Object whitespace-naming madness

Have you ever tried creating objects and giving them strange names? I made some experiment at one of lab servers, main focus was space (you know, the long key at the bottom of the keyboard :D).

So, without further ado – the first object to be tested is a database. Run:

create database [ ]

and you get your favourite Command(s) completed successfully response. A quick look into Object Explorer shows that a space-named database was indeed created. Let’s script it and see what a monster we just spawned:

USE [master]   
GO  /****** Object:  Database [ ]    Script Date: 02/15/2012 22:21:54 ******/   
 LOG ON     
( NAME = N' _log', FILENAME = N'C:\SqlData\MSSQL10_50.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA\ _log.LDF' , SIZE = 504KB , MAXSIZE = 2048GB , FILEGROWTH = 10%)    
GO  IF (1 = FULLTEXTSERVICEPROPERTY('IsFullTextInstalled'))   

EXEC [ ].[dbo].[sp_fulltext_database] @action = 'enable'    
...all the ALTERs go here...

The filenames on the HDD are .mdf (space.mdf) and _log.ldf (space_log.ldf), which are perfectly valid filenames as far as NTFS is concerned, but clearly database data file has a name of an empty string (weird). It seems that in this case some kind of trimming has taken place, but not in the case of database log file name which starts with a space.

We can go forward and try creating another space-named database. Try

create database [  ]  

Notice slight difference in both scripts – first database is called one space, while second is two spaces. The result is at least weird (first result from SQL Server 2005, second from 2008 R2):

Msg 1801, Level 16, State 3, Line 1  
Database ‘  ‘ already exists. 


Msg 1801, Level 16, State 3, Line 1   
Database '  ' already exists. Choose a different database name.    

Funny, isn’t it? It seems as if SQL Server trims the database name of whitespaces before actually attempting to create such an object. I’m not wondering about added value that space-named databases might give, but certainly something is not right. If I could create a database with a name of “ “, why not “ “? Maybe other whitespaces will work as well?

In fact, they do. Let’s try with a bell character (ASCII code 7). First obstacle is that SSMS editor does not let you type in bell character, so you have to work our way around with standard T-SQL CHAR function. But then operating system will not let you create a file with bell inside of a name, so you have to change the file names. In the end, the code is like this:

declare @DBName sysname   
declare @createQuery nvarchar(2000)  select @DBName = CHAR(7)   
select @createQuery = '    
( NAME = N''1'', FILENAME = N''C:\SqlData\MSSQL10_50.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA\1.mdf'' , SIZE = 2048KB , FILEGROWTH = 1024KB )    
 LOG ON     
( NAME = N''1_log'', FILENAME = N''C:\SqlData\MSSQL10_50.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA\1_log.ldf'' , SIZE = 1024KB , FILEGROWTH = 10%)    
'  execute sp_executesql @createQuery

I expected the bell character to act like one, so I opened SQLCMD and issued standard

SELECT * FROM sys.databases

But, to my surprise bell-character-named database is displayed as new line in the result set and my hopes for audible SQL are gone. 🙂

Let’s go into our space-named database just to try to create a schema and a table inside with a column of type int. Try following piece of script:

use [ ]    
create schema [ ]    
create table [ ].[ ] ( [ ] int)    

It really works, and the Object Explorer does prove it. You might actually test by issuing

INSERT INTO [ ].[ ].[ ].[ ] ([ ]) VALUES (1)

It would be even funnier if the column was of char type, then you could something like that (just don’t get mixed with delimiters and text escaping :P):

INSERT INTO [ ].[ ].[ ].[ ] ([ ]) VALUES (' ')

Wrapping it all up – since the post contained a lot of humour – I would rather expect whitespaces not to be permitted in object names at all, or at least that an object name has to contain one or more characters. For the sake of clarity I would even go further – to prevent crazy people from going rampant let object names be like variable names in most programming languages – contain only letters, digits and underscore, but cannot start with a digit.
On the other hand, you might say it’s just how flexible SQL Server is.


One thought on “Object whitespace-naming madness

  1. Pingback: Few SQL Server 2012 training resources « Yet another SQL Server DBA…

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