Andrew Andrew - 7 months ago 9
SQL Question

What is the purpose of constraint naming

What is the purpose of naming your constraints (unique, primary key, foreign key)?

Say I have a table which is using natural keys as a primary key:

CREATE TABLE Order
(
LoginName VARCHAR(50) NOT NULL,
ProductName VARCHAR(50) NOT NULL,
NumberOrdered INT NOT NULL,
OrderDateTime DATETIME NOT NULL,
PRIMARY KEY(LoginName, OrderDateTime)
);


What benefits (if any) does naming my PK bring?

Eg.
Replace:

PRIMARY KEY(LoginName, OrderDateTime)


With:

CONSTRAINT Order_PK PRIMARY KEY(LoginName, OrderDateTime)


Sorry if my data model is not the best, I'm new to this!

Answer

Here's some pretty basic reasons.

(1) If a query (insert, update, delete) violates a constraint, SQL will generate an error message that will contain the constraint name. If the constraint name is clear and descriptive, the error message will be easier to understand; if the constraint name is a random guid-based name, it's a lot less clear. Particulary for end-users, who will (ok, might) phone you up and ask what "FK__B__B_COL1__75435199" means.

(2) If a constraint needs to be modified in the future (yes, it happens), it's very hard to do if you don't know what it's named. (ALTER TABLE MyTable drop CONSTRAINT um...) And if you create more than one instance of the database "from scratch" and use system-generated default names, no two names will ever match.

(3) If the person who gets to support your code (aka a DBA) has to waste a lot of pointless time dealing with case (1) or case (2) at 3am on Sunday, they're quite probably in a position to identify where the code came from and be able to react accordingly.

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