on these issues.

Shoot the developers (2, Interesting)

kafros (896657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154687)

I am a developer, and my experience has shown that if you use one of: Oracle, SQLServer,
PostgreSQL, DB2 and application performance is poor, 99% of the time it is poor design from our
(developer's) side.

Developers without good understanding of Relational Databases and SQL often produce problems that
cannot be solved by indexes, or throwing transistors at them.

It is so nice to see a "custom" made map implemented in the database using temporary tables instead of
using the language's built-in map functionality :-)
sorting arrays using the database gets extra points (no kidding, I have seen this!)

Re:Shoot the developers (2, Informative)

Bright Apollo (988736) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154929)

I would cautiously agree with the developers being less educated on SQL than they should be. The trouble seems to be in the different mind-sets required to solve the application problems. SQL is a declarative language, and it operates on your set of data as described. The host language, for what of a better term, is C or Java or some other iterative language, and it operates on each individual member of the set, stepwise. If you primarily think "stepwise" or algorithmically, you're already framing your problems as challenges to be met with an iterative approach. Learning to recognize which parts of the application require declarative, functional, or procedural solutions is where good developers becomes great.

I disagree with any statement that pits developers against DBAs. I have found a few DBAs that have more ability than myself in SQL, but not many and not recently. I don't rely on them to work with my data, and then don't rely on me to manage four hundred schemas across two dozen machines. A good separation of duties always helps.

-BA

Re:Shoot the developers (1)

BigJClark (1226554) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154937)


Custom made map implementation? You mean a view? :)

This is why I like our new company architecture model. Essentially the application developers only see a view. The view should closely match the "screen" of the application. The view is designed, and optimized by architects, and then, of course, all these views are available in our DBMS, managed by our DBA's. Never should developers make complex queries; they just query the view. Although some definitely have the touch, the majority routinely do things incorrect or inefficient. The architects are a group of highly trained individuals who optimize the heck out of the view, and of course the DBA's ensure uptime, backup and DBMS tuning.

Rarely does the DBMS have to be tuned, after its go.

Its a great model and it has allowed a much less dependence on developers, who are the equivalent of educated transient gypies ;)

Re:Shoot the developers (1)

kafros (896657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155255)

I will assume that you are joking
Your database is only queried? No insert/update/delete? If yes who does these? Ah developers :-)

Database model design is not the only source of problems. A table locking where you should not lock
(everything) can bring a good designed system to it knees

As for the map example on my previous post, imagine a Java TreeMap, or a .NET Dictionary
implemented as a two column temporary table to be dropped after use - yeah some of my previous
colleagues did these things :-(

Re:Shoot the developers (1)

BigJClark (1226554) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155493)


Ahhh, no I'm not joking :) Sorry for being vague. Inserts/Updates/Deletes are handled from the view as well. We have an instead-of trigger on the view that manages our "business rules" and the base tables. Locking is completely handled by the Oracle, and as a DBA, I know that the Oracle manages this by issuing a RX lock, which allows other sessions to insert/update/query on the resource(table). Perhaps a small example.

A java front-end requires customer vital data: DOB, first/last name, city. This information for all customers is stored in a view. Lets say this view is composed of two tables. Table person inner joined with table status. When the java developer wishes to query existing information, he queries the view. When he wishes to insert a new customer, the instead-of trigger kicks in, and manages inserting into the base table (Oracle handles view insertion nicely, its possible to insert into a view w/o an instead-of trigger, but this example is exceedingly simple, and not how I would model it).

Essentially what has happened, is there is a communication layer between business and the tech side. Its easy for a business analyst to say, "I wish we could add postal code" and add a new column in a our view, that maps to an existing column in the underlying table. It makes changes incredibly easy, and dare I say, agile ;)

I can go into much more detail if you would like. I have time; another benefit is like I said above, its quick/easy to do changes, which leaves people like me with a lot of time on their hands :)

Re:Shoot the developers (2, Insightful)

kafros (896657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155875)

So you have code in two places? Application layer (lets say JAVA) and DB layer (triggers)?

How do you debug, log, source control, deploy?

I found triggers to be a pain in the ass on the problems above
(Unless you just have one big customer and nothing else)

Re:Shoot the developers (1)

BigJClark (1226554) | more than 5 years ago | (#27156791)


That is exactly how we do it. It also grants us a very distinct separation from the two, meaning in a few years we can rollout a brand spanking new UI, and ever have to touch the DB code.

1) Debugging/logging through Oracle is one of the largest pain in the arses I've ever undertaken. I don't even bother to debug code through toad anymore, its primarily just trace statements, that when "debug" mode is turned on, it traces pretty much every single operation, much like java stack tracing.

2) We manage source control through Oracle Designer, which isn't as nice as some of the fancy java source control apps, but it does handle versioning, which is all I really care about.

3) Deploying in PLSQL is just like Java, if not easier. As we have all of our tiers, when the decision to rollout to production environment, we schedule an outage, open our Oracle server in restrict mode, execute the rollout scripts, recompile the entire database, and then reopen the Oracle. As we are contractually obligated to be 24/7, we have to work closely with our clients (in this case, the Government, I won't get any more specific) and generally it should take no longer than 5min.



But you hit the nail on the head with triggers. Triggers are nasty little beasties that can cause bugs like you wouldn't believe. Having old triggers fire at obscure times, under changing circumstances is such a headache. It requires a strict adherence to naming conventions, standards, and above all, intelligent people to preventing trigger abuse.

Re:Shoot the developers (2, Interesting)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155895)

You throw transistors at your developers? ;-)

Actually I agree with you. One of the big wins on the LedgerSMB project was the approach of moving the all main queries into user defined functions (and then using them as named queries). One of the nice things about this approach is that dba-types (like myself) can address performance when it crops up rather than dealing with the ABOLUTELY horrendous approaches found in the SQL-Ledger codebase..... (Assembling queries as little bits of text strings, throwing them all together, and doing REALLY braindead things like simulating HAVING clauses in the middleware...)

For example, we had an issue where one large user (thousands of invoices per week) was having issues paying them without spending 8 hours waiting for the page to load. We were able to get this down to something like 10 minutes across 5 pages. No added hardware, just reviewing why the old code sucked, moving in new code, and then optimizing it when its performance sucked.

Re:Shoot the developers (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155983)

Hey, that sorting using DBMS temp table sounds like a novel solution when external sorting is called for.

Re:Shoot the developers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27156055)

Your right. We should just move to object databases and take you out of the loop.

Re:Shoot the developers (1)

blinky (415843) | more than 5 years ago | (#27156961)

Agree, once we had a case of developers (cobol) were sorting the data using "Bubble sort" in the main part of the application. The DBA had been through the various tricks (analyzing tables, indexes etc) for a 5% gain, till we discovered what the developer had done.

One of the big issues is a lot of developer who know OOD know bugger all about databases. What i've found is the the quick to develop apps usually the worst for performance. I come from a development DBA background along with Java and C - the trick is knowing what should be done in each tier and making the best use of the tier.

Re:Shoot the developers (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27159911)

Everyone's always down on bubble sort. It's a shame- bubble sorting is easy to write and it's actually the best sorting method to use when your list has ten elements or less.

Plus by the time it has a million elements you'll probably be on your next job.

Use views (2, Insightful)

bytesex (112972) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154697)

I think it's usually best to have views (whether with rows that are the result of code, or with a pure 'select' definition, or materialized ones) define what your application 'sees', so that you can always change the underlying datastructure. That way refactoring becomes a bit more easy.

Re:Use views (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155335)

I do something similar by using a 'facade' pattern to assemble several modules' output into one stored procedure.

Re:Use views (1)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155651)

I have not found this to be true. It sounds good in theory, but a view cannot be optimized in some cases and depending on the architecture can also have conversion problems that simply do not exist otherwise.

If you are working at the problem strictly from the point of view of an application, oftentimes your perspective is correct, but if your looking at raw performance issues, and outright bugs, sometimes views can have a significance performance issue. Also, views often only grab subsets of data, and when you are doing heavy data manipulation you may end up joining the view against a table that is in the view itself causing slow downs.

Re:Use views (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155863)

I know what you're saying; that's why I explicitly included views that are the result of code (can be done in postgres and oracle) and materialized views (oracle). Especially materialized views can make you forget about performance issues; the data is just available as you want it to be as if it were a proper table, indexed and all, and if your original data has been abstracted and normalized correctly, you don't have the headache of pushing hacks into your original data purely for performance reasons either.

Re:Use views (2, Interesting)

he-sk (103163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27156389)

I have to agree. In DB theory we have learned that you should normalize your data for a good database design. However, materialized views can give HUGE performance gains, by eliminating multistep joins between tables. You can't built customs indexes for queries that have these joins when the index condition is not in adjacent tables and you always have to deal with large intermediate results.

If the app is read-only and performance is critical the best strategy is to used materialized views built from normalized source tables. If the database doesn't have materialized views (PostgreSQL) you can simulate with CREATE TABLE foo AS SELECT * FROM bar WHERE ...

Re:Use views (2, Informative)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27156545)

That's silly. When you change the data model you must change the views too. Then you could as well have changed how the application uses the database instead and avoid a whole layer of indirection. Plus, views are read-only so the client application still needs direct access to the tables to update data. Views are useful and very under appreciated, but not in the way you suggest.

Re:Use views (1)

Thundersnatch (671481) | more than 5 years ago | (#27158155)

Views are updatable in MS SQL Server, and probably Oracle and DB2. THere are some restrictions of course (no aggregates for example are allowed in the view). We use this fetaure all the time to hide schema changes from older code that we don't want to mess with.

Anything by Stephane Faroult... (1)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154831)

...is probably a good read. He has a lively writing style; it kind of reminds me of Bertrand Meyer's "Object Oriented Software Construction". Anyhow, I've got both this book and Faroult's "The Art of SQL"... both are excellent.

useful step in performance the authors missed (-1, Flamebait)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154911)

Don't use Java or PHP. Duh.

Re:useful step in performance the authors missed (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27154957)

It doesn't matter what language you use, the DB will always be the bottleneck in DB applications, duh!

Re:useful step in performance the authors missed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27159839)

Why?

Sorry don't get it.

SQL Tuning is also pretty good (1)

johnjaydk (584895) | more than 5 years ago | (#27154985)

In cases where the problem is query performance, I've had pretty good results with the techniques in "SQL Tuning" by Dan Tow.

This, of course, only works if the rest of the database setup is more or less ok ;-)

Re:SQL Tuning is also pretty good (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160369)

Sometimes problems are remarkably difficult to address, especially in PL/(Pg)?sql environments.

Let me give you an example.

I was doing a rewrite of a bulk processing portion of an application and we were running into performance issues. Eventually we ended up talking to some REAL PostgreSQL experts, reviewed the affected functions, etc. The function had a few warning issues because we had to pass into it really large (5000x5) text arrays into the function.

At one point we all discovered that we could create array creation routines in PostgreSQL that performed really badly. So we thought maybe there was fundamental problem with the interface. So I asked on IRC and got an answer that this was not likely to be the issue with parsed text arrays and that I should look elsewhere. I created tests and we were able to demonstrate that we had all (including the experts) gone down the wrong path in troubleshooting the performance problem.

Eventually we were able to prove that the problem had to do with what was happening inside the array loop and address the issue there (turned out the issue was that it was causing cache misses and that we ended up with something which was entirely inefficient inside PL/PGSQL). Eventually we got it solved and cut the execution time from 45 minutes to 90 sec.

"to the table (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27155005)

"Faroult and L'Hermite bring a much wider range of options to the table."

Ah! I get it! "To the table", like SQL table! You funny!

Much better ways to do complex sql (2, Informative)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155181)

I have developed a design pattern using in memory data table objects that can satisfy the most complex requirements without using any dynamic code.
It also allows the queries and business logic to be broken into discreet chunks that are easily optimized and debugged.

Re:Much better ways to do complex sql (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27158541)

Can you please elaborate on that and if possible, post the code?

That's where I go first (1)

Onyma (1018104) | more than 5 years ago | (#27155495)

Perhaps it speaks ill of my skills but usually the first place I look is at my application / query structure. Most modern DBs have enough raw speed to pull off large tasks in amazingly short amount of times. Typically I look towards how I am managing the tool first as this frequently yields the desired gains and nets me more experience as well. Because slow queries always deal with large amounts of data, small "mistakes" have exponential effects... thus small improvements offer the same reward.

Only when that fails to I go further into modifications of the hardward / DB engine, etc. as required.

The best way to refactor an SQL Application.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27155645)

..is to rewrite is in a language that actually lends itself to applications.

AC because I know people will regard this as a troll. It is not - I have seen countless DBAs who think that SQL is actually an application language that should be used for all manner of things it is really hopeless at....

This even included:
- email
- CSV processing
- error reporting

Said systems were always incredibly difficult to manage normally and next to impossible to manage by people who did not write them.
Now I know not all "applications" being dicussed are actually APPLICATIONS as such and are more just slightly complex procedures, but that is not what is implyed by the words chosen here.

Re:The best way to refactor an SQL Application.... (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 5 years ago | (#27156437)

see http://www.sqlonrails.org/ [sqlonrails.org] for why you are wrong. SOR is a great app framework!

Actually, though there are some things that SQL is very, very good at, but you are right that people often do the wrong sorts of things in it. My favorite approach is to use SQL stored procs to do named queries and then put processing the results of those queries into the middleware or thick client level.

Bad Applications (1)

rossz (67331) | more than 5 years ago | (#27156591)

Recently I was asked to improve the performance of a MySQL based PHP web application. After turning on query caching and tuning the settings I was left with looking at the queries involved. It turned out the application was really the problem, not the queries. Just loading the main page involved several hundred queries. For example, settings were saved in a table. Instead of loading all of the settings with a single query, it grabbed them one at a time. It wasn't like they had a few hundred variables and only used a few. There were a couple of dozen and they loaded all of them individually. This kind of bad design was consistent though out the application. Turning on query caching made a huge difference, but the thing was packed with similar problems that could not be overcome with a simple fix like that. A complete rewrite was really the only answer -- and wasn't going to happen.

Hardware cheaper than refractor (1)

ConfessWitch (1221556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27160393)

"and, if the budget allows, throwing hardware at the problem." These days its actually quite the opposite. Having a full database cached in memory does wonders for performance.
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