Published on October 21st, 2020 | by Sunit Nandi0
Developer Tips: When Should You Use Stored Procedures?
Stored procedures are popular, but not every developer likes them, and it’s not hard to see why. Most users avoid them because they overwork the database server and use more CPU resources. Others reckon they are not scalable or simply like going about things the traditional way.
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If you are new to stored procedures or are only familiarizing yourself with programming tips and tricks, this article is for you. We will explain exactly why you need stored procedures and the many different instances when they are necessary.
What are the advantages of stored procedures?
The list of benefits of using stored procedures is endless. Here are some of the more obvious ones:
1. They offer network efficiency
Stored procedures often include multiple commands and are built to process large amounts of data. Keeping the programming logic in the server saves programmers and systems administrators the need to pull results across networks for processing by client programs.
2. They are maintainable
Stored procedures are unified storage for intricate programming logic and rules, and all this does is simplify the process of making changes. Rather than going through the hassle of identifying specific bits in the application and executing changes, stored procedures condense that into a single point where you can make the change in one shot. Once the changes have been made, saved, and compiled, everyone using the program benefits from the change.
3. Stored procedures increase security
Stored procedures improve server and data security by facilitating the execution of insert, delete, and update operations in a restricted manner. For example, the administrator can allow user A to edit the addresses of select rows, but not be able to do so for others.
They also allow for the inclusion of data checks where you can review new data to ensure it is correct and valid. In a word, stored procedures give the user the power to confirm to double-check everything before it is executed. This ensures users can’t manipulate information in the database in any unpredictable ways.
When should you use stored procedures?
While stored procedures have been shown to simplify database management, there are downsides to it that developers and administrators try to circumvent. For one, the encapsulation of business logic in the stored procedures complicates the testability of the logic.
Debugging may also prove an issue, especially if the database doesn’t come with built-in debugging capabilities. Other cons include lack of versioning and branching features, which are important in showing the version on which a stored procedure is and temporarily isolating related software changes, respectively.
Stored procedures have their flipside and should only be used when the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Here are five instances when it is necessary to use stored procedures:
1. When speed is paramount
Stored procedures are not supposed to run faster than standalone queries because the query optimizer treats a standalone query and a query embedded in a stored procedure in the same way. However, most developers say their stored procedures seem to run faster, even if it’s by a small margin. This has been attributed to the difference in caching procedures for queries embedded in code and those within stored procedures.
Most database management systems require the tiniest of details in queries to remain unchanged for them to reuse their cached plans. These may include such factors as case sensitivity and white space. Understandably, a standalone query is significantly more likely to change than a similar query in a stored procedure. Thus there is a good chance your stored procedures will be utilizing the cache while some of your individually submitted queries will be loading from scratch.
2. When you are using only one database vendor
If you are sure you will never require the services of a second database vendor for your application, you can be comfortable deploying stored procedures. For example, if you use PostgreSQL, and you have several applications accessing the same database, PostgreSQL stored procedures can help streamline the manner in which the various applications talk to the database.
3. When data doesn’t need to be taken out of the database
If you are performing operations, particularly repetitive ones, using data that you are certain you won’t need to move out of the database, then using stored procedures might prove more convenient. For instance, if you are using data from a table to create another, it would make more sense to go for the data in a single move than make several trips in and out of the database.
4. When trying to reduce complexity
When updating multiple tables and there is a possibility the code logic will change afterward, you can shun a recompile by updating the stored procedure. Stored procedures provide you with a way to update huge amounts of data in a single click of the mouse.
5. When creating transactions
When an insert/delete/update spans a series of tables, it makes perfect sense to start a transaction instead. If an error occurs down the road, it would be easier to backtrack and remove it before it corrupts the code.
You are not always going to need stored procedures, but some situations will call for their use. Always understand your needs and plans before employing stored procedures or avoiding it when it makes sense to use them. Both the benefits and downsides are experienced more in the long run. Draw an elaborate blueprint and review it extensively before continuing with your project.