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Starting from scratch, best practices, no apparent way to ingest comments

sgartnersgartner Posts: 2 New member
Hello Redgate,

I'm new to your products and I noticed SQL Doc and thought it would be nice to use, but it seems like it is focused on documenting existing databases and doesn't seem to help when documenting from the start.  I have created the initial scripts for our new database schema (32 tables, 177 columns), typed documentation into the script, and I started looking for a way for me to format the table and column comments in that script file for ingestion into SQL Doc, but I don't see anything like that.  Also, the sample generated output shows the ugly, redundant, SQL Server-generated DDL for the tables (where I would want my well-formatted DDL).

It's not really an option to run my script in and then use the SQL Doc UI to copy and paste each of the couple hundred comments from that same script.  I was looking at some programs that I found on the net that parse the build script and extract all the comments to push them into the extended_properties tables (with varying success), so I figured SQL Doc would have something like that, but I haven't found it yet.  I would also want it to store my clearly formatted DDL. 

Am I missing something or just looking at the wrong tool?
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    Jon_KirkwoodJon_Kirkwood Posts: 338 Silver 4

    Hi @sgartner

     Thank you for reaching out on the Redgate forums regarding your SQL Doc query.

     You are correct that SQL Doc is used for manual documentation of existing databases and there isn't much automation to bulk update these records.

    They are pulled from MS_Description and updated via extended_properties.

     

    I found this blog post which may be of relevance where it goes through methods of scripting database descriptions. Might be able to modify your existing scripts or create a new process to help incorporate this.

    https://www.red-gate.com/simple-talk/devops/database-devops/scripting-description-database-tables-using-extended-properties/

     Outside of this I don't believe there other tools that would assist. Our Compare tool is able to copy comments/descriptions between databases but it wouldn't generate new comments.

    Jon Kirkwood | Technical Support Engineer | Redgate Software

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    sgartnersgartner Posts: 2 New member
    Jon,

    Thanks for the response and the link.  I am disappointed and the article you linked has some interesting concepts, but storing scripts that are better generated automatically is a mistake.  Here is the technique that I'm working on.  Start with the a schema build script with comments inline:


        /**
         * <table name="AppSecurity.IdentityUser">
         *   This is the master list of users that can possibly access any of the applications
         *   in this database.  The UserPrincipalName is owned by the Identity Server and is assumed
         *   to be globally unique.  We cannot parse the UPN, only use it for indexing and foreign 
         *   keys to uniquely identify a specific user.  Note that it is possible for all of the 
         *   other fields (except UPN) to be the same for multiple users.
         *   
         *   Currently we are not planning on folding any users between different sources, and we 
         *   are counting on the identity providers (AD, Auth0, Google, etc.) to make sure the 
         *   same user isn't represented twice, or if they are they really should be.  Note that
         *   the UserName/SourceIdentityProvider *should* be unique, but we cannot enforce this
         *   and since we are never providing login services for these users these fields are only
         *   stored for logging purposes.
         * </table>
         */
        CREATE TABLE AppSecurity.IdentityUser
        (
            UserPrincipalName      NVARCHAR(255) PRIMARY KEY CLUSTERED --- The UserPrincipalName that will come from the Identity Server to uniquely identify users who can/have logged in.
           ,UserName               NVARCHAR(255) NOT NULL              --- The provided username that the user used in the identity provider to login, stored for documentary purposes only.  This value is most likely identical to e-mail but this is not guaranteed or enforced.
           ,SourceIdentityProvider NVARCHAR(200) NOT NULL              --- The provided source that vouches for this user.  The quality of sources is variable (how trustworthy are they).
           ,FullName               NVARCHAR(255) NOT NULL              --- The provided FullName of the user that logged in, we cannot make any assumptions about the format of this column.
           ,Email                  NVARCHAR(100) NOT NULL              --- The provided e-mail address of the user that logged in.  This value is most likely identical to UserName but this is not guaranteed.
        );
    It's a little difficult to see in the code above, but all of the inline comments are using three dashes "- - -" instead of the required two, which will distinguish the document comments from normal SQL comments.

    My goal is that the documentation is inline with the well-formatted table definitions and is easily parseable.  It will be checked into source control and managed from there.  Update scripts could update the comments for a single column or constraint.  I am writing a utility that will go through the schema build script and generate code similar to that found in the article, though probably I won't assume a stored procedure exists.  That way the schema can be updated without someone having to edit or read any SQL relating to the extended properties, since you can generate and run an update script dynamically, there's no point in storing that.

    My working plan is that the comments may contain HTML, which will be dutifully copied into final documentation for the schema.  The other choice is to support storing markdown and convert that on the fly.

    It would then be possible to create a schema exporter that read out the extended properties and produced a suitably formatted script for automated updates.  I don't know yet how SQL Doc will fit into this picture.

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