Keeping Handler Code In-line or on a Stage

When creating a user-defined function (UDF) or stored procedure with SQL, you can specify whether the handler code is in-line with the SQL that creates it or external to the SQL, such as in a file on a stage. This topic describes the difference.

Practical Differences

In-line Handler Advantages

It is usually easier to implement. After using your development tools to verify that your code works as it should, you can deploy it by copying it into the SQL statement you execute to create the function or procedure. You can maintain the code there, updating it with a SQL statement (such as with ALTER FUNCTION or ALTER PROCEDURE) without having to maintain the code elsewhere.

Staged Handler Advantages

When using a staged handler, you:

  • Can use previously compiled code, such as when you already have compiled output but don’t have the source.

  • Can use handler code that might be too large to paste into the SQL statement with which you create the function or procedure. In-line code has an upper limit on the source code size.

  • Can reuse handler code from multiple functions or procedures. Staged code can contain multiple handler functions in which each function can be used by a different UDF or procedure. As you create multiple UDFs or procedures, they can each specify the same handler file, but specify a different handler function implemented in that file.

    In contrast, the handler for in-line functions or procedures typically contain only one callable function. That callable function can call other functions, and those other functions can be defined in the same code file or in another staged code file.

  • Might find it more convenient to use existing testing and debugging tools to do most of the development work. This is particularly true if the code is large or complex.

Using an In-line Handler

When you’re using an in-line handler, you include the handler source code in the AS clause of the SQL statement creating the function or procedure. For example, you would include the handler code in the AS clause of the CREATE FUNCTION or CREATE PROCEDURE statement itself.

Inside the AS clause, you surround the code with single quotes or a pair of dollar signs ($$). Using the double dollar signs might be easier, such as when the source code contains embedded single quotes.

If the in-line handler source code needs to be compiled (such as with a handler written in Java or Scala), Snowflake compiles the source and stores the output (such as a JAR file) for use later. You can optionally specify a location for a resulting output file with the TARGET_PATH clause. Specifying a location can result in faster execution on repeated calls.

Snowflake manages compiled output in the following ways:

  • If the SQL statement (such as CREATE FUNCTION) uses TARGET_PATH to specify a location for the output file, Snowflake compiles the code once and keeps the compiled output for future use.

  • If the SQL statement does not specify a location for the file, Snowflake re-compiles the code for each SQL statement that calls the function or procedure. Snowflake automatically cleans up the file after the SQL statement finishes.

In-line Example with Java Handler

Code in the following example creates a MYPROC stored procedure with an in-line handler in Java. The handler is the run method of the MyJavaClass class.

  PACKAGES = ('com.snowflake:snowpark:latest')
  HANDLER = ''
    import com.snowflake.snowpark_java.*;

    public class MyJavaClass {
      public String run(Session session, String fromTable, String toTable, int count) {
        return "SUCCESS";

For CREATE PROCEDURE reference information, refer to CREATE PROCEDURE.

Using a Staged Handler

When you’re using a staged handler, you use the IMPORTS clause to reference the handler at another location, such as a stage. For example, you would specify the path to the handler with the IMPORTS clause of a SQL statement such as CREATE PROCEDURE or CREATE FUNCTION.

Staging a Handler for Use from a Function or Procedure

The following describes how to add a handler file to the environment in which your function or procedure executes.

  1. If necessary, such as with a handler written in Java or Scala, compile and package the handler code for uploading to a stage. For more information on build tools, see Packaging Handler Code.

    For a handler written in Python, you can use the handler module source.

  2. Upload the handler file to a stage as described in Making Dependencies Available to Your Code.

  3. Reference the handler file when you create the function or procedure.

    You reference the handler file in the IMPORTS clause, as described in Referencing the Dependency.

    Code in the following example creates a UDF called my_udf whose handler, MyClass.myFunction is written in Java. The code’s IMPORTS clause specifies that the handler file, called my_handler.jar, is at the stage mystage in the stage’s subdirectory handlers. At runtime, Snowflake adds the handler JAR to the classpath.

      IMPORTS = ('@mystage/handlers/my_handler.jar')
      HANDLER = 'MyClass.myFunction'

    For CREATE FUNCTION reference information, see CREATE FUNCTION.

Caveats and Best Practices

If you delete or rename the handler file, you can no longer call the function or procedure. If you need to update your handler file, then:

  • First ensure that no calls are being made to the function or procedure that uses the handler.

  • Use the PUT command to upload a new handler file. If the old handler file is still in the stage when you upload the new one, use the PUT command’s OVERWRITE=TRUE clause to overwrite the old handler file.