JSON In SQL Server

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Finally in SQL Server 2016, Microsoft SQL Server now supports JSON serialization. It provides it through the FOR clause… like XML serialization. This will take a recordset and output it in JSON format with very little effort by the coder.

As you can see. To get the output to come in JSON format, all you need to do is add FOR JSON PATH at the end of your query. Simple right? Here is what the results would look like.

Parsing A Delimited String In SQL Server

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At some point in your life, you’ve probably had to parse a string inside SQL Server. Maybe you had a comma delimited string and you need the data inside a table. So, you go to stackoverflow and find some stored procedure that someone made that you don’t understand. It works, but yuck. Well… those days are over! In SQL 20016 they introduced a new table-valued function called STRING_SPLIT. This makes is very easy to parse a comma delimited string in SQL Server.

 
STRING_SPLIT Basics
The STRING_SPLIT function is really easy to use. It basically just takes 2 parameters. The first parameter is the string that you want to parse. The second parameter is the delimiter for parsing on.

The STRING_SPLIT function will always return a one column result set with a column named value.

Here’s an example of how to use it:

value
Dog
Cat
Bird
Walrus

 
If your input string has spaces by the delimiter, you just need to trim the value that you get from the function. Here’s an example of trimming the spaces and also parsing on a pipe character:

 
 
Source: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sql/t-sql/functions/string-split-transact-sql

Compressing Data In SQL Server

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In SQL Server 2016 they added a sweet new featured to allow you to compress input strings and binaries. The new COMPRESS function allows the field or literal value passed in to the function to be compressed in GZip format.

 
COMPRESS
The COMPRESS function will take in an input and compress it using a GZip compression. The output from the function is a VARBINARY datatype. You can display that in a SQL Server Management window or store it in a table with a VARBINARY(MAX) field. To use the COMPRESS function, you need to pass in either VARCHAR, BINARY, VARBINARY, or CHAR datatypes.

 
How To Use The COMPRESS Function
For this example, I’m going to put the data in to a table variable. If you have a permanent table structure, you can use that instead.

If you’re looking to compress some data just inside SQL Server Management Studio, you can just do this:

 
 
How To Decompress Your Data

So now that you’ve compressed data, how to do you decompress it? As you guessed, SQL Server also added a DECOMPRESS function. It’s just as simple as the COMPRESS function, just with one little twist. The DECOMPRESS function only returns the datatype VARBINARY(MAX). You will have to cast it in to whatever you want. Here’s an example using the same script as we used above:

You can see above that I just wrapped the DECOMPRESS function with a CAST function. It’s that simple to get it in the format that you want.

 
Something To Keep In Mind: Compressed data can’t be indexed! Sorry!

Something Else To Keep In Mind: If the goal is to compress all the data in a row/table/data page/or index, SQL Server (as of 2016) now supports this using a different built-in method. So you don’t have to do it all manually.

SQL Server LIKE With Percent Literal

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The LIKE operator in SQL Server is a really powerful tool. It allows you to specify a pattern to match records in your where clause. You can use the % (percent) as a wildcard value. For example: ‘monk%’ will match ‘monkey’ and ‘monkeys’. But what if you want to match the words ‘60% off sale’ and ‘60% off sales’… you can’t just put ‘60% off sale%’… you need to escape the first %. SQL Server gives us two different ways to escape a special character.

 
SQL Server LIKE – Exact Single Character

The first way that you can do this is by specifying a specific single character in your pattern. This is done by wrapping the single character in [ ]. The character that you put inside the brackets will tell the system that that character must be found exactly as appears.

 
SQL Server LIKE – Escape Character (read at the bottom of this post to find out what an escape character is)

The second way that you can do this is by specifying an escape character. This is done by using the keyword ESCAPE after your pattern. The literal value of the wildcard character following the escape value will be used instead of the wildcard value. In the example below, we specify that ! is our ESCAPE character in our string. Then we put ! before %. That way the database will look for the literal value of % instead of using that in the wildcard pattern.

 
What Is An Escape Character

An escape character is a character that is placed before a character (or string of characters) and it tells the system to read the following character as their literal value. Many systems have reserved characters that act as codes or wildcards in their system. Using an escape character, you tell the system to not read those values as special codes or wildcards.

 
Reference: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa933232(v=sql.80).aspx

If Statement In An Update

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If you are updating multiple rows in one statement, but only want to update a value in a column if a condition is satisfied, then you need to perform some sort of if logic inside your update. Here’s a straight forward way of doing this.

In the example below, I am just going to use 2 temp table variables. I’ll update the @SourceTable with the data from the @UpdateTable… but only where the UpdateFlag field is set to 1.

 
In the example above, you can see that the AnimalName is only updated when the UpdateFlag column is set to 1. The 2nd record “Cat” is not updated with the value “Cow” because it has a 0 for the UpdateFlag. This is done using a case statement on the SET operation. The example above is very simple. This case logic in the SET operation becomes much more helpful in more complex queries.