Mark S. Rasmussen
Nov 10

I’m sitting here on the train in Denmark, on the final leg home from SQLRally Nordic. During my presentation based on my OrcaMDF work, I implicitly announced that OrcaMDF now exposes metadata – thougt I might as well share here as well. Other than expanding the core engine support in OrcaMDF, one of the main features I’ve wanted to implement was a way for OrcaMDF to expose metadata about your database. How do you list the tables, indexes, columns, etc. from your database?

Oct 24

One of the latest features I’ve added to OrcaMDF is support of databases with multiple data files. This required relatively little parsing changes, actually it was mostly bug fixing code that wasn’t hit previously, due to only working with single file databases. It did however require some major refactoring to move away from MdfFile being the primary entrypoint, to now using the Database class, encapsulating a variable number of DataFiles.

Sep 10

Time flies – it’s been about four months since I originally introduced my pet project, OrcaMDF. Since then, quite a lot has happened and OrcaMDF is somewhat more capable than when it started out. As a result I thought I’d provide a recap of what OrcaMDF is currently capable of, as well as what my plans are for the future.

May 12

Bits are stored very differently from other fixed length data types in SQL Server. Usually all fixed length columns will be present, one after the other, in the fixed data part of a record. As the smallest unit of data we can write to disk is a byte, the naïve approach to storing bits would be to use a whole bit for each bit. It would be very simple to parse as it would follow the usual scheme, but it would also waste quite some space.

May 03

I’ve been spamming Twitter the last couple of days with progress on my pet project, OrcaMDF. But what is OrcaMDF really?

Miracle Open World 2011

I was invited to speak at MOW2011 for the SQL Server track. Last year I got good reviews for my presentation on Dissecting PDF Documents, a deep dive into the file format of PDF files. Wanting to stay in the same grove, I decided to take a look at the MDF format as it’s somewhat closer to SQL Server DBA’s than PDF files. Having almost worn my SQL Server 2008 Internals book down from reading, I’ve always been interested in the internals, though I still felt like I was lacking a lot of knowledge.

A parser is born

For my demos at MOW I wanted to at least read the records from a data page, just like the output from DBCC Page. The basic page format is well documented, and it’s not the first time I’ve taken a deeper look at pages. Surprisingly quickly, I had record parsing from data pages functioning using a hardcoded schema. Parsing a single page is fun, but really, I’d like to get all the data from a table. Restricting myself to just consider clustered tables made it simpler as it’d just be a matter of following the linked list of pages from start to end. However, that meant I’d have to parse the header as well. There’s some good information out there on the anatomy of pages, but everything I could find had a distinct lack of information on the actual header structure and field types.