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Difference Between isql and osql

isql vs osql

Osql and isql are both connectivity tools used to allow a SQL Server to run transact SQL commands. They are of importance, as they function similar to the SQL Server Query Analyzer. How do these two connectivity tools compare against each other?

Osql is a command line utility whose main function is to provide an interface for the ODBC-based query to the SQL server. The use of osql replaces the use of isql in the DB-Library API. This utility comes with the Microsoft SQL Server 2000. The limitations of the isql are rectified by osql.

Among the uses of osql are allowing users to interactively enter Transact SQL statements, which mimics the command prompt. What is received as the result of the action is shown in the command prompt window of osql.

Osql also allows users to submit a job performed by osql, which has the capability of either specifying whether a single Transact-SQL statement or if executing, it points out to the exact location where the utility with a text file containing Transact-SQL statements for execution. Output of osql is normally directed to a text file of which can be displayed in a command prompt window.

The osql utility execution can be done directly from the operating system with several case sensitive options being the only exceptions. Upon starting, osql will accept SQL statements as it sends these statements to the server. Results are formatted and displayed on the screen and QUIT or EXIT are the commands used for quitting the command line.

Failure to specify user names when starting osql is that the SQL server 2000 checks the environment variables and makes use of them. A good example of the environmental variables used the user and server. If the environment variables are not set, the command line results to use of the work station name.

Isql, on the other hand, is a utility whose main function is to allow for Transact-SQL statements to be entered, as well as script files and system procedures. It uses the DB–Library for communicating with the Microsoft SQL Server 2000.

Isql works as a SQL Server 6.5 level client when connected to the SQL Server 2000. It, however, does not support some SQL Server 2000 features. The build of isql is based on the ODBC and it does not support some of the SQL Server 2000 features. Isql is able to run scripts that osql is unable to run.

A limitation that isql has is that it does not support Unicode, yet the SQL Query analyzer by default saves SQL Scripts in Unicode. To circumvent this problem, OSQL is preferred for use. ANSI can also be used if isql ought to be used. Another thing to note is that isql does not set any connection options by default. As occurs in osql, failure to specify a name takes isql to the environment variables and lack of environment variables leads to the workstation name being used.


Osql and isql are common connectivity tools used in the SQL environment.
They allow an SQL Server to run transact SQL commands.
Command line utility osql has a main function of providing an interface for the ODBC based query to the SQL server.
Osql also allows users to submit a job performed.
Isql is a utility whose main function is to allow for Transact-SQL statements.
OSQL supports Unicode.
Isql does not support Unicode. It can only work with ANSI format.
Both osql and isql revert to the operating environment when names are not specified and if not, they move to take the name of the work station.

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