bcp import with a format file will convert empty strings in delimited columns to null
Use any of the three bulk-load tools that come with SQL Server: Make sure that your database does not have incorrect data.

You can also request that errors should be written to a separate file. The above file cannot be loaded with OPENROWSET(BULK), because of the field terminator. In this case FIRSTROW = 2 will not do, because the tools read field by field, and they have no understanding of what is a header. This happened exactly because of what I said above. But we have also learnt that there are file formats that are outside the realm that the bulk-load tools are designed for.

ORDER BY 1 DESC, means that we order by the first column in descending order. As far as Windows and SQL Server is concerned, UTF‑8 is just another multi-byte character set and not Unicode, and UTF‑8 files are handled as other 8-bit files. We have this data file prefixlen.txt which do not have a CR-LF at the end: To load prefixlen.txt, we use the format file prefixlen.fmt with a prefix length of 1: This results in two rows with the values This text has 33 characters in it and And here are 35 with no line breaks. The SOURCE attribute maps back to the ID attribute of the FIELD element, to permit the fields in the file to come in different order than the columns in the table.

A 32-bit number can have at most ten digits in string format.

That is, the two numeric columns are now handled as such.

The code page is accepted on SQL 2005, but the behaviour is buggy and you cannot expect UTF-8 files to be handled correctly, and this is why Microsoft opted to block UTF-8, until they had a solution. We now modify the COLUMN entries to include data type and nullability: We now get 3, 5

But if you replace the star with an explicit column list or add a WHERE clause, there are changes in the behaviour.

there is consistency.

If you attempt to use code page 65001 with BULK INSERT or OPENROWSET (BULK) on SQL 2008 to SQL 2014 SP1 or with BCP from any of these versions, you will find that this code page is explicitly blocked. But I was not able to find a way to find a way to express the byte 0x1D so that BCP or BULK INSERT would understand it. When you set a batch size, and there later is an error which causes the load tool to give up, the rows that have been committed will obviously remain in the table. * For BULK INSERT, if default values are not available, the table column must be defined to allow null values. NCharFixed, With BCP this option is ‑C and with BULK INSERT and OPENROWSET(BULK) the option is CODEPAGE. It has not been a complete survey.

Putting this altogether, we get this command line: Note: For readability reasons I have broken up this command over two lines, but recall that in the command-line window a command must be on a single line.

We have this table: And then we have the data file skipheader3.txt: Had there been no header, we would have defined the first field to have the terminator ,". Keep in mind that if the file is on a different computer, and the service account is an account local to the machine, for instance NT SERVICE\MSSQLSERVER, what counts are the permissions for the machine account, that is, DOMAIN\MACHINE$. If you have a file with some anomaly at the end, for instance a deviating footer, you could use BATCHSIZE=1 to load the file. The one thing that is different is that you leave the collation property as "", since there is no collation based on UTF‑8. Recall that skipping constraint checking and triggers is the default behaviour with BCP and BULK INSERT. Only if the field is empty, the result is NULL or any default value. But as I said, prefix length is for binary files, so as long as you work with text files, the prefix-length property should always be 0.

For the example above, it may not really seem so. The following qualifiers specify that an empty field in the data file retains its null value during the bulk-import operation, rather than inheriting a default value (if any) for the table columns. Execute the following Transact-SQL in Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS): Using Notepad, create an empty file D:\BCP\myNulls.bcp and insert the data below.

(Fairly reasonable restriction one has to say.). To be compatible with BCP, BULK INSERT and OPENROWSET (BULK) have the same default. ORDER indicates that the file is sorted according to the order you specify, which improves speed when loading into a clustered index, as SQL Server does not have to sort the data.

This is consistent with how space is converted to date/time in general, but it is inconsistent with how space is handled by bulk-load in general.

For instance: This command generates a format file for sometable where all fields but the last has a comma as the field separator.

Lower versions of the format are always accepted, so using 9.0 is a good idea. I cheated a little there.).

There are two key take-aways from this article. But this time it has to be added to the data we export and we can use queryout option to add an extra NULL column to the result set. Next comes a short chapter that looks closer at the FORMAT option added to BULK INSERT in SQL 2017 which permits you import a general CSV file painlessly. Here is the BCP command (again, recall that this needs to be a single line when you run it): This time the output file is different from the original data file, skipheader3.txt, but that is only because the adate column is a datetime column, so a time portion has been added. Many data files can be described with field and record terminators only, but not all files follow that pattern.

Then there is the third situation, the format specification agrees with the file, but the file has occasional bad data, for instance an incorrect date such as 2014-02-30.

This is how the BCP command looks like, split up over several lines to fit into the browser window: That is, to run this you need to make this one single line.

I tested two box-drawing characters, U+2503 and U+251D. In a non-Unicode file for Swedish, English, Polish or Russian each character is encoded indeed in 8 bits. Windows uses UTF‑16LE as its normal Unicode representation.

The option is.

Thus, to specify a regular Windows line-break as the field terminator, you use "\r\n". When loading UTF‑16 files without using a format file with BULK INSERT, you need to change the argument to DATAFILETYPE to be widechar. If you change the format file to say NULLABLE="NO" also for this column, the bulk-load will fail with the error The bulk load failed. We will look at this option in a later section.

The only way they can register that they have reached the end of the record is by reading the last field.

Without an explicit ORDER BY, there are no guarantees.). That is, you can only load big-endian files with BULK INSERT correctly if they have a BOM.

Put the headers in an initial dummy column which is NULL for all rows but the first.

And unless there is some other lucky circumstance, you fall down to the next section, the impossible cases. Note: if you are using BCP from SQL 2012 or later, the above BCP command produces this message: Warning: BCP import with a format file will convert empty strings in delimited columns to NULL.

The one exception is if you want to run collation-dependent queries on the file with OPENROWSET(BULK). in data.

We know that we can write a format file where we include the quotes in the field terminator. The last property in the format file is the collation which serves as a somewhat roundabout way to specify the code page for 8-bit files. Column numbers start on 1, and 0 means that the field is not to be imported. In the last record in file, the second field is also empty.

The third property in the format file, the prefix length, applies only to binary files.

Recall that COUNT over a column name ignores NULL values in that column. Here are some example commands for loading UTF‑8 files, one with BOM and one without. One distinct allure they have is that they can save you from dragging in another component like SSIS into your mix only because you need to import a handful of files.

If you thought it was a little messy to say "\",\"" in old-style format files, it does not get any better here, but you need to use XML-entities and say "","". This can be problematic, if you want a blank field in a fixed-length file to result in NULL. For regular Windows application, Windows uses an ANSI code page that fits the regional settings. There is also a bulk-load API in OLE DB, but it seems more complex to use, and it only supports import. I quickly mentioned these options earlier, and I said that you always should include them with BCP and BULK INSERT. I find this approach for fixed-length files a little cleaner.

I cannot really see the point in this warning, but just ignore it. In both these examples, the assumption is that the data should always be quoted.

Look at the file initialquote.txt: We want to load the file into the table below: The challenge is how to load the data without loading any of the quotes. If there is data to be quoted, but the headers are not, you will need to add the quotes in your query and not in the format file. Twelve? If you have a Unicode data file, you may think that you can save the XML format file as UTF‑8 or UTF‑16 and then you can specify the terminator as a single character to save you from this funny |\0 dance we saw earlier. Using bcp and Keeping Null Values without a Format File-k switch. Actually, when reading Books Online, it seems that the option is an approximate indication of the number of rows in the file and it serves as a hint to the optimizer for memory allocation. Oh no, you still need to specify the terminator byte by byte. If you log in with SQL Server authentication, SQL Server will access the file as itself, that is, the permission of service account for SQL Server will apply. I mentioned in the beginning that OPENROWSET(BULK) can work differently depending how you use it.

The line ending can be handled in multiple ways, and I will present alternatives as we move on. The reason to use one or the other is largely related to the processor architecture.

As long as you are only loading data, the code page is all that matters with the collation. BULK INSERT or OPENROWSET (BULK) also require permission on server level, ADMINISTER BULK OPERATIONS. To see this in practice, let us return to the fixed-length example in the previous section. To insert explicit values in IDENTITY columns or to skip constraint checking and firing triggers, you also need ALTER permission on the target table.

Why does bcp output null when the column contains an empty string and empty string when the column is null.

The collation property is as important as ever for string data; if you leave it empty, text will be converted to your OEM character set, which is unlikely to be what you want.

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