Are Long Compile Times Bringing You Down?


I ran into a very funny situation while working with a client recently. They were using Entity Framework, and a query with around 10 left joins ended up with a compile time of nearly 70 seconds.


Once the query finished compiling, it ran instantly with a pretty simple plan with all nested loops joins.

So what happened?

Tracing Flags

For science, I broke out a Rocket Science Trace Flag™ that will show optimization phases and how long were spent in them.

What came back looked like this:

The numbers aren’t quite the same, since the plan is from a different run than when I captured the trace flag (8675) output.

But you can see pretty clearly, in Search 2, we hung out for a while trying different rewrites.

What happens during Search 2? The whole enchilada.

In this case? Probably mostly join reordering.

Tracking Lags

If you don’t have query store enabled, it’s possible to search the plan cache, or get a warning from BlitzCache for long compile times.

If you do have Query Store enabled, compile time is logged in a couple places:

I’ve seen different numbers show up in these, so I like to look at both. I don’t know why that happens. There’s probably a reasonable explanation.

If you wanted to add in some other metrics, you could do this:


For EF, the only solution was to use a plan guide with a FORCE ORDER hint supplied. This let us arm wrestle the optimizer into just joining the tables in the order that the joins are written in the query. For some reason, forcing the plan with query store did not force the plan that forced the order.

I didn’t dig much into why. I do not get along with query store most of the time.

If you’re finding this happen with queries you have control over, doing your own rewrites to simplify the query and reduce the number of joins that the optimizer has to consider can help.

Thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “Are Long Compile Times Bringing You Down?”

  1. Erik, can you please provide some more detail about the version of SQL Server that you were using and the CE level?

    Thank you.

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