Mauro Pagano's Blog


SQLTXPLAIN vs SQLd360, differences and similarities

When talking tools to help with SQL Tuning the question on SQLTXPLAIN vs SQLd360 comes out very often. “What’s the difference?”, “Which one should I use?”, “Why another tool?” are probably the top ones 🙂

I’ll try to make a fair and (as much as possible) unbiased comparison between the two on some general aspects. If you want to know of any specific area just let me know in the comments.

Installation Requires installation. Creates two schemas that serve as metadata and code repository, they need to be present every time the tool is executed No installation, at the end of the execution no evidence is left behind
Source code Mainly PL/SQL, unwrapped (clear text). Code is Oracle property SQL scripts, clear text, true open source released under GPL. Code available on GitHub
Main Goal Automate every aspect of diagnostic collection for SQL tuning Same as SQLT, but less “obsessive” 🙂
Main Focus Execution plan generation, why CBO generated plan X,Y,Z (includes custom testcase, very flexible) Execution plan generation (but a little less than SQLT) and how plans execute at runtime
Main advantage Includes every bit of info needed to drill into CBO decisions, unlikely the need to go back and collect anything else Makes diagnostic consumption faster and easier because of data visualization, lots of focus on runtime
Main disadvantage Requires installation. Not much focus on execution time (“same plan different performance” type of cases harder to deal with) Might miss some information under rare circumstances

Outside the comparison table, what we use today: SQLd360

  1. No installation.
  2. Root Cause Analysis of CBO decisions usually belongs to Oracle Support (for the most part), SQL Tuning in the real world focuses on easier aspects of plan generation, thus lower need for strong focus on it.
  3. Performance data available in Oracle grows by release, charting allows quick and way more effective consumption of large amount of such data.


SQL Monitoring, Flamegraph and Execution Plan Temperature 2.0

Two of the things that I like the most about SQL Monitoring reports are the ability to quickly spot where in the execution plan the time is spent (Activity% column, thank you ASH) and the fact you can collapse part of the plan. Too bad the two don’t “work” together meaning if you collapse a part of the plan the Activity% is not rolled up at the collapsed level. I understand why it works that way (it might be confusing otherwise) but I’d still like to be able to collapsed a node and get a “subtree Activity%” so I know if that subtree is something I should be worry about or not (kind of…).

Pause that for a second, Flamegraph on the other hand is really good at showing  how much (in %) a “subtree” (function + its callees) accounts overall, Luca Canali did an (as usual) awesome job here with something similar, but a bit more sophisticated than just execution plan. Unfortunately the fact the elements are not sorted on time (I think most “Oracle people” tend to expect time on the X-axis) combined with the kind of random color used for each bar make this representation a little less intuitive than I’d like it to be for execution plans (don’t get me wrong, I still love this representation a lot!).

SQLd360 represents execution plans as tree since one of the first releases and for over a year the color of the nodes represent a heatmap of where time has been spent (same as Activity% in SQL Monitoring), starting from a couple releases ago there are a couple improvements I hope (like to hear you feedback on this) fixed the shortcomings of both SQL Monitoring and Flamegraph when it comes to digest execution plans.
Each step in the execution plan can be collapsed (this was since day 1) and now its color will change to represent the color the node would have had if all the time the SQL spent on the node itself plus its child steps was spent on the node itself, on expand the colors go back to original.
Also when mouse overing the node a new piece of info will show up in the popup, a “subtree impact” that represent exactly what % of time the node plus its children account for.


For example from the picture above step 16 accounted for 15.52% of the time, while all the subtree under the node (including it too) accounted for 39.6% of the time. Expanding the node the color will go back to a “lighter shade orange”.

I think one of the main advantage of this approach will be the ability to consume large execution plans quickly, collapsing large parts of them and focusing on just what matters, how those parts of the plan interacts with each others, etc etc.

As usual feedbacks, corrections, ideas are MORE than welcome! 🙂

NB: I rewrote the SQL that is under the tree representation to make it more readable but just to make sure I didn’t break the functionality as of now there are two plan trees per plan (and per Top N exec), the one “with subtree” implements what just described above. The old representation will go away down the road, when I’m sure the new SQL is solid enough.

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Little help in creating SQL Plan Baselines

One of the main design goals behind SQLd360 is to have no installation nor “evidence” left in the database, i.e. there is no SQLd360 repository in the database while there is a SQLTXPLAIN one (this isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just a different approach).

As a consequence several little things SQLT provided are gone with SQLd360, for example few years ago (it’s been disabled by default for a while) SQLT generated a script to create a “custom” SQL Profile for the best performing plan it identified, something similar was happening for SQL Plan Baselines stored in SQL Tuning Set for quick implementation of baselines down the road.

There is a new standalone script shipped with SQLd360, sql/sqld360_create_sql_baseline.sql, that aims at providing the same functionality of SPM+STS provided by SQLT, using the idea of “no evidence left by default”.
The script is NOT executed as part of SQLd360, it can (and needs to) be manually executed at any time, which in turns means there is no need to run SQLd360 for this script to work.
The script requires three parameters:

  • SQL ID for the SQL of interest
  • Oracle Pack available in this database ([N]one, [D]iagnostic or [T]uning)
  • Plan Hash Value you wish to “freeze”

You can provide the parameters directly inline to SQL*Plus (assuming you know the PHV you want to enforce) or just enter them one by one when prompted, the script will list all the PHV it can find around (memory + history) with their performance, helping you in case you don’t recall which PHV you want.

The script does just two things:

  1. It create a SQL Tuning Set (named s_<<SQLID>>_<<PHV>>) and loads the plan details into it, the goal is to “freeze” it in time so info don’t get lost if the plan is aged out of memory, purged from AWR, etc.
  2. Provide copy&paste instructions to create a Baseline based on the plan in the STS either in the current system or in a remote one. The script DOES NOT execute such steps, only prints them at screen. This way you can read, understand, digest and validate them before YOU execute them.

Hopefully it will make it a little bit easier to play with SPM.

Feedbacks, correction, recommendations are welcome as usual!

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Presentations on Slideshare

Every once in a while I get asked if I can email the PPT for a session that I delivered. I always say YES (of course) so I figure why not be proactive and upload the material fot the presentations I delivered over the last several months. Under the “Pages” section on the right side of the page there is a new link “Presentations” that takes you to Slideshare.

It’s my first experience with Slideshare and I’m pretty sure I made mistakes along the way so if you see something wrong just let me know (and let me know how to fix it PLEASE 🙂 )

The list of presentation is probably incomplete so if you attended one and see that I forgot to upload it just let me know and I’ll fix that. Also every session comes with trace files / dumps / testcases built to support the investigations but I found no easy to way upload them so I’d still rely on the old “provided upon request, via email” for them.



Which Observations would you like to see in SQLd360?

SQLd360 v1617 finally includes a new “Observations” section (section 1F) that I pushed back for long, very long 🙂

If you are not familiar with SQLTXPLAIN then consider the reports in this section like “yellow flags”, specific items that are not necessarily causing direct troubles to your SQL but are still questionable and need further investigation / verification / blessing for such item to be kept in place.

There are many reasons why I pushed back for a long time, first one being the results can be easily misleading and make you believe the underlying cause is A while maybe it’s Z. Another reason is most of the observations ended up just being informative with no action taken against them, still you had to scroll hundreds of them.
Because of what just said, combined with the need to keep the checks “useful”, the current list of observations is intentionally short (and incomplete as of now), it includes only observations for:

  • Some system-wide settings, e.g. CBO parameters, OFE version, etc
  • Few plan and cursor-specific information, e.g. index referenced in some plan is now missing
  • Table statistics, e.g. partition that are empty according to stats

The list won’t grow much based on my ideas for the same reason it’s short now, I don’t want to implement checks I believe are important when 99% of the people don’t care about them.

That’s why this blog post, I need your feedback and ideas to implement what you care about 🙂
Let me know what you would like to have in the observation section and I’ll work on it!
Just keep in mind the goal is to keep that section relatively fast so super-complex checks that take 10 mins to execute are off the list.

Note: v1617 also turns off a couple of less-used features like TCB and AWR reports by default (can easily be enabled back via config file) so don’t be surprised if they don’t show up in column 5.

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eAdam, SQLd360 hidden gem

The title is actually VERY wrong! eAdam isn’t a gem hidden inside SQLd360, it’s a standalone tool developed by Carlos Sierra and it’s been around for way longer than SQLd360. You can read more about eAdam here but in short its goal is to export AWR data in a portable way that can be restored in another database, something like a raw version of AWR Warehouse (kind of).

Every time you run SQLd360, the tool collects a reduced version of eAdam just for ASH data (both GV$ and DBA_HIST) for the SQL of interest, packs the result into the zip file and links it into the main page under column 5, “eAdam ASH”. The reason for doing so is SQLd360 has tons of reports built on top of the most important columns of ASH but what if you want to query another column that is not present in any report? With eAdam you basically have the whole ASH for this SQL ID to do all the data mining you want!

I’m writing this post because I realized I never advertised this functionality much and every time I talk about it with somebody, he/she looks at me like “what are you talking about? I’ve never seen it”.

So let me show you how easy it is to load eAdam data coming from SQLd360 into a target database! I’m assuming you already have eAdam installed (if not then just follow the first two steps in “Instructions – Staging Database” from this link)

  1. Grab file NNNN_sqld360_<<hostname_hash>>_<<sql_id>>_5_eadam_ash.tar from inside SQLd360, it will be one of the last files.
  2. Place it into <<path to eAdam>>/stage_system and just run eadam_load.sql as the eAdam user you created during the installation.


You now have two tables in your eAdam schema called GV_ACTIVE_SESSION_HISTORY_S and DBA_HIST_ACTIVE_SESS_HIST_S with all the ASH data for your SQL ID!


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Top Executions SQL Monitoring style reports in SQLd360

I think SQL Monitoring is an amazing tool when it comes to SQL Tuning but I often find that for one reason or another the report is almost never around for post-mortem investigation.
Historical SQL Monitoring reports have been introduced in 12c but still the decision to collect or no the report for the SQL ID we are interested in depends on several factors we have no control on after the issue happened 😦

SQLd360 tried to alleviate this “issue” including ASH-based charts that provided similar information, those have been available for a long time in the Plan Details page, organized by Plan Hash Value (PHV).
The main difference between SQL Monitoring (SM) and SQLd360 is the scope. SM provides info for a single execution while SQLd360 aggregated info from all the executions active at a specific point in time. Info for recent executions are (V$ACTIVE_SESSION_HISTORY) are aggregated by minute while historical executions (DBA_HIST_ACTIVE_SESS_HISTORY) get aggregated by hour.
That section of the SQLd360 looks like this:

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 9.46.54 AM.png


Starting SQLd360 v1601 a new set of reports is provided for the Top-N executions per PHV, where a “top execution” is one of those with the highest number of samples.
The goal is to replicate, as close as possible, the SQL Monitoring functionalities using just the ASH data, which tend to be around for much longer than a SQL Monitoring report 🙂

The data is not aggregated so the granularity is 1s for samples from memory (V$) and 10s for samples from ASH (DBA_HIST).
With this level of granularity combined with the non aggregation other types of data visualizations make sense, like i.e. timelines to identify when a specific section of the execution plan was active (the which section is the “bad guy” can be answered from the tree chart), that’s the “Plan Step IDs timeline” in the figure below that will need its own blog post 😀 .
This new section of the report looks like this:

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 9.58.46 AM.png

So i.e. for each execution we can see the active sessions (plural in case of PX and not “Average Active Session” since there is no timeframe aggregation) with associated CPU/wait events over time, just like in SQL Monitoring (to be fair SQL Monitoring is able to provide sub-second details, which are not available in ASH).

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 10.04.50 AM.png

Hopefully you’ll find this new section useful, specially when ASH is all you got 😀

Final note: the number Top-N executions is configurable in file sql/sqld360_00_config.sql altering the value for sqld360_conf_num_top_execs (default is 3).

As usual feedback, comments, suggestions are all more than welcome!