Friday, April 9, 2010

When configuration goes pear-shaped.

This one was a rather amusing recent development in the system I am currently assigned to maintain.

The system is highly configurable. Several of the driving queries used within the application are themselves stored as SQL within the database. Even the menu structure is built based on a query stored in the DB. The premise behind this was that if we need to tweak how these queries pull data we can do so without re-deploying the application. (A Silverlight + Web Services business app.) Wonderful!

So an issue comes up where some data is coming back in the wrong sort order. It turns out to be an issue between #null vs. empty string values. A relatively simple change to the stored SQL statement should be all that's necessary so I test and script the change, deploy it into the test environment, then close and re-open my SL client to be sure and....
The old query results are still coming back.

Those beautiful dynamic SQL statements are cached in the application pool which means after changing a script you got to cycle the server. *sigh*.

The drive for configuration is mostly valid because we want to avoid making changes to the Silverlight client as much as possible. (A whopping 3.5MB D/L whenever this changes, [recently shrunk to 2.7MB] which with several hundred clients and more on the way will eat dearly into our ISP upload thresholds.) But queries like this are executed server-side anyways so it's easy enough to update server-side code without re-building the SL client.

Regardless it's not that bad of a scenario, but just goes to show that often the best laid plans still develop sizeable potholes.

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