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Basic Transact-SQL Programming Constructs
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Datatypes specify the type of information (such as number, string, picture, date) that can be stored in a column or a variable. SQL Server had a very rich palette of available datatypes in earlier versions, but in version 7 Microsoft introduced some significant improvements. The highlight of these enhancements is the ability to store up to 8,000 characters in the varchar and char datatypes. The previous versions could handle only the standard 255 characters. SQL Server 2000 also introduces three new datatypes: sql_variant for storing any type of data, bigint for storing eight-byte integers, and the table datatype, which can store a complete resultset.
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SQL Server recognizes more then two dozen system-defined datatypes. Apart from these datatypes, administrators are allowed to specify user-defined datatypes to fulfill specific needs. The major families of system-defined datatypes are
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Character strings Unicode character strings Date and time Approximate numeric Exact numeric Monetary Binary Special
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SQL Server 2000 Stored Procedure Programming
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Character datatypes are designed to store character strings. The three different character types vary in length and features:
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char varchar text
The char datatype is used to store strings of fixed size. As noted earlier, the maximum size of this datatype is 8,000 characters, which is a significant increase over the previous 255-character limit. When a variable or a table column is assigned with a string that is shorter than its nominal size, it is padded with trailing spaces. The varchar datatype stores strings of variable size. It can also be up to 8,000 characters long. When a variable or a table column is assigned with a string that is shorter than its nominal size, SQL Server does not add trailing spaces to it, but records it as is. In a table, varchar datatypes occupy two additional bytes in order to record the length of the string.
NOTE: Maintenance of this information requires some additional computation during I/O operation, but that time is usually countered by savings in the space required. A record using such columns will occupy less space, and more records will fit into a single page. Therefore, SQL Server will read more records when accessing data, and it is more likely that a single page contains the information that the user is looking for.
The text datatype is used to store huge amounts of information. One field can store up to 2GB (231 1 bytes) of information. Naturally, only a 16-byte pointer to this data is stored in the table. Therefore, additional processing overhead is involved with the use of text columns. There are special functions for processing text values.
4:
Basic Transact-SQL Programming Constructs
The following command will create a table with three fields using different character string datatypes:
Create table Contacts(ContactId char(8), Name varchar(50), Note text)
Character constants are delimited from the rest of the Transact-SQL code with quotes. For example, the following statement will insert contact information:
insert into Contacts (ContactId, Name, Note) values ('CO-92-81', 'Tom Jones', 'Tom@trigon.com')
Unicode Character Strings
Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 has introduced three new character datatypes. They are equivalent to the char, varchar, and text datatypes and are called
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Nchar Nvarchar Ntext
The main difference between these new datatypes and the older character datatypes is that the new datatypes can hold Unicode characters, which occupy two bytes per character. Therefore, the maximum string length that they can store is half that of the corresponding older datatypes. The following statement will create a table with a couple of Unicode character fields:
Create table Contacts_2(ContactId Nchar(8), Name Nvarchar(50), Note Ntext) go
SQL Server 2000 Stored Procedure Programming
Unicode character constants are also delimited with quotes but are prefixed with N :
insert into Contacts_2 (ContactId, Name, Note) values (N'CO-92-81', N'Tom Jones', N'Tom@trigonblue.com')
TIP: This N prefix might look a little odd, but you will get used to it. Microsoft documentation is full of samples with Unicode constants. It was some time before I discovered the reason Microsoft uses N as a prefix. It stands for National. In fact, acceptable alternative identifiers for these datatypes are National char, National char varying, and National text.
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