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SQL to input a flat file

Can someone show me an example of how you would write SQL to input a flat file?  is this possible?  or do you have to schedule DTS job to do this?  For example, if I wanted to received a monthly csv file with and load to a table is it easier for DTS to do this or is it possible to write SQL procedure to do this?
5 Solutions
Aneesh RetnakaranDatabase AdministratorCommented:
you can do this in three ways
1. dts
2. bulk insert
3. bcp
This site has some good examples

I use bulk insert - it is the fastest but does not allow for any transformations of data.

I use DTS.  You can call it from within  query analyzer, you can schedule the dts package as a job, or you can run it external to SQL using the DTSRUN executable.

If you invoke the DTS wizard from Sql Enterprise Manager, you can save the first import as a package so you can have it to run every month.  That saves learning how to create the dts package from the UI.

Aneesh RetnakaranDatabase AdministratorCommented:
Rfer to to the topic Using format files in Books Online for a complete
explanation of how to work with format files.

Three common formats for text data files are:

1. Tab-delimited
The records are variable length.
Data item are delimited with tabs.
Missing values are indicated by two consecutive tabs.
This is the default bcp format.

2. Fixed-width
The records are fixed length.
Data items are padded with spaces to fill out fields to the maximum width.
Missing items are indicated by all spaces.
This is a popular output format from COBOL mainframe systems.

3. Comma-separated values (csv)
The records are variable length.
Data item are delimited with commas.
Character data items are also enclosed in double quotes.
Missing values are indicated by two commas.
This is common output format from Excel.

Some examples:
(Change the path, databases, and server names as needed.)

create table maryam (a1 varchar(10), a2 varchar(10), a3 int)

1. Tab-delimited data file.
Data file maryam1.dat:
(Those should be tabs between the data items.)

mary dep1 1
john dep2 1
jim dep1 2

Format file maryam1.bcp:

1    SQLCHAR    0    10    "\t"      1     a1     "" 
2    SQLCHAR    0    10    "\t"      2     a2     "" 
3    SQLCHAR    0    12    "\r\n"    3     a3     "" 

exec master..xp_cmdshell 'pushd C:\staging\zap & bcp zap..maryam in
maryam1.dat -fmaryam1.bcp -Slindaw\mbbf -T'

2. Fixed-width data file.
Data file maryam2.dat:

mary      dep1      11
john      dep2      11
jim       dep1      22

Format file maryam2.bcp:

1    SQLCHAR    0    10    ""        1     a1     "" 
2    SQLCHAR    0    10    ""        2     a2     "" 
3    SQLCHAR    0    12    "\r\n"    3     a3     "" 

exec master..xp_cmdshell 'pushd C:\staging\zap & bcp zap..maryam in
maryam2.dat -fmaryam2.bcp -Slindaw\mbbf -T'

3. Comm-separated values data file.
Data file maryam3.dat:


Format file maryam3.bcp:

1    SQLCHAR    0    1     "\""      0     quote  ""
2    SQLCHAR    0    10    "\",\""   1     a1     "" 
3    SQLCHAR    0    10    "\","     2     a2     "" 
4    SQLCHAR    0    12    "\r\n"    3     a3     "" 

exec master..xp_cmdshell 'pushd C:\staging\zap & bcp zap..maryam in
maryam3.dat -fmaryam3.bcp -Slindaw\mbbf -T'

select * from maryam
drop table maryam

a1         a2         a3
---------- ---------- -----------
mary       dep1                 1
john       dep2                 1
jim        dep1                 2
mary       dep1                11
john       dep2                11
jim        dep1                22
mary       dep1               111
john       dep2               111
jim        dep1               222

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