Sql – Foreign key constraint may cause cycles or multiple cascade paths


I have a problem when I try to add constraints to my tables. I get the error:

Introducing FOREIGN KEY constraint 'FK74988DB24B3C886' on table 'Employee' may cause cycles or multiple cascade paths. Specify ON DELETE NO ACTION or ON UPDATE NO ACTION, or modify other FOREIGN KEY constraints.

My constraint is between a Code table and an employee table. The Code table contains Id, Name, FriendlyName, Type and a Value. The employee has a number of fields that reference codes, so that there can be a reference for each type of code.

I need for the fields to be set to null if the code that is referenced is deleted.

Any ideas how I can do this?

Best Solution

SQL Server does simple counting of cascade paths and, rather than trying to work out whether any cycles actually exist, it assumes the worst and refuses to create the referential actions (CASCADE): you can and should still create the constraints without the referential actions. If you can't alter your design (or doing so would compromise things) then you should consider using triggers as a last resort.

FWIW resolving cascade paths is a complex problem. Other SQL products will simply ignore the problem and allow you to create cycles, in which case it will be a race to see which will overwrite the value last, probably to the ignorance of the designer (e.g. ACE/Jet does this). I understand some SQL products will attempt to resolve simple cases. Fact remains, SQL Server doesn't even try, plays it ultra safe by disallowing more than one path and at least it tells you so.

Microsoft themselves advises the use of triggers instead of FK constraints.

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