Since there is no Sqlserver array parameter, what’s the best way to proceed?

I need to create multiple records in sqlserver, each with the same value in column A, but with a unique value in column B. I have the values for column B in an array.

I am using VS2008, aspnet, c# 3.5, sqlserver 2005.

Am I better off

Option 1.

Making 1 call to a stored procedure in sqlserver from c# code, and then doing all the processing work in the stored procedure in tsql?

This would involve combining all the values in the c# array into one comma delimited string and passing the string to tsql as a parameter, then looping and breaking the string apart into individual values and inserting a record for each one, all within a stored procedure.

From what I can see, this would involve easy rollback if necessary, but very clumsy string processing in tsql.


Option 2.

Doing the looping in c# and passing the data as sqlparams from c# one record at a time to a stored proc to insert each record.

Ie, foreach ( int key in myarray) … insert a record

I could do this code in my sleep, but how would I be able to rollback if something happened in the middle of processing? And should I do the looping within in a singe and connection.close?

Anyone have any other options for doing this?


Thank you for visiting the Q&A section on Magenaut. Please note that all the answers may not help you solve the issue immediately. So please treat them as advisements. If you found the post helpful (or not), leave a comment & I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Method 1

this topic is extensively covered here: Arrays and lists in SQL 2005

Method 2

The easiest way to implement this is using Option 1: passing the array as a delimited string. I used to do this in the pre-sql2005 days in conjunction with this TSQL Split Function. I would pass the array using “|” as a delimiter.

These days, I serialize the array into XML and then insert the contents into a table variable for processing using the sp_xml_preparedocument stored procedure.

I wouldn’t use option 2 since it makes multiple calls to database.

Method 3

Both options have their advantages (option 1 is a single round-trip, option 2 doesn’t use hokey string processing), but I would likely end up going with option 2. Option 1 suffers from the size limits of varchars (8000 unless you use varchar(MAX); I have no idea what the performance would be on a comma-delimited varchar(MAX) string that’s terribly long).

As far as rollback, yes, just do all of the operations on a single open connection and use a SqlTransaction object.

For example…

using(SqlConnection conn = new SqlConnection("connection string"))

    using(SqlTransaction trans = conn.BeginTrasnaction())
            using(SqlCommand cmd = new SqlCommand("command text", conn, trans))
                SqlParameter aParam = new SqlParameter("a", SqlDbType.Int);
                SqlParameter bParam = new SqlParameter("b", SqlDbType.Int);


                aParam.Value = 1;

                foreach(int value in bValues)
                    bValue = value;



            throw; // so the exception can propogate up

Method 4

Not sure if this fits your situation perfectly, but many times, when we need to pass an N-sized array of data into a stored procedure, we’ll use a temp-table trick. Something alone the lines of:

using (SqlConnection connection = new SqlConnection(connectionstring)) {

   string sql = "CREATE TABLE #foo (myvalue [INT]) ";
   using (SqlCommand command = connection.CreateCommand()) {
      command.CommandText = sql;
      command.CommandType = CommandType.Text;

      command.ExecuteNonQuery(); // create the temp table

      foreach (int value in myValuesList) {
         command.CommandText = "INSERT INTO #foo ([myvalue]) VALUES (" + value + ") ";


      command.CommandType = CommandType.StoredProcedure;
      command.CommandText = "StoredProcThatUsesFoo";

      // fill in any other parameters


Method 5

If you’re wanting to do multiple inserts in a loop in C# – look at TransactionScope. That will let you roll multiple calls to the stored proc into a transaction with rollback capabilities. Another option would be that you could pass your array as XML, and in the stored proc you could shred that XML out to a temp table to use in your proc.

One last thing you should do is to add Table Valued Parameters to your wish-list of reasons to upgrade to the next version of SQL server. As that wish-list grows, your justification for spending the money to upgrade gets a bit easier to make.

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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