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EXECUTE (Transact-SQL)

Executes a command string or character string within a Transact-SQL batch, or one of the following modules: system stored procedure, user-defined stored procedure, scalar-valued user-defined function, or extended stored procedure.

Security noteSecurity Note

Before you call EXECUTE with a character string, validate the character string. Never execute a command constructed from user input that has not been validated. For more information, see SQL Injection.

SQL Server extends the EXECUTE statement so that it can be used to send pass-through commands to linked servers. Additionally, the context in which a string or command is executed can be explicitly set.

Topic link icon Transact-SQL Syntax Conventions


Execute a stored procedure or function
[ { EXEC | EXECUTE } ]
    { 
      [ @return_status = ]
      { module_name [ ;number ] | @module_name_var } 
        [ [ @parameter = ] { value 
                           | @variable [ OUTPUT ] 
                           | [ DEFAULT ] 
                           }
        ]
      [ ,...n ]
      [ WITH RECOMPILE ]
    }
[;]

Execute a character string
{ EXEC | EXECUTE } 
    ( { @string_variable | [ N ]'tsql_string' } [ + ...n ] )
    [ AS { LOGIN | USER } = ' name ' ]
[;]

Execute a pass-through command against a linked server
{ EXEC | EXECUTE }
    ( { @string_variable | [ N ] 'command_string [ ? ]' } [ + ...n ]
        [ { , { value | @variable [ OUTPUT ] } } [ ...n ] ]
    ) 
    [ AS { LOGIN | USER } = ' name ' ]
    [ AT linked_server_name ]
[;]

@return_status

Is an optional integer variable that stores the return status of a module. This variable must be declared in the batch, stored procedure, or function before it is used in an EXECUTE statement.

When used to invoke a scalar-valued user-defined function, the @return_status variable can be of any scalar data type.

module_name

Is the fully qualified or nonfully qualified name of the stored procedure or scalar-valued user-defined function to call. Module names must comply with the rules for identifiers. The names of extended stored procedures are always case-sensitive, regardless of the collation of the server.

A module that has been created in another database can be executed if the user running the module owns the module or has the appropriate permission to execute it in that database. A module can be executed on another server running SQL Server if the user running the module has the appropriate permission to use that server (remote access) and to execute the module in that database. If a server name is specified but no database name is specified, the SQL Server Database Engine looks for the module in the default database of the user.

;number

Is an optional integer that is used to group procedures of the same name. This parameter is not used for extended stored procedures.

NoteNote

This feature will be removed in a future version of Microsoft SQL Server. Avoid using this feature in new development work, and plan to modify applications that currently use this feature.

For more information about procedure groups, see CREATE PROCEDURE (Transact-SQL).

@module_name_var

Is the name of a locally defined variable that represents a module name.

@parameter

Is the parameter for module_name, as defined in the module. Parameter names must be preceded by the at sign (@). When used with the @parameter_name=value form, parameter names and constants do not have to be supplied in the order in which they are defined in the module. However, if the @parameter_name=value form is used for any parameter, it must be used for all subsequent parameters.

By default, parameters are nullable.

value

Is the value of the parameter to pass to the module or pass-through command. If parameter names are not specified, parameter values must be supplied in the order defined in the module.

When executing pass-through commands against linked servers, the order of the parameter values depends on the OLE DB provider of the linked server. Most OLE DB providers bind values to parameters from left to right.

If the value of a parameter is an object name, character string, or qualified by a database name or schema name, the whole name must be enclosed in single quotation marks. If the value of a parameter is a keyword, the keyword must be enclosed in double quotation marks.

If a default is defined in the module, a user can execute the module without specifying a parameter.

The default can also be NULL. Generally, the module definition specifies the action that should be taken if a parameter value is NULL.

@variable

Is the variable that stores a parameter or a return parameter.

OUTPUT

Specifies that the module or command string returns a parameter. The matching parameter in the module or command string must also have been created by using the keyword OUTPUT. Use this keyword when you use cursor variables as parameters.

If value is defined as OUTPUT of a module executed against a linked server, any changes to the corresponding @parameter performed by the OLE DB provider will be copied back to the variable at the end of the execution of module.

If OUTPUT parameters are being used and the intent is to use the return values in other statements within the calling batch or module, the value of the parameter must be passed as a variable, such as @parameter = @variable. You cannot execute a module by specifying OUTPUT for a parameter that is not defined as an OUTPUT parameter in the module. Constants cannot be passed to module by using OUTPUT; the return parameter requires a variable name. The data type of the variable must be declared and a value assigned before executing the procedure.

When EXECUTE is used against a remote stored procedure, or to execute a pass-through command against a linked server, OUTPUT parameters cannot be any one of the large object (LOB) data types.

Return parameters can be of any data type except the LOB data types.

DEFAULT

Supplies the default value of the parameter as defined in the module. When the module expects a value for a parameter that does not have a defined default and either a parameter is missing or the DEFAULT keyword is specified, an error occurs.

WITH RECOMPILE

Forces a new plan to be compiled, used, and discarded after the module is executed. If there is an existing query plan for the module, this plan remains in the cache.

Use this option if the parameter you are supplying is atypical or if the data has significantly changed. This option is not used for extended stored procedures. We recommend that you use this option sparingly because it is expensive.

NoteNote

You can not use WITH RECOMPILE when calling a stored procedure that uses OPENDATASOURCE syntax. The WITH RECOMPILE option is ignored when a four-part object name is specified.

@string_variable

Is the name of a local variable. @string_variable can be any char, varchar, nchar, or nvarchar data type. These include the (max) data types.

[N] 'tsql_string'

Is a constant string. tsql_string can be any nvarchar or varchar data type. If the N is included, the string is interpreted as nvarchar data type.

AS <context_specification>

Specifies the context in which the statement is executed. For more information, see Understanding Execution Context.

LOGIN

Specifies the context to be impersonated is a login. The scope of impersonation is the server.

USER

Specifies the context to be impersonated is a user in the current database. The scope of impersonation is restricted to the current database. A context switch to a database user does not inherit the server-level permissions of that user.

Important noteImportant

While the context switch to the database user is active, any attempt to access resources outside the database will cause the statement to fail. This includes USE database statements, distributed queries, and queries that reference another database by using three- or four-part identifiers. To extend the scope of the context switch outside the current database, see Extending Database Impersonation by Using EXECUTE AS.

'name'

Is a valid user or login name. name must be a member of the sysadmin fixed server role or exist as a principal in sys.database_principals or sys.server_principals, respectively.

name cannot be a built-in account, such as NT AUTHORITY\LocalService, NT AUTHORITY\NetworkService, or NT AUTHORITY\LocalSystem.

For more information, see Specifying a User or Login Name later in this topic.

[N] 'command_string'

Is a constant string that contains the command to be passed through to the linked server. If the N is included, the string is interpreted as nvarchar data type.

[?]

Indicates parameters for which values are supplied in the <arg-list> of pass-through commands that are used in an EXEC('…', <arg-list>) AT <linkedsrv> statement.

AT linked_server_name

Specifies that command_string is executed against linked_server_name and results, if any, are returned to the client. linked_server_name must refer to an existing linked server definition in the local server. Linked servers are defined by using sp_addlinkedserver.

Parameters can be supplied either by using value or by using @parameter_name = value. A parameter is not part of a transaction; therefore, if a parameter is changed in a transaction that is later rolled back, the value of the parameter does not revert to its previous value. The value returned to the caller is always the value at the time the module returns.

Nesting occurs when one module calls another or executes managed code by referencing a common language runtime (CLR) module, user-defined type, or aggregate. The nesting level is incremented when the called module or managed code reference starts execution, and it is decremented when the called module or managed code reference has finished. Exceeding the maximum of 32 nesting levels causes the complete calling chain to fail. The current nesting level is stored in the @@NESTLEVEL system function.

Because remote stored procedures and extended stored procedures are not within the scope of a transaction (unless issued within a BEGIN DISTRIBUTED TRANSACTION statement or when used with various configuration options), commands executed through calls to them cannot be rolled back. For more information, see System Stored Procedures (Transact-SQL) and BEGIN DISTRIBUTED TRANSACTION (Transact-SQL).

When you use cursor variables, if you execute a procedure that passes in a cursor variable with a cursor allocated to it an error occurs.

You do not have to specify the EXECUTE keyword when executing modules if the statement is the first one in a batch.

Using EXECUTE with Stored Procedures

You do not have to specify the EXECUTE keyword when you execute stored procedures when the statement is the first one in a batch.

SQL Server system stored procedures start with the characters sp_. They are physically stored in the Resource database, but logically appear in the sys schema of every system and user-defined database. When you execute a system stored procedure, either in a batch or inside a module such as a user-defined stored procedure or function, we recommend that you qualify the stored procedure name with the sys schema name.

SQL Server system extended stored procedures start with the characters xp_, and these are contained in the dbo schema of the master database. When you execute a system extended stored procedure, either in a batch or inside a module such as a user-defined stored procedure or function, we recommend that you qualify the stored procedure name with master.dbo.

When you execute a user-defined stored procedure, either in a batch or inside a module such as a user-defined stored procedure or function, we recommend that you qualify the stored procedure name with a schema name. We do not recommend that you name a user-defined stored procedure with the same name as a system stored procedure. For more information about executing stored procedures, see Executing Stored Procedures (Database Engine).

Using EXECUTE with a Character String

In earlier versions of SQL Server, character strings are limited to 8,000 bytes. This requires concatenating large strings for dynamic execution. In SQL Server, the varchar(max) and nvarchar(max) data types can be specified that allow for character strings to be up to 2 gigabytes of data.

Changes in database context last only until the end of the EXECUTE statement. For example, after the EXEC in this following statement is run, the database context is master.

USE master; EXEC ('USE AdventureWorks2008R2; SELECT BusinessEntityID, JobTitle FROM HumanResources.Employee;');

Context Switching

You can use the AS { LOGIN | USER } = ' name ' clause to switch the execution context of a dynamic statement. When the context switch is specified as EXECUTE ('string') AS <context_specification>, the duration of the context switch is limited to the scope of the query being executed. For more information, see Understanding Context Switching.

Specifying a User or Login Name

The user or login name specified in AS { LOGIN | USER } = ' name ' must exist as a principal in sys.database_principals or sys.server_principals, respectively, or the statement will fail. Additionally, IMPERSONATE permissions must be granted on the principal. Unless the caller is the database owner or is a member of the sysadmin fixed server role, the principal must exist even when the user is accessing the database or instance of SQL Server through a Windows group membership. For example, assume the following conditions:

  • CompanyDomain\SQLUsers group has access to the Sales database.

  • CompanyDomain\SqlUser1 is a member of SQLUsers and, therefore, has implicit access to the Sales database.

Although CompanyDomain\SqlUser1 has access to the database through membership in the SQLUsers group, the statement EXECUTE @string_variable AS USER = 'CompanyDomain\SqlUser1' will fail because CompanyDomain\SqlUser1 does not exist as a principal in the database.

Best Practice

Specify a login or user that has the least privileges required to perform the operations that are defined in the statement or module. For example, do not specify a login name, which has server-level permissions, if only database-level permissions are required; or do not specify a database owner account unless those permissions are required.

Permissions are not required to run the EXECUTE statement. However, permissions are required on the securables that are referenced within the EXECUTE string. For example, if the string contains an INSERT statement, the caller of the EXECUTE statement must have INSERT permission on the target table. Permissions are checked at the time EXECUTE statement is encountered, even if the EXECUTE statement is included within a module.

EXECUTE permissions for a module default to the owner of the module, who can transfer them to other users. When a module is run that executes a string, permissions are checked in the context of the user who executes the module, not in the context of the user who created the module. However, if the same user owns the calling module and the module being called, EXECUTE permission checking is not performed for the second module. For more information, see Ownership Chains.

If the module accesses other database objects, execution succeeds when you have EXECUTE permission on the module and one of the following is true:

  • The module is marked EXECUTE AS USER or SELF, and the module owner has the corresponding permissions on the referenced object. For more information about impersonation within a module, see EXECUTE AS Clause (Transact-SQL).

  • The module is marked EXECUTE AS CALLER, and you have the corresponding permissions on the object.

  • The module is marked EXECUTE AS user_name, and user_name has the corresponding permissions on the object.

Context Switching Permissions

To specify EXECUTE AS on a login, the caller must have IMPERSONATE permissions on the specified login name. To specify EXECUTE AS on a database user, the caller must have IMPERSONATE permissions on the specified user name. When no execution context is specified, or EXECUTE AS CALLER is specified, IMPERSONATE permissions are not required.

A. Using EXECUTE to pass a single parameter

The uspGetEmployeeManagers stored procedure expects one parameter (@BusinessEntityID). The following examples execute the uspGetEmployeeManagers stored procedure with BusinessEntityID 6 as its parameter value.

USE AdventureWorks2008R2;
GO
EXEC dbo.uspGetEmployeeManagers 6;
GO

The variable can be explicitly named in the execution:

EXEC dbo.uspGetEmployeeManagers @BusinessEntityID = 6;
GO

If the following is the first statement in a batch or an osql or sqlcmd script, EXEC is not required.

dbo.uspGetEmployeeManagers 6;
GO
--Or
dbo.uspGetEmployeeManagers @BusinessEntityID = 6;
GO

B. Using multiple parameters

The following example executes the spGetWhereUsedProductID stored procedure. It passes two parameters: the first parameter is a product ID (819) and the second parameter, @CheckDate, is a datetime value.

USE AdventureWorks2008R2;
GO
DECLARE @CheckDate datetime;
SET @CheckDate = GETDATE();
EXEC dbo.uspGetWhereUsedProductID 819, @CheckDate;
GO

C. Using EXECUTE 'tsql_string' with a variable

The following example shows how EXECUTE handles dynamically built strings that contain variables. This example creates the tables_cursor cursor to hold a list of all user-defined tables in the AdventureWorks2008R2 database, and then uses that list to rebuild all indexes on the tables.

USE AdventureWorks2008R2;
GO
DECLARE tables_cursor CURSOR
   FOR
   SELECT s.name, t.name 
   FROM sys.objects AS t
   JOIN sys.schemas AS s ON s.schema_id = t.schema_id
   WHERE t.type = 'U';
OPEN tables_cursor;
DECLARE @schemaname sysname;
DECLARE @tablename sysname;
FETCH NEXT FROM tables_cursor INTO @schemaname, @tablename;
WHILE (@@FETCH_STATUS <> -1)
BEGIN;
   EXECUTE ('ALTER INDEX ALL ON ' + @schemaname + '.' + @tablename + ' REBUILD;');
   FETCH NEXT FROM tables_cursor INTO @schemaname, @tablename;
END;
PRINT 'The indexes on all tables have been rebuilt.';
CLOSE tables_cursor;
DEALLOCATE tables_cursor;
GO

D. Using EXECUTE with a remote stored procedure

The following example executes the uspGetEmployeeManagers stored procedure on the remote server SQLSERVER1 and stores the return status that indicates success or failure in @retstat.

DECLARE @retstat int;
EXECUTE @retstat = SQLSERVER1.AdventureWorks2008R2.dbo.uspGetEmployeeManagers @BusinessEntityID = 6;

E. Using EXECUTE with a stored procedure variable

The following example creates a variable that represents a stored procedure name.

DECLARE @proc_name varchar(30);
SET @proc_name = 'sys.sp_who';
EXEC @proc_name;

F. Using EXECUTE with DEFAULT

The following example creates a stored procedure with default values for the first and third parameters. When the procedure is run, these defaults are inserted for the first and third parameters when no value is passed in the call or when the default is specified. Note the various ways the DEFAULT keyword can be used.

USE AdventureWorks2008R2;
GO
IF OBJECT_ID(N'dbo.ProcTestDefaults', N'P')IS NOT NULL
   DROP PROCEDURE dbo.ProcTestDefaults;
GO
-- Create the stored procedure.
CREATE PROCEDURE dbo.ProcTestDefaults (
@p1 smallint = 42, 
@p2 char(1), 
@p3 varchar(8) = 'CAR')
AS 
   SET NOCOUNT ON;
   SELECT @p1, @p2, @p3
;
GO


The Proc_Test_Defaults stored procedure can be executed in many combinations.

-- Specifying a value only for one parameter (@p2).
EXECUTE dbo.ProcTestDefaults @p2 = 'A';
-- Specifying a value for the first two parameters.
EXECUTE dbo.ProcTestDefaults 68, 'B';
-- Specifying a value for all three parameters.
EXECUTE dbo.ProcTestDefaults 68, 'C', 'House';
-- Using the DEFAULT keyword for the first parameter.
EXECUTE dbo.ProcTestDefaults @p1 = DEFAULT, @p2 = 'D';
-- Specifying the parameters in an order different from the order defined in the procedure.
EXECUTE dbo.ProcTestDefaults DEFAULT, @p3 = 'Local', @p2 = 'E';
-- Using the DEFAULT keyword for the first and third parameters.
EXECUTE dbo.ProcTestDefaults DEFAULT, 'H', DEFAULT;
EXECUTE dbo.ProcTestDefaults DEFAULT, 'I', @p3 = DEFAULT;


G. Using EXECUTE with AT linked_server_name

The following example passes a command string to a remote server. It creates a linked server SeattleSales that points to another instance of SQL Server and executes a DDL statement (CREATE TABLE) against that linked server.

EXEC sp_addlinkedserver 'SeattleSales', 'SQL Server'
GO
EXECUTE ( 'CREATE TABLE AdventureWorks2008R2.dbo.SalesTbl 
(SalesID int, SalesName varchar(10)) ; ' ) AT SeattleSales;
GO

H. Using EXECUTE WITH RECOMPILE

The following example executes the Proc_Test_Defaults stored procedure and forces a new query plan to be compiled, used, and discarded after the module is executed.

EXECUTE dbo.Proc_Test_Defaults @p2 = 'A' WITH RECOMPILE;
GO

I. Using EXECUTE with a user-defined function

The following example executes the ufnGetSalesOrderStatusText scalar user-defined function. It uses the variable @returnstatus to store the value returned by the function. The function expects one input parameter, @Status. This is defined as a tinyint data type.

USE AdventureWorks2008R2;
GO
DECLARE @returnstatus nvarchar(15);
SET @returnstatus = NULL;
EXEC @returnstatus = dbo.ufnGetSalesOrderStatusText @Status = 2;
PRINT @returnstatus;
GO

J. Using EXECUTE to query an Oracle database on a linked server

The following example executes several SELECT statements at the remote Oracle server. The example begins by adding the Oracle server as a linked server and creating linked server login.

-- Setup the linked server.
EXEC sp_addlinkedserver  
        @server='ORACLE',
        @srvproduct='Oracle',
        @provider='OraOLEDB.Oracle', 
        @datasrc='ORACLE10';

EXEC sp_addlinkedsrvlogin 
    @rmtsrvname='ORACLE',
    @useself='false', 
    @locallogin=null, 
    @rmtuser='scott', 
    @rmtpassword='tiger';
 
EXEC sp_serveroption 'ORACLE', 'rpc out', true;
GO
 
-- Execute several statements on the linked Oracle server.
EXEC ( 'SELECT * FROM scott.emp') AT ORACLE;
GO
EXEC ( 'SELECT * FROM scott.emp WHERE MGR = ?', 7902) AT ORACLE;
GO
DECLARE @v INT; 
SET @v = 7902;
EXEC ( 'SELECT * FROM scott.emp WHERE MGR = ?', @v) AT ORACLE;
GO

K. Using EXECUTE AS USER to switch context to another user

The following example executes a Transact-SQL string that creates a table and specifies the AS USER clause to switch the execution context of the statement from the caller to User1. The Database Engine will check the permissions of User1 when the statement is run. User1 must exist as a user in the database and must have permission to create tables in the Sales schema, or the statement fails.

USE AdventureWorks2008R2;
GO
EXECUTE ('CREATE TABLE Sales.SalesTable (SalesID int, SalesName varchar(10));')
AS USER = 'User1';
GO

L. Using a parameter with EXECUTE and AT linked_server_name

The following example passes a command string to a remote server by using a question mark (?) placeholder for a parameter. The example creates a linked server SeattleSales that points to another instance of SQL Server and executes a SELECT statement against that linked server. The SELECT statement uses the question mark as a place holder for the ProductID parameter (952), which is provided after the statement.

-- Setup the linked server.
EXEC sp_addlinkedserver 'SeattleSales', 'SQL Server'
GO
-- Execute the SELECT statement.
EXECUTE ('SELECT ProductID, Name 
    FROM AdventureWorks2008R2.Production.Product
    WHERE ProductID = ? ', 952) AT SeattleSales;
GO

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