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March 4, 2019

Groovy Goodness: Use Expanded Variables in SQL GString Query

Working with SQL database from Groovy code is very easy using the groovy.sql.Sql class. The class has several methods to execute a SQL query, but we have to take special care if we use methods from Sql that take a GString argument. Groovy will extract all variable expressions and use them as values for placeholders in a PreparedStatement constructed from the SQL query. If we have variable expressions that should not be extracted as parameters for a PreparedStatement we must use the Sql.expand method. This method will make the variable expression a groovy.sql.ExpandedVariable object. This object is not used as parameter for a PreparedStatement query, but the value is evaluated as GString variable expression.

In the following sample we have a class that invokes several methods of an Sql object with a GString query value. We can see when to use Sql.expand and when it is not needed:

package mrhaki

import groovy.sql.*

class SampleDAO {
    private static final String TABLE_NAME = 'sample'
    private static final String COLUMN_ID = 'id'
    private static final String COLUMN_NAME = 'name'
    private static final String COLUMN_DESCRIPTION = 'description'

    private final Sql sql = 
            'jdbc:h2:test', 'sa', 'sa', 'org.h2.Driver')

    Long create() {
        // We need to use Sql.expand() in our GString query.
        // If we don't use it the GString variable expressions are interpreted 
        // as a placeholder in a SQL prepared statement, but we don't
        // that here.
        final query = 

        final insertedKeys = sql.executeInsert(query)
        return insertedKeys[0][0]

    void updateDescription(final Long id, final String description) {
        // In the following GString SQL we need
        // Sql.expand(), because we use executeUpdate
        // with only the GString argument.
        // Groovy will extract all variable expressions and
        // use them as the placeholders
        // for the SQL prepared statement.
        // So to make sure only description and id are 
        // placeholders for the prepared statement we use
        // Sql.expand() for the other variables.
        final query = 
            UPDATE ${Sql.expand(TABLE_NAME)} 
            SET ${Sql.expand(COLUMN_DESCRIPTION)} = ${description}
            WHERE ${Sql.expand(COLUMN_ID)} = ${id}

    void updateName(final Long id, final String name) {
        // In the following GString SQL we don't need
        // Sql.expand(), because we use the executeUpdate
        // method with GString argument AND argument
        // with values for the placeholders.
        final query = 
            UPDATE ${TABLE_NAME} 
            SET ${COLUMN_NAME} = :nameValue
            WHERE ${COLUMN_ID} = :idValue
        sql.executeUpdate(query, nameValue: name, idValue: id)

Written with Groovy 2.5.4.