Execute SQL Task
The Execute SQL Task is one of the most widely used tasks in SSIS for interacting with an RDBMS Data Source. The Execute SQL Task is used for all sorts of things, including truncating a staging data table prior to importing, retrieving row counts to determine the next step in a workflow, or calling stored procedures to perform business logic against sets of staged data. This task is also used to retrieve information from a database repository. The Execute SQL Task is also found in the legacy DTS product, but the SSIS version provides a better configuration editor and methods to map stored procedure parameters to read back the result and output values.
This section introduces you to all the possible ways to configure this task by working through the different ways you can use it. You’ll work through how to execute parameterized SQL statements or execute batches of SQL statements, how to capture single-row and multiple-row results, and how to execute stored procedures.
Executing a Parameterized SQL Statement
The task can execute a SQL command in two basic ways: by executing inline SQL statements or by executing stored procedures. The resulting action can also result in the need to perform one of two options: accepting return values in parameters or a result set. You can get an idea of how the task can be configured to do these combinations in the General tab of the Execute SQL Task Editor, shown in Figure 3-21. Here, the Execute SQL Task is set to perform an Update operation on the DimProduct table using an inline SQL statement with a variable-based parameter. This is the easiest use of the Execute SQL Task because you don’t need to configure the Result Set tab properties.
Notice in Figure 3-21 that the General tab contains the core properties of the task. Here the task is configured to point to an OLE DB connection. The other options for the ConnectionType include ODBC, ADO, ADO.NET, SQLMOBILE, and even EXCEL connections. The catch to all this connection flexibility is that the Execute SQL Task behaves differently depending upon the underlying data provider. For example, the SQLStatement property in Figure 3-21 shows a directly inputted T-SQL statement with a question mark in the statement. The full statement is here:
UPDATE DimProduct Set Color = ‘Red’ Where ProductKey = ?
This ?, which indicates that a parameter is required, is classic ODBC parameter marking and is used in most of the other providers — with the exception of the ADO.NET provider, which uses named parameters. This matters, because in the task, you need to configure the parameters to the SQL statement in the Parameter Mapping tab, as shown in Figure 3-22.
Here the parameter mapping collection maps the first parameter [ordinal position of zero (0)] to a user variable. When mapping parameters to connections and underlying providers, use the following table to set up this tab in the Task Editor:
Because we are using an OLE DB provider here, the parameter marker is ?, and the parameter is using the zero-based ordinal position. The other mapping you would have needed to do here is for the data type of the parameter. These data types also vary according to your underlying provider. SSIS is very specific about how you map data types, so you may need to experiment or check tutorials Online for the mapping equivalents for your parameters and provider. We’ll cover many of the common issues in this regard throughout this section, but for this initial example, we mapped the System::ContainerStartTime to the OLE DB data type of DATE. At this point, the Execute SQL Task with this simple update statement could be executed, and the ModifyDate would be updated in the database with a current DateTime value.
A variation of this example would be a case in which the statement can be dynamically generated at runtime and simply fired into the Connection Manager. The SQLSourceType property on the General tab allows for three different types of SQL statement resolution: either directly input (as we did), via a variable, or from a file connection. Another way to build the SQL statement is to use the Build Query action button. This brings up a Query-By- Example (QBE) tool that helps you build a query by clicking the tables and establishing the relationships. The variable-based option is also straightforward. Typically, you define a variable that is resolved from an expression. Setting the SQLSourceType property in the Execute SQL Task to Variable enables you to select the variable that will resolve to the SQL statement that you want the task to execute.
The other option, using a file connection, warrants a little more discussion.
Executing a Batch of SQL Statements
If you use the File Connection option of the Execute SQL Task’s SQLSourceType property, typically you are doing so to execute a batch of SQL statements. All you need to do is have the file that contains the batch of SQL statements available to the SSIS package during runtime. Set up a File Connection to point to the batch file you need to run. Make sure that your SQL batch follows a few rules. Some of these rules are typical SQL rules, like using a GO command between statements, but others are specific to the SSIS Execute SQL Task. Use these rules as a guide for executing a batch of SQL statements:
- Use GO statements between each distinct command. Note that some providers allow you to use the semicolon (;) as a command delimiter.
- If there are multiple parameterized statements in the batch, all parameters must match in type and order.
- Only one statement can return a result, and it must be the first statement.
- If the batch returns a result, then the columns must match the same number and properly named result columns for the Execute SQL Task. If the two don’t match and you have subsequent UPDATE or DELETE statements in the batch, these will execute even though the results don’t bind, and an error results. The batch is sent to SQL Server to execute and behaves the same way.
Returning results is something that we haven’t explored in the Execute SQL Task, so let’s look at some examples that do this in SSIS.
Capturing Singleton Results
On the General tab of the Execute SQL Task, you can set up the task to capture the type of result that you expect to have returned by configuring the ResultSet property. This property can be set to return nothing, or None, a singleton result set, a multi-line result, or an XML-formatted string. Any setting other than None requires configuration of the ResultSet tab on the editor. In the Result Set tab, you are defining the binding of returned values into a finite set of SSIS variables. For most data type bindings, this is not an issue. You select the SSIS variable data type that most closely matches that of your provider. The issues that arise from this activity are caused by invalid casting that occurs as data in the Tabular Data Stream (TDS) from the underlying provider collides with the variable data types to which they are being assigned. This casting happens internally within the Execute SQL Task, and you don’t have control over it as you would in a Script Task. Before you assume that it is just a simple data type–assignment issue, you need to understand that SSIS is the lowest common denominator when it comes to being able to bind to data types from all the possible data providers. For example, SSIS doesn’t have a currency or decimal data type. The only thing close is the double data type, which is the type that must be used for real, numeric, current, decimal, float, and other similar data types.
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The next example sets up a simple inline SQL statement that returns a single row (or singleton result) to show both the normal cases and the exceptional cases for configuring the Execute SQL Task and handling these binding issues. First, we’ll use a simple T-SQL statement against the AdventureWorks database that looks like this (code file Ch03SQL.txt):
SELECT TOP 1
We’ve chosen this odd result set because of the multiple data types in the SalesOrderDetail table. These data types provide an opportunity to highlight some of the solutions to difficulties with mapping these data types in the Execute SQL Task that we’ve been helping folks with since the first release of SSIS.
To capture these columns from this table, you need to create some variables in the package. Then these variables will be mapped one-for-one to the result columns. Some of the mappings are simple. The CarrierTrackingNumber can be easily mapped to a string variable data type with either varchar or varchar data types in the Execute SQL Task. The OrderQty field, which is using the smallint SQL Server data type, needs to be mapped to an int16 SSIS data type. Failure to map the data type correctly will result in an error like this:
[Execute SQL Task] Error: An error occurred while assigning a value to a variable
“OrderQty”: “The type of the value being assigned to a variable
differs from the current variable type. Variables may not change type during
execution. Variable types are strict, except for variables of type
The other two values, for the SQL Server UnitPrice (money) and LineTotal (numeric) columns, are more difficult. The closest equivalent variable data type in SSIS is a double data type.
Now the parameters can simply be mapped in the Execute SQL Task Result Set tab, as shown in Figure 3-23. The Result Name property maps to the column name in your SQL statement or its ordinal position (starting at 0).
Just use the Add and Remove buttons to put the result elements in the order that they should be returned, name them according to the provider requirements, and get the right data types, and you’ll be fine. If these are in the incorrect order, or if the data types can’t be cast by the Execute SQL Task from the TDS into the corresponding variable data type, you will get a binding error. This should give you a general guide to using the Execute SQL Task for capturing singleton results.
Typically, you capture multi-row results from a database as a recordset or an XML file (particularly between SQL Server Data Sources) to use in another Script Task for analysis or decision-making purposes, to provide an enumerator in a Foreach or Looping Task, or to feed into a Data Flow Task for processing. Set up the SQLSourceType and SQLStatement properties to call either an inline SQL statement or a stored procedure. In either case, you would set the ResultSet property in the General tab to Full ResultSet, and the ResultSet tab is set up to capture the results. The only difference from capturing a singleton result is that you need to capture the entire result into a variable, rather than map each column. The data type you should use to capture the results varies according to what you are capturing. The XML file can be captured in either a string or an object data type. The recordset can only be captured in a variable with the object data type. An example of the Execute SQL Task configured to create an object data type to store the results of a selection of rows from the Sales. SalesOrderDetail table is shown in Figure 3-24. Note that the ResultSet tab shows the capturing of these rows with the required zero-ordinal position.
Once the recordset is stored as a variable, you can do things like “shred” the recordset. The term shredding means iterating through the recordset one row at a time in a Foreach Loop operation. For each iteration, you can capture the variables from, and perform an operation on, each row. Figure 3-25 shows how the Foreach Loop Container would look using the variable-based recordset.
Another way to use the variable-based recordset is to use it to feed a data transform. To do this, just create a Source Script Transform in a Data Flow and add to it the columns that you want to realize from the stored recordset and pass in the recordset variable. Then add code (code file Ch03SQL.txt) similar to the following to turn the column data from the recordset into the output stream (to save time and space, only two columns are being realized in the recordset):
The XML version of capturing the result in a string is even easier. You don’t need to use the Script Component to turn the XML string back into a source of data. Instead, use the out-of-the-box component called the XML Source in the Data Flow. It can accept a variable as the source of the data. (Review the example demonstrating how to do this in the “Web Service Task” section of this chapter.)
You can see that the Execute SQL Task is really quite useful at executing inline SQL statements and retrieving results, so now take a look at how you can use stored procedures as well in this task.
Executing a Stored Procedure
Another way to interact with an RDBMS is to execute stored procedures that can perform operations on a data source to return values, output parameters, or results. Set up the SSIS Execute SQL Task to execute stored procedures by providing the call to the proc name in the General tab’s SQLStatement property. The catch is the same as before. Because the Execute SQL Task sits on top of several different data providers, you need to pay attention to the way each provider handles the stored procedure call. The following table provides a reference to how you should code the SQLStatement property in the Execute SQL Task:
Returning to the earlier example in which you used an inline SQL statement to update the modified date in the sales order detail, create a T-SQL stored procedure that does the same thing (code file Ch03SQL.txt):
In the online downloads for this chapter, we’ve created a package that demonstrates how to call this procedure using both the OLE DB and the ADO.NET Connection Managers. In the General tab (shown in Figure 3-26), the SQLStatement property is set up as prescribed earlier in the guide, with the ? parameter markers for the one input parameter. Note also that the IsQueryStoredProcedure property is not enabled. You can’t set this property for the OLE DB provider. However, this property would be enabled in the ADO.NET version of the Execute SQL Task to execute this same procedure. If you set the IsQueryStoredProcedure for the ADO.NET version to true, the SQLStatement property would also need to change. Remove the execute the command and the parameter markers to look like this:
Usp_UpdatePersonAddressModifyDate. In this mode, the Execute SQL Task will actually build the complete execution statement using the parameter listing that you’d provide in the Parameter Mapping tab of the Task Editor.
The Parameter Mapping tab of the Task Editor varies according to the underlying provider set on the Execute SQL Task, as shown in Figure 3-27.
For brevity, this figure just shows an OLE DB connection with parameters. With ADO.NET connections though, the parameter names follow the same rules you used when applying parameters to inline SQL statements earlier in this chapter by changing the Parameter Name option to @MODIFIED_DATE, for example.
Retrieving Output Parameters from a Stored Procedure
Mapping input parameters for SQL statements is one thing, but there are some issues to consider when handling output parameters from stored procedures. The main thing to remember is that all retrieved output or return parameters have to be pushed into variables to have any downstream use. The variable types are defined within SSIS, and you have the same issues that we covered in the section “Capturing Singleton Results” for this task. In short, you have to be able to choose the correct variables when you bind the resulting provider output parameters to the SSIS variables so that you can get a successful type conversion.
As an example, we’ll duplicate the same type of SQL query we used earlier with the inline SQL statement to capture a singleton result, but here you’ll use a stored procedure object instead. Put the following stored procedure in the AdventureWorks database (code file Ch03SQL.txt):
In this contrived example, the stored procedure will provide four different output parameters that you can use to learn how to set up the output parameter bindings. (Integer values are consistent and easy to map across almost all providers, so there is no need to demonstrate that in this example.) One difference between returning singleton output parameters and a singleton row is that in the General tab of the Execute SQL Task, the ResultSet property is set to None, as no row should be returned to capture. Instead, the Parameters in the Parameter Mapping tab will be set to the Direction of Output and the Data Types mapped based on the provider.
To get the defined SQL Server data type parameters to match the SSIS variables, you need to set up the parameters with these mappings:
You might assume that you would still have an issue with this binding, because, if you recall, you attempted to return a single-rowset from an inline SQL statement with these same data types and ended up with all types of binding and casting errors. You had to change your inline statement to cast these values to get them to bind. You don’t have to do this when binding to parameters, because this casting occurs outside of the Tabular Data Stream. When binding parameters (as opposed to columns in a data stream), the numeric data type will bind directly to the double, so you won’t get the error that you would get if the same data were being bound from a rowset. We’re not quite sure why this is the case, but fortunately stored procedures don’t have to be altered in order to use them in SSIS because of output parameter binding issues.
The remaining task to complete the parameter setup is to provide the correct placeholder for the parameter. Figure 3-28 is an example of the completed parameter setup for the procedure in OLE DB.
At this point, you have looked at every scenario concerning binding to parameters and result sets. Stored procedures can also return multi-row results, but there is really no difference in how you handle these rows from a stored procedure and an inline SQL statement. We covered multi-row scenarios earlier in this section on the Execute SQL Task. Now we will move away from tasks in the RDBMS world and into tasks that involve other controlling external processes such as other packages or applications in the operating system.
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