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Searching for Column-Level Metadata

Aaron Bertrand takes us through a few DMVs and catalog views which will help us find SQL Server metadata:

Let’s say we are interested in each column of each table: the ordinal position, the name, the data type, and whether it is nullable. In all currently supported versions of SQL Server (2012 and up), there is a handy function that allows you to get all the columns for a T-SQL query, sys.dm_exec_describe_first_result_set. This function is superior to querying the information from sys.columns, mainly because you don’t have to join to sys.types, or embed complicated logic to deal with translation; for example, CASE expressions that change -1 to max, eliminating types that have synonyms, or cutting nvarchar lengths in half – but only if they aren’t max. (You can see the type of query you end up in an earlier tip, “SQL Server Data Type Consistency.”)

This use of sys.dm_exec_describe_first_result_set() is new to me.

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