Microsoft KB Archive/170548

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Article ID: 170548

Article Last Modified on 3/2/2005


  • Microsoft Visual Basic 5.0 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 5.0 Enterprise Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 Enterprise Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 4.0 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 4.0 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 4.0 16-bit Enterprise Edition
  • Microsoft Visual Basic 4.0 32-Bit Enterprise Edition

This article was previously published under Q170548


When using transactions to an ODBC database, it is possible to cause a Visual Basic application to appear to hang until the ODBC query time-out interval is reached and error 3146 "ODBC Call Failed" is raised. The DBEngine errors collection will show an ODBC "Time-out Expired" error.

The Visual Basic application appears to hang and will eventually display and error with an ODBC Time-out message after the interval specified in the QueryTimeout property of the database object (default = 60 seconds). If the error is trapped and handled, the application can resume normally although the data may have been rolled back or partially committed.


When the Microsoft Jet Engine, used by Visual Basic, performs transactions on an ODBC database, it issues ODBC transactions down each connection that it opens between the BeginTrans and the CommitTrans/Rollback. It then commits or rolls back all of the transactions on all of the connections when a CommitTrans or Rollback is issued.

It must do this because the Jet engine offers global and nested transactions while the current ODBC specification does not; it only allows for a single transaction on a per connection basis.

If needed, the Jet engine will open multiple connections in order to perform the transactions. The server sees each connection as a separate process. It has no way of knowing that it is from the same application or that you may want the connections to get along with each other in terms of locking or available data. It simply treats each connection as a completely independent and distinct entity.

This raises a problem. If the Jet engine opens a connection, begins a transaction that affects a given page of data on a given table, then opens another connection and begins another transaction that affects the same page of data, the server will block (serialize) the second connection until the first one releases the locks (completes). This causes the Visual Basic application to hang on the line of code that is running the statement on the second connection until the transaction that it sent on the first connection completes. This can never happen because the transaction on the first connection is open until a CommitTrans or Rollback is encountered in the Visual Basic code, but that code is hung waiting for the transaction to complete. It is hung indefinitely unless a time-out occurs on one of the connections, which is what eventually happens.

The following example demonstrates the problem with most ODBC servers:

  1. Create a datasource for your server named DSN_BLK_TEST using the ODBC Administrator applet.
  2. Open Visual Basic and start a new project.
  3. Reference the appropriate DAO reference in the References dialog.
  4. Add a CommandButton to the form.
  5. Add the following code to the click event of the CommandButton:

          Private Sub Command1_Click()
             Dim db As Database
             Dim rs As Recordset
             Dim strSQL As String
             Dim intLoop As Integer
             'Open up the ODBC datasource
             Set db = DBEngine.Workspaces(0).OpenDatabase("", _
             False, False, "ODBC;DSN=DSN_BLK_TEST;DATABASE=TestDB;UID=sa;PWD=;")
             'Create a table with two fields one a primary key
             strSQL = "IF EXISTS(SELECT * FROM sysobjects WHERE id = "
             strSQL = strSQL & "object_id('t_blocking')) DROP TABLE t_blocking"
             db.Execute strSQL, dbSQLPassThrough
             strSQL = "CREATE TABLE t_blocking (f_pkey int " & _
                      "NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY,"
             strSQL = strSQL & " f_dummy varchar(10) NULL)"
             db.Execute strSQL, dbSQLPassThrough
             Set rs = db.OpenRecordset("SELECT * FROM t_blocking")
             'Demonstrate Blocking
             'Add some records
             For intLoop = 1 To 25
                rs.Fields("f_pkey") = intLoop
                rs.Fields("f_dummy") = "test" & Str$(intLoop)
             Next intLoop
             'Try to update a few records. This should cause a second
             'connection' to be created by the JET engine
             'causing a blocking condition.
             strSQL = "UPDATE t_blocking SET f_dummy = 'updated' " & _
                      "WHERE f_pkey > 20"
             db.Execute strSQL
          End Sub

The code should appear to hang on the last db.Execute statement. Using the server administrative tools for the server that you are using, check the locking status on the t_blocking table. It should show the first connection blocking the second.

NOTE: Depending on the locking mechanisms of the server, this test may not cause a locking problem.


To work around the problem:

  1. Keep transactions as small as possible. If this condition is encountered, check the locking on the server and limit the transaction to the point where blocking occurs.
  2. Use the ODBC API. If you are using the 32-bit Visual Basic Enterprise Edition, use Remote Data Objects (RDO) or ActiveX Data Objects (ADO). When using RDO or ADO, you have complete control over connections and transactions on the connections, so you can avoid this problem.
  3. Use SQLPassthrough queries that combine the blocking statements into one statement that does transactions within the SQL statement. This could be ad hoc SQL or precompiled into a stored procedure.


This behavior is by design.


(c) Microsoft Corporation 1997, All Rights Reserved. Contributions by Troy Cambra, Microsoft Corporation.

Additional query words: kbdse kbDSupport kbVBp kbVBp500bug kbVBp600bug kbVBp400bug kbADO

Keywords: kbbug kbdatabase kbjet kbprb KB170548