Basically, SQL Server returns two types of messages: information and error. An information
message is a return of some information to users. This type of message
is informational in nature and doesn’t create errors at runtime. For
example, when you execute a check in your database with a DBCC CHECKDB
statement, an informational message related to the database is
returned. This type of message might also be returned as output from PRINT and DBCC statements, as a message citing an error from sys.messages catalog view, or as a RAISERROR statement.
message is a return of a warning message that informs you about
problems that affect the execution of your statement. For example, when
your statement calls an object that doesn’t exist, SQL Server generates
and returns an error message then terminates execution of the
statement. These error messages are returned only as messages citing
errors from sys.messages catalog view or as a RAISERROR
statement. You can use these messages to handle various types of
errors: errors that stop your code from proceeding further; errors that
raise warnings, but continue the execution of your code; and errors
that belong to the business logic of your application and are not SQL
information messages are not exactly error messages, they are handled
and managed the same way as error messages. The only difference between
them is severity, which is further discussed later in this chapter.
There are two types of errors in SQL Server: system and user-defined. System
errors arise when the Database Engine service encounters an error in
code execution. This service provides objects and structures that allow
the return of system errors or messages according to executed code. The
Database Engine verifies the code of each operation and returns a
status indicating the success or failure of its execution. When an
operation fails, the service picks the error information from the sys. messages
catalog view and shows it to the user. SQL Server raises system errors
automatically when executing an operation. However, you can handle
these errors using T-SQL commands.
SQL Server provides a significant set of error messages, you may face
situations when SQL Server doesn’t recognize parts of your code as
errors but you wish to raise them as errors. These customized errors
are called user-defined errors, and
they must be raised manually. For example, you create a procedure that
inserts a product name and stock inside a table. Although the stock
column can accept any INT
value, your business requirement specifies that a product must be added
with a minimum stock level of 100. So, your procedure checks the stock
input parameter, and, if the value is less than the required minimum,
it will return an error. In this case, you define the error and write
code that raises it every time a validation fails.
sys.messages Catalog View
SQL Server stores system and user-defined errors inside a catalog view called sys.messages.
This catalog contains all system error messages, which are available in
many languages. Each message has five properties arranged in columns:
message_id: This column stores the ID of a message and its value. Together with language_id, this is unique across the instance. Messages with IDs less than 50000 are system error messages.
This column indicates the language used in the message text, for
example English or Spanish, as defined in the name column of the sys.syslanguagesmessage_id. system table. This is unique for a specified
This column contains the severity level of the message. When you are
creating errors, keep in mind that the severity must be the same for
all message languages within the same message_id.
When you want to log the event when an error is raised, set the value
of this column equal to1. Like severity, this column must be the same
for all message languages within the same message_id.
text: This column stores the text of the message. This text is written in the language indicated by the language_id property.
level of an error indicates how critical the impact of this error is on
the execution of your operation. The level indicated also helps you
understand the scope of the problem. The severity levels for SQL Server
range from information message to system and server level problems and
are distributed into four major groups:
Information Messages (Levels 1–10): Errors
in this group are purely informational and are not severe. Status
information or error reports are returned with a specific error code.
SQL Server doesn’t use levels 1–9: these levels are available for
User Errors (Levels 11–16):
Errors in this group are quite simple and can be corrected by you or
the user. They don’t impact service or terminate connection with the
Software Errors (Levels 17–19):
Errors in this group are severe and require system administrator
attention as well as yours. They are related to problems in the
Database Engine service and can’t be solved by users.
System Errors (Levels 20–25):
Errors in this group are critical since they indicate system problems.
They are fatal errors that force the end of the statement or batch in
the Database Engine. Errors in this group record information about what
occurred and then terminates. You must be aware that these errors can
close the application connection to the instance of SQL Server. Error
messages in this severity level group are written to the error log.
levels are important not only to help you diagnosis the impact of a
problem but also to help you to organize and manage user-defined errors
according to database needs.
Scenarios of Use
handling provides efficient ways of controlling flow and debugging
code, making the execution of operations more predictable and providing
proactive solutions. For example, you can handle an error that arises
from a transaction deadlock by returning a message and logging the
error in a table of your database for posterior analysis. Also, you can
debug a long string of transaction code without the application being
available by programming the code to raise errors and show the line and
statement where the code fails. Another advantage of handling errors
inside SQL Server is that you reduce the application’s workload by
distributing it among servers, thereby letting developers focus on
business requirements instead of SQL Server commands and transactions.
addition to system errors, you can also create and handle user-defined
errors to customize and standardize the return of procedures,
functions, and other programmable objects in your database. This gives
you a centralized, organized, and effective way to attend to business
requirements. For example, you can create a customized error message
about the failure of a business validation. After the message is
created, you can raise the error whenever you want. Also, when you make
changes to the error, your modifications are applied to all codes that
call it. Another great advantage of user-defined errors inside SQL
Server is that they are independent from the programming language of
your application. If you have an application that was
developed with language A and you decide to develop a new one using
language B, you won’t need to recreate new error messages. Because the
messages are stored inside SQL Server, they are available to both
applications. You can further enhance this scenario by creating a
library of user-defined errors that are shared among multiple SQL
Server databases in the same environment, providing efficient
management across multiple applications.