Sunday, September 01, 2013

Top Ten Common SQL Mistakes (with DB2 for z/OS)

There are many different types of development mistakes that can be made when you are coding a complex application system. But probably the most pervasive mistakes being made when developing an application using DB2 for z/OS are SQL mistakes... well, actually, that statement is probably true regardless of the DBMS, but I am going to focus on DB2 for z/OS given that this is a blog that focuses on DB2 and mainframe issues.

  1. Assuming an ORDER BY is not necessary for ordered results - if you want your results always to be returned in a specific order, you must include the ORDER BY clause. If you fail to do so, a future rebind can change the access path and also possibly change the order of your results set.
  2. Forgetting the NULL indicator - when your query can return a null, but sure to include a null indicator or you will get a -305 SQLCODE (22002 SQLSTATE). And be sure to check the null indicator to see if the data is null or not!
  3. Incorrect expectations when using the NOT IN predicate with NULLs - Nulls can be confusing when using the IN predicate. For example, what if we want to find all Colors who are not assigned to a particular Product using a query like shown below. THe problem arises when the P.color can be NULL. The NULL causes the predicate to be UNKNOWN so the results set is always empty. 
           SELECT C.color
FROM   Colors AS C
WHERE  C.color NOT IN (SELECT P.color
FROM Products AS P);

  1. Coding predicates appropriately in Outer Joins - Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out how to code outer joins appropriately if you don't code them very often. Terry Purcell has written a nice article on the topic that can be found here.
  2. Not coding a cursor for a multi-row result - When more than one row can be returned by your query you must use a cursor (or specify FETCH FIRST 1 ROW ONLY)
  3. Recompiling but not binding - if you make changes to the SQL, you have to BIND it again. Otherwise it won't work! 
  4. Forgetting to use single quotes around strings (instead of double quotes) - DB2 SQL expects single quotes around character strings.
  5. Trying to modify a Primary Key column - you cannot modify a primary key. A primary key should be unique within the table and immutable.
  6. Forcing dynamic SQL into static SQL (sometimes hundreds of static SQL statements) - you should analyze the type and nature of your database queries to determine whether they should be static or dynamic. Consider using the advice here (static SQL v. dynamic SQL) to guide you.
  7. Asking for more data than you need (columns and/or rows) - specify only the columns that you actually need in your SELECT-list... and use WHERE clauses (predicates) to filter the data to just that data that you need before bringing it into the program. The lesser the amount of data that DB2 needs to transfer from the database to your program, the more efficient things will be!

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