clean tel number

Posted on 2014-03-22
Last Modified: 2014-03-25
The tel numbers in my database may have these characters

' ', '-',' (' and ')'

So I use the below in my query to clean them.

SUBSTR(replace(replace(replace(replace(CE.NUMBER,' ',''),'-',''),'(',''),')',''), -10, 10)

Is there a faster alternative ?
Thank you
Question by:myyis
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LVL 39

Assisted Solution

by:Aaron Tomosky
Aaron Tomosky earned 250 total points
ID: 39948179
Don't think of it as cleaning a phone number, think of it as selecting all numbers or removing all non numbers

Author Comment

ID: 39948446
Thank you for the method you've posted.

Which one is faster? Yours?
LVL 27

Expert Comment

ID: 39948524
You can test them, but both methods go through the string character by character multiple times.

A simple method that goes through only once would be something like


$oldstring = "%(913) 285-4589,(812)873-8432";

for ($i=1;$i<=50;$i++)
  $char = SUBSTR($oldstring,$i,1);
  if (is_numeric($char))
    $newstring .= $char;

echo "oldstring $oldstring<br>";
echo "newstring $newstring<br>";

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Author Comment

ID: 39948528
But I need it on mysql, not php
LVL 27

Expert Comment

ID: 39948530
Ah, sorry, things are so much easier to do in php, I didn't even notice you were restricted to MySQL.  Does it HAVE to be in the query?  Is there no way you can use php for this?

Author Comment

ID: 39948537
No I have to do it on mysql
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 39948593

There isn't a way to do it in query using MySQL.  Other databases like Oracle, and SQL-Server, have built-in functions that will do this.

There's a question or two that needs to be answered to best solve this problem:

1) Is this a one-time cleanup, or an ongoing insertion of compromised data into the database.

If it's a one-time-cleanup, then I suggest running a series of update queries to clean up the database.  If it's an on-going insertion of bad data, then I strongly suggest the proper course of action is to address the root cause of the problem.  While this may encounter resistance from some parties, it ALWAYS turns into one maintenance issue after another.  Code must always be added to every query or report to deal with the trash.  This is costly, and violates one of the major best practices regarding databases and their content.

Best regards,


Author Comment

ID: 39948661
The method that I wrote in the question and the alternative of Aaron Tomosky does the job for me.

What I need to learn is which is faster, nothing more, thank you
LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:Aaron Tomosky
ID: 39948772
The proper way is to store only numbers. write a query to clean what you have and update the database. Then add code to your front end so only numbers get added. That way your output query is fast because it doesn't transform anything.

Author Comment

ID: 39948803
Thank you Aaron,
I need the format of the numbers, so I don't have chance to get rid of those symbols.

I only want to hear  which method is "theoretically"  faster.
Yours or mine?
Thank you
LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:Aaron Tomosky
ID: 39948818
Even if they are close, mine will handle any format you through at it, so it's much safer. Yours is only replacing specific characters.
LVL 26

Accepted Solution

Zberteoc earned 250 total points
ID: 39950381
Your solution is THE FASTEST by far as long you know for sure that you only have to eliminate a small number of characters, 3 in this case, and what exactly those are. The reason ia that the REPLACE is an internal function built special for this purpose and is quite efficient. When it comes to regular expression you can do more powerful things but it will be a bit slower, especially if you use xml tricks, which are actually meant for other purposes. It will work, however.

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