Information technology has become one of the most important manifestations of society’s technological advancements. IT systems are widely used for such diverse activities as shopping, banking, controlling large physical objects, and providing decision-makers with business intelligence. They have infiltrated every sector of modern life and have been instrumental in advancements in healthcare, weather forecasting, and manufacturing among many others.
No matter how simple or complex an IT solution, it is based on the symbiosis of two distinct components. All systems are comprised of hardware, in the form of computers and their associated peripherals, and software programs. One can argue which is more important, but it is impossible to separate the two equally essential parts. Without software, computer hardware works nicely as a doorstop. Without hardware, computer programs are a meaningless, though somewhat structured, collection of alphanumeric characters on a page.
Many more individuals are involved with working on the software side of the IT fence. Beginning programming classes are a mainstay of high school and college students who learn how to make a lifeless computer display “Hello World” and columns of information. Interested students often opt for a career as a programmer, software engineer, or database administrator. They are committing themselves to a work-life that will, in many cases, include writing code for their organization’s computers and applications.
Writing Better Code
For computer programmers, it can sometimes seem as if new languages are developed every week. The concepts that were learned in school using Basic or Pascal need to be transferred to the language that is used in your particular environment. In the case of professionals working with databases, structured query language (SQL) is often the programming language with which they will spend the majority of their time.
There are some general programming tenets that are worth following regardless of the language involved. The goal is to write elegant code that is readable and gets the job done. It is likely that any code you write will someday need to be understood by another programmer, and keeping code readable should be a primary consideration. Here are some ways to achieve that objective.
- Use consistent indentation to make the code more human-readable.
- Avoid deeply nested statements that are hard to decipher.
- Use meaningful naming conventions that add to the code’s readability.
- Strive for self-documenting code wherever possible.
- Use informative comments to document the code when necessary.
- Limit the length of lines of code.
- Keep the code as simple as possible while maintaining functionality.
Within each programming discipline there are specific techniques, that combined with the general principles outlined above, contribute to the efficiency of the final product. Database teams working with SQL queries have multiple methods with which to ensure that their code runs quickly and provides the expected results.
One area that offers immediate benefits is to address the SELECT statements in your code. Here are some methods that can be used to speed up your SQL code.
- Check your indexes. Having too many or too few indexes can impede code execution. It is especially important to use the correct indexes in WHERE and JOIN statements.
- Use filters to limit the size of the working dataset. Filters can be very helpful to address queries that have slowed down as the database grows in size.
- Restrict the fields and tables you use for queries to those that are required to minimize disk I/O, conserver network bandwidth, and streamline query execution.
- Removing calculations that are performed in JOIN and WHERE clauses can speed up your code. This may be done by modifying the schema and adding columns where appropriate.
These tips just scratch the surface of SQL code optimization but are a good place to start.
A Tool to Help SQL Coders
IDERA’s Rapid SQL is a tool designed to assist DBAs and developers write and maintain their SQL code. The application supports multiple popular database platforms including SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, Sybase, and IBM Db2. Team productivity is enhanced by using the unified interface to work with assorted databases.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the more attractive features of this valuable coding tool.
- The unified development environment is tailored to the needs of SQL developers. It provides real-time syntax validation SQL code assist, and can automatically identify and correct inefficient code.
- The Visual Query Builder brings point-and-click simplicity to the task of creating complicated SQL statements.
- Debugging your code is simplified with the integrated SQL Debugger. It offers multiple debugging modes and can e used with your functions and stored procedures.
- Collaboration between team members is fostered by version control and build management functionality. Keeping everyone on the same page is another productivity booster provided by Rapid SQL.
Teams responsible for developing and maintaining SQL code will welcome the addition of Rapid SQL to their bag of software tools and management will be pleased with the productivity gains associated with its use. If your shop uses SQL, then this tool should be part of your team’s software portfolio.