XML Plans Saga–Breaking Dawn Part 2

I just completed this series and now there are four posts which points out four different ways of tracking down XML plans for troubleshooting or monitoring query performance:

XML Plans Saga –Twilight – A gist of what graphical execution plans look like.
XML Plans Saga –New Moon – Getting your hands dirty with the actual XML document representing the query plan
XML Plans Saga – Eclipse – Retrieving information about query plans using profiler trace events
XML Plans Saga – Breaking Dawn Part 1 – Fetching information from the cached plans in the SQL Server procedure cache

In this blog post (Breaking Dawn Part 2), I shall talk about the latest release in the SQL family… SQL Server 2012. With the new avatar of the Management Studio, you now have an Extended Event (XEvents) configuration wizard. Even though Extended Events have been around since SQL Server 2008, there wasn’t a wizard available for the configuration of the same. I am going to explain how XEvents can be used to capture execution plans and the existing XEvent Viewer in SQL Server 2012 Management Studio (SSMS) gives you a nice view.

I configured a XEvent trace with an asynchronous ring buffer target and captured only the query_post_execution_showplan event. The XEvent defition is shown below:

ON SERVER ADD EVENT sqlserver.query_post_execution_showplan(SET collect_database_name=(1)
ACTION(sqlos.cpu_id, sqlos.scheduler_id, sqlos.worker_address, sqlserver.database_name, sqlserver.is_system, sqlserver.nt_username, sqlserver.plan_handle, sqlserver.request_id, sqlserver.server_principal_name, sqlserver.session_id, sqlserver.session_nt_username, sqlserver.sql_text, sqlserver.transaction_id, sqlserver.tsql_frame, sqlserver.tsql_stack, sqlserver.username))

image_thumb10I used the Watch Live Data option in SSMS (Screenshot 1) to view the data being captured by the configured XEvent session active on the server. Now the XEvent viewer gives you a lot of options to aggregate and group data collect by the XEvent session. There are three things that I did with the GUI:

1. I first used the Choose Columns option to pick the columns that I wanted to be available in the events pane.

2. Then I picked the Grouping option to group on the object_name column value. You can only group on events which are visible in the events pane.

3. Then I picked the Aggregation option to provide me with a SUM of duration and cpu_time values for each of the event occurrences.

You can see the final output in Screenshot 2 below.

You can now see that I have all the execution plans for the execution of the stored procedure sp_helpdb. The Details pane actually gives you the option to view the graphical query plan. Another tip is that if you double-click on any of the events in the details pane, then either open up in a new pop-up window or a new query window depending on the field (eg. showplan_xml).


As you see from the Screenshot below, there is hordes of information I can pickup from the output without having to start a profiler trace. Since you get the plan_handle and the actual query plan, you can use the queries from the previous posts in the series to get the set options, missing indexes, compilation and execution statistics for the query as well. However, the aggregation option in the XEvent Viewer gives you a head start on a lot of this activity already. image_thumb12

Hope all of you have some fun reading these posts on XML plans and put all this info to good use in your SQL environments!

Till next time Ciao and happy query plan spotting!!


2 thoughts on “XML Plans Saga–Breaking Dawn Part 2

  1. Thanks Ken. The query_post_execution_showplan has an event field database_name. collect_database_name = (1) asks SQL Server to collect the field information. If it’s set to ZERO, then the session trace will not collect the information.


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