TryCatchFinally.net Some SQL, some .NET, and whatever else

10Jan/170

Microsoft Connect item for an SSRS pre-report canvas

Current state:

About six months ago, I submitted a connect request for SQL Server (my first one) to suggest an improvement to the SSRS interface - a customizable canvas that's displayed before an SSRS report renders, while parameters are being entered. My issue was that there was information I wanted report users to have (like expected wait time, suggestions for the parameters, the report title and a short description that might help them, etc.) and there was no way to get it to them.

With a giant empty screen staring at them, it seemed like a great place to add that information:

SSRS Report pane current layout

The suggestion:

Ideally, while the user is considering parameters, I'd love to see something like this (ignoring that it's not a super-photogenic report):

proposed-layout

This would be a great place for details about the report that help the user before (or while) they run it, like:

  • The name of the report (not always clearly visible in the URL or browser title bar, especially when you're Sharepoint-integrated. Especially helpful if they've left multiple report tabs open or if report generation fails, they're often left with a white screen and no easy way to tell the tabs apart.
  • A short description of the report, including when you'd use it or any notable caveats.
  • An estimated runtime - this isn't always possible exactly as parameters vary, but even a general estimate (or better yet, an average or a 95% confidence range, pulled from the report server database) would be better than the complete blank they get today.
  • Suggestions/restrictions on the parameters - If a report can't be run for all offices at once, you can say so here. If running it for everybody at once means you can't export to Excel because it's too large, let the user know.
  • A mock-up/screenshot of the report - so they user can see if it's the one they want. They may be looking for a report with a specific chart, and waiting for 3 minutes for each one to render may not be ideal.
  • A link to any other documentation/resources, or related reports, or pretty much anything else.

It wouldn't need to be anything fancy - I'd even settle for text you can format, or some kind of additional panel on the report that you can design, but isn't rendered with the report itself. Access to data (to pull estimated on execution times or dynamic owner/description details, for example) would be nice, but not required - I'd rather have a design-only, no-data canvas than nothing at all.

The plea:

t-sql-tuesdayThanks to the motivation from the folks at Brent Ozar Unlimited, I'm asking for your help in voting for this suggestion (if you think it would be beneficial, of course). As part of T-SQL Tuesday, they've asked people to find a connect request that they'd like to see filled and post about it, so here I am asking humbly for your support. : )

If you like the idea, please vote for it - if you don't, please comment and let me know why not (I'm always open to understanding the opposition). There are a ton of great Connect items out there and this is only one, but I think it would help out (especially for our longer-running reports).

Thanks for your help!

Direct URL for the Connect item: https://connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/feedback/details/2809098/ability-to-customize-report-splash-screen-during-parameter-submission

Side note:

I've attached the two images (current/proposed) to my connect item three different times and they're still not showing up there - if anybody knows how to get those images published, people can see what I'm talking about when I describe my suggestion! : )

8Sep/160

Query Business Objects repository for list of reports

We're migrating away from Business Objects Enterprise (XI-R2, not the newer 3.X version) and into SQL Reporting Services (it's about time!) and I needed an inventory of everything that was still in BOE. The repository is obfuscated so that it's not human readable, but thanks for some sleuthing and an 8-year-old post from a Business Objects forum, I wanted to share the script I was able to come up with.

The hard part (decoding the obfuscated text from the database into human-readable format) came from a post by "marklee" on a Business Objects board (his post is about 1/4 of the way down):

http://www.forumtopics.com/busobj/viewtopic.php?t=124272

His query was also written for Oracle, so I converted it to one that would run against SQL Server, and then I added some additional content types based on what we had in our database, and then attached a few additional rollups (like showing the root folder, building out the full path to the report, and returning the number of instances of each report that had been generated.

You can download the full script if you'd like, or you can view the contents below. Enjoy!

select 
 objectid, 
 parentid, 
 ownerid, 
 convert(datetime, REPLACE(left(lastmodifytime, 10),' ','-') + ' ' +
			replace(substring(lastmodifytime, 12, 8), ' ', ':') +
			'.' + substring(lastmodifytime, 21, 3)) as lastmodifytime, 
 upper(left(objectname,len(objectname)-2)) ObjectName, 
 typeid, 
 type, 
 convert(bit, 0) as IsInstance,
 si_cuid 
 into #results
 from 
 ( 
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 cast(objname as varchar(2000)) 
 ,'S','v') 
 ,'M','s') 
 ,'A','m') 
 ,')','a') 
 ,'+','b') 
 ,'C','n') 
 ,'-','c') 
 ,'/','d') 
 ,'O','t') 
 ,'E','o') 
 ,'1','e') 
 ,'3','f') 
 ,'G','p') 
 ,'5','g') 
 ,'7','h') 
 ,'W','x') 
 ,'U','w') 
 ,'Q','u') 
 ,'I','q') 
 ,'9','i') 
 ,':','i') 
 ,';','j') 
 ,'K','r') 
 ,'=','k') 
 ,'?','l') 
 ,'[','y') 
 ,']','z') 
 ,'!@',' ') 
 ,'B~S','&') 
 ,'!BO','.') 
 ,'B|C"','(') 
 ,'!B|D',')') 
 ,'M|Z','-') 
 ,'M}L',',') 
 ,'M|N','_') 
 ,'M}Z',':') 
 ,'!B{B','''') 
 ,'<code>|&lt;','0') 
 ,'</code>|&gt;','1') 
 ,'<code>|@','2') 
 ,'</code>|B','3') 
 ,'<code>|D','4') 
 ,'</code>|F','5') 
 ,'<code>|H','6') 
 ,'</code>|J','7') 
 ,'<code>|L','8') 
 ,'</code>|N','9') 
 ,'{','') 
 ,'!','') 
 ,'&quot;','') 
 ,'@','') 
 ObjectName, 
 convert(varchar(100), case 
	 when TypeID = 1 then 'Folder' 

	 when TypeID = 2 then 'Crystal Report'
	 when TypeID = 260 then 'Web Intelligence Document'
	 when TypeID = 290 then 'Object Package' 
	 when TypeID = 265 then 'Report Instance (TXT)'
	 when TypeID = 262 then 'Webi Report' 
	 when TypeID = 314 then 'Deski Report' 

	 when TypeID = 283 then 'PDF' 
	 when TypeID = 267 then 'Text' 
	 when TypeID = 323 then 'Excel' 
	 when TypeID = 319 then 'Excel (XLS)'
	 when TypeID = 259 then 'Word (DOC)'
	 when TypeID = 279 then 'Report Instance (PDF)'

	 when TypeID = 266 then 'Universe' 
	 when TypeID = 278 then 'Publication' 
	 when TypeID = 299 then 'Connection' 
	 when TypeID = 8  then 'Shortcut' 
	 when TypeID = 20 then 'Groups' 
	 when TypeID = 13 then 'Server' 
	 when TypeID = 16 then 'BO Server' 
	 when TypeID = 21 then 'Event' 
	 when TypeID = 24 then 'License Key' 

	 when TypeID = 19 then 'User type 19' 
	 when TypeID = 18 then 'User type 18' 
	 when TypeID = 47 then 'User type 47' 
	 when TypeID = 48 then 'User type 48' 
 
	 else 'Other' 
 end) Type, 
 * 
 FROM [dbo].[CMS_InfoObjects5] 
 where typeid &lt;&gt; 284 -- appears to be some kind of temporary file
 ) BORepository 

create clustered index #idx_c_results on #results (objectid)
create index #idx_results_parentid on #results (parentid)
create index #idx_results_ownerid on #results (ownerid)

-- Mark the ones that are instances of another object (children of non-folder)
update r
   set r.IsInstance = 1
 from #results r
join #results r2
  on r.ParentID = r2.ObjectID
where r2.TypeID &lt;&gt; 1
  and r.TypeID &lt;&gt; 1




-- Define all the levels of the objects and add them to a lookup table
DECLARE @ObjectLevel INT = 0

select 23 as objectid, 0 as parentid, 0 as ownerid, GETDATE() as lastmodifytime,
		convert(varchar(100), '$') as objectname, convert(int, null) as ChildInstances, convert(datetime, null) as LastInstanceTime,
		1 as typeid, convert(varchar(100), 'Root Folder') as type, @ObjectLevel as objectlevel 
into #objects

while @@rowcount &gt; 0
begin
	;with p as (select parentid, count(*) as instances, max(lastmodifytime) as LastInstanceTime from #results group by parentid)
	update #objects
	   set ChildInstances = p.instances,
		   LastInstanceTime = p.LastInstanceTime
	  from #objects o
	  join p
	    on o.objectid = p.ParentID
	 where o.ChildInstances is null
	   and o.typeid &lt;&gt; 1
	
	SET @ObjectLevel = @ObjectLevel + 1

	insert into #objects
	select r.objectid, r.parentid, r.ownerid, r.lastmodifytime, r.objectname, null, null, r.typeid, r.type, @ObjectLevel as objectlevel
	from #results r
	join #objects o
      on r.parentid = o.objectid
	 and o.typeid = 1
	left
	join #objects o2
	  on r.objectid = o2.objectid
   where o2.objectid is null

end


-- Set up the object paths
select objectid, parentid, lastmodifytime, convert(varchar(4000), '') as ObjectPath,
		objectname, childinstances, lastinstancetime, typeid, type
  into #objectswithpath
  from #objects
 where typeid &lt;&gt; 1

while @@rowcount &gt; 0
BEGIN
	update #objectswithpath
	   set parentid = o.parentid,
			objectpath = o.objectname + '\' + objectpath
	  from #objectswithpath owp
	  join #objects o
	    on owp.parentid = o.objectid
END

select objectpath, objectname, lastmodifytime, ChildInstances, LastInstanceTime, type
 from #objectswithpath
order by ObjectPath, objectname


--select * from #results
--select typeid, type, count(*) from #objects group by typeid, type order by count(*) DESC

/*
select type, case when isnull(ChildInstances,0) = 0 then 0 else 1 end, count(*), max(LastInstanceTime) --objectpath, objectname, lastmodifytime, ChildInstances, LastInstanceTime, type
 from #objectswithpath
 where ObjectPath not like '$\REPORTS OFF LINE\%'
group by type, case when isnull(ChildInstances,0) = 0 then 0 else 1 end
order by type, case when isnull(ChildInstances,0) = 0 then 0 else 1 end
*/

--select * from #objectswithpath where type = 'Word (DOC)'


drop table #objectswithpath
drop table #objects
drop table #results

2Mar/160

SQL Agent job fails with QUOTED_INDENTIFIER error

If you have a SQL Agent job that's failing, but the query succeeds when you run it manually in SQL Management Studio, it's possibly a difference between the SQL Server default connection settings and those SSMS uses as the default. In my case, I was inserting from a stored procedure and received the following error:

[SQLSTATE 42000] (Error 1934) INSERT failed because the following SET options have incorrect settings: 'QUOTED_IDENTIFIER'. Verify that SET options are correct for use with indexed views and/or indexes on computed columns and/or filtered indexes and/or query notifications and/or XML data type methods and/or spatial index operations.

To view the default connection options for your SQL Server instance, right-click on your instance in SSMS and select "Properties", and then browse to "Connections" - you'll see something like the following list (on my server, none of these are enabled by default for new connections):

Server Defaults

To compare it to the default settings for your installation of SSMS, click on "Tools" and then "Options...", and then browse to "Query Execution" -> "SQL Server" and view the settings under both "Advanced" and ANSI" (In my case, SSMS was enabling a number of settings by default for my connections that SQL Agent jobs wouldn't have enabled):

SSMS Results ANSI

SSMS Results Advanced

In my case, I just added an explicit "SET QUOTED_IDENTIFIER ON" to the beginning of the script in my SQL Agent job and it resolved the error message. Hope this helps you too!

23Jan/150

View SQL Server table updates per second

When trying to guage the level of database activity, you can use SQL Profiler to view the type and volume of transactions in motion at any given time and to view the overall level of database IO, but you can't use it to directly tell which database tables are being updated.

However, there's a handy dynamic management view called sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats that tells you the number of rows that have been updated in each database index since the instance was last restarted (or since the table/index was created, if that happened more recently):

SELECT *
FROM sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats

The view also has some additional information on index usage, including the number of scans, seeks, and lookups performed on each index - super helpful information if you're looking for unused indexes or which objects are heaviest-hit. If you look at indexes 0 and 1 (zero is the table heap, 1 is the clustered index), you'll see activity on the underlying table data itself.

I needed to see the row updates per second for every table in the database, so rather than run that select over and over (and compare the results), I wrote a quick script to do the comparison repeatedly for me:

SET NOCOUNT ON

-- Remove the working table if it already exists
-- so it doesn't get in the way
IF OBJECT_ID('tempdb..#TableActivity_After') IS NOT NULL
DROP TABLE #TableActivity_After


-- Collect our working data
SELECT object_name(us.object_id) as TableName,
		user_updates as UpdatedRows,
		last_user_update as LastUpdateTime
INTO #TableActivity_After
from sys.dm_db_index_usage_stats us
join sys.indexes si
	on us.object_id = si.object_id
	and us.index_id = si.index_id
where database_id = db_id()
and user_seeks + user_scans + user_lookups + user_updates &amp;gt; 0
and si.index_id in (0,1)
order by object_name(us.object_id)


-- Figure out if we're running it the first time or again
-- Put the data into the correct tables 
IF OBJECT_ID('tempdb..#TableActivity_Before') IS NULL
BEGIN
	-- First time it's being run - stage the existing data
	PRINT 'Initial table usage collected - execute again for changes'

END
ELSE
BEGIN
	-- Running script a subsequent time
	-- Compare this set of data to our last set

	-- See how long it's been since we ran this script last
	-- Or at least since last change in any table in the database
   DECLARE @SecondsSince DECIMAL(10,2)
	SELECT @SecondsSince = CONVERT(FLOAT, DATEDIFF(ms, MAX(LastUpdateTime ), GETDATE()))/1000
	  FROM #TableActivity_BEFORE

	SELECT @SecondsSince as 'Seconds since last execution'

	-- Do actual table comparison and give results
	SELECT a.TableName,
		   a.updatedrows - isnull(b.UpdatedRows,0) as RowsUpdated,
		  CONVERT(INT, (a.updatedrows - isnull(b.UpdatedRows,0)) / @SecondsSince) as RowsPerSecond
	 FROM #TableActivity_After a
	 LEFT
	 JOIN #TableActivity_Before b
	   ON b.TableName = a.TableName
    WHERE a.updatedrows - isnull(b.UpdatedRows,0) &amp;gt; 0
	ORDER BY RowsUpdated DESC

	
END

-- Swap the tables so the AFTER table becomes the new BEFORE
-- Then clean up AFTER table since we'll get a new one next time
IF OBJECT_ID('tempdb..#TableActivity_Before') IS NOT NULL
DROP TABLE #TableActivity_Before

SELECT *
  INTO #TableActivity_Before
  FROM #TableActivity_After

DROP TABLE #TableActivity_After

Running that script the first time will grab an snapshot of table activity. Running it again will tell you what has changed since you ran it the first time, and running it again will continue to tell you (updating the "before" image each time so you're getting an update on only the most recent database activity).

If you wanted to see activity on all database indexes, you could update the query at the top to show index name and remove the "WHERE si.index_id in (0,1)" and you'd see all the index details.

I hope this is helpful - if you have any feedback or would like to see something added, please feel free to leave a comment below!

Download the full script here

14Jan/150

Querying Active Directory from SQL Server

SQL Server provides some pretty flexible integration with Active Directory through the ADSI Linked Server provider, something that's present by default when you install SQL Server. If you've never used it before, it allows you to connect to a domain controller and query AD the same way you'd query any other linked server. For example, it gives you the option to:

  • Identify when logins to SQL Servers or databases that support financial applications exist, but have no matching AD account (either direct integrated logins, or if SQL logins or rows in a "User" table have been set up to match the AD login)
  • Kick off alerts to provision the user in various systems based on their AD group membership
  • Automatically trigger an action when a new account appears in active directory (for example, we auto-provision security badges and send an email alert to our head of security to assign the appropriate rights)

While much of this could also be done from Powershell as well, we use the SQL Server Agent to manage many of our scheduled job (because it's so handy to have the agent remotely accessible), as well as sometimes just needing data from AD in a query. To support a number of processes we have in place, we run a synchronization job every so often throughout the day that pulls about two dozen fields for all users and synchronizes them into a table if anything has changed.

Setting up the linked server itself is pretty straightforward (courtesy of http://community.spiceworks.com/how_to/show/27494-create-a-sql-linked-server-to-adsi):

  1. Create the linked server itself
  2. Set the security context (if you want to query AD as something other than the SQL Server Service account - by default, all domain users can do this and it's only required if the domain is remote or if, for some reason, your SQL Service account's AD rights have been restricted, like if you're running as "LOCAL SERVICE")
  3. Enable OPENQUERY (Ad Hoc Distributed Queries)

You'll notice that setting up the linked server itself doesn't actually specify where Active Directory is located or what domain/forest you'll be querying - that's actually done in the query itself. In each query, you'll need to specify the FQDN (Fully-qualified domain name) of the domain (or OU) of the domain you're querying. For example, we'd get all users from a domain by issuing the following query (in this example, "ADLinkedServerName" is the linked server we just created, and our domain is "corp.mycompany.local"):

SELECT EmployeeNumber, Name AS FullName, givenName as FirstName, sn as LastName,
L AS Location, samAccountName as ADAccount
FROM OPENQUERY(ADLinkedServerName,'SELECT Name, L, givenName, sn,
EmployeeNumber, EmployeeID,samAccountName,createtimestamp
FROM ''LDAP://OU=Users,DC=corp,DC=mycompany,DC=local''
WHERE objectClass =''user''') ad

This query will search that OU ("Users", in this case) and everything below it, so changing the FROM to "LDAP://DC=corp,DC=mycompany,DC=local" would fetch the entire directory (for all the "user" objects), regardless of what folder they appeared it - if your directory puts users in another OU (like "Associates", for example), you should adjust the query accordingly.

For column names, you can pull any AD properties at all that you’re looking for – even custom ones that aren't part of a standard AD configuration. To get an easy list of AD properties to choose from, I like using ADSIEDIT (part of Microsoft’s Remote Server Administration Tools - download RSAT for Windows 7 or RSAT for Windows 8.1) – just drill down all the way down to an object, like a user, right click on them and select “Properties”, and you can see a list of all the properties on that account. If you’ve got Domain Admin rights, this tool can be used to modify these values too, but for querying, you only need to be a domain user or somebody who has rights to browse AD. Make a note of the names of particular properties that you're interested in - also note that AD queries are case-sensitive, so you'll need to note the casing of these properties as well.

One potential gotcha that I've run into is that maximum result size that AD will return in a single query can be set as part of domain policy - by default it's 1000 records at once, and can be configured by setting or adjusting the "PageSize" property on your domain controllers (see https://support.microsoft.com/kb/315071/en-us). Also, there's a "MaxResultSetSize" property as well that's set to 256KB by default, but I've never hit it - unless you're pulling every single property back, you'd likely hit the PageSize row limit before you hit the ResultSize byte limit, but remember that both are there. If you do hit the AD result count limit, it will return the rows up to the limit, but then execution stops with a kind of cryptic error:

Msg 7330, Level 16, State 2, Line 2
Cannot fetch a row from OLE DB provider "ADsDSOObject" for linked server "YOURDOMAIN".

If your domain is larger than the PageSize limit, you'll need to cut your query into multiple return sets of data so you don't exceed the limit on any single query. Since our domain contains about 2400 users, we were able to do it in two queries, broken up like this:

SELECT samAccountName
  FROM OPENQUERY(ADLinkedServerName,'SELECT samAccountName
                                       FROM ''LDAP://OU=Users,DC=corp,DC=mycompany,DC=local''
                                      WHERE objectClass =''user''
                                        AND givenName<''L''') as c
UNION ALL
SELECT samAccountName
  FROM OPENQUERY(ADLinkedServerName,'SELECT samAccountName
                                       FROM ''LDAP://OU=Users,DC=corp,DC=mycompany,DC=local''
                                      WHERE objectClass =''user''
                                        AND givenName>=''L''') as c

By dividing the names on L, this cut the directory roughly in half - if yours was larger, you could divide it by querying each OU separately, or by looping through letters of the alphabet, or whatever makes sense in your setting. You could even do something dynamic like pull as many records as you can, then grab the value from the last record you pulled and use it as the baseline to pull the next set as far as you can, and then repeat until you run out of records. Linked servers don’t allow you to dynamically assemble your query at run-time – it has to be hard-coded in the query – but there are some ways around that (like building your OPENQUERY as a string and then executing it via sp_executesql, for example).

Now that you have your AD records stored in a temp table, you can identify new/changed records and merge them into a SQL table you already have ready using an INSERT/UPDATE/DELETE or MERGE statement, or possibly trigger notifications or some other business process.

I hope this is helpful - if you'd like some more detail, please leave a comment and I'm happy to elaborate where it's necessary!

2Jan/150

Removing expired/unused SSRS subscriptions

SQL Reporting Services doesn't do a very good job keeping the SQL Agent clean by removing expired or otherwise unusable subscriptions from the job list. To deal with this, we created a script that pulls some details about these old subscriptions, including the report responsible, the last run time and status, and the user who originally scheduled it. If you notice your SQL Agent job list getting excessively long, you can use this query to identify the culprit reports and owners, and then either notify them or remove the old subscriptions manually yourself (run this on the server with your SSRS databases):

  select c.Name as ReportName,
         s.EventType,
         s.Description as SubscriptionDescription,
         s.LastStatus as LastSubscriptionStatus,
         s.LastRunTime SubscriptionLastRunTime,
         case
            when recurrencetype = 1 then 'One Time'
            when recurrencetype = 2 then 'Hourly'
            when recurrencetype = 4 then 'Daily'
            when recurrencetype = 5 then 'Monthly' 
            when recurrencetype = 6 then 'Month Week' 
            else 'Other'
         end as RecurranceType,
         s.DeliveryExtension,
         u.UserName as SubscriptionSetUpBy,
         s.ModifiedDate as SubscriptionLastModifiedDate
    from [ReportServer].[dbo].[Subscriptions] s
    join [ReportServer].[dbo].[Catalog] c
      on c.ItemID = s.Report_OID
    join [ReportServer].[dbo].[Users] u
      on u.UserID = s.OwnerID
    join [ReportServer].[dbo].[reportschedule] rs
      on c.itemid = rs.reportid 
     and s.subscriptionid = rs.subscriptionid
    join [ReportServer].[dbo].[schedule] sch
      on rs.scheduleid = sch.scheduleid
   where s.EventType <> 'RefreshCache'
     and s.LastRunTime < dateadd(m, -3, getdate())
order by c.name

There are a number of similar scripts out there that pull much of this information together, but there wasn't one that collected all the details we were looking for in one place. From here, you can deal with the subscriptions as you see fit.

Note that you can just remove the old subscriptions by brute force if you'd prefer, and SSRS will clean up the orphaned SQL jobs, but I've preferred to review the list and notify users as we've never had too much volume to deal with. If you want to just delete them straight away, you can do so here:

DELETE ReportServer.dbo.Subscriptions
WHERE InactiveFlags != 0
	OR LastRunTime < dateadd(m, -3, getdate())
22Jul/145

Exporting from SQL Server to CSV with column names

SQL Server can easily export to CSV file, but it exports just the data, without the column names included. In order to export the column names, you need to actually perform two exports - one with the column names, and one with the data - and then combine the two files into a single file. It populates

You could do this using any query you want - native SQL, a linked server, a stored procedure, or anything else - and the results will export the same way once they're in the temp table. Since it builds the list of column name dynamically as well, you only need to change out the query being executed and set the export location - no other configuration is necessary.

-- Declare the variables
DECLARE @CMD VARCHAR(4000),
        @DelCMD VARCHAR(4000),
        @HEADERCMD VARCHAR(4000),
        @Combine VARCHAR(4000),
        @Path VARCHAR(4000),
        @COLUMNS VARCHAR(4000)

-- Set values as appropriate
    SET @COLUMNS = ''
    SET @Path = '\\servername\share\outputpath'

-- Set up the external commands and queries we'll use through xp_cmdshell
-- Note that they won't execute until we populate the temp tables they refer to
    SET @CMD = 'bcp "select * from ##OutputTable" queryout "' + @Path + '\Temp_RawData.csv" -S ' + @@SERVERNAME + ' -T -t , -c'
    SET @HEADERCMD = 'bcp "SELECT * from ##cols" queryout "' + @Path + '\Temp_Headers.csv" -S ' + @@SERVERNAME + ' -T -t , -c'
    SET @Combine = 'copy "' + @Path + '\Temp_Headers.csv" + "' + @Path + '\Temp_RawData.csv" "' + @Path + '\MyCombinedFile.csv"'
    SET @DelCMD = 'del "' + @Path + '\Temp_*.csv"'

-- Create and populate our temp table with the query results
SELECT *
  INTO ##OutputTable
  FROM YourSourceTable

-- Generate a list of columns	
 SELECT @COLUMNS = @COLUMNS + c.name + ','
   from tempdb..syscolumns c
   join tempdb..sysobjects t
     on c.id = t.id
  where t.name like '##OutputTable%'
  order by colid
  
  SELECT @COLUMNS as Cols INTO ##Cols
		
-- Run the two export queries - first for the header, then for the data
exec xp_cmdshell @HEADERCMD
exec xp_cmdshell @CMD

-- Combine the two files into a single file
exec xp_cmdshell @Combine

-- Clean up the two temp files we created
exec xp_cmdshell @DelCMD

-- Clean up our temp tables
drop table ##cols
drop table ##OutputTable

If you have any suggestions or run into any issues, please let me know!

27Sep/131

Unexpected results in an SSRS report when using Oracle OLEDB driver and OPENQUERY

Here's a pretty specific situation we ran across recently - a comment in our OPENQUERY text was causing the results of our query to be completely different than expected.

The T-SQL query we'd written in SSMS that fetched data from an Oracle linked server was running in about 30 seconds, but when we put the query directly into an SSRS report, it would never finish. We were stumped, since we were executing the exact same query in both SSMS and SSRS, but SSRS appeared to hang when executing it. We trimmed down our original query (a few CTEs containing OPENQUERY, joined to a handful of local tables) until we found the single CTE that was doing it. Executing that query in SSMS (or executing the OPENQUERY portion directly in PL/SQL Developer) returned results in about two seconds - however, putting that same portion on a report (even using the report wizard and with no special formatting) resulted in a report that never finished running, whether in the report designer or deployed to our SSRS site.

As it turns out, the SSRS engine (it occurred in both the BIDS/SSDT and once the report was deployed) was consolidating the OPENQUERY text to a single line when executing it, rather than respecting the line breaks in our query text. As a result, the "--" that preceded a comment mid-way through the query was actually commenting out the entire rest of the query, a la SQL injection style. This resulted in a completely ignored WHERE clause on the query, and different results - effectively, SSRS was taking this query:

SELECT *
  FROM OPENQUERY(OracleServer,
                 'SELECT *
                    FROM SomeSchema.SomeTable -- Note the comment here
                   WHERE ID = 50')

and executing it like this:

SELECT *
  FROM OPENQUERY(OracleServer,
                 'SELECT * FROM SomeSchema.SomeTable -- Note the comment here WHERE ID = 50')

Since our query wasn't returning results, but just hanging for 30 minutes before we gave up, we asked our Oracle admin to watch the execution plan after seeing this Stackoverflow question (and the comments on the accepted answer) that suggested that they were seeing SSRS generate a complete different execution plan for the query (by comparing the plan generated when it was executed from both SSMS and SSRS, I'd hoped the difference would be obvious - it was). This didn't make any sense at all, since the same query should be hitting SQL Server, and so exactly the same OPENQUERY pass-through query hitting Oracle, but the Oracle DBA confirmed that half of our Oracle query was commented out when it came from SSRS. This meant that our 1000 row expected resultset had become a 1.5 billion row dump of the entire table, which would explain why we were seeing the delay on our report!

This didn't happen in SSMS, and it didn't happen when previewing the dataset itself in SSRS, but only occurred when previewing the actual report (this is the only case where SSRS submits a modified version of the query to the SQL engine). Removing the comment from the query resolved the issue, as did switching the comment syntax to /* */ from double-dash.

This occurs both in SQL Server Data Tools (based on VS2010) and BIDS 2008 R2, which is what we had handy to test. Also, it appears to only apply to the Oracle OLEDB driver - creating an Oracle linked server via either ODBC, as well a SQL OLEDB linked server, didn't exhibit the same issue, and the final report results were filtered as expected.

Steps to reproduce the issue:

1. Create a linked server using the Oracle OLEDB driver

2. In SSMS, create a query that accesses the linked server using OPENQUERY with a simple WHERE clause inside

For example, we had something like the following:

SELECT *
  FROM OPENQUERY(OracleServer,
                 'SELECT *
                    FROM SomeSchema.SomeTable
                   WHERE ID = 50')

3. Execute your query and make note of the number of rows it returns

4. Modify your query by adding a short comment at the end of your FROM line - this should not impact the query results at all

SELECT *
  FROM OPENQUERY(OracleServer,
                 'SELECT *
                    FROM SomeSchema.SomeTable -- Note the comment here
                   WHERE ID = 50')

5. Execute your query again - the row count should be unchanged from step 3

6. In BIDS or SSDT, create a new report, either manually or using the wizard, providing your modified query from step 4 as the dataset

7. Once your report is created, view the dataset properties and preview the query results - note that they match the expected row count

To do this, right-click on your dataset in the "Report Data" panel, select "Dataset properties". When it opens to the Properties window, select "Query designer..." near the bottom, and then click the exclamation point in the toolbar to execute your query and preview the results. You'll see your filtered result set, as expected. When you're done, close this window and go back to your report.

8. Preview your report and notice that the WHERE clause is ignored - all rows from your table are displayed

Summary, and take-away

I'm only using the placement of the comment and ignoring the WHERE clause as an example - the comment could be anywhere in the query, and could even result in an query with invalid syntax that refuses to execute at all.

I hope this explanation helps you avoid the two days of troubleshooting we did to get to this point and find the cause! I'm unclear on why the driver behaves this way, or if it's an SSRS issue specifically (I suspect it is, since it doesn't occur in SSMS with the exact same query). If anybody can point me to an open Connect item, I'd be happy to vote for it, but until then, I'm making the effort to migrate to using /* */ comment syntax everywhere - not only is it more clear to readers and flexible for in-line comments, it doesn't break OPENQUERY functionality (and that's reason enough for me).

23Apr/130

Write permission error when inserting over linked server

I spent some time troubleshoot permissions over a linked server recently before finding out the the cause of my error wasn't permissions-related at all. I was attempting to perform an insert on a remote table, and was getting the following error:

Msg 7344, Level 16, State 1, Line 2
The OLE DB provider "SQLNCLI10" for linked server "RemoteServer" could not INSERT INTO table "[RemoteServer].[RemoteDB].[dbo].[IdentInsertTest]" because of column "ID". The user did not have permission to write to the column.

After some time attempting to isolate the missing permissions, I realized that it was actually a disguised error message. I was trying to insert a value into an identity column, but rather than the standard error message I expected to see in that case, I got a generic "You don't have permission" message, leading to some wasted time troubleshooting.

To recreate the issue, you can follow these steps:

-- Create a test table
CREATE TABLE IdentInsertTest (
	ID INT IDENTITY(1,1),
	SomeValue VARCHAR(10)
)

-- This insert will succeed
INSERT INTO IdentInsertTest (SomeValue)
SELECT 'Some Value'

-- Will fail with IDENTITY_INSERT error
INSERT INTO IdentInsertTest (ID, SomeValue)
SELECT 10, 'Some Value'

The second statement will fail with the standard error message:

Cannot insert explicit value for identity column in table 'IdentInsertTest' when IDENTITY_INSERT is set to OFF.

Now, connect to another server and set up a linked server to the other instance, and then try these statements again:

-- This remote insert will succeed
INSERT INTO LinkedServer.RemoteDB.dbo.IdentInsertTest (SomeValue)
SELECT 'Some Value'

-- Will fail with a permissions error
INSERT INTO LinkedServer.RemoteDB.dbo.IdentInsertTest (ID, SomeValue)
SELECT 10, 'Some Value'

If I'd realized what I was doing, it would have saved me some troubleshooting time! The moral here is that if your statement fails over a linked server, ensure your user account is set up correctly and then test it locally - you may get a more accurate error message!

9Apr/130

Identifying row in SQL view (or table) with a calculation error

Computed columns can be a great tool if you want to add a value to a table that's dependent on other columns in the table, and you don't want to maintain it on its own every time the source columns change. In a view, these can provide a single, consistent calculation to the end users - say, for a

-- Set up a view with the same columns and calculation errors in it
-- The first calculation will always work
-- The second gives a divide by zero error on every 10th row
CREATE VIEW SourceObject AS
SELECT object_id AS KeyColumn1,
       column_id as KeyColumn2,
       object_id - column_id as CalcColumn1,
       (object_id - (column_id % 10)) as CalcColumn2
  FROM msdb.sys.columns

Now that it's set up, we can try selecting all the rows from the view we just created, and we'll see about 100 rows output, and then the query will stop with a "Divide by zero" error:

SELECT * FROM SourceObject

The calculation in this query is pretty straightforward, and you can see which rows are causing a problem (where column_id is divisible by 10), but what if it was more complicated? The problem is that SQL doesn't display the row that had a problem - it stops on the row before the problem, so finding the row with the error is bit more difficult. If there were multiple columns involved in the calculation, or different combinations of values that could result in an error? Tracking down the rows causing an error can be difficult - you have to find all the possible conditions that could cause an error, and then query for each of them.

This script will allow you to find all the rows in a view with a calculation error, all at once. It uses a cursor to pull the rows from the view one at a time, test the calculation, and then write any errors it finds to a table where you can see the rows that are causing problems. Using a CURSOR generally isn't ideal, but in this case, it's the only way to react to a bad calculation on a row-by-row basis and deal with it.

The script can use two key values from your view - they're called KeyColumn1 and KeyColumn2 - and you can modify the script to name them whatever you want, or just a single a value if that makes more sense in your scenario. It also supports two computed columns - CalcColumn1 and 2 - though again, it could be changed to just check a single column.

 -- Set up variables
DECLARE @KeyColumn1 INT,
		@KeyColumn2 INT,
		@CalcColumn1 INT,
		@CalcColumn2 INT
		
DECLARE @CurrentRow BIGINT
	SET @CurrentRow = 1

-- Set up a place to hold key values for rows that work  
  SELECT TOP 0 KeyColumn1, KeyColumn2
    INTO #WorkingRows
    FROM SourceObject

-- Set up a place to hold errors for rows that don't work    
CREATE TABLE #ErrorRows (
	RowNumber BIGINT,
	KeyColumn1 INT,
	KeyColumn2 INT,
	[ERROR_NUMBER] INT,
	[ERROR_MESSAGE] nvarchar(4000)
)    

-- Begin loop to look through rows in the view 
  DECLARE cur INSENSITIVE CURSOR FOR
  SELECT KeyColumn1, KeyColumn2
  FROM SourceObject
  ORDER BY KeyColumn1, KeyColumn2
  
  OPEN cur
  
  FETCH NEXT FROM cur
  INTO @KeyColumn1, @KeyColumn2
	
  WHILE @@FETCH_STATUS = 0
  BEGIN
  
	BEGIN TRY

		-- Try to select the calculated columns	
		-- If there's an error, it will jump to the CATCH block
		SELECT @CalcColumn1 = CalcColumn1,
				@CalcColumn2 = CalcColumn2
		  FROM SourceObject
		 WHERE KeyColumn1 = @KeyColumn1
		   AND KeyColumn2 = @KeyColumn2
		   
		-- This lookup succeeded
		INSERT INTO #WorkingRows
		SELECT @KeyColumn1, @KeyColumn2
		
	END TRY
	BEGIN CATCH
		
		-- The lookup failed - save details
		INSERT INTO #ErrorRows
		SELECT @CurrentRow,
				@KeyColumn1,
				@KeyColumn2,
				ERROR_NUMBER(),
				ERROR_MESSAGE()			
		
	END CATCH
	
	SET @CurrentRow = @CurrentRow + 1
	    
	FETCH NEXT FROM cur
	INTO @KeyColumn1, @KeyColumn2
	    
  END
  
  -- Show the key columns of rows with errors
  SELECT * FROM #ErrorRows
  
  -- Show the key columns of working rows
  SELECT * FROM #WorkingRows
  
  -- Clean things up
  close cur
  deallocate cur
  drop table #ErrorRows
  drop table #workingrows

At the end, you'll have two tables with results in them - #ErrorRows, which contains the key values for rows with errors in them, as well as details about the error message, and #WorkingRows, which contains the key values for all of the working rows from the view.

Note: I could just as easily set up a table with a computed column in it that causes the same problem You'd be unable to select the entire table without an error, and hunting down the row with an error is painful. The script to find the error is the same, but here's an example of a table that has a computed column with this problem:

-- Set up table with a list of numbers in it
SELECT object_id AS KeyColumn1,
		RANK() OVER (PARTITION BY 0
					 ORDER BY NEWID()) as KeyColumn2
  INTO SourceObject
  FROM msdb.sys.columns
  
-- Add two calculations to the table
-- The first will always work
-- The second will give a "Divide by zero" every 100 rows
  ALTER TABLE SourceObject ADD CalcColumn1 as (KeyColumn1 - KeyColumn2)
  ALTER TABLE SourceObject ADD CalcColumn2 as (KeyColumn1 / (KeyColumn2 % 100))

-- Note that you can't add a persisted computed column to a table
-- if there's a calculation error in any of the rows, so this
-- command will fail with a "Divide by zero" error
  ALTER TABLE SourceObject ADD CalcColumn3 as (KeyColumn1 / (KeyColumn2 % 100)) PERSISTED