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sp_columns_ex (Transact-SQL)

Updated: 17 July 2006

Returns the column information, one row per column, for the specified linked server tables. sp_columns_ex returns column information for only the specific column if column is specified.

Topic link icon Transact-SQL Syntax Conventions


sp_columns_ex [ @table_server = ] 'table_server' 
     [ , [ @table_name = ] 'table_name' ] 
     [ , [ @table_schema = ] 'table_schema' ] 
     [ , [ @table_catalog = ] 'table_catalog' ] 
     [ , [ @column_name = ] 'column' ] 
     [ , [ @ODBCVer = ] 'ODBCVer' ]

[ @table_server = ] 'table_server'

Is the name of the linked server for which to return column information. table_server is sysname, with no default.

[ @table_name = ] 'table_name'

Is the name of the table for which to return column information. table_name is sysname, with a default of NULL.

[ @table_schema = ] 'table_schema'

Is the schema name of the table for which to return column information. table_schema is sysname, with a default of NULL.

[ @table_catalog = ] 'table_catalog'

Is the catalog name of the table for which to return column information. table_catalog is sysname, with a default of NULL.

[ @column_name = ] 'column'

Is the name of the database column for which to provide information. column is sysname, with a default of NULL.

[ @ODBCVer = ] 'ODBCVer'

Is the version of ODBC that is being used. ODBCVer is int, with a default of 2. This indicates ODBC Version 2. Valid values are 2 or 3. For information about the behavior differences between versions 2 and 3, see the ODBC SQLColumns specification.

Column name Data type Description

TABLE_CAT

sysname

Table or view qualifier name. Various DBMS products support three-part naming for tables (qualifier.owner.name). In SQL Server 2005, this column represents the database name. In some products, it represents the server name of the table's database environment. This field can be NULL.

TABLE_SCHEM

sysname

Table or view owner name. In SQL Server, this column represents the name of the database user that created the table. This field always returns a value.

TABLE_NAME

sysname

Table or view name. This field always returns a value.

COLUMN_NAME

sysname

Column name, for each column of the TABLE_NAME returned. This field always returns a value.

DATA_TYPE

smallint

Integer value that correspond to ODBC type indicators. If this is a data type that cannot be mapped to an ODBC type, this value is NULL. The native data type name is returned in the TYPE_NAME column.

TYPE_NAME

varchar(13)

String representing a data type. The underlying DBMS presents this data type name.

COLUMN_SIZE

int

Number of significant digits. The return value for the PRECISION column is in base 10.

BUFFER_LENGTH

int

Transfer size of the data.1

DECIMAL_DIGITS

smallint

Number of digits to the right of the decimal point.

NUM_PREC_RADIX

smallint

Is the base for numeric data types.

NULLABLE

smallint

Specifies nullability.

1 = NULL is possible.

0 = NOT NULL.

REMARKS

varchar(254)

This field always returns NULL.

COLUMN_DEF

varchar(254)

Default value of the column.

SQL Server 2005 differs from SQL Server 2000 in the way it decodes and stores SQL expressions in the catalog metadata. The semantics of the decoded expression are equivalent to the original text; however, there are no syntactic guarantees. For example, white spaces are removed from the decoded expression. For more information, see, Behavior Changes to Database Engine Features in SQL Server 2005.

SQL_DATA_TYPE

smallint

Value of the SQL data type as it appears in the TYPE field of the descriptor. This column is the same as the DATA_TYPE column, except for the datetime and SQL-92 interval data types. This column always returns a value.

SQL_DATETIME_SUB

smallint

Subtype code for datetime and SQL-92 interval data types. For other data types, this column returns NULL.

CHAR_OCTET_LENGTH

int

Maximum length in bytes of a character or integer data type column. For all other data types, this column returns NULL.

ORDINAL_POSITION

int

Ordinal position of the column in the table. The first column in the table is 1. This column always returns a value.

IS_NULLABLE

varchar(254)

Nullability of the column in the table. ISO rules are followed to determine nullability. An ISO SQL-compliant DBMS cannot return an empty string.

YES = Column can include NULLS.

NO = Column cannot include NULLS.

This column returns a zero-length string if nullability is unknown.

The value returned for this column is different from the value returned for the NULLABLE column.

SS_DATA_TYPE

tinyint

SQL Server data type, used by extended stored procedures. For more information, see Data Types (Database Engine).

For more information, see the Microsoft ODBC documentation.

sp_columns_ex is executed by querying the COLUMNS rowset of the IDBSchemaRowset interface of the OLE DB provider corresponding to table_server. The table_name, table_schema, table_catalog, and column parameters are passed to this interface to restrict the rows returned.

sp_columns_ex returns an empty result set if the OLE DB provider of the specified linked server does not support the COLUMNS rowset of the IDBSchemaRowset interface.

Requires SELECT permission on the schema.

The following example returns the data type of the Title column of the HumanResources.Employee table in the AdventureWorks database on the linked server Seattle1.

EXEC sp_columns_ex 'Seattle1', 
   'Employee', 
   'HumanResources', 
   'AdventureWorks', 
   'Title';

Release History

17 July 2006

New content:
  • In the COLUMN_DEF column, added content about how SQL expressions are stored in SQL Server 2005.
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