Understanding SQL Server 2005 Notification Services with ASP.NET 2.0
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Published: 14 Jan 2008
Abstract
This article explains SQL Server 2005 notification services with ASP.NET 2.0 and demonstrates how to set up and test it using code samples. Sudeep initially provides a brief overview of the services and then examines various configuration aspects. He also deeply covers some of the common issues that prevent queries from working with SQL Server 2005 query notifications. At the end of the article you will learn the concept of polling based Invalidation techniques with the help of source code.
by Sudeep G
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Introduction

Caching is one of the common techniques that is used to increase system and application performance. Caching is used by web applications to cache frequently used web pages. Some of the key considerations to caching data are if:

·         The data is expensive to create.

·         The data does not change very frequently.

·         The data is used frequently.

Caching usually holds data in memory. With caching also comes the responsibility of ensuring that updated data is served as soon as possible and also managing how much to cache. I recently put together an article that talks about using kernel mode caching in IIS. Today, I will discuss another advanced caching technique provided by ASP.NET 2.0 using SQL Server 2005 using notification services. This new caching method is known as SQL Cache dependency. SQL Cache dependency enables a developer to cache pages that are dependent on data from SQL Server tables. This technique has 2 methods - Polling based and Notification based cache invalidation. In the polling based method, applications query if the underlying data changed at specific time intervals. In notification based services, SQL Server sends out a notification to the "subscriber" of the data. The application can then take whatever action it wants.

Notification based technique is most likely a preferred technique over the previous polling based method. With this technique, any application that depends on data within a SQL Server 2005 database can subscribe to be notified by SQL Server, when the underlying data changes. The way it works is that the application queries the data from SQL server and puts in a request to be notified when the data that was just queried changes. It then caches the results of the query as long as no notification is received. When a change notification is received by the application, it invalidates the cache and then re-queries the data with a new change notification request. The next request to be handled by the application will show the updated data. SQL notification services can send timely and personalized messages to millions of subscribers. These subscribers can be applications or devices.

One of the biggest advantages of this technique is that your cached data is valid as long as the underlying data has not changed. Unlike in earlier versions, the application need not poll the database with a specified time interval to see if the data has changed and then update the cache.

I will focus first on how we can setup use notification services with ASP.net 2.0 web applications. There is a lot of content out there that describes this, but probably very few that explain how it works and how to set this up and test. SQL Server 2005 Notification-based cache invalidation uses the query change notification mechanism of SQL Server 2005 to detect changes to the results of queries. Query notifications are sent over SQL connections, just like ADO.NET queries. Think of query notifications like long running queries that wait for a "notification" from SQL Server indicating that the underlying data has changed. This allows the application to invalidate the cache.

SQL Server 2005 System Requirements

SQL Server 2005 Standard or Enterprise Editions


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