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Static SQL Versus Dynamic SQL

At the inception of relational database systems and into the 1980s, the only portable interface for applications was embedded SQL. At that time, there was no common function API such as a standards-based database API, for example, ODBC. Embedded SQL is SQL statements written within an application programming language such as C. These statements are preprocessed by a SQL preprocessor, which is database dependent, before the application is compiled. In the preprocessing stage, the database creates the access plan for each SQL statement. During this time, the SQL was embedded and, typically, always static.

In the 1990s, the first portable database API for SQL was defined by the SQL Access Group. Following this specification came the ODBC specification from Microsoft. The ODBC specification was widely adopted, and it quickly became the de facto standard for SQL APIs. Using ODBC, SQL did not have to be embedded into the application programming language, and precompilation was no longer required, which allowed database independence. Using SQL APIs, the SQL is not embedded; it is dynamic.

What is static SQL and dynamic SQL? Static SQL is SQL statements in an application that do not change at runtime and, therefore, can be hard-coded into the application. Dynamic SQL is SQL statements that are constructed at runtime; for example, the application may allow users to enter their own queries. Thus, the SQL statements cannot be hard-coded into the application.

Static SQL provides performance advantages over dynamic SQL because static SQL is preprocessed, which means the statements are parsed, validated, and optimized only once.

If you are using a standards-based API, such as ODBC, to develop your application, static SQL is probably not an option for you. However, you can achieve a similar level of performance by using either statement pooling or stored procedures. See “Statement Pooling,” page 29, for a discussion about how statement pooling can improve performance.

A stored procedure is a set of SQL statements (a subroutine) available to applications accessing a relational database system. Stored procedures are physically stored in the database. The SQL statements you define in a stored procedure are parsed, validated, and optimized only once, as with static SQL.

Stored procedures are database dependent because each relational database system implements stored procedures in a proprietary way. Therefore, if you want your application to be database independent, think twice before using stored procedures.

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