Chapter 6. Task Refactoring

No, it isn’t strange, after changes upon changes, we are more or less the same.

After changes we are more or less the same..

—Paul Simon (b. 1941)

The Boxer

REWRITING QUERIES IS OFTEN CONSIDERED TO BE THE ULTIMATE WAY TO IMPROVE A PROGRAM THAT accesses a database. Even so, it is neither the most interesting nor the most efficient way to refactor a program. You will certainly encounter from time to time a query that severe editing will speed up beyond recognition. But increasingly, as optimizers become more sophisticated and as statistics collection becomes more automated and more accurate, query tuning grows into the kind of skill you exhibit on social occasions to show that you have other qualities besides being a handsome, witty, and cultivated individual.

In real life, the tuning of single SQL statements is no longer as vital as it used to be. What is increasingly important isn’t to master the SQL skills that allow you to improve existing statements, but rather to master those that allow you to perform in very few data accesses what somebody less enlightened could write in only a convoluted procedural fashion. Indeed, both skill sets are very close in spirit; as you saw in Chapter 5, efficiently rewriting a statement is about hitting the tables fewer times, and so is efficiently designing an SQL application. But you must take a high-level view and consider not only what you feed into a query and what it returns, but also where the filtering criteria ...

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