Aaron Bertrand

A new Q & A site, with plan uploads directly from Plan Explorer!

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Jonathan Kehayias is a Principal Consultant with SQLskills and the youngest MCM ever.

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Today I am excited to help announce a new question and answer site hosted right here at SQLPerformance.com:

answers.SQLPerformance.com

This coincides with a new version of SQL Sentry Plan Explorer. The reason these are being launched together is that you will now have the ability to upload an execution plan directly to the answers site from within Plan Explorer, giving people a very straightforward way to look at your plan as if they were looking over your shoulder.

How does it work?

Once you've generated an execution plan in the latest version of Plan Explorer, just click on the new toolbar button labeled, "Post to SQLPerformance.com":

ans_button

You will then be prompted to sign in or register (registering will create a new account):

ans_login_prompt

Once authenticated, the plan will be uploaded, along with questions or comments, a relevant title, and selected tags (you can change those later):

ans_dialog

Once you hit submit, you will be prompted to open the question in your default web browser:

ans_prompt_view

You can choose to visit the site and view / modify the post, add additional comments, and wait for other users to offer input:

ans_post

Plan Explorer will now include a link to the forum question related to that plan (this link will also be present for anyone else who downloads the plan and opens it):

ans_view

This functionality is available in both the free and PRO versions of Plan Explorer. Note that an actual execution plan generated from within Plan Explorer works much better for this purpose than an estimated execution plan, or even an actual plan generated elsewhere, since our actual plan contains the most information. That said, all of these options are supported.

You can also switch between this site and the Q & A site using the tabs in the upper right. Home will bring you to the blog; Q & A will bring you to answers.SQLPerformance.com:

PE-tabs-site

Who will help?

Anyone can download and view the plan in Plan Explorer, and use the link to reply to the question. But it won't be "just anyone" moderating the site – noted execution plan analysis expert Paul White (blog | @SQL_Kiwi), among others, will be offering their assistance in tracking down your nagging plan issues. Of course we hope that this becomes a community resource and encourage one and all to contribute!

We are not intending answers.SQLPerformance.com to replace Stack Overflow, dba.stackexchange.com or any SQL Server-related forum. But we see a lot of plan-related questions flow through those sites, and they all have one thing in common: the lack of a coherent way to share execution plans for troubleshooting. You'll often see a screen shot of a graphical plan or SHOWPLAN_TEXT output, neither of which are very conducive to thorough analysis; or you'll see .sqlplan files uploaded to some file sharing service that requires the reader to create an account just to look at it. Here, the end-to-end experience will be much smoother – everyone providing assistance will always be dealing with an execution plan you actually submitted, so there will be no missing information, no hurdles, and nothing left to guesswork.

What information is included?

Note that your table, column and other entity names are part of the execution plan details, and are helpful when discussing the query and any observations about the plan. We do automatically strip out authentication information from .pesession and .queryanalysis files before uploading, but be aware that your database and server names may still be exposed if you reference them in your queries using three- or four-part names.

Also be aware that, like many other sites, your contributions more or less become public domain (at least that's how I always consider any comments or answers I post anywhere online, except in places where authentication and NDA are both enforced). We are providing a public venue for discussing performance issues about SQL Server, and are intending that your contributions (which include code and execution plan files) are licensed under cc-sa with attribution. The style of attribution should follow common sense – if you reuse material you found here, tell people where you found it, including an active URL. :-)

What next?

To try this functionality out, you can download the new version of Plan Explorer in the usual place:

SQL Sentry Plan Explorer

Or you can submit new questions directly on the answers site (you can always attach plans to questions later):

answers.SQLPerformance.com