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How To Create A SQL Server Function To "join" Multiple Rows From A Subquery Into A Single Delimited Field?

- 1 answer

To illustrate, assume that I have two tables as follows:

VehicleID Name
1         Chuck
2         Larry

LocationID VehicleID City
1          1         New York
2          1         Seattle
3          1         Vancouver
4          2         Los Angeles
5          2         Houston

I want to write a query to return the following results:

VehicleID Name    Locations
1         Chuck   New York, Seattle, Vancouver
2         Larry   Los Angeles, Houston

I know that this can be done using server side cursors, ie:

DECLARE @VehicleID int
DECLARE @VehicleName varchar(100)
DECLARE @LocationCity varchar(100)
DECLARE @Locations varchar(4000)
DECLARE @Results TABLE
(
  VehicleID int
  Name varchar(100)
  Locations varchar(4000)
)

DECLARE VehiclesCursor CURSOR FOR
SELECT
  [VehicleID]
, [Name]
FROM [Vehicles]

OPEN VehiclesCursor

FETCH NEXT FROM VehiclesCursor INTO
  @VehicleID
, @VehicleName
WHILE @@FETCH_STATUS = 0
BEGIN

  SET @Locations = ''

  DECLARE LocationsCursor CURSOR FOR
  SELECT
    [City]
  FROM [Locations]
  WHERE [VehicleID] = @VehicleID

  OPEN LocationsCursor

  FETCH NEXT FROM LocationsCursor INTO
    @LocationCity
  WHILE @@FETCH_STATUS = 0
  BEGIN
    SET @Locations = @Locations + @LocationCity

    FETCH NEXT FROM LocationsCursor INTO
      @LocationCity
  END
  CLOSE LocationsCursor
  DEALLOCATE LocationsCursor

  INSERT INTO @Results (VehicleID, Name, Locations) SELECT @VehicleID, @Name, @Locations

END     
CLOSE VehiclesCursor
DEALLOCATE VehiclesCursor

SELECT * FROM @Results

However, as you can see, this requires a great deal of code. What I would like is a generic function that would allow me to do something like this:

SELECT VehicleID
     , Name
     , JOIN(SELECT City FROM Locations WHERE VehicleID = Vehicles.VehicleID, ', ') AS Locations
FROM Vehicles

Is this possible? Or something similar?

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Answer

If you're using SQL Server 2005, you could use the FOR XML PATH command.

SELECT [VehicleID]
     , [Name]
     , (STUFF((SELECT CAST(', ' + [City] AS VARCHAR(MAX)) 
         FROM [Location] 
         WHERE (VehicleID = Vehicle.VehicleID) 
         FOR XML PATH ('')), 1, 2, '')) AS Locations
FROM [Vehicle]

It's a lot easier than using a cursor, and seems to work fairly well.

Update

For anyone still using this method with newer versions of SQL Server, there is another way of doing it which is a bit easier and more performant using the STRING_AGG method that has been available since SQL Server 2017.

SELECT  [VehicleID]
       ,[Name]
       ,(SELECT STRING_AGG([City], ', ')
         FROM [Location]
         WHERE VehicleID = V.VehicleID) AS Locations
FROM   [Vehicle] V

This also allows a different separator to be specified as the second parameter, providing a little more flexibility over the former method.

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source: stackoverflow.com
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