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Refactoring SQL Applications Paperback – September 1, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0596514976 ISBN-10: 0596514972 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephane Faroult first discovered relational databases and the SQL language back in 1983. He joined Oracle France in their early days (after a brief spell with IBM and a bout of teaching at the University of Ottawa) and soon developed an interest in performance and tuning topics. After leaving Oracle in 1988, he briefly tried to reform and did a bit of operational research, but after one year, he succumbed again to relational databases. He has been continuously performing database consultancy since then, and founded RoughSea Ltd in 1998.

Pascal L'Hermite has been working with relational databases in OLTP, production and development environments on Oracle Databases for the past 12 years and on Microsoft SQL Server for the past 5 years.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596514972
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596514976
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,768,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tom Spitzer on March 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
Faroult and Hermite focus their attention on relatively classical SQL optimizations. The gist of their advice is that developers running SQL code need to leverage the database engine's optimizer. To do that, they offer relatively common advice: use set operations, avoiding procedural code in your sql code whenever possible; minimize the number of visits to a table; and minimize the number of times your code has to scan a given table. Most of the content of the book is spent offering techniques for achieving these objectives. For developers without a lot of experience writing SQL intensive applications, the authors provide a relatively accessible discussion of these techniques.

Outside of that, the authors include a chapter called `Testing Framework' that addresses one of the key requirements of any refactoring effort: creating and maintaining a library of unit tests that allows us to prove that our code is correct. When writing database code, and particular code whose performance may vary based on the amount of data being processed, unit testing can be a bit of a challenge due to the typical case where developers are developing locally on databases that contain small data sets. In this chapter Faroult and Hermite offer some data generation techniques and some mechanisms for automating the comparison of resulting outputs.

What I like about this book is that unlike books on optimizing the performance of a particular database product, this book tries to elevate the discussion to the level of optimizing the performance of an application that contains a substantial amount of realistic database code. It should enable developers to analyze their code in the context of the business objectives that it is trying to fulfill, rather than the context of the database engine in which it is executing. For that reason alone, I am recommending it to the database developers on my team.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. Reid on July 16, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm at odds with the first two reviewers, but I think it depends on what you're looking for. This book is NOT about classical tuning. Classical tuning is "tune the server", and "tune the query".

The emphasis - in the preface and the excellent Chapter 6 - is that the real gains are usually elsewhere, when you have older code.

I work with a 25 year heritage of fairly well written apps. Many of them have the described situation - a single query that's been broken into two or more parts, with an outer loop and (at least one) inner loop. When server memories were 64K, or 1 Meg, or 4 Meg, and CPU's only came in packages of 1, and disk channels were slow, and networks were slower, this was often the only practical way to get a result.

The interplay changed over the years, but the old code worked. In the past few years, with 64-bit processors, cheap 64-CPU servers, and multi-io disk channels, a wierd thing happened. We found that moving to newer systems and faster hardware made things run SLOWER.

The answer time and again was in those "split loop queries". If we turned them back into one big query - the kind that you couldn't run before, we would see performance improvements of hundreds or thousands of times. In the end, the math proved - on powerful machines, most of the overhead is sending the query, compiling it, and sending it back. If one monster query takes a full second, but every query in the loop takes 1/4 second - if that inner loop runs 1000 times, you lose.

Meantime, that 64-core machine has every CPU working full blast - recompiling the same stupid statement over and over! The problem is, you try to tell this to a developer, they don't beleive you "I didn't change anything in the code".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Chapman on December 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
Any application that accesses a database will eventually present you with queries that run much slower than is desirable. This book provides you with a guide to how to resolve such problems and get your database accesses to run faster.

The most often suggested solutions are not always the correct ones and this book clearly demonstrates several situations where doing what appears to be an obvious fix (such as adding an index) may actually make things worse.

The author of this book has an in-depth understanding of how databases really work and as a result of the explanations that are provided in this book you can leverage on that to improve the performance of your SQL without needing as complete an understanding as the author has. If anything the book will actually help to give you a greater understanding of how databases work.

Are you going to know where to look when you next have a progr
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kyle H. Hailey on December 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The application design is the most important factor in performance"
I've heard the phrase so many times, it doesn't even register on me. Sure the application design is the most important factor in performance, but what do I do about it? Well, "Refactoring SQL Applications" (RSA) is the book I've been waiting for. RSA lays out examples of how application coders tend to think either procedurally or object oriented and how this thinking can completely miss the boat when it comes to writing SQL and interacting with databases.
In RSA, Stephane Faroult, lays out examples of Java code, user defined functions and views and how a coders notions of modular procedural programing and/or object instantiation can undermine database performance from cookie cutter reuse of code to table joins written in Java. If you've ever seen Tom Kyte's "Developer Super Session - The Best Way", then you know the best way is not to do it all and his example is coders doing "count(*)" to find out how many loops to do or how big an array to layout. Tom explains the disasters this can create and how the best way is just to not do the count(*) and how this works by letting the database do the work. Letting the database do the work is explained clearly and with many examples from different perspectives in "Refactoring SQL Applications".
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