August 18, 2010

When to use STUFF instead of REPLACE – SQL Server

The STUFF function in SQL Server ‘inserts’ a string into another string. It deletes a specified length of characters in the first string at the start position and then inserts the second string into the first string at the start position.

REPLACE on the other hand replaces all occurrences of a specified string value with another string value.

The STUFF function is useful when you are not sure of the characters to replace, but you do know the position of the character. I saw an excellent implementation of this function over here by GMastros and Even. Here’s the code with a practical usage of STUFF:

CREATE FUNCTION [dbo].[fn_StripCharacters]
@MatchExpression VARCHAR(255)
SET @MatchExpression = '%['+@MatchExpression+']%'

WHILE PatIndex(@MatchExpression, @String) > 0
SET @String = STUFF(@String, PatIndex(@MatchExpression,
@String), 1, '')

RETURN @String


SELECT dbo.fn_StripCharacters('a1$%s#22d&39#f4$', '^a-z')
as OnlyAlphabets



About The Author

Suprotim Agarwal, ASP.NET Architecture MVP works as an Architect Consultant and provides consultancy on how to design and develop Web applications.

Suprotim is also the founder and primary contributor to DevCurry, DotNetCurry and SQLServerCurry. He has also written an EBook 51 Recipes using jQuery with ASP.NET Controls.

Follow him on twitter @suprotimagarwal

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