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ODBC Driver Behavior Change When Handling Character Conversions

The SQL Server 2012 Native Client ODBC Driver (SQLNCLI11.dll) changed how it does of SQL_WCHAR* (NCHAR/NVARCHAR/NVARCHAR(MAX)) and SQL_CHAR* (CHAR/VARCHAR/NARCHAR(MAX)) conversions. ODBC functions, such as SQLGetData, SQLBindCol, SQLBindParameter, return (-4) SQL_NO_TOTAL as the length/indicator parameter when using the SQL Server 2012 Native Client ODBC driver. Prior versions of the SQL Server Native Client ODBC driver returned a length value, which can be incorrect.

Many Windows functions let you specify a buffer size of 0 and the returned length is the size of the returned data. The following pattern is common for Windows programmers:

int iSize = 0;
BYTE * pBuffer = NULL;
GetMyFavoriteAPI(pBuffer, &iSize);   // Returns needed size in iSize
pBuffer = new BYTE[iSize];   // Allocate buffer 
GetMyFavoriteAPI(pBuffer, &iSize);   // Retrieve actual data

However, SQLGetData should not be used in this scenario. The following pattern should not be used:

// bad
int iSize = 0;
WCHAR * pBuffer = NULL;
SQLGetData(hstmt, SQL_W_CHAR, ...., (SQLPOINTER*)0x1, 0, &iSize);   // Get storage size needed
pBuffer = new WCHAR[(iSize/sizeof(WCHAR)) + 1];   // Allocate buffer
SQLGetData(hstmt, SQL_W_CHAR, ...., (SQLPOINTER*)pBuffer, iSize, &iSize);   // Retrieve data

SQLGetData can only be called to retrieve chunks of actual data. Using SQLGetData to get the size of data is not unsupported.

The following shows the impact of the driver change when you use the incorrect pattern. This application queries a varchar column and binding as Unicode (SQL_UNICODE/SQL_WCHAR):

Query: select convert(varchar(36), '123')

SQLGetData(hstmt, SQL_WCHAR, ….., (SQLPOINTER*) 0x1, 0 , &iSize);   // Attempting to determine storage size needed

SQL Server Native Client ODBC Driver version

Length or Indicator Outcome

Description

SQL Server 2008 R2 Native Client or earlier

6

The driver incorrectly assumed that converting CHAR to WCHAR could be accomplished as length * 2.

SQL Server 2012 Native Client (version 11.0.2100.60) or later

-4 (SQL_NO_TOTAL)

The driver no longer assumes that converting from CHAR to WCHAR or WCHAR to CHAR is a (multiply) *2 or (divide)/2 action.

Calling SQLGetData no longer returns the length of the expected conversion. The driver detects the conversion to or from CHAR and WCHAR and returns (-4) SQL_NO_TOTAL instead of *2 or /2 behavior that could be incorrect.

Use SQLGetData to retrieve the chunks of the data. (Pseudo code shown:)

while( (SQL_SUCCESS or SQL_SUCCESS_WITH_INFO) == SQLFetch(...) ) {
   SQLNumCols(...iTotalCols...)
   for(int iCol = 1; iCol < iTotalCols; iCol++) {
      WCHAR* pBufOrig, pBuffer = new WCHAR[100];
      SQLGetData(.... iCol … pBuffer, 100, &iSize);   // Get original chunk
      while(NOT ALL DATA RETREIVED (SQL_NO_TOTAL, ...) ) {
         pBuffer += 50;   // Advance buffer for data retrieved
         // May need to realloc the buffer when you reach current size
         SQLGetData(.... iCol … pBuffer, 100, &iSize);   // Get next chunk
      }
   }
}

Query: select convert(varchar(36), '1234567890')

SQLBindCol(… SQL_W_CHAR, …)   // Only bound a buffer of WCHAR[4] – Expecting String Data Right Truncation behavior

SQL Server Native Client ODBC Driver version

Length or Indicator Outcome

Description

SQL Server 2008 R2 Native Client or earlier

20

  • SQLFetch reports that there is a truncation on the right side of the data.

  • Length is the length of the data returned, not what was stored (assumes *2 CHAR to WCHAR conversion which can be incorrect for glyphs).

  • Data stored in buffer is 123\0. Buffer is guaranteed to be NULL terminated.

SQL Server 2012 Native Client (version 11.0.2100.60) or later

-4 (SQL_NO_TOTAL)

  • SQLFetch reports that there is a truncation on the right side of the data.

  • Length indicates -4 (SQL_NO_TOTAL) because the rest of the data was not converted.

  • Data stored in the buffer is 123\0. - Buffer is guaranteed to be NULL terminated.

Query: create procedure spTest @p1 varchar(max) OUTPUT

select @p1 = replicate('B', 1234)

SQLBindParameter(… SQL_W_CHAR, …)   // Only bind up to first 64 characters

SQL Server Native Client ODBC Driver version

Length or Indicator Outcome

Description

SQL Server 2008 R2 Native Client or earlier

2468

  • SQLFetch returns no more data available.

  • SQLMoreResults returns no more data available.

  • Length indicates the size of the data returned from server, not stored in buffer.

  • Original buffer contains 63 bytes and a NULL terminator. Buffer is guaranteed to be NULL terminated.

SQL Server 2012 Native Client (version 11.0.2100.60) or later

-4 (SQL_NO_TOTAL)

  • SQLFetch returns no more data available.

  • SQLMoreResults returns no more data available.

  • Length indicates (-4) SQL_NO_TOTAL because the rest of the data was not converted.

  • Original buffer contains 63 bytes and a NULL terminator. Buffer is guaranteed to be NULL terminated.

The SQL Server 2012 Native Client ODBC driver offers several ways to perform CHAR and WCHAR conversions. The logic is similar to manipulating blobs (varchar(max), nvarchar(max), …):

  • Data is saved or truncated into the specified buffer when binding with SQLBindCol or SQLBindParameter.

  • If you do not bind, you can retrieve the data in chunks by using SQLGetData and SQLParamData.

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