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The Voice of the DBA

The T-SQL Paradigm

This editorial was originally published on Mar 21, 2009. It is being re-run as Steve is on vacation.

I ran across this post ranting about T-SQL. It's got going pretty quickly with some less that professional responses. It's cleaned itself up a bit, but it got me thinking for this Friday.

My first programming was done in BASIC. From there I played with a little assembler before going on to Pascal and C in high school. The came LISP, APL, Fortran, more assembler, C++, and a little ADA in college. My professional career had me programming in Lotus 1-2-3, dBase, FoxPro, C, VB, and finally SQL with minor dabbling in HTML, XML, ASP, and some .NET.

I think I've had a decent amount of programming experience in my life. In that time, I've found that most programming languages to work fine, and while I've enjoyed some more than others, I haven't thought that any "sucked." I wouldn't want to write most modern apps in APL, but I don't much think there's any thing wrong with picking VB.NET v Java v C#. So for this Friday's poll:

Is T-SQL really a strange paradigm?

Or SQL in general? Is it really messed up? Would the structures used by LINQ make more sense to anyone? Hardcore developers seem to like a different structure, but is it because it seems more natural to them? Or is SQL really such a strange beast.

Many people seem to have trouble with SQL. Just read the forums here at SQLServerCentral to see all the issues that come when people try to query the database. But is it just hard to learn or is there a better way to build a query language?

Steve Jones


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Today's podcast features music by Everyday Jones. No relation, but I stumbled on to them and really like the music. Support this great duo at www.everydayjones.com.

I really appreciate and value feedback on the podcasts. Let us know what you like, don't like, or even send in ideas for the show. If you'd like to comment, post something here. The boss will be sure to read it.

Steve Jones from SQLServerCentral.com

Join the debate, and respond to today's editorial on the forums

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Question of the Day

Today's Question (by Chirag Patel):

Examine this code:


CREATE TABLE table1
    (
      firstname VARCHAR(50)
    , lastname VARCHAR(50)
    );
CREATE TABLE table2
    (
      address1 VARCHAR(50)
    , address2 VARCHAR(50)
    , zip VARCHAR(50)
    , name VARCHAR(50)
    );
INSERT INTO table1
    VALUES  ( 'f1', 'l1' ),
            ( 'f2', 'l2' ),
            ( 'f3', 'l3' ),
            ( 'f4', 'l4' ),
            ( 'f5', 'l5' ),
            ( 'f6', 'l6' ),
            ( 'f7', 'l7' );
INSERT INTO table2
    VALUES  ( 'add1', 'add2', '12300-12', 'f2' ),
            ( 'add3', 'add4', '12300-14', 'f4' ),
            ( 'add5', 'add6', '12300-20', 'f1' ),
            ( 'add7', 'add8', '12330', NULL );
If we run this query, which names will be returned from table1?

SELECT t1.firstname
      , t1.lastname
    FROM table1 AS t1
    WHERE t1.firstname NOT IN ( SELECT t2.name
                                    FROM table2 AS t2 );
DROP TABLE table1;
DROP TABLE table2;

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Yesterday's Question of the Day

Yesterday's Question (by Jens-Peter Giersch):

The following scenario works on SQL Server 2000, 2005, 2008, 2008 R2, 2012 and 2014 CTP 2. The syntax below is valid for SQL Server 2012 and above; for earlier versions please refer to the documentation or search your memory for the appropriate commands. The syntax differences do not affect the result!

Create the Windows user and groups first:

net user TestWindowsUser Test1234! /add
net localgroup TestWindowsDBadmin /add
net localgroup TestWindowsDBread /add

Add Windows user to Windows groups

net localgroup TestWindowsDBadmins TestWindowsUser /add
net localgroup TestWindowsDBreads TestWindowsUser /add

Log in to SQL Server with enough permissions to create databases and manage logins. Create this database:

CREATE DATABASE DBall;
GO

Both Windows groups have logins...

CREATE LOGIN [Domain\TestWindowsDBadmins]  FROM WINDOWS;
CREATE LOGIN [Domain\TestWindowsDBreaders] FROM WINDOWS;

..and both logins have access to the database "DBall":

USE DBall
GO

CREATE USER TestSQLDBadmin  FROM Login [Domain\TestWindowsDBadmins];
CREATE USER TestSQLDBreader FROM Login [Domain\TestWindowsDBreaders];
GO

Add user "TestSQLDBreader" to the role "db_datareader"...

ALTER ROLE db_datareader ADD MEMBER TestSQLDBreader;

...and user "TestSQLDBadmin" to the role "db_owner":

ALTER ROLE db_owner ADD MEMBER TestSQLDBadmin;

Now drop the login with dbo permissions:

DROP LOGIN [Domain\TestSQLDBadmins];
GO

User "TestWindowsUser" meanwhile logs in to SQL Server, connects to database "DBall" and executes the following command:

USE DBall
GO

CREATE TABLE t_Test
(
    ID INT IDENTITY NOT NULL, 
    Test VARCHAR(200) NULL
);

What permissions does the TestWindowsUser user have and what is the result of this command? (select 4)

Answer:

  • "TestWindowsUser" has the permissions of the "Public" role.
  • "TestWindowsUser" has the permissions of the "db_datareader" role.
  • "TestWindowsUser" has the permissions of the "db_owner" role.
  • The CREATE TABLE command executes successfully.

Explanation:

"TestWindowsUser" has all the permissions of the roles "Public", "db_datareader" and "db_owner". Therefore the "CREATE TABLE" statement succeeds.

SQL Server identifies every user by its SID. If the login is an entity of Windows, the SID of the database user is the same SID as of the login as well as that of the Windows group.

The SID detected was at least part of an already authenticated entity of Windows and therefore SQL Server “assumes” the SID is safe and needs not to be checked. SQL Server doesn't "see" that the login doesn’t exist anymore and the user ís orphaned.

The alternative would be that SQL Server would have to query Windows for every request of a SQL Server user for the membership in any groups relevant in this database. If only one group were involved the overhead might look acceptable. The moment when more than let’s say 5 groups were involved (see comment below) would create an overhead and a resource leakage that possibly wouldn’t be acceptable anymore, especially for a simple statement like

SELECT name FROM sys.objects;

It falls into the responsibility of the DBA to make sure that orphaned users do not occur.

Up to now I didn’t find any documentation about this effect.

Members of the SQL Server Clinic team at the PASS conference in Charlotte suspect a caching problem of the token on SQL Server which I doubt a bit: The described effect still exists after a restart; this means there is a new authentication and a new security token (Kerberos or NTLM, depending on whether you try this out on a domain or workgroup machine).

A contact of mine at Microsoft suggested me unofficially this answer:

“ […] 

One of the reason behind this design is because of the cost involved in performing the additional checks to confirm orphaned user groups.

Since the user group is an entity which is contained within databases SQL Server doesn’t do additional checks to validate the corresponding login.

Consider this scenario: ‘Domain\TestWindowsUser’ is part of >30 groups. Every time this user logs in it would need to validate if the user group is orphaned or not. This would be a costly operation.

Ignore how Domain\TestWindowsUser ended up in the situation. TestWindowsUser is in a domain group that is a member of db_owner and another that is a member of db_dataReader. So TestWindowsUser has all permissions of both roles. The lack of a login for TestWindowsDBadmins just means not everyone in that group can exercise the db_owner membership in the database – but anyone with a membership in TestWindowsDBreaders AND in TestWindowsDBadmins is a db_owner.

Hence this is completely by design and not a bug.”

I added a feedback to Microsoft Connect:

https://connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/feedback/details/805732/windows-user-in-two-windows-group-logins-has-permissions-of-orphaned-user-of-one-dropped-windows-group-login

You may check from time to time whether Microsoft answered it or not. If you want to engage a bit more in the community please feel free to add a comment or confirm that you were able to reproduce this behaviour. Perhaps we get an official statement.

Many thanks to Tom (“L’eomot inversé”) for his precious time he spent reviewing this QotD and his valuable advice!


» Discuss this question and answer on the forums

Featured Script

An easy way to track the growth of your database

Sylvia Moestl Vasilik from SQLServerCentral.com

Frequently you'll want to know how fast your database has been growing. Ideally, you'll have historical size information on all the databases that you work on. In the real world, however, this is not necessarily the case.

What we have most often is the backup history. Luckily, we can get a rough outline of the growth of your database, over time, from the msdb..backupset table. This query will give the size of the backup, every time that a backup was done. From this you can get a pretty good idea of how fast your database is growing.

More »

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