A very common challenge in T-SQL development is filtering a result so it only shows the last row in each group (partition, in this context). Typically, you’ll see these types of queries for SCD 2 dimension tables, where you only want the most recent version for each dimension member. With the introduction of windowed functions in SQL Server, there are a number of ways to do this, and you’ll see that performance can vary considerably.
For windowed functions, SQL Server introduces two new operators in the execution plan; Segment and Sequence Project. If you’ve tried looking them up in the documentation, you’ll know that it’s not exactly perfectly obvious how they work. Here’s my stab at clarifying what they actually do.
A number of OLTP systems store dimension data in SCD2-like tables in order to retain all the revisions whenever the dimension information changes. In certain situations, you may come across a need to join two or more SCD tables, while keeping all the versions information intact. Sound tricky? Not really.
A common scenario you may have encountered is the need to calculate the first business day after a given date. There are quite a few ugly ways to solve this, including cursors, but there are also some pretty neat ways to approach the problem, and as a bonus, you’ll learn about recursion and the new LEAD(), LAG() functions and accumulation in T-SQL.
Windowed functions are a powerful feature of T-SQL, allowing you to perform advanced aggregates. They provide a very efficient way of doing this as soon as you just get the hang of the OVER() clause.