Converting / Parsing Delimited string column in SQL to Rows

By | August 13, 2010

Have you ever wondered how would you convert that SQL column which is comma delimited into Rows so that you can effectively join it with other tables or use that infomration better.  This might happen for those of you who have saved the keywords lets say of a blog application in a single column delimited with comma, or you might be using an old DotNetNuke version where the RoleIDs are in a ; delimited string saved in one column and you want to use that information in a better and easier way, or for any other reasons that you might needed.  Well here is an easy solution which you could do in one select, thanks to the XML Data Type functions.

So lets say you have a table like this

And your data is like this

And you want to generate a report like this

Keywords Count
-------- -----------
AA       3
BB       3
CC       2
DD       2
EE       1
FF       3
GG       1
HH       1
JJ       1
KK       1
MM       2
TT       1
UU       1
WW       1
XX       1

(15 row(s) affected)

First you have to select the Keywords, you can already easily view the parsed column by doing this query

WITH myCommonTblExp AS (
	SELECT CompanyID,
	CAST('<I>' + REPLACE(Keywords, ',', '</I><I>') + '</I>' AS XML) AS Keywords
	FROM Companies
SELECT CompanyID, RTRIM(LTRIM(ExtractedCompanyCode.X.value('.', 'VARCHAR(256)'))) AS Keywords
FROM myCommonTblExp
CROSS APPLY Keywords.nodes('//I') ExtractedCompanyCode(X)

now knowing that you can do that, all you have to do is to group them and count, but you cannot group XML methods so my suggestion is create a view of the query above

CREATE VIEW [dbo].[DissectedKeywords]
WITH myCommonTblExp AS (
	CAST('<I>' + REPLACE(Keywords, ',', '</I><I>') + '</I>' AS XML) AS Keywords
	FROM Companies
SELECT RTRIM(LTRIM(ExtractedCompanyCode.X.value('.', 'VARCHAR(256)'))) AS Keywords
FROM myCommonTblExp
CROSS APPLY Keywords.nodes('//I') ExtractedCompanyCode(X)

and perform your count on that view

SELECT Keywords, COUNT(*) AS KeyWordCount FROM DissectedKeywords
GROUP BY Keywords
ORDER BY Keywords

See its simple!


One thought on “Converting / Parsing Delimited string column in SQL to Rows

  1. Marios

    Hey, I was just wondering what the ExtractedCompanyCode(x) is.

    I’m trying to apply this to a description column to find the most common words.
    In my table: CompanyId=Code, Keywords=Description, Companies =Material. But I can’t understand what the ExtractedCompanyCode(x) is.

    Thank you!


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