SQL Server is Lagging a Bit

I don’t expect this to last, or I hope it doesn’t, but SQL Server is lagging behind. I ran across a short piece on the SQL:2016 standards, and I know these standards aren’t necessarily an important consideration for most of us when choosing a database. The standards are a compromise from many industry professionals working together. However, they do influence the vendors a bit. The way the list is written makes me wonder if Oracle provides more input and resources, or exercises more influence than other platforms. I hope not.

In any case, I would expect that Microsoft to be able to make change and catch up quickly with their rapid engineering process. At least, they will if they want to, which means, do these things matter do you as a customer? Or maybe, do these things matter to the really large customers that use, or might switch to, SQL Server?

I’m not sure I understand all of the changes to the standards, but row pattern recognition looks like some sort of LIKE-across-a-row feature. I know there are people that might need this, but I worry about the performance implications of doing this. As we move to larger data sets, perhaps those that come from sensors and other large data producers, this might be an important feature. Hopefully the implementation perform well.

The one thing I expect is more JSON support. As much as I saw the value of XML and hated working with it, I see JSON as a better format, and one that developers use extensively. I do hope that SQL Server gets more extensive JSON support, though I expect plenty of people with a native JSON type to just start stuffing blobs in a column and spending lots of CPU cycles trying to de-serialize the values for queries. If this a native JSON type is an intermediate store before moving the data into a better format, I think this makes sense. However, we can’t prevent poor choices from database designers, and I would expect consultants to love this, as I’m sure more JSON creates more issues for them to fix.

I am glad that date/time work gets some attention in the standards, but since I can never remember the actual syntax and values, I don’t really care. I’ll depend on SQL Prompt to get me through changes here, and then try to get all data in yyy-mm-dd format so I am not confused. LISTAGG is interesting, but I expect JSON to be used more. There are other changes, and I’m not sure how valuable they are for most data professionals.

Adding small functions and features, even those that are used rarely, are ways that we can dramatically improve developer productivity. Looking back over a career, I’m glad that I don’t need to write sorting routines anymore. Using an ORDER BY or x.Sort() is a great time saver. There are certainly some poor implementations of some features, but we can often override and write our own implementations if needed. Or find workarounds that will meet our needs.

I do hope to see the T-SQL language grow and expand over time, with regular enhancements that might help us work with data in easier and more efficient ways in future versions.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

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About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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