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What You Need to Know About Temporary Tables and Forgot to Ask!

v Temporary tables are used exclusively with Application Engine programs and are
intended to provide parallel processing. The Application Engine programs may be
executed online via CallAppEngine or invoked through the Process Scheduler.

v Parallel or concurrent processing allows multiple instances of an Application

Engine program to execute against the same tables while drastically reducing the
risk for table contention.

Ø Batch process performance can be improved by splitting the data to be

processed into groups and simultaneously running multiple instances of the
program to deal with different groups of data. For example, students could be
processed by last name by splitting the group into multiple groups

If you have a program that uses a temporary table and it is invoked multiple
times, that single temporary table could be used concurrently in multiple
executions of the code.

AE process X

AE process X

AE process X

AE process X

This could create unpredictable results since the different instances of the
code would be issuing Deletes, Inserts, and/or Updates unsynchronized with
each other.

You could solve this problem by creating multiple temporary tables as a pool of
tables. Each invocation of your program would have to allocate an unused
temporary table, mark it as “in use” and release it back to the pool when you
are through with it.
AE Process X


AE Process X TABLE

AE Process X

Ø By using the Temporary Table record type definition, you are able to define a
record and the PS Build process will build multiple uniquely named copies of
your Temporary Table as a pool.

Additionally, PS does Temporary Table management for your Application Engine

programs. You can code your program with supplied meta-SQL (%Table) so
each execution of your Application Engine program will be given access to its
own copy of the Temporary Table for its exclusive use. When the program
ends, the table will be returned to the pool of Temporary Tables.

Temporary Table Pools

v Online Pool
Ø Defined in PeopleTools Options by PS Admins. Our current setting is five (5).
Ø Used by Application Engine programs invoked by CallAppEngine.

v Batch Pool
Ø Defined in Application Engine program properties. Properties that must be set
§ Assign Temporary Tables to the Application Engine program (Temp Table
§ Set the Instance Count (Temp Table tab). The number entered here will
dedicate the number of instances requested for the AE program.
§ Set the Runtime option (Temp Table tab). This is the action the AE program
will take if batch/dedicated tables cannot be allocated at runtime.
• Continue – the base table will be used instead (using Process Instance)
• Abort – program execution terminates.
§ Set the Batch Only checkbox (Advanced tab). If the program will only be
run in batch mode and not executed from the CallAppEngine() PeopleCode
function, you should use this checkbox. Any dedicated temporary tables
used for Batch Only programs do not have online instances created.

v Important Notes
Ø Instance Count and the Batch Only checkbox should be set prior to building the
record definition.
Ø If the temporary table was originally built with online instances (Batch Only
checkbox is not checked) and then changed to “batch only”, online tables must
be dropped manually.

Program Meta-SQL

A critical step in implementing parallel processing is to make sure that you’ve

included all of the appropriate meta-SQL within the PeopleCode that your Application
Engine program executes.

To reference a temp table (Online or Batch), you need to use:


You can reference any table with %Table, but only those records defined as
Temporary Tables get replaced by Application Engine with a numbered instance of a
Temporary Table from the Temporary Table pool.

For batch/dedicated Temporary Tables, when Application Engine resolves any %Table,
it checks an internal array to see if a Temporary Table instance has already been
chosen for the current record. If so, then Application Engine substitutes the chosen
table name. If there are no more batch/dedicated instances available, then
Application Engine uses the base table instance by default (if the Runtime option
Continue has been chosen). Regardless of whether %Table is in PeopleCode SQL or in
an Application Engine SQL Action, the program uses the same physical SQL table.

For synchronous calls to Application Engine, an available instance number will be

selected at random according to internal rules. Synchronous refers to using the
CallAppEngine PeopleCode function; all other methods that you use to invoke
Application Engine programs are asynchronous which means the page is not “frozen”
while the program runs to completion.
Populate your Temporary Table Process Instance with the Process

All temporary tables should be keyed by Process Instance as a general rule. Also, if
you have opted to use the “Continue” runtime option when batch/dedicated tables
can’t be assigned, Process Instance is required as a key field. The current Process
Instance is automatically put into the State record, but when you Insert rows into your
Temporary Tables you must supply that Process Instance.

%ProcessInstance or %Bind(PROCESS_INSTANCE)

This meta-SQL returns the numeric (unquoted) Process Instance. The

%PROCESSINSTANCE meta-SQL is more efficient and faster than using the

Note: The Process Instance value is always zero for programs initiated with
CallAppEngine. This is because the program called with CallAppEngine runs “in
process”, that is, it runs within the same unit of work as the component with which it
is associated.

Clear Temporary Tables (%TruncateTable)

You do not need to delete data from a Temporary Table manually. The Temporary
Tables are truncated automatically at the end of processing. If the shared base table
has been allocated because no batch/dedicated instances were available, then
Application Engine performs a delete of rows by Process Instance instead of
performing a truncate. In such a case, the PROCESS_INSTANCE is required as a high-
level key.

You can perform additional deletes of Temporary Table results during the run, but
you will need to include your own SQL Action that does a %TruncateTable.

Summary of Application Engine Characteristics

Online Batch
Invoked by CallAppEngine from Invoked through the Process Scheduler
Run quickly, synchronously, and at random Run for longer amounts of time,
times asynchronously, and at scheduled times
Potential for simultaneous execution Can be designed for parallel execution
for performance
Uses the Online Temporary Table pool Uses the Batch/Dedicated Temporary
Table pool
Not Restartable Restartable
Implementing Parallel Processing

There is no simple switch or checkbox that enables you to turn parallel processing on
and off. To implement parallel processing, you need to complete a set of tasks in the
order that they appear in the following list.

1. Define your Temporary Tables by defining and saving your Temporary Table
records as type “Temporary Table”.

2. Set the Temporary Table Online pool. This will set the basic Temporary Table
Online pool based on the PeopleTools Options specifications. (Note: This is
done one time by the PS Admin group).

3. Assign Temporary Tables to your Application Engine program in its Program

Properties, setting the appropriate number of Instance Counts and Runtime

4. Build/Rebuild your Temporary Table record. This will build the necessary
Batch temporary tables into that record’s Temporary Table pool for use at
execution time.

5. Code %Table meta-SQL as references to Temporary Tables in your

Application Engine program, so that Application Engine can resolve table
references to the assigned Temporary Table instance dynamically at runtime.

Run Time Allocation and Behavior

Online Batch
Allocation meta-SQL %Table(temp-tbl) %Table(temp-tbl)
Runtime Table Allocation Psae.exe randomly assigns Individually allocates Batch
an Instance Number from Temp Table instance
the number range on your number based on
Online Temp Tables. Uses availability on a record-by-
that number for all Temp record basis. Psae.exe
Tables for that run’s Temp begins with the lowest
Tables. instance number available
for each Temporary Table
until all of the Temporary
Table instances are in use.
No Temp Tables Free For a particular record, If out of free Temporary
instance is currently in use Tables and Continue is set
then the psae.exe queues – use shared Base
the program until the temporary table.
assigned Instance number If an assignment cannot be
become free. made and the program is
set to Abort, then
execution will terminate.

Never queues for a table.

Initially Clear Temp Table Yes, when program Yes, when assigned.
Instance comes available.
Locked Lock on when the AE Lock on when the AE
program is loading into program is loading into
memory. memory.
Un-Lock Unlock on completion of If Restartable stays locked
program. across Restarts until
completes successfully.
On crash, free from
Manage Abends. If not Restartable on
program completion, “Kill”
program requires manually
freeing tables.

Cancel from Process

Monitor frees tables.