Sql – Why isn’t SQL ANSI-92 standard better adopted over ANSI-89


At every company I have worked at, I have found that people are still writing their SQL queries in the ANSI-89 standard:

select a.id, b.id, b.address_1
from person a, address b
where a.id = b.id

rather than the ANSI-92 standard:

select a.id, b.id, b.address_1
from person a
inner join address b
on a.id = b.id

For an extremely simple query like this, there's not a big difference in readability, but for large queries I find that having my join criteria grouped in with listing out the table makes it much easier to see where I might have issues in my join, and let's me keep all my filtering in my WHERE clause. Not to mention that I feel that outer joins are much intuitive than the (+) syntax in Oracle.

As I try to evangelize ANSI-92 to people, are there any concrete performance benefits in using ANSI-92 over ANSI-89? I would try it on my own, but the Oracle setups we have here don't allow us to use EXPLAIN PLAN – wouldn't want people to try to optimize their code, would ya?

Best Answer

According to "SQL Performance Tuning" by Peter Gulutzan and Trudy Pelzer, of the six or eight RDBMS brands they tested, there was no difference in optimization or performance of SQL-89 versus SQL-92 style joins. One can assume that most RDBMS engines transform the syntax into an internal representation before optimizing or executing the query, so the human-readable syntax makes no difference.

I also try to evangelize the SQL-92 syntax. Sixteen years after it was approved, it's about time people start using it! And all brands of SQL database now support it, so there's no reason to continue to use the nonstandard (+) Oracle syntax or *= Microsoft/Sybase syntax.

As for why it's so hard to break the developer community of the SQL-89 habit, I can only assume that there's a large "base of the pyramid" of programmers who code by copy & paste, using ancient examples from books, magazine articles, or another code base, and these people don't learn new syntax abstractly. Some people pattern-match, and some people learn by rote.

I am gradually seeing people using SQL-92 syntax more frequently than I used to, though. I've been answering SQL questions online since 1994.

Related Topic