Profiler Is Dead, Long Live Extended Events

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OK, so profiler isn’t actually dead, it has however been deprecated since 2012 and has had no new features since then. Extended Events on the other hand, is getting new events and fields added all the time. And Yet… And yet, for the most part, people are still using Profiler and ignoring Extended Events. In this post, I’m going to go over a couple of common Profiler use cases and show how it’s actually easier to use in Extended Events once you’ve got your head around it.

I’m not going to go into too much detail on all the different aspects of extended events here, I’m just going to concentrate on a couple of common profiles I used to use and what they look like in Extended Events. If you want more of a deep dive on Extended Events then Jonathan Kehayias has some great posts on it here https://www.sqlskills.com/blogs/jonathan/category/extended-events/.

Let’s take 4 common profiles that I used to use all the time before switching to extended events

  1. Show RPC Completed/Statement Completed events from user X
  2. Show RPC Completed/Statement Completed events where the duration is over x seconds
  3. Show memory grants over xGB
  4. Show deadlock graphs

Run the following TSQL snippets to create but not start Extended Event sessions for the above 4 scenarios.

RCP/Statement Completed For User X

CREATE EVENT SESSION [RpcAndBatchCompletedForUserX] ON SERVER 
ADD EVENT sqlserver.rpc_completed
(
  ACTION
   (
      sqlserver.database_id,
      sqlserver.database_name,
      sqlserver.nt_username,
      sqlserver.server_principal_name,
      sqlserver.session_id
   )
   WHERE 
   (
      [sqlserver].[equal_i_sql_unicode_string]([sqlserver].[server_principal_name],N'domain\user') AND 
      [sqlserver].[not_equal_i_sql_unicode_string]([sqlserver].[database_name],N'master') AND 
      [sqlserver].[is_system]<>(1)
   )
),
ADD EVENT sqlserver.sp_statement_completed
(
   ACTION
   (
      sqlserver.database_id,
      sqlserver.database_name,
      sqlserver.nt_username,
      sqlserver.server_principal_name,
      sqlserver.session_id
   )
   WHERE 
   (
      [sqlserver].[equal_i_sql_unicode_string]([sqlserver].[server_principal_name],N'domain\user') AND 
      [sqlserver].[not_equal_i_sql_unicode_string]([sqlserver].[database_name],N'master') AND 
      [sqlserver].[is_system]<>(1)
   )
),
ADD EVENT sqlserver.sql_batch_completed
(
   ACTION
   (
      sqlserver.database_id,
      sqlserver.database_name,
      sqlserver.nt_username,
      sqlserver.server_principal_name,
      sqlserver.session_id
   )
   WHERE 
   (
      [sqlserver].[equal_i_sql_unicode_string]([sqlserver].[server_principal_name],N'domain\user') AND 
      [sqlserver].[not_equal_i_sql_unicode_string]([sqlserver].[database_name],N'master') AND 
      [sqlserver].[is_system]<>(1)
   )
)
WITH (MAX_MEMORY=4096 KB)
GO

RPC/Statement Completed Over X Seconds

CREATE EVENT SESSION [RpcAndBatchCompletedOverXSeconds] ON SERVER 
ADD EVENT sqlserver.rpc_completed
(
   ACTION
   (
      sqlserver.database_id,
      sqlserver.database_name,
      sqlserver.nt_username,
      sqlserver.server_principal_name,
      sqlserver.session_id
   )
   WHERE 
   (
      [package0].[not_equal_boolean]([sqlserver].[is_system],(1)) AND 
      [duration]>(10000000)
   )
),
ADD EVENT sqlserver.sp_statement_completed
(
   ACTION
   (
      sqlserver.database_id,
      sqlserver.database_name,
      sqlserver.nt_username,
      sqlserver.server_principal_name,
      sqlserver.session_id
   )
   WHERE 
   (
      [package0].[not_equal_boolean]([sqlserver].[is_system],(1)) AND 
      [duration]>(10000000)
   )
),
ADD EVENT sqlserver.sql_batch_completed
(
   ACTION
   (
      sqlserver.database_id,
      sqlserver.database_name,
      sqlserver.nt_username,
      sqlserver.server_principal_name,
      sqlserver.session_id
   )
   WHERE 
   (
      [package0].[not_equal_boolean]([sqlserver].[is_system],(1)) AND 
      [duration]>(10000000)
   )
)
WITH (MAX_MEMORY=4096 KB)
GO

Memory Grants Over 1GB

CREATE EVENT SESSION MemoryUsageAbove1GB ON SERVER 
ADD EVENT sqlserver.query_memory_grant_usage
(
   ACTION(sqlserver.sql_text)
   WHERE ([granted_memory_kb] > 1000000) --Above 1GB
)
WITH (MAX_MEMORY=4096 KB)

Deadlocks With Graphs

CREATE EVENT SESSION DeadLocks ON SERVER 
ADD EVENT sqlserver.lock_deadlock
(
   ACTION(sqlserver.sql_text)
),
ADD EVENT sqlserver.lock_deadlock_chain
(
   ACTION(sqlserver.sql_text)
),
ADD EVENT sqlserver.xml_deadlock_report
WITH (MAX_MEMORY=4096 KB)

All of the above can be done through the extended event wizard in SSMS but I like to save these scripts and edit them when I need to create new Extended Event sessions to save time. If you’re not sure what is available a good place to start is the wizard and from there you can click the script button to script the whole thing and tidy it up. Some of the above may look a bit lengthy at first glance but if you break it down it’s really just a list of…

  1. Events that you want to capture
  2. Actions that you want to capture on those events (Basically fields of data available on those events)
  3. Filters on the events e.g Duration > X
  4. Targets (Not used in the above), these define where to store the data you collect.
  5. Settings for things like max memory, retention, max size, startup state etc…

Once you’ve run the above scripts you’ll see the 4 new Extended Event Sessions in SSMS…

Extended Event List In SSMS

Notice they all have a stopped icon on them as none of them are currently running, to start one right click and select Start Session. You can then right click and “Watch Live Data” to see the events in real time.

Extended Event Live Data

Once you’re done, then right click the extended event session again and click stop. Whilst for the most part Extended Events are lighter weight than the old Profile Traces that doesn’t mean you can’t still cause horrible side effects by capturing lots of heavy weight events and actions e.g all query plans on a busy server.

The sessions I’ve created above are all currently scripted not to store the session data anywhere so at the minute all we have is the Live Data View. You can configure storage targets to persist this data but I’m not going to go into that here. If you want more information on that I recommend the Microsoft Docs here https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sql/database-engine/sql-server-extended-events-targets?view=sql-server-2014

As mentioned above Extended Events also has a nice Wizard built into SSMS for setting up new sessions, To access this right click the Sessions folder under the Extended Events node in SSMS and click “New Session Wizard”. This wizard allows you to browse and search through all the available Events and Actions which can be a great way to find what you can capture. At the end of the wizard you can either click to create the session or even better click the script button to get the TSQL for it so you can save it away for future.

Why This Is Better Than Profiler

  • It’s not deprecated - Profiler could go away with any next major version of SQL Server.
  • One tool SSMS - No more having to drop in and out of SSMS to Profiler
  • Easy to create and filter with TSQL - I find with Extended Events I’m much more likely to script my sessions or just leave them stopped on the server ready to run again. It always felt a bit clunky to say templates in profiler so I rarely did it.
  • WAY WAY more events! - Profiler hasn’t had any new events added to it since SQL Server 2008, Extended Events on the other hand now has massively more events than Profiler that you can watch for with more getting added with most releases.
  • Yuo can leave you’re stopped sessions saved ready to start from SSMS anytime with no further setup required. Profiler always seemed like a hssle to open, connect, find the template/create one and start it. With Extended Events it’s all there in the tool you probably already have open and are using.

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