Dynamic SQL: exec vs. sp_executesql

Note: this article was originally published to the Wharton Computing Development Center

Dynamic SQL came up again at a recent code review.  If only for your own maintenance sanity, it’s worth eliminating dynamic SQL where possible, but there are times you can’t avoid it (for example, some implementations of the new SQL 2005 PIVOT function). If you must do the dynamic SQL thing, you should know that there are two ways to execute it

  • EXEC(@stringofsql)
  • sp_executesql @stringofsql, @someparameters

The first option is old school, but it still works. Sp_executesql, however, is newer and allows you to use parameters in conjunction with the dymanically-built SQL string. Having the option to use parameters is a great improvement–if the parameters are the only part of the SQL command that changes, the optimizer can reuse the execution plan instead of generating a new one each time the code is run. See SQL Server Books Online for the exact sp_executesql syntax.

If you want to know more about dynamic SQL, take a look at this aricle.

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