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Date Field Max Length Issues Importing Flat File


I'm importing a .csv file into SQL Server 2008.  I did a "staging" import setting all fields to varchar(255) to see what data they contained.  Next I ran an SSIS Data Profiling Task (thanks Barry) and got the Column Length Distribution profile.  

The max length on most of the date fields is 21 (as expected because the data has double-quote text qualifiers around all of the values); however, some of the date fields have a max length greater than 21.  

When I look for records where the maximum length exceeds 21 I get results but I don't see what I would expect in the actual data (additional characters).

For instance, if I run this:
select top 100 * from MyTable where len(rtrim(ltrim(MY_DATE1)))='28'

Open in new window

I get results like:
"1986-09-14 00:00:00"

which looks like 21 characters to me.  

I think I'm missing some foundational concept here.  :)  

Can anyone help me out?  

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2 Solutions
Jim HornMicrosoft SQL Server Developer, Architect, and AuthorCommented:
<wild guess + shameless plug>

There are likely characters that are not visible there. I'd download a trial of Ultra Edit, which is one of the many super-dooper text editors on the market.   Then open a file in UltraEdit, copy-paste these values in it, and hit Ctrl-H to go into Hex mode and eyeball the hex value of these characters.

Invaluable when dealing with the output of mainframes that will include characters other than what you intend.

Good luck.
ttist25Author Commented:
Thanks as always Jim.  

I did what you recommended and saw nothing unusual in the hex values.  This caused me to look more closely at what I was doing and I realized the date value I was looking at was for another (very similarly named) date field.  

DOH.  Smack.  

I'm awarding points for pointing me to a new tool which I'm sure I will use in the future.

Jim HornMicrosoft SQL Server Developer, Architect, and AuthorCommented:
Better you discover it with us then with your co-workers.  Good luck.  -Jim
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