Executing a script from SQL Server
I was recently asked how a script could be scheduled within
SQL Server. This is actually a fairly easy thing to do and something I use
quite often, so I was surprised at the question. So I asked a few colleagues
how they would do it and was surprised to find a number of people that did not
know how this could be done. So here I am, writing a quick tidbit on scheduling
scripts. This information can be used to schedule or just setup a repeatable
process that you execute on demand.
There are basically two methods for scheduling a script I
will show here and discuss below: Using xp_cmdshell and transforming the
xp_cmdshell - A quick look
Essentially creates a command prompt (or MS-DOS Prompt) and
then runs you commands as though they were typed in this window. The syntax is:
Exec master..xp_cmdshell '<command>’
<command> is the command you want to execute.
Here is an example that will execute the script
exec master..xp_cmdshell 'isql -Sdev_sjones -E -i"listtables.sql" –diqd'
which produces this output:
name -------------------------------------------------- Cat Product ProdCat ProductSKU ProductBundle Member dtproperties (7 rows affected)
(I removed some of the spacing for brevity)
See the detailed discussion below for more information about
this process and how to develop a solution using this technique.
Transforming The Script
Any script can be transformed to a script with the addition
of the following code:
Create procedure<object_name> as <include the script here>
Here is a quick example: suppose you had a script to add a
new user to the server. You might have a script like the following:
exec sp_addlogin 'steve', 'longpassword', 'dev' exec sp_adduser 'steve', 'steve', 'public' go
You could easily turn this into a procedure that looks like
Create procedure dbsp_adduser as exec sp_addlogin 'steve’, 'longpassword’, 'dev’ exec sp_adduser 'steve’, 'steve’, 'public' return
Admittedly, not a very useful procedure for the future, but this turns
the script into a stored procedure that can be executed by another procedure,
the SQL Agent, or any front end tool of choice. You can even send parameters
into the stored procedure to allow the script to change to meet changing needs.
This method starts to turn your scripting into true development, but gives a great
deal of added flexibility. Most all scripts can be easily turned into stored
procedures and if you have any difficulty, please post your script in our
or use the "Your Opinion" button below
and I will be more than happy to assist you in transforming your script.
xp_cmdshell – Detailed Discussion
The xp_cmdshell is a very powerful tool; one that I use
quite often for a variety of purposes. I had expected that most DBAs would, but
when I asked, very few did. An example of how I use this would be to get a
folder listing of the root of the C: drive. At a command prompt, you would type
“dir c:” and receive something like this:
C:\>dir Volume in drive C has no label. Volume Serial Number is 07D0-0419 Directory of C:\ 07/20/2000 02:20p <DIR> Inetpub 07/20/2000 04:31p 735 STATS.LOG 07/21/2000 02:03p <DIR> download 04/25/2000 01:56a <DIR> BACKUP 07/21/2000 02:17p <DIR> My Download Files 04/25/2000 02:00a <DIR> I386 07/31/2000 10:10a <DIR> Windows Update Setup Files 04/25/2000 02:05a <DIR> WINNT 04/25/2000 02:08a <DIR> Documents and Settings 04/25/2000 02:08a <DIR> Program Files 04/27/2000 05:11p 4,569,727 drwtsn32.log 2 File(s) 4,570,462 bytes 19 Dir(s) 11,774,164,992 bytes free
I deleted a few items from the listing, but this is basically
what would be returned. To run this from within SQL Server, you would type:
exec master..xp_cmdshell 'dir c:'
and you would receive a single column result set with the
same output as above. When would I use this query? When making a database and
not sitting at the console of the server. This gives me a quick glance of the
disk space available on each drive and which files are there.
I also use this for items like DBCC where I want to schedule
the command, but do not want it to run from my console and need to capture the
output. I also use this for network connectivity. With some knowledge of NT/2000
command line utilities, this can be an extremely powerful tool for a DBA. Even
though the need to do this has diminished in SQL v7.x, to demonstrate this
utility, let’s look at the DBCC example.
One thing that I like to run to check on tables is DBCC
SHOWCONTIG, which gives me information on the fragmentation of a table.
However, I like to schedule things to run by themselves periodically and then
notify me when they are done rather than trusting myself to remember to run
The DBCC command that I most often run is:
where the number is the object_id of one of my tables. This
command (prior to SQL 2000) requires the object_id rather than the name of the
table, so scripting this makes it much easier for me to get the data I want
about the table. The script is below that I use to generate this query.
Declare @cmd char( 200) , @I int select @I = object_id('member') Select @cmd = 'dbcc showcontig( ' + rtrim( convert(varchar( 30), @I)) + ')'
This will give me the DBCC command stored in the @cmd variable. If you
print this variable at this point, then the output is the valid SQL command
shown above. I now place this in a file with the extension *.sql. This file
must be text format, not Word or Rich Text, but plain text. I called my file
showcontig.sql. It’s contents are a single line of text
DBCC SHOWCONTIG (962102468)
Now I can create more statements for other tables and add them
to the showcontig.sqlfile as well until my file looks like this:
DBCC SHOWCONTIG (962102468) DBCC SHOWCONTIG (773577794) DBCC SHOWCONTIG (565577053)
This is a valid script that I could open in Query Analyzer and execute,
but now I create an xp_cmdshell command to run this script.
Exec master..xp_cmdshell 'isql –Sdev_sjones –Usa –E –Q “c:\showcontig.sql” >showcontig.txt’
The statement that will be executed at the command line is a valid
command line statement that will connect to me server (dev_sjones) and execute
a query (DBCC SHOWCONTIG) against the default database. I usually have a few
more options to this isql statement, but for security reasons I have omitted
them. It is important to note that I have specified the path for the
showcontig.sql file that will be executed. You should specify the full path to
the file on the SERVER, not on your local workstation. This will actually be
run on the SQL Server as if you were sitting at the console.
Of course, this is not a very maintainable or efficient way
to run my DBCC commands, so now I will look at the method I actually use to
schedule these commands.
Transforming Scripts – Detailed Discussion
In the example above, I used a short script to generate
T-SQL commands that I placed in an .sql file for execution using ISQL.EXE. Now
I will take this a step further and generate the ISQL commands dynamically and
save the results. I will present the script first and then explain it.
Declare @cmd char( 200), @I int, @qry varchar( 250) select @I = object_id('member') Select @cmd = 'dbcc showcontig( ' + rtrim( convert( varchar( 30), @I)) + ')' Select @qry = 'isql –Sdev_sjones –Usa –E –Q “' + rtrim( @cmd) + '” >showcontig.txt' Exec master..xp_cmdshell @qry select @I = object_id('order') Select @cmd = 'dbcc showcontig( ' + rtrim( convert( varchar( 30), @I)) + ')' Select @qry = 'isql –Sdev_sjones –Usa –E –Q “' + rtrim( @cmd) + '” >>showcontig.txt' Exec master..xp_cmdshell @qry select @I = object_id('lineitem') Select @cmd = 'dbcc showcontig( ' + rtrim( convert( varchar( 30), @I)) + ')' Select @qry = 'isql –Sdev_sjones –Usa –E –Q “' + rtrim( @cmd) + '” >>showcontig.txt' Exec master..xp_cmdshell @qry
This script is very similar to the previous one, except now
I store the entire ISQL.EXE command in a variable @qry. If you replace the exec
master..xp_cmdshell with the print command, then you will see the
isql –Sdev_sjones –Usa –E –Q “dbcc showcontig( 962102468)” > showcontig.txt isql –Sdev_sjones –Usa –E –Q “dbcc showcontig( 565577053)” >> showcontig.txt isql –Sdev_sjones –Usa –E –Q “dbcc showcontig( 789577851)” >> showcontig.txt
Notice that after the first statement I change the
redirector > to be an >> so the output will be appended to the file
rather than overwriting the file. If I type this output into a command window
and run each line, I will get the output from the DBCC commands in a single
file (showcontig.txt) that I can then examine.
To transform this script, I add the following line to the
top of the script:
Create procedure dbsp_dbcc_showcontig as
And a return at the bottom. This gives me a stored
procedure that I can schedule using SQLAgent to run on a periodic basis. The
actual procedure that I use has a few more tweaks (like a cursor to get all
table names) and my scheduled job has a second step to email the showcontig.txt
file to the DBA group after each execution.
These two techniques can be used in a myriad of ways to make
administering your SQL Server easier. One could take any batch that is used by
a DBA and schedule it or transform it into a repeatable process. The key to
becoming a more efficient DBA ( IT professional in general) is to find those
processes that you perform over and over and make them easier. Or make them
easy enough to push out to a power user who can perform them without requiring
the full knowledge of the DBA.
Once you can create repeatable processes, you will make your
job easier, reduce mistakes and typographical errors, and create more time to
be proactive in administering your databases. I hope these two techniques will
help you in achieving your objectives and as always, please let me know how you
use these techniques in your daily work.
As always, I welcome feedback using the "Your Opinion" button below. Please use this for questions
or comments as opposed to emailing me.
©dkRanch.net September 2001