One of SQL Server Enterprise Manager's many conveniences allows users to open a table in a grid layout and directly edit the values. This is particularly handy if you need to make a quick-and-dirty change to something in a relatively small table.

Enterprise Manager usually has no problems dealing with integer or small fixed-length text columns (i.e., varchar(32) or something similar). However, if you are dealing with a text, ntext or char/varchar, where the column could contain more than 1,024 characters, using Enterprise Manager as the editor may create problems. And, they might not be immediately visible, which can pose a threat to the integrity of the data you're editing.

Enterprise Manager has a maximum field size of 1,024 characters to edit any column regardless of the underlying data type. If you copy and paste a string longer than that into a field, it will be truncated, and the data you've supplied will be damaged. The table editor in Enterprise Manager isn't intended to be a full replacement for an editing application -- it's just a way to browse the data without much extra hassle.

There are a couple of ways around this problem when updating the table, neither of which involve using Enterprise Manager.

1. Use an UPDATE statement or a specifically designed stored procedure in the Query Analyzer. If your tables are well designed (i.e., they have some variety of unique identifiers on each row), it should not be hard

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to write an UPDATE statement to do this on the fly. Pasting in long text should work exactly the same way.

2. Use a third-party product that will not truncate text fields, such as a Web interface to SQL Server.

Note: When you attempt to retrieve a column with more than 255 characters in Query Analyzer, it may be truncated. This is not due to a limitation in Query Analyzer per se, but a setting in its options that limits column sizes. If you want to change the maximum column width, go to Tools | Options | Results, and set the value in "Maximum characters per column."

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators -- and please share your thoughts as well!

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  • This was first published in September 2005

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