What is SYSNAME data type in SQL Server?

What is the SQL Server SYSNAME data type for? BOL says:

The sysname data type is used for table columns, variables, and stored procedure parameters that store object names.

but I don't really get that. Is there a use-case you can provide?

Answers


sysname is a built in datatype limited to 128 Unicode characters that, IIRC, is used primarily to store object names when creating scripts. Its value cannot be NULL

It is basically the same as using nvarchar(128) NOT NULL

EDIT

As mentioned by @Jim in the comments, I don't think there is really a business case where you would use sysname to be honest. It is mainly used by Microsoft when building the internal sys tables and stored procedures etc within SQL Server.

For example, by executing Exec sp_help 'sys.tables' you will see that the column name is defined as sysname this is because the value of this is actually an object in itself (a table)

I would worry too much about it.

It's also worth noting that for those people still using SQL Server 6.5 and lower (are there still people using it?) the built in type of sysname is the equivalent of varchar(30)

Documentation

sysname is defined with the documentation for nchar and nvarchar, in the remarks section:

sysname is a system-supplied user-defined data type that is functionally equivalent to nvarchar(128), except that it is not nullable. sysname is used to reference database object names.

To clarify the above remarks, by default sysname is defined as NOT NULL it is certainly possible to define it as nullable. It is also important to note that the exact definition can vary between instances of SQL Server.

Using Special Data Types

The sysname data type is used for table columns, variables, and stored procedure parameters that store object names. The exact definition of sysname is related to the rules for identifiers. Therefore, it can vary between instances of SQL Server. sysname is functionally the same as nvarchar(128) except that, by default, sysname is NOT NULL. In earlier versions of SQL Server, sysname is defined as varchar(30).


Is there use case you can provide?

If you ever have the need for creating some dynamic sql it is appropriate to use sysname as data type for variables holding table names, column names and server names.


Just as an FYI....

select * from sys.types where system_type_id = 231 gives you two rows.

(i'm not sure what this means yet but i'm 100% sure it's messing up my code right now)

edit: i guess what it means is that you should join by the user_type_id in this situation (my situation) or possibly both the user_type_id and th esystem_type_id

name        system_type_id   user_type_id   schema_id   principal_id    max_length  precision   scale   collation_name                  is_nullable     is_user_defined     is_assembly_type    default_object_id   rule_object_id
nvarchar    231              231            4           NULL            8000        0           0       SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS    1               0                   0                   0                   0
sysname     231              256            4           NULL            256         0           0       SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS    0               0                   0                   0                   0

create procedure dbo.yyy_test (
    @col_one    nvarchar(max),
    @col_two    nvarchar(max)  = 'default',
    @col_three  nvarchar(1),
    @col_four   nvarchar(1)    = 'default',
    @col_five   nvarchar(128),
    @col_six    nvarchar(128)  = 'default',
    @col_seven  sysname  
)
as begin 

    select 1
end 

This query:

select  parm.name AS Parameter,    
        parm.max_length, 
        parm.parameter_id 

from    sys.procedures sp

        join sys.parameters parm ON sp.object_id = parm.object_id 

where   sp.name = 'yyy_test'

order   by parm.parameter_id

yields:

parameter           max_length  parameter_id
@col_one            -1          1
@col_two            -1          2
@col_three           2          3
@col_four            2          4
@col_five            256        5
@col_six             256        6
@col_seven           256        7

and this:

select  parm.name as parameter,    
        parm.max_length, 
        parm.parameter_id,
        typ.name as data_type, 
        typ.system_type_id, 
        typ.user_type_id,
        typ.collation_name,
        typ.is_nullable 
from    sys.procedures sp

        join sys.parameters parm ON sp.object_id = parm.object_id

        join sys.types typ ON parm.system_type_id = typ.system_type_id

where   sp.name = 'yyy_test'

order   by parm.parameter_id

gives you this:

parameter   max_length  parameter_id    data_type   system_type_id  user_type_id    collation_name                  is_nullable
@col_one    -1          1               nvarchar    231             231             SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS    1
@col_one    -1          1               sysname     231             256             SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS    0
@col_two    -1          2               nvarchar    231             231             SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS    1
@col_two    -1          2               sysname     231             256             SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS    0
@col_three   2          3               nvarchar    231             231             SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS    1
@col_three   2          3               sysname     231             256             SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS    0
@col_four    2          4               nvarchar    231             231             SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS    1
@col_four    2          4               sysname     231             256             SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS    0
@col_five    256        5               nvarchar    231             231             SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS    1
@col_five    256        5               sysname     231             256             SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS    0
@col_six     256        6               nvarchar    231             231             SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS    1
@col_six     256        6               sysname     231             256             SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS    0
@col_seven   256        7               nvarchar    231             231             SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS    1
@col_seven   256        7               sysname     231             256             SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS    0

Let me list a use case below. Hope it helps. Here I'm trying to find the Table Owner of the Table 'Stud_dtls' from the DB 'Students'. As Mikael mentioned, sysname could be used when there is a need for creating some dynamic sql which needs variables holding table names, column names and server names. Just thought of providing a simple example to supplement his point.

USE Students

DECLARE @TABLE_NAME sysname

SELECT @TABLE_NAME = 'Stud_dtls'

SELECT TABLE_SCHEMA 
  FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.Tables
 WHERE TABLE_NAME = @TABLE_NAME

FWIW, you can pass a table name to useful system SP's like this, should you wish to explore a database that way :

DECLARE @Table sysname; SET @Table = 'TableName';
EXEC sp_fkeys @Table;
EXEC sp_help @Table;

sysname is used by sp_send_dbmail, a stored procedure that "Sends an e-mail message to the specified recipients" and located in the msdb database.

According to Microsoft,

[ @profile_name = ] 'profile_name'  

Is the name of the profile to send the message from. The profile_name is of type sysname, with a default of NULL. The profile_name must be the name of an existing Database Mail profile. When no profile_name is specified, sp_send_dbmail uses the default private profile for the current user. If the user does not have a default private profile, sp_send_dbmail uses the default public profile for the msdb database. If the user does not have a default private profile and there is no default public profile for the database, @profile_name must be specified.


Another use case is when using the SQL Server 2016+ functionality of AT TIME ZONE

The below statement will return a date converted to GMT

SELECT 
CONVERT(DATETIME, SWITCHOFFSET([ColumnA], DATEPART(TZOFFSET, [ColumnA] AT TIME ZONE 'GMT Standard Time')))

If you want to pass the time zone as a variable, say:

SELECT 
CONVERT(DATETIME, SWITCHOFFSET([ColumnA], DATEPART(TZOFFSET, [ColumnA] AT TIME ZONE @TimeZone)))

then that variable needs to be of the type sysname (declaring it as varchar will cause an error).


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