Forcing an Entity Framework 6 query to use the correct index

c# entity-framework entity-framework-6 sqlite

Question

I have a C# application that uses SQLite as the database and the SQLite Entity Framework 6 provider to generate queries based on user input.

The database contains the following tables and indexes:

CREATE TABLE Lists (
    ListRowId INTEGER NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY,
    ListId GUID NOT NULL,
    ListName TEXT NOT NULL
);

CREATE UNIQUE INDEX [IX_Lists_ListId] ON [Lists] ( [ListId] );

-- One to many relationship: Lists => ListDetails
CREATE TABLE ListDetails (
    ListDetailRowId INTEGER NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY,
    ListDetailId GUID NOT NULL,
    ListId GUID NOT NULL,
    Plate TEXT
);

CREATE INDEX [IX_ListDetails_Plate] ON [ListDetails] ( [Plate]  ASC );

CREATE TABLE Reads (
    ReadRowId INTEGER NOT NULL PPRIMARY KEY,
    ReadId GUID NOT NULL,
    Plate TEXT
);

-- 1 To many relationship: Reads => Alarms.
-- There may be rows in Reads that have no related rows in Alarms.
CREATE TABLE Alarms (
    AlarmRowId INTEGER NOT NULL PPRIMARY KEY,
    AlarmId GUID NOT NULL,
    ListId GUID NOT NULL,
    ListDetailId GUID NOT NULL,
    ReadRowId INTEGER NOT NULL
);

CREATE INDEX [IX_Alarms_ListId_ListDetailId] ON [Alarms] ([ListId], [ListDetailId]);

CREATE INDEX [IX_Alarms_ReadId] ON [Alarms] ([ReadRowId]);

Please note that the DDL above only includes the relevant columns and indexes. For reasons of speed and the large number of rows in the ListDetails table, there is no index on the ListDetailId GUID column; nor can I create one. In fact, I cannot change the database's schema at all.

The database does not have any foreign key relationships defined between any of these tables. The reason is internal to our system. I repeat, I cannot change the schema.

Using the SQLite EF6 provider, I've built an entity model from the database. It is a database first model as the application was originally written using a different database and EF 4. We upgraded it to EF 6 and replaced the database with SQLite.

While processing user input, I have to put together a query that joins these tables. Here's the basic EF expression I've built.

from read    in context.Reads
join alrm    in context.Alarms on read.ReadRowId equals alrm.ReadRowId into alarmJoin
from alarm   in alarmJoin.DefaultIfEmpty()
join e       in context.ListDetails on alarm.ListPlate equals e.Plate into entryJoin
from entry   in entryJoin.DefaultIfEmpty()
join l       in context.Lists on alarm.ListId equals l.ListId into listJoin
from list    in listJoin.DefaultIfEmpty()
where alarm.ListDetailId = entry.ListDetailId
select new  {
    alarm,
    list.ListName,
    read
};

I've used the debugger to take that expression and generate the SQL. I've reduced the output for brevity, as the only part I'm interested in are the join on the ListDetails table:

SELECT *
FROM    [Reads] AS [Extent1]
LEFT OUTER JOIN [Alarms] AS [Extent2] ON [Extent1].[ReadRowId] = [Extent2].[ReadRowId]
LEFT OUTER JOIN [ListDetails] AS [Extent3] ON ([Extent2].[ListPlate] = [Extent3].[Plate]) OR (([Extent2].[ListPlate] IS NULL) AND ([Extent3].[Plate] IS NULL))
LEFT OUTER JOIN [Lists] AS [Extent4] ON [Extent2].[ListId] = [Extent4].[ListId]
WHERE ([Extent2].[ListDetailId] = [Extent3].[ListDetailId]) OR (([Extent2].[ListDetailId] IS NULL) AND ([Extent3].[ListDetailId] IS NULL))

Executing EXPLAIN QUERY PLAN on this shows that the query will perform a table scan of the ListDetails table. I do not want that to happen; I want the query to use the index on the Plate column.

If I remove the where clause, the SQL that's generated is different:

SELECT *
FROM     [Reads] AS [Extent1]
LEFT OUTER JOIN [Alarms] AS [Extent2] ON [Extent1].[ReadRowId] = [Extent2].[ReadRowId]
LEFT OUTER JOIN [ListDetails] AS [Extent3] ON ([Extent2].[ListPlate] = [Extent3].[Plate]) OR (([Extent2].[ListPlate] IS NULL) AND ([Extent3].[Plate] IS NULL))
LEFT OUTER JOIN [Lists] AS [Extent4] ON [Extent2].[ListId] = [Extent4].[ListId]

EXPLAIN QUERY PLAN on this query shows that the database does indeed use the index on the ListDetails table's Plate column. This is what I want to happen. But, there may be multiple rows in the ListDetails table that have the same Plate; it is not a unique field. I need to return the one and only row that matches the information available to me in the Alarms table.

How do I make my query use the index on the Plate column?

1
3
2/12/2015 8:46:13 PM

Popular Answer

Specifying an index requires a query hint. SqlLite uses the INDEXED BY command. Example:

LEFT OUTER JOIN ListDetails as Extent3 INDEXED BY IX_ListDetails_Plate ON Extent2.ListPlate = Extent3.Plate 

LINQ does not provide a method to pass a query hint to the database. LINQ's design philosophy is the developer shouldn't worry about the SQL: that is the DBA's job.

So there probably won't be a .With() LINQ extension coming anytime soon.

However, there are several options / workarounds:

1. The "Proper" Way

The "proper" way per LINQ's design philosophy is for a DBA to create a sproc that uses query hints.

The developer will call the sproc with Entity, and get a strongly typed sproc result.

using(applicationDbContext db = new applicationDbContext())
{
   var myStronglyTypedResult = db.Database.MySprocMethod();
}

Easiest way, with Entity handling the translations and class creations. However, you will need permission to create the sproc. And it sounds like you do not have that option.

2. Old School

If LINQ doesn't want to use query hints, then don't use LINQ for the query. Simple enough. Back to DataAdapters and hard coded SQL queries. You already have the query designed, might as well use it.

3. DataContext's Sql Interface

DataContext has a SQL interface built in: The SqlQuery<T>(string sql, object[] params) method. Database.SqlQuery

public class ListDetail
{
   public int ListDetailRowId {get; set;}

   public Guid ListDetialId {get; set;}

   public Guid ListId {get; set;}

   public string Plate {get; set;}
}    

using(ApplicationDbContext db = new ApplicationDbContext())
    {
       List<ListDetail> results = db.Database.SqlQuery<ListDetail>("SELECT * FROM ListDetails INDEXED BY IX_my_index WHERE ListDetailRowId = @p0", new object[] {50}).ToList();

       return results;
    }

This gives you the flexibility of straight SQL, you don't have to mess with connection strings nor DataAdapters, and Entity / DataContext handles the translation from DataTable to Entity for you.

However, you will need to manually create the Entity class. It is the same as any other Entity class, it just won't be automatically created like the sproc method does.

This will probably be your best bet.

3
2/13/2015 2:47:09 AM


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