Following up on yesterday's post from Louis, sometimes you encounter databases with missing referential integrity constraints. Even when the database is intended to have RI, accidents happen. Maybe a script dropped RI constraints before a bulk load and didn't quite get all of the constraints recreated. Whatever the reason, it's good to have a script to identify tables that are not referenced and do not reference other tables. Here's a script that works on SQL Server 2005 and 2008 (updated to no longer use sysreferences as per Adam Machanic's suggestion):
LEFT JOIN sys.foreign_keys referenced
ON sys.objects.object_id = referenced.referenced_object_id
LEFT JOIN sys.foreign_keys parent
ON sys.objects.object_id = parent.parent_object_id
WHERE sys.objects.type = 'U'
AND referenced.referenced_object_id IS NULL
AND parent.parent_object_id IS NULL
Louis did a good job explaining the importance of using the database engine to protect the integrity of the data. As a consultant, I've seen lots of databases with varying degrees of referential integrity. It never works out well in the long run when referential integrity isn't enforced in the database. Application code - even if it is christened object relational mapping - is no substitute for imposing referential integrity checks in the database. A relational database is more than a data storage repository - and it should be.
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About John Paul Cook
John Paul Cook is a Technology Solution Professional for Microsoft's data platform and works out of Microsoft's Houston office. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. He is experienced in Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle database application design, development, and implementation. He has spoken at many conferences including Microsoft TechEd and the SQL PASS Summit. He has worked in oil and gas, financial, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. John is also a Registered Nurse who graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Master of Science in Nursing Informatics and is an active member of the Sigma Theta Tau nursing honor society. He volunteers as a nurse at safety net clinics. Contributing author to SQL Server MVP Deep Dives
and SQL Server MVP Deep Dives Volume 2