Parameters (Database Engine)

Parameters are used to exchange data between stored procedures and functions and the application or tool that called the stored procedure or function:

  • Input parameters allow the caller to pass a data value to the stored procedure or function.

  • Output parameters allow the stored procedure to pass a data value or a cursor variable back to the caller. User-defined functions cannot specify output parameters.

  • Every stored procedure returns an integer return code to the caller. If the stored procedure does not explicitly set a value for the return code, the return code is 0.

The following stored procedure shows the use of an input parameter, an output parameter, and a return code:

-- Create a procedure that takes one input parameter
-- and returns one output parameter and a return code.
CREATE PROCEDURE SampleProcedure @EmployeeIDParm INT,
         @MaxTotal INT OUTPUT
-- Declare and initialize a variable to hold @@ERROR.
SET @ErrorSave = 0

-- Do a SELECT using the input parameter.
SELECT FirstName, LastName, JobTitle
FROM HumanResources.vEmployee
WHERE EmployeeID = @EmployeeIDParm

-- Save any nonzero @@ERROR value.
IF (@@ERROR <> 0)
   SET @ErrorSave = @@ERROR

-- Set a value in the output parameter.
SELECT @MaxTotal = MAX(TotalDue)
FROM Sales.SalesOrderHeader;

IF (@@ERROR <> 0)
   SET @ErrorSave = @@ERROR

-- Returns 0 if neither SELECT statement had
-- an error; otherwise, returns the last error.
RETURN @ErrorSave

When a stored procedure or function is executed, input parameters can either have their value set to a constant or use the value of a variable. Output parameters and return codes must return their values into a variable. Parameters and return codes can exchange data values with either Transact-SQL variables or application variables.

If a stored procedure is called from a batch or script, the parameters and return code values can use Transact-SQL variables defined in the same batch. The following example is a batch that executes the procedure created earlier. The input parameter is specified as a constant and the output parameter and return code place their values in Transact-SQL variables:

-- Declare the variables for the return code and output parameter.
DECLARE @MaxTotalVariable INT

-- Execute the stored procedure and specify which variables
-- are to receive the output parameter and return code values.
EXEC @ReturnCode = SampleProcedure @EmployeeIDParm = 19,
   @MaxTotal = @MaxTotalVariable OUTPUT

-- Show the values returned.
PRINT 'Return code = ' + CAST(@ReturnCode AS CHAR(10))
PRINT 'Maximum Quantity = ' + CAST(@MaxTotalVariable AS CHAR(10))

An application can use parameter markers bound to program variables to exchange data between application variables, parameters, and return codes.

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