SQL Server Nested Select

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SQL Server nested select is also known as a “sub query”. This is where instead of using a list, table, or view, you actually use another query. In this article, we will go over the basics on how to use a SQL Server nested select statement.

Basic Rules For A Nested Select
Here are a couple basic rules when using a nested select statement in SQL Server.

  • The nested select statement must be enclosed in parentheses.
  • When using an ORDER BY clause in your nested select, you must specify TOP command.
  • Many times, you will need to alias the nested select.

 
Sample Nested Select
Here is a sample where we return the basic animal information with their average weight.

In the above example, we do our normal inner join, but we join to a nested select statement. This allows you to join on the results from the nested select. You can see that the nested select statement will get the average weight of the animals by AnimalID. That whole query is inside parenthesis. Then we alias that nested select results as “W”. We can then reference the 2 return values (AnimalID and AverageWeight) outside of the nested select statement by using the table alias W.

 
 
NOTE: Remember that you will need to alias your nested select statements most of the time. This can stop you up if you aren’t looking for it.

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.