T-SQL – Is Saving Space Worth It?

I ran across this blog post on Joe Celko’s Restaurant Seat Assignment Problem that found a way to implement the smallest amount of storage for a classic problem. It’s more of a challenge than a real solution.
Or at least I hope so.
The solution actually uses some bitmasking to save space and cram more information into a single field. It’s creative, and interesting to look through, but is it the type of solution that you might want to use in your actual code?
Personally I like seeing some elegant solutions in code, but not so esoteric or obfuscated that the average developer can’t understand it. Once something gets too complex, it can require more time to support and understand than it might be worth.
Not that we shouldn’t be educating or improving the skills of other developers in your company, but if there is something that is an order of magnitude more compelx than most other code, I think that a meeting, a brown bag, or even a blog post to explain it is warranted.
Back to the title of the post. Is saving space worth it? At times it is. I don’t advocate using INT for all fields when a tinyint or smallint will do, but I’m not sure that I find bitmasking to be worth it. In general, I think that creates more confusion than it solves problems or increases performance.

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