Thursday, 8 December 2011

View Starving or Perfect View Matching?

A recent question from a customer was related to view starving and perfect view matching.

The technique of view starving involves removing all redundant attributes from views to avoid unnecessary storage allocation and view initialisation logic.

The technique of perfect view matching involves ensuring that the view structures in a USE statement are identical so that the program call can be achieved via passing of the actual views.

The question related to the problem that if you starve the views, you might not get perfect view matching, and hence should you then allocate a new local view that has perfect view matching and add in extra statements to manually maintain this temporary view to achieve perfect view matching for the USE statement.

If you do not have perfect view matching, then Gen needs to generate an intermediate data structure in the calling program to accomplish the parameter passing on the call of the used action block.

Data needs to then be passed from the actual views in the calling AB to the intermediate data structure and therefore there is an overhead for a) allocating the storage for the intermediate structures and b) the instructions to move the data.

Therefore in this situation, there is little difference between doing this yourself via a local view or getting Gen to automatically generate the extra structures – it amounts to the same thing, at least for one USE statement. Note that the order of the views is also important. Your local view would have to have the same attributes in the same order, and to work this out requires a careful comparison of the two views since the view matching dialog will not indicate if they are ordered differently.

It only becomes more efficient to define your own views if you have many USE statements that would make use of your fully populated view, since Gen would generate the data moves for each USE whereas you may only need to move the data once for multiple calls. However this becomes more complicated to understand and maintain. It only needs one attribute to be added, deleted or even moved in sequence for the technique to not accomplish perfect view matching, and then you get a double overhead – your views and the extra generated code. The additional code also complicates the action diagram, often for little benefit.

In an on-line transaction with a single USE statement, the overhead is not worth worrying about. You should concentrate on achieving perfect view matching where it will affect performance. This would typically be for large group views and repeated calls to the same action block, for example, in batch jobs where the same action block is called within a loop that is executed many times.

With our automated code checking tool VerifIEr, we have a perfect view matching check. This will work out whether you have perfect view matching or not, and can be configured to only check group views and USEs within loops, so that you only have to focus on the important ones. VerifIEr can also check that attributes are used, and hence help with view starving.

Where you want to have perfect view matching for performance reasons, I would add in the extra attributes to the ‘proper’ views rather than add in extra views, since there would be no benefit from adding in the extra views. The only time this might be needed is if there are many called ABs with different import views and all sourced from the same view in the caller. However in this situation I would then let Gen handle this situation rather than introduce my own additional views.