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Table changes not automatically reflected in a SQL Server View

MSSQLTips author Armando Prato By:   |   Read Comments (5)   |   Related Tips: More > Views

I recently added a column to one of my core system tables referenced by a reporting view. When I run the view, the added column is not appearing in my result set! What can I do?

When a view is created in SQL Server, metadata for the referenced table columns (column name and ordinal position) is persisted in the database. Any change to the referenced base table(s) (column re-ordering, new column addition, etc) will not be reflected in the view until the view is either:

  • Altered with an ALTER VIEW statement
  • Recreated with DROP VIEW/CREATE VIEW statements
  • Refreshed using system stored procedure sp_refreshview

    The following example creates a table and an associated view

    create table dbo.Customer
    customer_id int identity(1,1) not null primary key,
    firstname nvarchar(40) not null,
    lastname nvarchar(40) not null,
    birthdate datetime null

    insert into dbo.Customer (firstname, lastname, birthdate)
    select 'George', 'Washington', '1950-07-01'

    insert into dbo.Customer (firstname, lastname, birthdate)
    select 'James', 'Madison', '1948-11-09'

    insert into dbo.Customer (firstname, lastname, birthdate)
    select 'Alexander', 'Hamilton', '1970-03-02'

    create view dbo.v_Customer
    select * from dbo.Customer

    Running the view using select * from dbo.v_Customer, we see the following output:

    A new business requirement has now been identified; we need to add a last order date to keep track of the last time this customer ordered stock from our warehouse:

    alter table dbo.Customer
    add last_order_date datetime null
    exec sp_help [dbo.Customer]

    As we can see, the last_order_date has been added to the table.  However, running our view again we get the same output as before the column change!

    This occurs because the view's metadata information about the table needs to be updated; it's not maintained automatically. This can be corrected using one of the methods mentioned at the beginning of this tip. My preference is to use sp_refreshview since I don't have to hunt down the view and issue a DROP VIEW/CREATE VIEW and re-grant permissions or issue an ALTER VIEW statement:

    exec sp_refreshview [dbo.v_customer]
    select * from dbo.v_customer

    As you can see, the view now returns all columns including the newly added one.

    I find that this can always be avoided by not issuing "SELECT *" in your view definitions. By explicitly defining a column list, you're forced to change any views that reference tables that may require a change. Another approach is to issue your CREATE VIEW statements with a SCHEMABINDING option. Views defined with this option do not allow SELECT * syntax (you'll receive an error if you try) and forces you to enter an explicit column list. This way, you can prevent a less experienced developer from changing a view to use this syntax

    If you're curious about how your view metadata is being stored, you can take a peek at the INFORMATION_SCHEMA.COLUMNS view (view column information is kept there as well as table column information).

    Next Steps

    • Examine your views and consider changing SELECT * syntax to explicit column lists, if possible
    • Read more about sp_refreshview in greater detail in the SQL Server 2000 and 2005 Books Online
    • Read more about SCHEMABINDING option in greater detail in the SQL Server 2000 and 2005 Books Online
    • Read more about INFORMATION_SCHEMA.COLUMNS view in greater detail in the SQL Server 2000 and 2005 Books Online

  • Last Update: 2/5/2008

    About the author
    MSSQLTips author Armando Prato
    Armando Prato has close to 30 years of industry experience and has been working with SQL Server since version 6.5.

    View all my tips

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    Thursday, February 05, 2015 - 12:14:49 PM - Dave Gugg Read The Tip

    This helped me refresh a view so the full field would come into Access as a linked table.

    Thank you

    Tuesday, September 02, 2014 - 8:42:59 AM - Kos Read The Tip

    Thanks a lot Armando!

    Thursday, January 23, 2014 - 7:48:12 AM - BlackPig Read The Tip

    There is the same problem with table valued functions and: EXEC sp_refreshsqlmodule [dbo.function_name] that does the trick :)

    Monday, October 21, 2013 - 4:43:03 AM - Andrew Read The Tip

    Thanks this was very helpful!

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - 2:11:36 AM - sakthivel Read The Tip

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