OK, I just have to comment...

"Jim C. Nasby" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes:
> > These hints would outright force the planner to do things a certain way.
> > ... FROM table /* ACCESS {SEQSCAN | [[NO] BITMAP] INDEX index_name} */
> 
> This proposal seems to deliberately ignore every point that has been
> made *against* doing things that way.  It doesn't separate the hints
> from the queries, it doesn't focus on fixing the statistical or cost
> misestimates that are at the heart of the issue, and it takes no account
> of the problem of hints being obsoleted by system improvements.

But whatever arguments you made about planner improvements and the like,
it will NEVER be possible to correctly estimate in all cases the
statistics for a query, even if you perfectly know WHAT statistics you
need, which is also not the case all the time. 

Tom, you're the one who knows best how the planner works... can you bet
anything you care about on the fact that one day the planner will never
ever generate a catastrophic plan without DBA tweaking ? And how far in
time we'll get to that point ?

Until that point is achieved, the above proposal is one of the simplest
to understand for the tweaking DBA, and the fastest to deploy when faced
with catastrophic plans. And I would guess it is one of the simplest to
be implemented and probably not very high maintenance either, although
this is just a guess.

If I could hint some of my queries, I would enable anonymous prepared
statements to take into account the parameter values, but I can't
because that results in runaway queries every now and then, so I had to
force postgres generate generic queries without knowing anything about
parameter values... so the effect for me is an overall slower postgres
system because I couldn't fix the particular problems I had and had to
tweak general settings. And when I have a problem I can't wait until the
planner is fixed, I have to solve it immediately... the current means to
do that are suboptimal. 

The argument that planner hints would hide problems from being solved is
a fallacy. To put a hint in place almost the same amount of analysis is
needed from the DBA as solving the problem now, so users who ask now for
help will further do it even in the presence of hints. The ones who
wouldn't are not coming for help now either, they know their way out of
the problems... and the ones who still report a shortcoming of the
planner will do it with hints too.

I would even say it would be an added benefit, cause then you could
really see how well a specific plan will do without having the planner
capable to generate alone that plan... so knowledgeable users could come
to you further down the road when they know where the planner is wrong,
saving you time.

I must say it again, this kind of query-level hinting would be the
easiest to understand for the developers... there are many
trial-end-error type of programmers out there, if you got a hint wrong,
you fix it and move on, doesn't need to be perfect, it just have to be
good enough. I heavily doubt that postgres will get bad publicity
because user Joe sot himself in the foot by using bad hints... the
probability for that is low, you must actively put those hints there,
and if you take the time to do that then you're not the average Joe, and
probably not so lazy either, and if you're putting random hints, then
you would probably mess it up some other way anyway.

And the thing about missing new features is also not very founded. If I
would want to exclude a full table scan on a specific table for a
specific query, than that's about for sure that I want to do that
regardless what new features postgres will offer in the future. Picking
one specific access method is more prone to missing new access methods,
but even then, when I upgrade the DB server to a new version, I usually
have enough other compatibility problems (till now I always had some on
every upgrade I had) that making a round of upgrading hints is not an
outstanding problem. And if the application works good enough with
suboptimal plans, why would I even take that extra effort ?

I guess the angle is: I, as a practicing DBA would like to be able to
experiment and get most out of the imperfect tool I have, and you, the
developers, want to make the tool perfect... I don't care about perfect
tools, it just have to do the job... hints or anything else, if I can
make it work GOOD ENOUGH, it's all fine. And hints is something I would
understand and be able to use.

Thanks for your patience if you're still reading this...

Cheers,
Csaba.



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