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EXECUTE, not required, but advisable.

The other day one of the developers I work with gave me a script similar to this:

sp_rename 'tablename.columnname', 'newcolumnname'

He was getting the error:

Msg 102, Level 15, State 1, Line 2
Incorrect syntax near 'tablename.columnname'.

Now most of you probably realize that had he just ran the sp_rename it would have worked just fine.

So why was the error generated? Was it because sp_rename can’t be put in a transaction? Nope, it works just fine in the transaction with a minor change to the code.

What you have to remember is that if a stored procedure is the first thing in a batch then it is executed without the need for the explicit EXECUTE command. In this case the stored procedure name was not the first thing in the batch. The BEGIN TRANSACTION statement was. All of that means that with a simple change to the code it works correctly.

EXEC sp_rename 'tablename.columnname', 'newcolumnname'

I had a fellow DBA tell me one time “If you always do it right, you will always do it right.” It sounds a little bit odd at first and at the time he was talking about using batch processing vs using loops and cursors. Very basically what he meant was that if you keep up good coding habits you will run into fewer issues. In this particular case getting into the habit of putting EXEC or EXECUTE in front of your stored procedure calls. This way the stored procedure calls will work regardless of their placement in the batch.


My name is Kenneth Fisher and I am Senior DBA for a large (multi-national) insurance company. I have been working with databases for over 20 years starting with Clarion and Foxpro. I’ve been working with SQL Server for 12 years but have only really started “studying” the subject for the last 3. I don’t have any real "specialities" but I enjoy trouble shooting and teaching. Thus far I’ve earned by MCITP Database Administrator 2008, MCTS Database Administrator 2005, and MCTS Database Developer 2008. I’m currently studying for my MCITP Database Developer 2008 and should start in on the 2012 exams next year. My blog is at www.sqlstudies.com.


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