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What is cursor? Advantages and disadvantages,when to use and example to explain

Introduction: In this article you will learn the following: 
  • What is cursor in Sql Sever?
  • Why and When to use cursor i.e purpose of using cursor?
  • Advantages and disadvantages of using cursor
  • Explanation of Cursor using example 

What is cursor in Sql Sever?

Read the article "What is Cursor and use of cursor with example" to get the answer

Why and When to use Cursor?

There are some conditions when we want to get record from one table and need to insert into another with performing some logic or some conditions .For example if we want to get value from one table row by row  and need to perform some logic over that and update /insert into another table then we can use cursors. Cursor basically works as for/While loop.

Advantages of using Cursor: 
  • Using Cursor we can perform row by row processing so we can perform row wise validation or operations on each row.
  • Cursors can provide the first few rows before the whole result set is assembled. Without using cursors, the entire result set must be delivered before any rows are displayed by the application. So using cursor, better response time is achieved. 
  • If we make updates to our without using cursors in your application then we must send separate SQL statements to the database server to apply the changes. This can cause the possibility of concurrency problems if the result set has changed since it was queried by the client. In turn, this raises the possibility of lost updates. So using cursor, better concurrency Control can be achieved.
  • Cursors can be faster than a while loop but at the cost of more overhead.

Disadvantages of using Cursor: 

  • Cursor in SQL is temporary work area created in the system memory, thus it occupies memory from your system that may be available for other processes. So occupies more resources and temporary storage. 
  • Each time when a row is fetched from the cursor it may result in a network round trip. This uses much more network bandwidth than the execution of a single SQL statement like SELECT or DELETE etc that makes only one round trip. 
  • Repeated network round trips can degrade the speed of the operation using the cursor.
Cursor Example:

Implementation: Let's create the cursor to check its working.
  • First of all create a table in Sql server with the script mentioned below:
 CREATE TABLE BookDetails
(
                [BookId] [int] IDENTITY(1,1) NOT NULL,
                [BookName] [varchar](100) NULL,
                [Author] [varchar](100) NULL,
                [Publisher] [varchar](200) NULL,
                [Price] [decimal](18, 2) NULL
) 
  • Then insert some records in the BookDetails table.
Example demonstration the use of Cursor

Suppose we want to get the Book Name, its Author, Price and based on price, calculating the discount(10% of price) and the calculated discounted price. For this we can create a cursor that will fetch the records one by one and calculate the discount and the discounted price and get all the details that we can display on any data control like GridView, Repeater, DataList etc.

Let's create a cursor

CREATE PROCEDURE GetBookDetails_Sp
AS
BEGIN

 CREATE TABLE #temp
                                (
                                                BookName                         varchar(100),
                                                Author                 varchar(100),  
                                                Price                                     int,
                                                Discount                             int,
                                                DiscountedPrice             int,
                                )
                               
                SET NOCOUNT ON        
                DECLARE @name varchar(100)
                DECLARE @auth varchar(100)
                DECLARE @prc int
               
                DECLARE curBookDetails CURSOR
                STATIC FOR
                SELECT BookName,Author,Price from BookDetails
                OPEN curBookDetails
               
                IF @@CURSOR_ROWS > 0
                 BEGIN
                                FETCH NEXT FROM curBookDetails INTO @name,@auth,@prc
                 WHILE @@Fetch_status = 0
                 BEGIN
                                INSERT INTO #temp (BookName,Author,Price,Discount,DiscountedPrice) VALUES (@name,@auth,@prc,((@prc*10)/100),@prc-((@prc*10)/100))       
                                FETCH NEXT FROM curBookDetails INTO @name,@auth,@prc
                 END
                END
                SELECT * FROM #temp              
                CLOSE curBookDetails
                DROP TABLE #temp
                DEALLOCATE curBookDetails
                SET NOCOUNT OFF
END

Note: I am using temporary table "#temp" to temporary store the BookName, Author, Price, calculated Discount and calculated DiscountedPrice. And then getting the records that we can use to fill in any data control to be displayed on the appliciation.
  • To check the results execute the stored procedure using the command mentioned below:
exec GetBookDetails_Sp
  • On execution it will  get the Book details as shown in image below:

Cursor example in SQL SERVER

Note:  @@Fetch_status: is a transact-SQL statement that returns the status of the last cursor FETCH statement issued against any cursor currently opened by the connection. It returns the Boolean value 0 if the Fetch statement was successful and returns -1 if the FETCH statement failed or the row was beyond the result set and will return -2 if the row fetched is missing. For more details read the @@FETCH_STATUS details 

Note: @@CURSOR_ROWS: is a transact-SQL statement that returns the number of qualifying rows currently in the last cursor opened on the connection. For more details read the @@CURSOR_ROWS details

Now over to you:
" I hope you have got what is Cursor in Sql Server with the example and if you have any point regarding cursor then please suggest. If you like my work; you can appreciate by leaving your comments, hitting Facebook like button, following on Google+, Twitter, Linked in and Pinterest, stumbling my posts on stumble upon and subscribing for receiving free updates directly to your inbox . Stay tuned and stay connected for more technical updates." 
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10 comments

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Ajay Kajal
admin
November 30, 2013 ×

i think this blog clear the complete conept of cursors, so thank you so much sir,
and plz add more blogs on mvc

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December 01, 2013 ×

Hello Ajay..i am glad it helped you in clearing your concept of cursors..this month i will mainly focus on MVC..so keep reading..:)

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Anonymous
admin
February 11, 2014 ×

thanks bro

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February 11, 2014 ×

thanks for appreciating my work..stay connected and keep reading for more useful updates like this..

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June 18, 2014 ×

its really great blog for beginner..and thanks for help everyone ..

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June 21, 2014 ×

Thanks Narayan Sharma for appreciating my work..it is always nice to hear that my articles helped any one..Stay connected and keep reading..

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Parthiban K
admin
August 20, 2014 ×

Good example.. keep on doing..

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August 20, 2014 ×

Thanks Partibhan . It is always nice to hear that my articles helped anyone..stay connected and keep reading..:)

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Unknown
admin
May 31, 2016 ×

Thanks author its a good blog clear concept about cursors at the begginner stage.

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June 02, 2016 ×

Thanks for your feedback..Stay connected and keep reading for more useful updates

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