Interesting Observation of CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL and CONCAT in SQL Server 2012 onwards

CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL will be always ON in the future so avoid setting it off. What this function essentially does is that when it is on it will return a null value when any other value is connected it with using + operator. If CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL is set to OFF it will return the original value instead of NULL.

Let us see a simple example of the same.

-- Before SQL Server 2012
-- SET CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL ON
SET CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL ON;
GO
SELECT 'Some Value' + NULL AS EarlierVersion;
GO
-- SET CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL OFF
SET CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL OFF;
GO
SELECT 'Some Value' + NULL AS EarlierVersion;
GO

However, in SQL Server 2012 the behavior of the ‘+’ operator remains the same but the behavior of function CONCAT is bit different and it totally ignores this value. Here is the example of it.

--- SQL Server 2012 and onwards
-- SET CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL ON
SET CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL ON;
GO
SELECT CONCAT('Some Value', NULL) AS SS2012;
GO
-- SET CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL OFF
SET CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL OFF;
GO
SELECT CONCAT('Some Value', NULL) AS SS2012;
GO

I assume this may be intentional as in future the value of CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL will be always ON. Irespectively I find it very interesting how CONCAT function works with NULLs.

 

When SET CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL is ON, concatenating a null value with a string yields a NULL result. For example, SELECT ‘abc’ + NULL yields NULL. When SET CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL is OFF, concatenating a null value with a string yields the string itself (the null value is treated as an empty string). For example, SELECT ‘abc’ + NULL yields abc.

If SET CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL is not specified, the setting of the CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL database option applies.

SET CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL must be ON when creating or altering indexed views, indexes on computed columns, filtered indexes or spatial indexes. If SET CONCAT_NULL_YIELDS_NULL is OFF, any CREATE, UPDATE, INSERT, and DELETE statements on tables with indexes on computed columns, filtered indexes, spatial indexes or indexed views will fail. For more information about required SET option settings with indexed views and indexes on computed columns, see “Considerations When You Use the SET Statements”