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I have a set of XML based services running on my network.

The data in these services needs to be mirrored into a Table on an SQL Server 2008 instance.

Getting the XML into a table is no problem I can already do that, but what I'm having to do at the moment is pass a huge long string of XML to a stored proc which then uses the OPENXML command to insert it into the table.

What I'm wanting to know, is instead of using a 3rd party program to get this data from the service then call the stored proc and insert it, is it in anyway possible for me to get SQL Server to just grab the XML directly from the service URL and process it like that.

All I can seem to find no matter how much I try is plenty of articles & posts on reading / writing files to / from the server file system and the several million or so on actually inserting the XML data, but I can't seem to find anything on getting the server to grab data directly from a URL.

Cheers

-----===== Update 25/8/2012 =====-----

After a little bit more research Iv'e found a third way to do this:

declare @xmlObject as int
declare @responseText as varchar(max)
declare @url as varchar(2048)

select @url = 'http://server/feed/data'

exec sp_OACreate 'MSXML2.XMLHTTP', @xmlObject OUT;
exec sp_OAMethod @xmlObject, 'open', NULL, 'get', @url, 'false'
exec sp_OAMethod @xmlObject, 'send'
exec sp_OAMethod @xmlObject, 'responsetext', @responseText OUTPUT
exec sp_OADestroy @xmlObject

select @responseText

exec sp_xml_preparedocument @idoc OUTPUT, @xmlData

Which seems to work, and work quite efficiently, however here's the weird thing.

If I use the full URL, which returns pure XML data with a mime type of 'text/xml' then response text contains nothing, it's null but if I strip it back to say 'http://server/feed/' or 'http://server/' so that the web server is just passing a 404 page or default html page, then I get the actual page content in.

At first I thought it might be the mime type, 'text/xml' vs 'text/html' but testing that made no difference, anything that returns valid XML seems to give null, but anything that returns broken XML seems to work!!

The code above however does work with correctly formatted XML from the internet, for example 'geonames' (which is what the original source of the above code was based on) works fine.

I suspect, that it's something to do with my feed server's config however, so need to do some work to resolve this, I thought I'd add the code here for others.

@Remus thank's for the suggestion, but that's how I currently do the task, I have a CLR binary that I wrote, that runs once a day to sync the feed to the DB, but it takes too long to sync the data. Using it to feed the XML is faster than doing a pure loop however, but the size of the XML can be quite variable (esp given that a binary would pass it to the stored proc using L2S) and Iv'e already overflowed the input to the SP a couple of times because there's been too much data, hence why I'm looking to get the SP to retrieve the data itself.

@Mr Browstone - SSIS seems to be the way to go, that's what other suggestions have been, I do however admit I don't know an awful lot about using SSIS other than to use the (Import / Export wizard - I'm more of a dev than a DBA :-) ) so any pointers on how I'd achieve this using SSIS would be helpful.

As for using CLR procs in the DB, I had thought of trying that, but Iv'e been bitten badly using these things before (And crashed a couple of servers too!!) so I'm a little wary of using them.

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Have you considered using PowerShell? Since it can be used to talk to a web service, don't know if that would be the same as an XML service (thepowershellguy.com/blogs/posh/archive/2009/05/15/…) and it can talk to SQL Server. –  Shawn Melton Aug 25 '12 at 14:05
    
Hmmm, to be honest no I didn't consider power-shell, and I'm actually kicking myself that I didn't. The new versions of SQL server actually have PS bindings built in if memory serves me. One more avenue to explore. :-) –  shawty Aug 25 '12 at 14:22
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4 Answers 4

Use an external process that does the HTTP work and the inserts into the database. I explicitly advise against using SQLCLR for this. Hijacking precious SQL Server workers for the boring job of waiting for HTTP results will one day impact your server severely.

but the size of the XML can be quite variable (esp given that a binary would pass it to the stored proc using L2S) and Iv'e already overflowed the input to the SP a couple of times because there's been too much data

Use the techniques from DOWNLOAD AND UPLOAD IMAGES FROM SQL SERVER VIA ASP.NET MVC to stream the HTTP response into the database.

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+1 Remus. Great advice. I just wish that you'd suggested an appropriate way to do this. Seems more like a comment than an answer. –  brian Aug 25 '12 at 15:46
    
Interesting article Remus, that's 3 avenues to explore now :-) unfortunately I need to pick the Quickest one, Iv'e already spent 1 day more on this than I initially scoped it for. –  shawty Aug 26 '12 at 10:41
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I use sp_OACreate extensively to do the sort of thing you are doing. I suspect that your problem may be that the size of the XML data you are receiving exceeds 8000 characters. (i.e. SQL may not be returning any data when you exceed 8000 characters).

sp_OAGetProperty and other extended stored procedures cannot pass varchar(MAX) parameters

As a work-around, you can INSERT the results into a table or table variable. In this way, you can successfully receive text (html or xml) of any size with sp_OACreate.

Example:

INSERT INTO @tvResponse (Response)
EXEC @LastResultCode = sp_OAGetProperty @Obj, 'responseText' --, @Response OUT 
--Note:  sp_OAGetProperty (or any extended stored procedure parameter) does not support
--varchar(MAX), however returning as a resultset will return long results. 

Also, I have released open source T-SQL code for retrieving and parsing HTML into SQL tables. Part of this is a procedure #sputilGetHTTP that provides a nice wrapper around the sp_OAxxx procedures: it does error handling, makes it easy to specify various parameters, etc. You can download from SourceForge. and try accessing your XML results with this routine: you may find that it solves your problem with receiving XML.

(Note that #sputilGetHTTP and the other procedures are all implemented as temporary stored procedures--no changes are made to the database, so it is safe and easy to use this code in a production environment.)

Separately, I also do have a CLR stored procedure that can retrieve HTTP data. I am happy to share this if it is helpful, but the only time I have needed this is when I have to retrieve binary (non-text) data in excess of 8000 characters. When I am working with text I generally use the TSQL routine mentioned above.

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Thanks for that david, I'll look into it. Excess chars, yes your probably correct, some of the feeds are easily pushing out 100k worth of XML rather than the just under 8k limit. Iv'e solved it for now using a mixture of what's already been suggested (no one single answer), but I'll go back and revisit, take a look at your solution. –  shawty Oct 3 '12 at 18:50
    
Thanks so much for this. I was beyond frustrated trying to get a larger value out of sp_OAGetProperty, never thought about this method. –  Brad Mar 4 at 17:24
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There are a few ways to do this. You could use a custom driver and set up a web service as a linked server; you could use a CLR procedure to connect to the web service - or you could use SSIS which has the ability to do this built-in.

If you prefer to do less work then SSIS is the way to go; however if you wanted some fun and you wanted more flexibilty than SSIS can give: CLR is the way to go.

See the answer to the below question for more information on how to do this using CLR:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/8332298/connect-to-a-webservice-from-sql

I hope this helps you.

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Since you're a dev, you should have no trouble with SSIS.

Create a data flow task and use a script component as source. Choose your language of preference (VB.net or C#) for the script component. You can probably reuse most of your CLR code that downloads the file from the web site. Then follow the layout in the following tutorial to assign each node to it's position in the buffer: http://beyondrelational.com/modules/2/blogs/106/posts/11130/ssis-read-xml-file-in-script-component-as-source.aspx

From there, it should just be adding a sql or oledb destination and mapping column(s) for the insert.

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Thanks Brian, I'll look into that. :-) –  shawty Aug 26 '12 at 10:30
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