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Illogical Errors and Implicit Conversion

Aaron Bertrand takes us through a problem with seemingly indeterminate query errors:

I’ve talked about illogical errors before. In several answers on Database Administrators (onetwothree), I show how you can use a CASE expression or TRY_CONVERT to work around an error where a non-numeric value, that should have been filtered out by a join or other clause, still leads to a conversion error. Erland Sommarskog raised a Connect item over a decade ago, still unaddressed, called “SQL Server should not raise illogical errors.”

Recently we had a scenario where a query was failing on one server but not another. But this was slightly different; there were no numerics involved. Imagine this scenario: a source table has a column that is varchar(20). A query creates a table variable with a column that is varchar(10), and inserts rows from the source table, with a filter in place that only exposes values that are 10 characters or less.

In a lot of cases, of course, this scenario is perfectly fine, and everything works as expected.

Read the whole thing. There is a method to the madness, and Aaron explains how it can come up in some cases but not others.

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