How to use the SQL Server RIGHT string function with T-SQL Examples 2005, 2008, R2, 2012, 2014

SQL Server RIGHT function code

The SQL Server RIGHT string function gives us the ability to return a given number of characters from a string on its rightmost side.  For example, say we have the text ‘Bill Jones’.  We can use the RIGHT function to return ‘Jones’ without having to parse the string from the beginning.  Let’s look at some code…

RIGHT ( string , int )

The code above is the syntax of the RIGHT function.  The first parameter is a string and the second is an integer letting sql server know how many rightmost characters you want from the string in the first parameter.  Let’s go back to our initial example from above…

SELECT RIGHT ('Bill Jones', 5);

The result of this query are:


Pretty simple stuff.  To use the SQL Server RIGHT function in a more practical way we might use it with a table.  So, let’s define a table called Document and fill it with some sample filenames.  We’ll then use the RIGHT and LEFT functions to help us fill in the extension for each file.

-- create the document table
Filename VARCHAR(50),
Extension VARCHAR(10)

-- insert the demo rows into the document table
INSERT INTO Document ([Filename]) VALUES ('family.jpg');
INSERT INTO Document ([Filename]) VALUES ('lessons.docx');
INSERT INTO Document ([Filename]) VALUES ('schemas.xml');
INSERT INTO Document ([Filename]) VALUES ('');
INSERT INTO Document ([Filename]) VALUES ('');
INSERT INTO Document ([Filename]) VALUES ('secret.password');

-- get extension column size - this is a bit advanced since 
-- we are looking at the table's meta data to set our max
-- column size.  the query below works whenever you don't 
-- know the column size ahead of time and need to find it
-- dynamically.  
DECLARE @extensionColumnSize INT;
SELECT @extensionColumnSize = character_maximum_length    
    FROM information_schema.columns  
    WHERE TABLE_NAME = 'Document' AND COLUMN_NAME = 'Extension';

-- get the extension for each filename
SET @i = 1;
WHILE @i < @extensionColumnSize
   UPDATE Document
   SET [Extension] = RIGHT([Filename], @i-1) FROM Document a
   WHERE (LEFT(RIGHT([Filename], @i),1)) = '.';

   SET @i = @i + 1;

-- table extensions should be filled in now
SELECT * FROM Document;

-- clean up by dropping/deleting table
DROP TABLE Document;

The first part of the example simply creates the Document table and fills it with six rows of data.  The second part is the juicy stuff.  First we find the maximum possible length of  an extension by getting the size of the Extension column from the database meta data.  Next, we loop from 1 to Extension column size which, in this case, is 10.  Each time through the loop we get the rightmost @i letters and check to see if a period is on the leftmost part of the string.  If it is a period then we update the Extension column with the rightmost @-1 characters (we don’t save the period).

I’ll admit that the example is not very simple.  However, you could ‘simplify’ the code above  as above but replacing lines 15-35 with the following…

UPDATE Document SET [Extension] = RIGHT([Filename], CHARINDEX('.', REVERSE([Filename]))-1);

It’s actually quite funny how much less code it takes.  The good thing with that one liner is that we don’t have to loop and deal with all kinds of variables and system tables but we do have to know about CHARINDEX and REVERSE…two more sql server functions.  I’ll be discussing those in later posts.  I think the first example, while perhaps a bit contrived, does provide some code that you might be able to repurpose for your own uses.  I cheated a little as well by also using the SQL Server LEFT function but you’ll find that they can be used together quite powerfully.

The results of the running code (either method) are below.

Filename                                           Extension
-------------------------------------------------- ----------
family.jpg                                         jpg
lessons.docx                                       docx
schemas.xml                                        xml                                          ps                                     report
secret.password                                    password

So thats the SQL Server Right function and hopefully the example above will give you some ideas of your own on how to use it.

Valid for SQL Server 2005, 2008, R2, 2012, 2014

Happy coding!


How to Declare and Use the MySQL DECIMAL Data Type

How to declare and use MySQL DECIMAL

What is a MySQL DECIMAL?  Simply put, it is just a number that can have a decimal in it (2012.56 and -2013.0034 are examples).  Let’s take a look at how to declare a MySQL DECIMAL.


M is the maximum number of digits (IE precision) and has a range from 1 to 65 (Take note that versions of MySQL prior to 5.0.3 allowed the range from 1 to 254).  This is the total number of digits INCLUDING decimal digits.

D is the number of digits to the right of the decimal point (IE scale) and has a range from 0 to 30 AND cannot be larger than M.

Why use a MySQL DECIMAL?

You would generally use a decimal type when you need to store exact fractional values like money.  It doesn’t suffer from the rounding errors of other number types in MySQL.

How do you use MySQL DECIMAL?

Here is some example mysql code…

USE Testing;
CREATE TABLE WeightCalculation (WeightCalculationID INT NOT NULL, Weight DECIMAL(10,5) NOT NULL);
INSERT INTO WeightCalculation (WeightCalculationID, Weight) VALUES (1,54.3445);
INSERT INTO WeightCalculation (WeightCalculationID, Weight) VALUES (2,928.23017);
SET @a = (SELECT SUM(WEIGHT) FROM WeightCalculation);
INSERT INTO WeightCalculation (WeightCalculationID, Weight) VALUES (3,@a);
SELECT * FROM WeightCalculation;


1	54.34450
2	928.23017
3	982.57467

So let walk through this code and see what is going on.  To start, I create our Testing database if it doesn’t exist.  Then I create a table called ‘WeightCalculation’ and give it two columns ‘WeightCalculationID’ and ‘Weight’ in order to store some simple data.  Notice that column ‘Weight’ has been declare a DECIMAL of total length 10 digits and up to 5 decimal places.  Next, I insert two rows of data into the table.  Just for fun I calculate the sum of all the Weight column values and store them in a user-defined variable named @a then insert the sum into another row of the table.  Lastly, I perform a SELECT operation on the table to get it’s contents.  To clean up I drop the Testing database.

For further information check here.  Check here for more examples of precision math.

How to declare and use MySQL DECIMAL
How to declare and use MySQL DECIMAL

How to Loop using SQL Server Cursor Fetch fast_forward – 2005, 2008, R2, 2012, 2014

how to loop using sql server cursor fetch fast_forward tsql t-sql

In this post, describing how to loop using SQL Server cursor fetch fast_forward, I’m going to give an example of looping through a temporary table using a cursor and call a stored procedure for each iteration. The focus of this post is on the fast_forward cursor which is a shorthand way of saying the cursor is forward only and read only.  The fast_forward cursor type has performance optimizations enabled so this allows the speed to be about as good as possible.  The SQL Server query processing team wrote up a very technical and detailed article on how fast_forward cursors work and it can be found here.  It may come as a surprise that there are cursors that allow other actions as well.  I’ll be covering those in future posts.  On to the example…

The majority of code below is just wiring up code to run the example.  I create a stored procedure and temporary table which will be used by the cursor.  The cursor specific code is found on lines 55-83.


-- you should change this to whatever database you'd like to run
-- this example in.  I'm using AdventureWorks2008 since many folks
-- may already have it.  
USE AdventureWorks2008;

-- SAFEGUARD - check if the stored procedure exists and if so delete it
IF OBJECT_ID('[uspGiveRecommendationBasedOnFlag]') IS NOT NULL
	DROP PROCEDURE [uspGiveRecommendationBasedOnFlag];

-- create the demo stored proc.  we'll delete it when we're done.		
CREATE PROCEDURE [uspGiveRecommendationBasedOnFlag]
	@articleFlag BIT,
	@articleName NVARCHAR(50)
	-- you would do some actual work here in a real app
	IF(@articleFlag = 1)
		PRINT 'You should publish the article: ' + @articleName;
		PRINT 'You shouldn''t publish the article: ' + @articleName;

-- not familiar with the .. syntax below?  check out this blog post 
IF OBJECT_ID('tempdb..#cursorExample') IS NOT NULL
    DROP TABLE #cursorExample

-- create the temp table
CREATE TABLE #cursorExample (
	article_name NVARCHAR(100)

-- fill the temp table with sample data
INSERT INTO #cursorExample (flag, article_name)
(1,'T-SQL'), (0,'wood carving'),(1,'gardening'),
(0,'reading'),(1,'beer brewing'),(0,'gaming');

-- create the variables we'll use when inside the the loop
DECLARE @articleFlag BIT;
DECLARE @articleName NVARCHAR(100);

------------------ CURSOR SPECIFIC CODE BEGIN --------------------
-- declare the fast_forward cursor.  notice we are essentially
-- using a SELECT query to build a list to iterate through
DECLARE myCursorSample CURSOR fast_forward FOR
SELECT flag, article_name FROM #cursorExample ;

-- now we have to open the cursor and tell it to go
-- acquire (i.e. FETCH) the NEXT (i.e. first since this is the first call)
-- item in the list
OPEN myCursorSample
FETCH NEXT FROM myCursorSample INTO @articleFlag, @articleName ;

        -- DEBUG
        -- PRINT ('Before stored proc execution cursor value: ' + @articleName ) ;	

		EXEC	[uspGiveRecommendationBasedOnFlag] 
				@articleFlag = @articleFlag,
				@articleName = @articleName;

		-- get the next article from the table using the cursor
        FETCH NEXT FROM myCursorSample INTO @articleFlag, @articleName;

CLOSE myCursorSample ;
DEALLOCATE myCursorSample;

------------------ CURSOR SPECIFIC CODE END --------------------

DROP PROCEDURE [uspGiveRecommendationBasedOnFlag];

I tried to make the code as clear a possible with comments but I should point out a few things.  The SAFEGUARD comments are there only to show where I’m doing existence checks before actually performing an action on the database.  This is good practice for things like change scripts where running the same code twice shouldn’t cause errors or break something.  Second, this code is very well documented.  Although this amount of commenting is overboard for most production systems you should try to document why you’re using the cursor and perhaps your justification for doing so.  This should help minimize improper use of cursors in the codebase.  Lastly, while this example stored proc call isn’t doing anything a set based query couldn’t, you can imagine cases where based on values in a table you might have to carry out significant business logic actions which are not conducive to set based operations.

The results of the code execution are below.

(9 row(s) affected)
You should publish the article: cooking
You should publish the article: crafts
You shouldn't publish the article: flying
You should publish the article: T-SQL
You shouldn't publish the article: wood carving
You should publish the article: gardening
You shouldn't publish the article: reading
You should publish the article: beer brewing
You shouldn't publish the article: gaming

Valid for SQL Server 2005, 2008, R2, 2012, 2014.

how to loop using sql server cursor fetch fast_forward tsql t-sql
how to loop using sql server cursor fetch fast_forward tsql t-sql