A requirement recently came up to update the primary key of a SQL Server table. We get user data from a third-party single sign-on service and store them locally. When the SSO software was upgraded, user IDs were changed, so we need to update our local users but retain existing data. I suppose one way to do so would be to drop any existing foreign-key constraint and update all related tables. Unfortunately, the User table is related to practically every other table in the schema. Updating a bunch tables manually, without the safety net of relational integrity, would be a bit dodgy. Fortunately, there’s a less painful approach using the ON UPDATE CASCADE clause.
In a simple example, I have a LineItem table, whose
userId field references User’s
Id field. Since the existing FK relationship doesn’t have ON DELETE CASCADE, I’d have to “alter” the constraint to add it. But because is no “alter contraint” in T-SQL, I’d have to drop and re-add the constraint.
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Thereafter when I update an Id in the User table, the change would be cascaded to LineItem and all other related tables.