SQLCMD examples to use SQL Server in command line

Practical guide on how to use the SQL Server SQLCMD tool.

The tutorial about the SQLCMD examples is divided into different sections, providing a wide overview of various functionalities, use cases, and handy tips with the command line tool. It includes practical code examples to enhance understanding and automate daily DBA tasks.

1. Introduction to the SQL Server SQLCMD tool

SQLCMD is a command-line tool that allows you to interact with SQL Server efficiently. With the SQL Server SQLCMD tool, you can run Transact-SQL commands, system procedures, and SQL scripts. This invaluable tool provides a bridge between the user and SQL Server, allowing for direct communication and manipulation of databases.

1.1 Why use the SQL Server SQLCMD command line tool?

SQLCMD is not just a tool but a powerful asset in the hands of database administrators and developers. Through its streamlined interface, it brings the following advantages:

  • Ease of Access: SQLCMD makes it simple to run and manage SQL queries directly from the command line.
  • Automation Capability: You can script complex procedures, enabling a smooth workflow and reducing the room for error.
  • Integration with Other Tools: It seamlessly integrates with various other SQL Server tools, enhancing functionality and efficiency.

1.2 How SQLCMD Works ?

The MS SQL command-line utility works as an interface to SQL Server. By accepting commands in Transact-SQL (T-SQL), it translates human-readable queries into actions that the SQL Server can perform. This includes executing commands, retrieving data, and even managing entire databases. The convenience, flexibility, and power of the SQLCMD tool make it an essential resource for anyone working with Microsoft SQL.

2. Installation and Configuration of SQLCMD

To embark on the journey of using SQLCMD, a couple of initial steps need to be undertaken. First and foremost, the installation of SQLCMD must be accomplished on your operating system. It’s a fairly straightforward process that can be executed by following the specific instructions provided for your OS version: Windows or Linux.

2.1 Difference between the Windows and the Linux configurations

The installation and configuration of SQLCMD vary between Windows and Linux. On Windows, SQLCMD can be installed as a part of the SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) and is typically configured using a GUI interface. Commands can be run from the Command Prompt.

In contrast, Linux requires manual installation of the mssql-tools package and uses a terminal interface for configuration.

The command-line syntax may differ slightly between the two, such as the path conventions and scripting nuances. Despite these differences, both provide a powerful command-line tool for managing SQL Server instances.

2.2 Installing SQLCMD on Windows or Linux

The commands are the same for both Windows and Linux, as SQL Server’s command-line tools are designed to work consistently across different platforms.

# Windows
sqlcmd -S localhost -U sa -P password

# Linux
sqlcmd -S localhost -U sa -P password

3. SQLCMD examples with basic commands

Let’s dive into some basic commands to get familiar with the SQL Server SQLCMD tool.

3.1 Connecting to a Database

To connect to a specific database, use the following command:

sqlcmd -S server_name -d database_name -U username -P password

3.2 SQL CMD examples with queries

With SQLCMD, you can easily run SQL queries directly from the command line. Here’s an example:

sqlcmd -Q "SELECT * FROM Users"

4. SQL Server SQLCMD Advanced Use Cases

SQLCMD is not just limited to basic queries. It provides several advanced functionalities.

4.1 Using Variables with SQL Server SQLCMD

You can use variables within your SQL scripts. Here’s an example:

sqlcmd -v var_name="value" -Q "SELECT * FROM Table WHERE Column = @var_name"

SQLCMD provides a robust interface to interact with SQL Server, allowing for various advanced use cases. Below are some of them.

4.2 SQL CMD example to Query Multiple Databases

You can use SQLCMD to execute queries across multiple databases on the same server.

sqlcmd -S localhost -U sa -P password -d Database1 -Q "SELECT * FROM Table1; USE Database2; SELECT * FROM Table2;"

4.3 Running Scripts from Files

You can run a SQL script from a file using the -i option.

sqlcmd -S localhost -U sa -P password -i MyScript.sql

4.4 Outputting Query Results to a File

Redirect the output of your queries to a text file using the -o option.

sqlcmd -S localhost -U sa -P password -Q "SELECT * FROM MyTable;" -o output.txt

4.5 Connecting to a Named Instance

If you’re working with a named instance of SQL Server, specify it using the -S option.

sqlcmd -S localhost\InstanceName -U sa -P password

4.6 Utilizing Windows Authentication

You can connect to SQL Server using Windows Authentication by omitting the username and password.

sqlcmd -S localhost -E

4.7 Executing Commands with Variables

SQLCMD allows the use of variables within your scripts. You can declare and use them with the :SETVAR command.

sqlcmd -S localhost -U sa -P password -Q "EXEC sp_databases; :SETVAR MyVariable 'MyValue'; PRINT '$(MyVariable)';"

4.8 Implementing Transaction Control

You can manage transactions within your SQLCMD sessions by using the standard T-SQL transaction control statements like BEGIN TRANSACTION, COMMIT, and ROLLBACK.

sqlcmd -S localhost -U sa -P password -Q "BEGIN TRANSACTION; UPDATE Table1 SET Column1 = 'value' WHERE Column2 = 'condition'; COMMIT;"

4.9 Generate XML Output using the SQLCMD tool

You can generate XML output from a query by using the -y or -Y options with the -r option.

sqlcmd -S localhost -U sa -P password -Q "SELECT * FROM MyTable FOR XML AUTO;" -r 1 -o output.xml

5. SQLCMD Tips and Best Practices

To make the most of SQLCMD, follow these best practices:

  1. Always close connections when not in use.
  2. Use the -b switch to halt execution on errors.
  3. Optimize scripts by using parameters.

Conclusion on SQLCMD examples

The SQLCMD examples offers an array of possibilities to manage SQL Server from the Windows command line. Explore different use cases, and don’t hesitate to delve into more complex operations.


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