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How to use SPLIT STRING in SQL Server?

How to use SPLIT STRING in SQL Server?

Learn how to effectively use the SPLIT STRING function in SQL Server to manipulate and extract data from strings.

In this article, we will explore the various aspects of using the SPLIT STRING function in SQL Server. SPLIT STRING is a powerful tool that allows you to break down a string of text into multiple values based on a specified delimiter. Understanding how to use SPLIT STRING effectively can significantly enhance your data manipulation capabilities in SQL Server.

Understanding the Basics of SPLIT STRING

SPLIT STRING is a built-in function in SQL Server that enables you to split a string into multiple values. It is particularly useful when you have a string that contains multiple values separated by a specific character or sequence of characters, such as a comma or a space. By using SPLIT STRING, you can transform this single string into a table-like structure with each value in a separate row, which can then be processed and analyzed more easily.


SPLIT STRING is a table-valued function in SQL Server that takes a string input and a delimiter as parameters. It returns a table with a single column, where each row represents a separate value extracted from the input string.

Importance of SPLIT STRING in SQL Server

The SPLIT STRING function plays a crucial role in scenarios where you need to handle string manipulation tasks efficiently. It offers a flexible and efficient way to split a string into multiple values, enabling you to perform complex queries and analysis on the resulting dataset. Whether you are working with large datasets or dealing with complex data structures, understanding how to leverage the power of SPLIT STRING can greatly enhance your SQL Server skills.

One of the key advantages of using SPLIT STRING is its ability to handle different delimiters. You are not limited to just using a single character as a delimiter; you can also specify a sequence of characters as the delimiter. This means that you can split a string based on more complex patterns, allowing for greater flexibility in your data processing tasks.

Furthermore, SPLIT STRING is highly efficient and optimized for performance. It is designed to handle large datasets with ease, ensuring that your string manipulation tasks are executed quickly and efficiently. This is particularly important when dealing with time-sensitive operations or when working with real-time data.

In addition to its efficiency, SPLIT STRING also provides a seamless integration with other SQL Server functions and features. You can easily combine SPLIT STRING with other functions, such as JOIN or GROUP BY, to perform more advanced data analysis and manipulation tasks. This allows you to unlock the full potential of your SQL Server database and extract valuable insights from your data.

Syntax and Parameters of SPLIT STRING

To use SPLIT STRING in SQL Server, you need to be familiar with its syntax and parameters. Let's break down the syntax and explore each parameter in detail.

Breaking Down the Syntax

The syntax for using SPLIT STRING is as follows:

SELECT * FROM STRING_SPLIT(input_string, delimiter)


  • input_string is the string you want to split. It can be a column, variable, or literal.
  • delimiter is the character or sequence of characters that separates each value in the input string.

When using SPLIT STRING, it's important to understand the intricacies of its syntax. By providing the input_string and delimiter parameters, you can effectively split a string into multiple values, allowing for more efficient data manipulation and analysis.

Now, let's dive deeper into each parameter and explore their functionalities.

Exploring the Parameters

Let's take a closer look at the two parameters of SPLIT STRING.

The input_string parameter represents the string you want to split. It can be any valid expression that results in a character or binary string. This parameter is mandatory, and it must not be NULL.

By specifying the input_string, you can choose the specific string you wish to split. This allows for flexibility in your SQL queries, as you can split strings from columns, variables, or even literal values. It's important to note that the input_string should not be NULL, as it is a mandatory parameter for the SPLIT STRING function.

The delimiter parameter specifies the character or sequence of characters that acts as the delimiter for splitting the input string. It can be a string literal or a column or variable of a string data type. This parameter is also mandatory, and it must not be NULL. The delimiter is case-sensitive, so make sure to choose the correct case for accurate splitting.

By defining the delimiter, you determine the character or sequence of characters that will be used to separate each value within the input string. This allows for precise control over the splitting process, ensuring that the desired values are extracted. It's important to remember that the delimiter parameter cannot be NULL and is case-sensitive, so choose the appropriate delimiter to achieve accurate results.

Understanding the syntax and parameters of SPLIT STRING is essential for effectively utilizing this function in SQL Server. By grasping the intricacies of the syntax and exploring each parameter in detail, you can confidently incorporate SPLIT STRING into your SQL queries, enhancing your data manipulation capabilities.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using SPLIT STRING

Now that we have a good understanding of the basics of SPLIT STRING, let's walk through a step-by-step guide on how to use it effectively in SQL Server.

Preparing Your SQL Server

Before you can start using SPLIT STRING, ensure that you are working on a SQL Server version that supports this function. SPLIT STRING was introduced in SQL Server 2016 and is available in all subsequent versions.

Once you have confirmed that your SQL Server version supports SPLIT STRING, create a sample table or use an existing table to demonstrate the functionality. Make sure your table has a column that contains the strings you want to split.

Writing Your First SPLIT STRING Query

Now that you have everything set up, it's time to write your first SPLIT STRING query. Start by selecting the column that contains the string you want to split and apply the SPLIT STRING function to it.

Here's an example:

SELECT value FROM STRING_SPLIT('Apple,Orange,Banana', ',')

This query will return the values 'Apple', 'Orange', and 'Banana' as separate rows.

You can also use a column or variable as the input string:

DECLARE @inputString VARCHAR(50) = 'Hello,World'SELECT value FROM STRING_SPLIT(@inputString, ',')

This query will split the value stored in the variable @inputString, resulting in the rows 'Hello' and 'World'.

Common Errors and Troubleshooting

Although SPLIT STRING is a straightforward function, there are certain common errors that you may encounter while using it. Let's identify some of these errors and explore effective troubleshooting tips to resolve them.

Identifying Common Errors

One common error when using SPLIT STRING is passing a NULL value as the input string or the delimiter parameter. Make sure to check your inputs and ensure they are not NULL to avoid unexpected results.

Another error to watch out for is using an incorrect delimiter. If the delimiter you provide does not exist in the input string, SPLIT STRING will not split the string and return the input string as a whole.

Effective Troubleshooting Tips

To troubleshoot common errors with SPLIT STRING, start by double-checking your inputs and ensuring they are valid. Verify that the input string and the delimiter parameter are not NULL and match the expected data types.

If you are still encountering issues, try running your query step-by-step, checking the results at each stage. This can help you pinpoint the exact location of the error and identify any unexpected behaviors.

Optimizing Your Use of SPLIT STRING

To make the most out of SPLIT STRING, it's essential to optimize its usage and follow best practices. Let's explore some key recommendations for using SPLIT STRING effectively.

Best Practices for Using SPLIT STRING

  1. Ensure that the input string and delimiter parameters are of the correct data types and match your requirements. Using incorrect data types can lead to unexpected results or errors.
  2. Consider the performance implications of using SPLIT STRING, especially when dealing with large datasets. Splitting a string can be resource-intensive, so use it judiciously.
  3. Validate the input string and delimiter to avoid errors. Check for NULL values, trailing spaces, or any other inconsistencies that may affect the splitting process.

Advanced Techniques for SPLIT STRING

In addition to the basic usage of SPLIT STRING, there are advanced techniques you can explore to expand your data manipulation capabilities.

One such technique is combining SPLIT STRING with other functions, such as JOIN or APPLY, to perform more complex operations on the resulting dataset. This allows you to join the values from the split string with other tables or apply additional calculations or filters.

Another advanced technique is handling duplicate values. By default, SPLIT STRING will return each value from the split string as a separate row, even if there are duplicates. You can use DISTINCT to remove duplicates and get a unique list of values.

By mastering these advanced techniques, you can unlock the full potential of SPLIT STRING and tackle even the most complex string manipulation tasks in SQL Server.

Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of how to use SPLIT STRING in SQL Server, you can leverage this powerful function to enhance your data manipulation capabilities. Remember to follow best practices, optimize your usage, and explore advanced techniques to make the most out of SPLIT STRING in your SQL Server queries.

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