Monday, September 19, 2011

Smithsonian Anywhere

Every successful software product that's been around for more than a few years has its own "Museum Of Forgotten Features", and SQL Anywhere is no exception.

What's a "Forgotten Feature"?

It's a big important feature that was maybe even "Release Defining" in its day but hasn't been improved or expanded in any significant or obvious fashion for several releases.
  • Case in point: Application Profiling and Database Tracing

  • Case in point: Index Consultant

  • Case in point: Procedure Profiling

Let's talk about Procedure Profiling

Not to be confused with the Application Profiler, Procedure Profiling has been around forever in it's original form, and it still doesn't have Jump To Next Peak:
Make it easier to find the peaks in Profiling Results
18 Aug 2007

A claim: Nobody cares about the zeroes, only the peaks.

A simple suggestion: In the ms. and % columns of the Profiling Results
display, do not show zero entries as 0. Show them as dash - or empty
spaces, so that non-zero values will stand out when scrolling down
through very large blocks of text.

A better suggestion: Provide some mechanism to quickly find the peaks,
better than scrolling down through large blocks of text trying to keep
an eye out for big percentages. I suggest that ALL lines should be
initially hidden as "-- show xx hidden lines --" EXCEPT for the lines
with non-zero % values. The user could then click on the "-- show ..."
lines to see the surrounding text.

Right now, finding peaks in the Profiling Results display is quite
time consuming. It is also very frustrating when you scroll wayyy down
through a huge procedure, only to find that 100% of the time is
showing against a CALL to another procedure... the time spent looking
at the calling procedure was a complete waste since the called
procedure is the one that should be examined.

Why are features forgotten?

  • Possible reason: Nobody's available to work on them, they're all busy on other things.
    "Well, of COURSE that's true, the alternative is ridiculous: You think someone's been busy on Application Profiling for years and years but not getting anywhere? Get serious! Better yet, get helpful!"

  • Possible reason: They're all RFP checkpoints. Everyone else has them, and now so do we, so we can move on to something else.
    "Oh, now you're depressing me... none of these are anything like Java In The Database!"

  • Possible reason: Engineering doesn't care.
    "When did iAnywhere Solutions become an autonomous research lab? They didn't, did they? So is Engineering running things, or not? They aren't, are they?"

  • Possible reason: Marketing doesn't care.
    "Now we're getting somewhere."

  • Possible reason: Finance doesn't care.
    "We're doomed!"
A new feature has a real Return On Investment... folks can make sales presentations and write Top 10 lists. Enhancements, not so much... especially if the enhancements are really fixes. Nobody's ever going to write a press release to announce "SQL Anywhere's Application Profiling feature is now easy to use!"

In fact, nobody is ever going to acknowledge that Application Profiling has any problems at all. The glass is half full: Marketing and Sales are genetically incapable of talking about bad stuff. That's not a criticism; developers are incapable of seeing anything except problems and challenges; when they fix one bug, get move on to the next, and if they finish a program they toss it aside and move on to the next. The world needs both; a marketer couldn't debug a spreadsheet formula, and an engineer couldn't sell beer at a ballpark. Finance? Neither.

The Exceptions

Here are some major features which have escaped becoming museum exhibits...
  • Spatial... maybe... I think... only the Alphas know for sure what Spatial is all about.

  • MobiLink... evolving, expanding, exciting!

  • Graphical Plan... getting more useful with every release, almost within grasp by the Betas, maybe soon us Gammas!
The fact that exceptions exist throws the museum exhibits into sharp relief... if "sharp relief" can be said about something dim, dusty and forgotten.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Used Procedure Profiling for the first time a few weeks ago.
Although not perfect it did help get a proc down from 10 mins to 2 mins!