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Sequence Expressions (XQuery)

SQL Server supports the XQuery operators that are used to construct, filter, and combine a sequence of items. An item can be an atomic value or a node.

You can use the comma operator to construct a sequence that concatenates items into a single sequence.

A sequence can contain duplicate values. Nested sequences, a sequence within a sequence, are collapsed. For example, the sequence (1, 2, (3, 4, (5))) becomes (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). These are examples of constructing sequences.

Example A

The following query returns a sequence of five atomic values:

declare @x xml
set @x=''
select @x.query('(1,2,3,4,5)')
go
-- result 1 2 3 4 5

The following query returns a sequence of two nodes:

-- sequence of 2 nodes
declare @x xml
set @x=''
select @x.query('(<a/>, <b/>)')
go
-- result
<a />
<b />

The following query returns an error, because you are constructing a sequence of atomic values and nodes. This is a heterogeneous sequence and is not supported.

declare @x xml
set @x=''
select @x.query('(1, 2, <a/>, <b/>)')
go

Example B

The following query constructs a sequence of atomic values by combining four sequences of different length into a single sequence.

declare @x xml
set @x=''
select @x.query('(1,2),10,(),(4, 5, 6)')
go
-- result = 1 2 10 4 5 6

You can sort the sequence by using FLOWR and ORDER BY:

declare @x xml
set @x=''
select @x.query('for $i in ((1,2),10,(),(4, 5, 6))
                  order by $i
                  return $i')
go

You can count the items in the sequence by using the fn:count() function.

declare @x xml
set @x=''
select @x.query('count( (1,2,3,(),4) )')
go
-- result = 4

Example C

The following query is specified against the AdditionalContactInfo column of the xml type in the Contact table. This column stores additional contact information, such as one or more additional telephone numbers, pager numbers, and addresses. The <telephoneNumber>, <pager>, and other nodes can appear anywhere in the document. The query constructs a sequence that contains all the <telephoneNumber> children of the context node, followed by the <pager> children. Note the use of the comma sequence operator in the return expression, ($a//act:telephoneNumber, $a//act:pager).

WITH XMLNAMESPACES ('http://schemas.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2004/07/adventure-works/ContactTypes' AS act,
 'http://schemas.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2004/07/adventure-works/ContactInfo' AS aci)

SELECT AdditionalContactInfo.query('
   for $a in /aci:AdditionalContactInfo 
   return ($a//act:telephoneNumber, $a//act:pager)
') As Result
FROM Person.Contact
WHERE ContactID=3

This is the result:

<act:telephoneNumber xmlns:act="http://schemas.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2004/07/adventure-works/ContactTypes">
  <act:number>333-333-3333</act:number>
</act:telephoneNumber>
<act:telephoneNumber xmlns:act="http://schemas.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2004/07/adventure-works/ContactTypes">
  <act:number>333-333-3334</act:number>
</act:telephoneNumber>
<act:pager xmlns:act="http://schemas.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2004/07/adventure-works/ContactTypes">
  <act:number>999-555-1244</act:number>
  <act:SpecialInstructions>
Page only in case of emergencies.
</act:SpecialInstructions>
</act:pager>

You can filter the sequence returned by an expression by adding a predicate to the expression. For more information, see Path Expressions (XQuery). For example, the following query returns a sequence of three <a> element nodes:

declare @x xml
set @x = '<root>
<a attrA="1">111</a>
<a></a>
<a></a>
</root>'
SELECT @x.query('/root/a')

This is the result:

<a attrA="1">111</a>
<a />
<a />

To retrieve only <a> elements that have the attribute attrA, you can specify a filter in the predicate. The resulting sequence will have only one <a> element.

declare @x xml
set @x = '<root>
<a attrA="1">111</a>
<a></a>
<a></a>
</root>'
SELECT @x.query('/root/a[@attrA]')

This is the result:

<a attrA="1">111</a>

For more information about how to specify predicates in a path expression, see Specifying Predicates in a Path Expression Step.

The following example builds a sequence expression of subtrees and then applies a filter to the sequence.

declare @x xml
set @x = '
<a>
  <c>C under a</c>
</a>
<b>  
   <c>C under b</c>
</b>
<c>top level c</c>
<d></d>
'

The expression in (/a, /b) constructs a sequence with subtrees /a and /b and from the resulting sequence the expression filters element <c>.

SELECT @x.query('
  (/a, /b)/c
')

This is the result:

<c>C under a</c>
<c>C under b</c>

The following example applies a predicate filter. The expression finds elements <a> and <b> that contain element <c>.

declare @x xml
set @x = '
<a>
  <c>C under a</c>
</a>
<b>  
   <c>C under b</c>
</b>

<c>top level c</c>
<d></d>
'
SELECT @x.query('
  (/a, /b)[c]
')

This is the result:

<a>
  <c>C under a</c>
</a>
<b>
  <c>C under b</c>
</b>

Implementation Limitations

These are the limitations:

  • XQuery range expression is not supported.

  • Sequences must be homogeneous. Specifically, all items in a sequence must be either nodes or atomic values. This is statically checked.

  • Combining node sequences by using the union, intersect, or except operator is not supported.

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