Click here to view and discuss this page in DocCommentXchange. In the future, you will be sent there automatically.

SQL Anywhere 11.0.1 (Français) » SQL Anywhere Server - SQL Usage » Creating Databases » Using transactions and isolation levels » How locking works


Locking during inserts

INSERT operations create new rows. SQL Anywhere utilizes various types of locks during insertions to ensure data integrity. The following sequence of operations occurs for INSERT statements executing at any isolation level.

  1. Acquire a shared schema lock on the table, if one is not already held.

  2. Acquire an intent-to-write table lock on the table, if one is not already held.

  3. Find an unlocked position in a page to store the new row. To minimize lock contention, the server will not immediately reuse space made available by deleted (but as yet uncommitted) rows. A new page may be allocated to the table (and the database file may grow) to accommodate the new row.

  4. Fill the new row with any supplied values.

  5. Place an insert lock in the table to which the row is being added. Recall that insert locks are exclusive, so once the insert lock is acquired, no other isolation level 3 transaction can block the insertion by acquiring a phantom lock.

  6. Write lock the new row. The insert lock is released once the write lock has been obtained.

  7. Insert the row into the table. Other transactions at isolation level 0 can now, for the first time, see that the new row exists. However, these other transactions cannot modify or delete the new row because of the write lock acquired earlier.

  8. Update all affected indexes and verify uniqueness where appropriate. Primary key values must be unique. Other columns may also be defined to contain only unique values, and if any such columns exist, uniqueness is verified.

  9. If the table is a foreign table, acquire a shared schema lock on the primary table (if not already held), and acquire a read lock on the matching primary row in the primary table if the foreign key column values being inserted are not NULL. The database server must ensure that the primary row still exists when the inserting transaction COMMITs. It does so by acquiring a read lock on the primary row. With the read lock in place, any other transaction is still free to read that row, but none can delete or update it.

    If the corresponding primary row does not exist a referential integrity constraint violation is given.

After the last step, any AFTER INSERT triggers defined on the table may fire. Processing within triggers follows the identical locking behavior as for applications. Once the transaction is committed (assuming all referential integrity constraints are satisfied) or rolled back, all long-term locks are released.


You can ensure that all values in a particular column, or combination of columns, are unique. The database server always performs this task by building an index for the unique column, even if you do not explicitly create one.

In particular, all primary key values must be unique. The database server automatically builds an index for the primary key of every table. Do not ask the database server to create an index on a primary key, as that index would be a redundant index.

Orphans and referential integrity

A foreign key is a reference to a primary key or UNIQUE constraint, usually in another table. When that primary key does not exist, the offending foreign key is called an orphan. SQL Anywhere automatically ensures that your database contains no orphans. This process is referred to as verifying referential integrity. The database server verifies referential integrity by counting orphans.


You can instruct the database server to delay verifying referential integrity to the end of your transaction. In this mode, you can insert a row which contains a foreign key, then subsequently insert a primary row which contains the missing primary key. Both operations must occur in the same transaction.

To request that the database server delay referential integrity checks until commit time, set the value of the option wait_for_commit to On. By default, this option is Off. To turn it on, issue the following command:

SET OPTION wait_for_commit = On;

If the server does not find a matching primary row when a new foreign key value is inserted, and wait_for_commit is On, then the server permits the insertion as an orphan. For orphaned foreign rows, upon insertion the following series of steps occurs:

  • The server acquires a shared schema lock on the primary table (if not already held). The server also acquires an intent-to-write lock on the primary table.

  • The server inserts a surrogate row into the primary table. An actual row is not inserted into the primary table, but the server manufactures a unique row identifier for that row for the purposes of locking, and a write lock is acquired on this surrogate row. Subsequently, the server inserts the appropriate values into the primary table's primary key index

Before committing a transaction, the database server verifies that referential integrity is maintained by checking the number of orphans your transaction has created. At the end of every transaction, that number must be zero.