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by Mike McKee
Problem Solving

How I Deal With Long SQL Scripts

A quick problem-solving tip for you.

How do you handle 500+ lines of SQL code?

I spend a lot of time working with SQL stored procedures at work. If you’ve worked with them before, then you know how complex they can be.

Most of the ones I see have 200-300 lines of code. Some have 500+ lines.(Those 500+ ones are some scary monsters, right?)

What makes them interesting is that they aren’t like Views -- which are a single select statement.

Stored procedures can have temp tables, CTEs, updates, inserts, or more in them... I mean, you name it, and stored procedures can have it. So, it’s no surprise that they can become pretty messy.

That’s why I have a strategy I use when working with a new stored procedure. It helps me quickly understand the code and saves me from wasting time debunking the procedure’s meaning.

Here’s what I do…

Instead of looking at the stored procedure as one big script, I break it up into smaller queries.

I run the smaller queries one at a time to clearly see how data moves through the procedure.

This helps me trace the data’s movement from beginning to end.

I’ve been approaching long SQL scripts like this for the last few months. It’s simple and easy to do. It makes them less daunting. But here’s what I want to know…

How do you approach long SQL scripts?

What do you do when running into a 500+ line SQL beast?