Author Archives: davin

Finding the Character Set For a SQL Field

The other day I was working on a project and I needed to know all of the different types of characters contained in a SQL field so that I could make a regular expression pattern that would not fail. Thus, I decided to write a stored procedure that would loop through a range of characters and test if that character is contained in a specified field in any records. From there I can get a list of all of the used characters and then more intelligently write my regular expression pattern.

This could also be handy if you are trying to cast a field and you keep getting errors because of a character that won’t cast correctly. An example would be trying to cast a varchar or char field into an int and for some reason or another one of the records has a letter in the field. Your cast will fail and it can be tricky to track down where the issue is. With this stored procedure you can quickly see what the offending character is and then query up all the records containing that character.

Example usage:

Feel free to use this if you find is useful, and leave a comment letting me know if it worked well for you.

 

Convert CSV data into a SQL table

Recently I have been working with some report data that is stored statically in a database in CSV format. I had a need to have that CSV data displayed in a tabular format. I searched around and couldn’t find anything written to do this in SQL, so I decided to write a stored procedure to do this very thing. It will take a CSV and parse it out into a SQL table. For instance if I have report data that looks like this…

It would be transformed into this …

FIRSTNAME LASTNAME DOB CHILDREN
John Smith 1/5/1980 Bob,Sally,Joe,Chris
Jane Smith 2/25/1982 Bob,Sally,Joe,Chris
Bruce Wayne 5/13/1975
Peter Parker 5/23/1970

Note that in the last column the commas are preserved because they are within the quotation mark text qualifiers. Below is the stored procedure that does this. Feel free to use it, and leave a comment if you found it useful.

 

IE6, IE7, & IE8 On My Box … At the Same Time!

IE6IE7IE8I just installed Windows 7 on my desktop machine. Today I set up XP mode … cause I can. And the first thing I did was to create two virtual machine … one running IE6 and one running IE7. So there you have it. I can now run IE6, IE7, and IE8 on one box. The image is a screenshot of my box with the proof. This will make website debugging so much easier. Although for the most part I’ve kinda let IE6 go, but at least I can know how bad it will look.

Pivoting SQL Data

So, the other day I was trying to pivot some SQL data that was basically in this format…

RECNUMBER COLNUMBER FIELDNAME FIELDVALUE
1 1 FirstName Davin
1 2 LastName Studer
2 1 FirstName Melissa
2 2 LastName Studer

I wanted to see it like this …

RECNUMBER FIRSTNAME LASTNAME
1 Davin Studer
2 Melissa Studer

It took me a while to figure out the syntax for this, but here it is. It uses the SQL pivot keyword.

This first portion dynamically creates the column names to be used in the pivot.

This next part creates a query within a string that we will run with the SQL exec command.

All that is left to do is to execute the query that was created. I ended up putting this into a stored procedure.

 

Google being evil … slightly?

So, I was looking at Google’s homepage in IE8 today and I noticed something funny. I was curious, so I decided to open up Google in the other major browsers to see if the funniness followed. Nope! Only in IE. Below are screenshots of the major browsers (save Google Chrome of course). See if you can spot the difference. I realize that Google can do whatever it wants with its one home page(even though Microsoft can’t do what it wants with its OS, but don’t get me started) and granted IE has its faults, but this seems a bit mean to me … especially since I was using IE8, which is the most standards compliant IE to date(meaning the features that they have implemented conform to industry standards). What do you think, is it “evil” to single out one competing browser in this way?
Firefox:
FF

Opera:
Opera

Safari:
Safari

IE8:
IE8

Clearing a float

I found out a cool way to clear a floated element the other day without having to use a clearing div/break or whatever your favorite method of clearing is. In fact you don’t have to add any extraneous html to achieve the clear. Give it a shot yourself. Here is the key …

The HTML

 

Chaining SQL Record Filters

So, I’ve actually been using this technique for a while, but recently on a project I have been working on I again ran into the need for it.  Many times creating an application you might find yourself with a bunch of checkboxes (or anything for that matter) that you might use to build a SQL where clause, such as …

The problem is that when you are building the where clause you have to check to see if you are on the first item.  If so, then do not add an “and”, otherwise add the “and”.  Or say you have a static SQL query that you often use and you want to quickly comment out the first item in the where clause but you don’t want to totally delete it.  You may have to do this …

I find this to be somewhat awkward to do.  If you are dynamically building a where clause it adds more code to have to decipher, or if you have a static query it adds unneeded edits.  I prefer the below method …

By adding the “1 = 1” I can simply add every piece of the where clause with the “and” in front and I don’t have check if I am on the first item or not.  Also it makes it easy to selectively comment out parts of my static query without having to do much typing as the below example shows.

For me this has been very helpful in many projects, including my current one.  Maybe somebody else will find this approach helpful as well.

Windows Live Writer and Picasa Playing Nice

Melissa and I use Picasa to sort all of our digital pictures. It’s a pretty good image cataloging program. One of the cool features that Picasa has is a button at the bottom that says “BlogThis!”. It’s pretty handy. All you have to do is select a photo or multiple photos and hit the “BlogThis!” button. It will then copy the images up to blogger and create a new post based on those images. Well, recently Melissa and I switched to using Windows Live Writer to create our blog posts. Sure, we could use Blogger’s interface, but honestly I can’t stand it, and Windows Live Writer has a pretty slick interface. Also, it will hook up to most of the major blogging engines (BloggerWordPressTypepad, etc).

Well, the only problem is that I could not find a button for Picasa that would open the images in Windows Live Writer. Bummer! So, I decided to make my own. It was a fun project. I’ve never made a Windows installer file before, so it took a bit of learning, but here is the final product. If you use Picasa and Windows Live Writer and would like to have a button in Picasa for creating blog posts in Live Writer, then click the below link. I copied the button into the Live Writer Gallery, so that everyone can create blog posts easily from Picasa.

Also, if you download this and find it useful please leave a comment on this post. It would be nice to know if people find this plugin helpful. Thanks.

Windows Live Gallery – Live Writer button for Picasa

Google Calendar

So, I’ve been working on creating a php script that pulls Google Calendar data. I couldn’t find many examples of how to do it on the web. So, after much trial and error here is what I’ve come up with. Use as you wish.

 

Get Firebug

For those of you who are web developers there is a great extension for Firefox that has just recently come out. I’ve used it for about a week, and I am in love with it … not as much as I love my wife though. It is the greatest thing for web developers since Jolt. By the way you may want to check out their site, since it has some information about the plug in that you may not realize just playing around with it at first … there are lots of features. Go get it and try it for yourself.

Firebug