Use the BINARY BASE64 option

Applies to: SQL Server Azure SQL Database Azure SQL Managed Instance

If the BINARY BASE64 option is specified in the query, the binary data is returned in base64 encoding format.

If the BINARY BASE64 option isn't specified in the query, then by default, AUTO mode supports URL encoding of binary data. A reference to a relative URL to the virtual root of the database is returned. This reference is to the database where the query was executed. The returned reference can be used to access the actual binary data in subsequent operations. This access is achieved by using the SQLXML ISAPI dbobject query. The query must provide enough information to identify the image. Such information might include the columns of the primary key.

Column alias

Don't use an alias for a binary column when you query a view and using the FOR XML AUTO mode. If you use an alias, the alias is returned in the URL encoding of the binary data. In subsequent operations, the alias is meaningless. The meaningless alias and the URL encoding can't be used to retrieve the image.

Cast to a BLOB

In a SELECT query, casting any column to a binary large object (BLOB) makes the column a temporary entity. Being temporary, the BLOB loses its associated table name and column name. This cast causes AUTO mode queries to generate an error, because the system doesn't know where to put this value in the XML hierarchy.

For example, consider the following table with its one row.

CREATE TABLE MyTable (Col1 int PRIMARY KEY, Col2 binary)
INSERT INTO MyTable VALUES (1, 0x7);

The following query produces an error, which is caused by the casting to a binary large object (BLOB):

CAST(Col2 as image) as Col2
FROM MyTable

The solution is to add the BINARY BASE64 option to the FOR XML clause. If you remove the casting, the query produces good results.

CAST(Col2 as image) as Col2
FROM MyTable

Expect the following good result:

<MyTable Col1="1" Col2="Bw==" />

See also

Use AUTO Mode with FOR XML