sql string space padding

I have a char(10) columnA with values:
George
Tom
David

problem is when I take Len(columnA) i get:
5
3
5

how to best change type or pad spaces such that Len(columnA) is always = 10?
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prequel_serverAsked:
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Jim HornMicrosoft SQL Server Data DudeCommented:
Just a thought ... why do you need len(ColumnA) = 10?  
Left or right padded spaces?

If you're doing this for an export, to guarantee ten spaces you can use ColumnA + SPACE(10 - Len(ColumnA))
prequel_serverAuthor Commented:
I have a program that only works if the length of that column is 10.
Éric MoreauSenior .Net ConsultantCommented:
you can use DataLength:

DECLARE @x CHAR(10)
SET @x = 'tom'
SELECT @x, LEN(@x), DATALENGTH(@x)

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Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
LEN(columnA + '.') - 1

The potential issue with DATALENGTH is if you ever change the data type to nchar(10), you'll get "20" as the result instead of "10".


SELECT LEN(columnA + '.') - 1
FROM (
    SELECT CAST('George' AS char(10)) AS columnA UNION ALL
    SELECT CAST('Tom' AS char(10)) AS columnA UNION ALL
    SELECT CAST('David' AS char(10)) AS columnA
) AS test_data
prequel_serverAuthor Commented:
Sorry i wasnt clear. My issue is not what len() returns its just that i want my column to be padded with trailing spaces such that it always adds up to 10 chars.

So David should be David and the 5 spaces after it
Tom would have 7 spaces after it
Jim HornMicrosoft SQL Server Data DudeCommented:
>So David should be David and the 5 spaces after it
The T-SQL I posted in the first comment does that,
Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
LEFT(columnA + SPACE(10), 10)
prequel_serverAuthor Commented:
@Scott, I test tried that but unfortunately it doesn't pass the litmus test. of:

LEN (  LEFT(columnA + SPACE(10), 10)  )

still getting various sizes based on the values in the columnA
Jim HornMicrosoft SQL Server Data DudeCommented:
>still getting various sizes based on the values in the columnA
Please give us a sample data set of ColumnA values, and what your expected results are.
Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
>>
@Scott, I test tried that but unfortunately it doesn't pass the litmus test. of:
 LEN (  LEFT(columnA + SPACE(10), 10)  )
 still getting various sizes based on the values in the columnA
<<

>> My issue is not what len() returns its just that i want my column to be padded with trailing spaces such that it always adds up to 10 chars. <<

I corrected for the LEN() issue earlier, then you said to ignore length and just output 10 chars.

It seems you want contradictory things.  The LEN() function will always ignore trailing spaces.

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prequel_serverAuthor Commented:
Sorry i didnt know that len() ignors all trailing spaces. Is there another test i use to check?
Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
My version is:

SELECT LEN(columnA + '.') - 1

putting a non-space at the end so SQL counts all characters from the column, including trailing spaces.  Adding a '.' of course changes the trailing spaces into embedded spaces, and thus they are no longer ignored.
prequel_serverAuthor Commented:
thanks but I don't want an embedded space '.' at the end of the value, I only want enough spaces to fill a 10 char field.
Len() ignores trailing spaces.
is there another length function or nested functions that can count the trailing spaces in a string?
Scott PletcherSenior DBACommented:
I'm subtracting 1 from the length to drop the '.' back out; the '.' is just being used to force a non-space character at the end of the value so that LEN() can count all the other chars.
prequel_serverAuthor Commented:
Correct but not exactly what im looking for. I guess i was looking for a test to prove that the field is in fact 10 chars in length.  I thought there would be a function that does count trailing spaces but maybe im wrong. Anyway thanks for your help.
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Microsoft SQL Server 2008

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