Using iSQL to connect to Sybase Databases via the Command Line

In most instances you will be using a User Interface of one sort or another to execute Transact-SQL commands against your Sybase Database Servers. In rare occasions however I find that I execute commands through the dos prompt via the Interactive SQL Utility or iSQL as it is more commonly referred.

Opening a Connection

BCP and iSQL both use the same parameter flags when specifying the database server and user credentials for connecting to a server.

  • Server Flag -S You can specify the Database Server you are accessing by use of the -S flag followed by the Server. (e.g. -S SYBABC )
  • User Flag -U If you are not using credentials outlined in your .ini file then you can specify the User you would like to use for authentication using the -U flag followed by the user name. (e.g. -U guest)
  • Password Flag -P If no password is supplied then a prompt will occur to input it. You can use the -P flag to specify the password to use to bypass the prompt. (e.g. -P test123)

Using these variables you would connect to the Sybase Database Server with the following command.

isql -S server -U userName -P password

Issuing Transact-SQL Commands

A successful connection will present you with the > carat letting you know you can now enter your T-SQL commands. To do so you simply type the command line by line and when finished type the GO command to issue the SQL.

> USE db2
> GO
> FROM books b
> WHERE b.pub_date >= '09/01/2009'
> GO

Understanding the output from iSQL

iSQL will output the results of the command to standard output. However you have the option of formatting the output to your own preferences.

  • Headers Flag -h to modify the number of lines between the column headers and the data rows use the -h flag followed by the number of desired lines.
  • Column Seperator -s by default a space is used to separate the columns in a row you can use the -s flag to change this to your desired delimiter.
  • Column Width -w by default the output is limited to 80 characters per line use the -w flag to modify this to the length you want.

Interactive SQL is a useful tool when you need to quickly execute commands against your database. For that reason alone it is worth knowing about the utility, but in most cases you will find yourself using other UI based applications to issue commands against your Sybase Server.


// DOS // T-SQL //

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