Category Archives: Development

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How to format SQL Server datetime as dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm:ss

If you are exporting the results of a SQL Server query to excel typically the recipient of the file wants the dates referenced in the format “dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm:ss” or “dd/mm/yyyy” not in the usual database format yyyy-mm-dd.

The below query formats the datetime as desired. Note that the letter m representing month is capitalised. If they are not the engine will interpret the lowercase letter m as minute so you will end up with days, minutes, years.

Also not that the letter h representing the hours is also capitalised. Capitalising the h makes the time output with the 24 hour format. Lowercase h will be 12 hour format. It is highly recommended not to use the lowercase h.

SELECT FORMAT(GETDATE(), 'dd/MM/yyyy HH:mm:ss', 'en-us')

If you only want the date and not time just remove the relevant text, i.e. just date dd/MM/yyyy or datetime without second dd/MM/yyyy HH:mm.

How to create a C# console application that will solve crosswords

This tutorial will cover the following tasks in C#:

  • How to count the characters in a string
  • How to assign a file’s directory location to a variable
  • How to create a list variable
  • How to pull/read a CSV file column into a list variable
  • How to clean strings using Regex to remove non alpha numeric characters as the strings are being read into a list
  • How to remove duplicate word entries from a list
  • How to order a list
  • How to write variables to the console, including a list’s elements


You already know how to create projects in Visual Studio.

If you do not how to do this search online using the following term “how to create C# console applications in visual studio”.


First you will need to generate a CSV file with random words using this site:

For the option “how many columns to generate” set the value to 1.

For testing purposes create 1000 rows.

Download the csv file generated and save it using the name “words”.

Summary of how the code works:

The code works by reducing the initial list (i.e. the supplied CSV file of random words) down to only words that match the number of characters of the user word, typically referred to as “string length”.

Once that subset of words has been created the code will then compare the user word’s letters against each letter, referencing the relative position, in each word in the subset.

Note: there is still significant room for optimization but the code is functional and works well as an accessible, human readable tutorial.

Use case example:

If the user enters the word “apple” the dictionary subset will be reduced down to 5 letter words only. These five letter words are then compared to the user word, each word and letter at a time. So if the first word in the list was “cabin” the comparison would jump to the next word in the list as the “a” in “apple” does not match the “c” in “cabin”. If the next word in the dictionary was “acorn” the first letters would match but the comparison would jump to the next word when the “c” and “p” did not match.


Create a C# console application called CrosswordSolver in Visual Studio.

Move the CSV file called “Words” into the bin directory of the project folder, i.e. CrosswordSolver\CrosswordSolver\bin

Open the project CrosswordSolver and paste the C# code below into the default window replacing the default cs page code.

The hardcoded example of a user word is:

string userWord = “a****”;

The user can use * to represent characters unknown, for example ap*le.

Note: The CSV file you randomly generated may have no examples of 5 letter words begining with the letter “a” so experiment with other characters.

You can test the letter comparison functionality by uncommenting the two sections of code immediately following the comments “Test letter comparison”.

To test your CSV file has been read into memory you can uncomment the section of code immediately following “Test that dictionary has been read into memory”.

The C# code:

using System;
using System.IO;
using System.Linq;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Text.RegularExpressions;

namespace CrosswordSolver
    class Program
        static void Main(string[] args)
            int c = 0;
            //User input
            //NOTE: Use * to represent characters unknown 
            string userWord = "a****";
            int wordLength = userWord.Length;

            //Assign directory location of the csv file containing the collection of words to a variable
            string projectFolder = Directory.GetParent(Directory.GetCurrentDirectory()).Parent.FullName;
            string file = Path.Combine(projectFolder, "words.csv");

            //Display dictionary location in console
            Console.WriteLine("Dictionary location: " + file);

            var dictionary = new List<string>();
            using (var rd = new StreamReader(file))

            //Pull file column into dictionary list without cleaning
            //    while (!rd.EndOfStream)
            //    {
            //        var splits = rd.ReadLine().Split(',');
            //        dictionary.Add(splits[0]);
            //    }

            //Pull file column into dictionary list while cleaning
                while (!rd.EndOfStream)
                    var splits = rd.ReadLine().Split(',');
                    //string clean is done with Regex
                    dictionary.Add(Regex.Replace(splits[0], "[^A-Za-z0-9 ]", ""));

            //Test that dictionary has been read into memory
            //Console.WriteLine("The dictionary contains the following words:");
            //foreach (var element in dictionary)

            //Remove duplicate word entries
            //c = dictionary.Count;
            //Console.WriteLine("The dictionary contains " + c + " words");
            dictionary = dictionary.Distinct().ToList();
            //c = dictionary.Count;
            //Console.WriteLine("The dictionary contains " + c + " words");

            // Count the elements in the List and display test parameters
            c = dictionary.Count;
            Console.WriteLine("The dictionary contains " + c + " words");
            Console.WriteLine("User entered the string: " + userWord);
            Console.WriteLine(userWord + " has " + wordLength + " characters");
            userWord = userWord.ToLower();

            //Reduce the dataset size based on number of characters in string
            IEnumerable<string> query =
                dictionary.Where(word => word.Length == wordLength);

            var subSet = new List<string>();
            foreach (var word in query)

            //Order List
            subSet = subSet.OrderBy(x => x).ToList();

            c = subSet.Count;
            if (c != 0)
                Console.WriteLine("The dictionary contains " + c + " words that are " + wordLength + " characters in length");

                //Begin character and position match check
                var result = new List<string>();
                foreach (var word in subSet)

                    for (int i = 0; i <= wordLength - 1; i++)

                        if ((word.ToLower()[i] == userWord[i]) | (userWord[i] == '*'))

                            //Test letter comparison (Letters match)
                            //"Letter " + i + ", which is " + "\"" + word[i] + "\"" + ", of the word " + "\"" + word + "\"" +
                            //" matches letter " + i + ", which is " + "\"" + userWord[i] + "\"" + ", of the user input " + "\"" + userWord + "\""

                            if (i == wordLength - 1)
                            { result.Add(word); }

                            //Test letter comparison (Letters do not match)
                            //"Letter " + i + ", which is " + "\"" + word[i] + "\"" + ", of the word " + "\"" + word + "\"" +
                            //" does not match letter " + i + ", which is " + "\"" + userWord[i] + "\"" + ", of the user input " + "\"" + userWord + "\""


                //Test words that do not match
                //foreach (var word in subSetToRemove)

                bool isEmpty = !result.Any();
                if (isEmpty)
                    Console.WriteLine("No matches found");
                    c = result.Count();
                    Console.WriteLine("Potential matches found: " + c);
                    foreach (var word in result)
                Console.WriteLine("No words of " + wordLength + " characters long found");


If you found this code useful be sure to like the post and comment. ☮

If you would like to know how to create a csv file with C# see this tutorial link.

If you would like to know how to create a console application in Visual Studio that won’t open a command window when it runs see this tutorial link.


How to create a job that will test whether SQL Server database mail is working

The following script will create a job that will run every minute to test if database mail can be sent from a job scheduled to run by the Sql Server Agent.

Simply find and replace the email address below with the email address you want to target:

Then run the script.

The operator ‘Test Operator’ and job ‘MailTest’ will be created.

The job is disabled by default, enable it to begin testing.

When you are finished run the commented out section at the bottom of the script to remove the test operator and job.

If you have just setup database mail for the first time the SQL Server Agent will need to be restarted.


USE msdb;

EXEC dbo.sp_add_operator @name = N'Test Operator'
	,@enabled = 1
	,@email_address = N''

USE [msdb]



SELECT @ReturnCode = 0

/****** Object:  JobCategory [[Uncategorized (Local)]]    Script Date: 31/07/2019 11:35:43 ******/
		FROM msdb.dbo.syscategories
		WHERE NAME = N'[Uncategorized (Local)]'
			AND category_class = 1
	EXEC @ReturnCode = msdb.dbo.sp_add_category @class = N'JOB'
		,@type = N'LOCAL'
		,@name = N'[Uncategorized (Local)]'

	IF (
			@@ERROR <> 0
			OR @ReturnCode <> 0
		GOTO QuitWithRollback


EXEC @ReturnCode = msdb.dbo.sp_add_job @job_name = N'MailTest'
	,@enabled = 0
	,@notify_level_eventlog = 0
	,@notify_level_email = 3
	,@notify_level_netsend = 0
	,@notify_level_page = 0
	,@delete_level = 0
	,@description = N'No description available.'
	,@category_name = N'[Uncategorized (Local)]'
	,@owner_login_name = N'sa'
	,@notify_email_operator_name = N'Test Operator'
	,@job_id = @jobId OUTPUT

IF (
		@@ERROR <> 0
		OR @ReturnCode <> 0
	GOTO QuitWithRollback

/****** Object:  Step [Step 1]    Script Date: 31/07/2019 11:35:44 ******/
EXEC @ReturnCode = msdb.dbo.sp_add_jobstep @job_id = @jobId
	,@step_name = N'Step 1'
	,@step_id = 1
	,@cmdexec_success_code = 0
	,@on_success_action = 1
	,@on_success_step_id = 0
	,@on_fail_action = 2
	,@on_fail_step_id = 0
	,@retry_attempts = 0
	,@retry_interval = 0
	,@os_run_priority = 0
	,@subsystem = N'TSQL'
	,@command = N'SELECT 1'
	,@database_name = N'master'
	,@flags = 0

IF (
		@@ERROR <> 0
		OR @ReturnCode <> 0
	GOTO QuitWithRollback

EXEC @ReturnCode = msdb.dbo.sp_update_job @job_id = @jobId
	,@start_step_id = 1

IF (
		@@ERROR <> 0
		OR @ReturnCode <> 0
	GOTO QuitWithRollback

EXEC @ReturnCode = msdb.dbo.sp_add_jobschedule @job_id = @jobId
	,@name = N'Job Schedule'
	,@enabled = 1
	,@freq_type = 4
	,@freq_interval = 1
	,@freq_subday_type = 4
	,@freq_subday_interval = 1
	,@freq_relative_interval = 0
	,@freq_recurrence_factor = 0
	,@active_start_date = 20190731
	,@active_end_date = 99991231
	,@active_start_time = 0
	,@active_end_time = 235959
	,@schedule_uid = N'f0741db6-488e-44da-8f5e-a3f0ed13835e'

IF (
		@@ERROR <> 0
		OR @ReturnCode <> 0
	GOTO QuitWithRollback

EXEC @ReturnCode = msdb.dbo.sp_add_jobserver @job_id = @jobId
	,@server_name = N'(local)'

IF (
		@@ERROR <> 0
		OR @ReturnCode <> 0
	GOTO QuitWithRollback


GOTO EndSave




USE msdb;

EXEC sp_delete_operator @name = 'Test Operator';

EXEC sp_delete_job @job_name = N'MailTest';



How to handle a Database creation request

If you are working as a DBA you may find that developers will ask you to create a database having given little thought to what the database will be used for or the impact the database could have to the resources or security of the hosting environment.

If you find yourself in that situation I would suggest you walk the requester through the questionnaire from the previous article “How to determine where a new database should be deployed“.

Once you have completed that process I would then suggest that an official request to deploy a new database be made using the DATABASE REQUEST FORM provided here link. If you have a change request process I would still suggest you use this form. Having a database specific request form covers more relevant and vital information.

This is a fairly high level request form with most of the technical details still to be defined by the DBA but it provides documentation of the request and states the requester’s initial expectations and requirements.

Following the database deployment if the actual footprint of the database does not match up with what was agreed the form will confirm if the requested resources were under specced or misleading.

The form is outlined as below.


Some important points the form clarifies:

There’s a difference between requester and owner. If the database runs into any problems you don’t want to be contacting the temporary intern that requested it instead of say the department head.

The application the database supports. Most of the time the database name will have some tie-in to the application name but maybe it does not. For instance the database could be named something generic like Reporting which could be the back end for really anything.

The form asks the requester to prepare a profile for the database. I could have named this section “who is your daddy and what does he do?”. If the requester states they are looking for a OLAP reporting database but operationally it’s running as a OLTP transactional database, that could make a big difference in terms of the resources provided for the database and underlying hardware.

Possibly most importantly the form helps to establish the likely impact of the new database with the Resource Impact Estimation section. For example if a requester asks for 10 Gb of space and states they expect space usage to increase by 5 Gb a year but the disk has lost a terabyte in the first few months the form will clarify who got their numbers wrong.

The user and groups section will clarify who should have access to the database. Effectively everything related to data and data access should be okayed by a compliance officer to confirm everything is GDPR compliant. This form will assist the compliance officer in establishing that.

The Business continuity & Upkeep section is really the domain of the DBA but it helps to get requester input on these matters. For instance establishing maintenance windows.

If you have any additional questions you feel should be on the form please feel free to contact me and I’ll add them.

How to get the default error log path for SQL Server with T-SQL

Below is a script to get the default error log path for SQL Server and set it as a variable. 


	,ProcessInfo VARCHAR(255)

EXEC xp_readerrorlog 0
	,N'Logging SQL Server messages in file';

SET @LogPath = (
		SELECT REPLACE(REPLACE(REPLACE(PathText, 'Logging SQL Server messages in file ', ''), '''', ''), 'ERRORLOG.', '')
		FROM @ErrorLogPath

SELECT @LogPath AS DefaultLogPath;


How to pass arguments from command line to a console application written in C#

This is a simple tutorial on passing arguments or parameter values from command line to a console application written in C#. Using the example below you should be able to edit and expand on the logic to fit your own needs.

First you’ll need to create a new Visual Studio C# console application, to do so follow these steps:

To create and run a console application

  1. Start Visual Studio.

  2. On the menu bar, choose FileNewProject.
  3. Expand Installed, expand Templates, expand Visual C#, and then choose Console Application.
  4. In the Name box, specify a name for your project, and then choose the OK button.
  5. If Program.cs isn’t open in the Code Editor, open the shortcut menu for Program.cs in Solution Explorer, and then choose View Code.
  6. Replace the contents of Program.cs with the following code.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Text;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

namespace TestArgsInput
    class Program
        static void Main(string[] args)
            if (args.Length == 0)
				// Display message to user to provide parameters.
                System.Console.WriteLine("Please enter parameter values.");
                // Loop through array to list args parameters.
                for (int i = 0; i < args.Length; i++)
                    Console.Write(args[i] + Environment.NewLine);
                // Keep the console window open after the program has run.


The Main method is the entry point of a C# application. When the application is started, the Main method is the first method that is invoked.

The parameter of the Main method is a String array that represents the command-line arguments. Usually you determine whether arguments exist by testing the Length property as in the example above.

When run the example above will list out the parameters you have provided to the command window. The delimiter for command line separating arguments or parameter values is a single space. For example the following would be interpreted as two arguments or parameter values:

“This is parameter 1” “This is parameter 2”

If the arguments were not enclosed by double quotes each word would be considered an argument.

To pass arguments to the console application when testing the application logic the arguments can be written into the debug section of the project properties as shown below.


So if the app is run with the command line arguments provided as above in the image the command window will list:
Parameter 1
Parameter 2
If you would like to know how to create a console application in Visual Studio that won’t open a command window when it runs see this tutorial link.
If you would like to know how to create a csv file with C# see this tutorial link.

How to solve the SQL Server error ‘String or binary data would be truncated’

The ‘String or binary data would be truncated’ error will occur if an insert or update statement is trying to put too many characters into a field, defined in a table, which has been assigned too few character spaces. For example trying to write an email address with 255 characters into a table where the column email has been assigned 40 characters.

The easy fix is assign more characters to the column or columns you have determined are experiencing the problem. The more complicated but potentially necessary fix might be to change the logic or introduce validation at the source of data entry.

Finding the columns experiencing the problems however can be time consuming.

( . . . without the little script below of course)

SQL Server will kindly direct you to the stored procedure or insert/update statement that is experiencing the problem. However it will not pin point the exact column or columns that cannot be written to. The pain then is determining where the data won’t fit.

To speed things up take the entire query or query section you know to be causing the problem and write the results it into a temp table called #temp, i.e. SELECT * INTO #temp FROM SomeTable

Once the data has been written to the temp table #temp run the scrip below in the same window.


SET @sql = (
				SELECT ',MAX(LEN(' + NAME + ')) AS [' + NAME + ']'
				FROM tempdb.sys.columns
				WHERE object_id = object_id('tempdb..#temp')
				FOR XML PATH('')
SET @sql = 'SELECT ' + RIGHT(@sql, LEN(@sql) - 1) + ' FROM #temp'

EXEC (@sql)
This will output results giving you the max character length of each field.
You can then compare these results to the defined destination table that the data could not be written to.
The source of the error will be where the max character number is greater than the assigned character spaces on the destination table.
For example the last time I used this query it easily highlighted that an agent had written a customers full address to the county name field which had a limit of 30 characters.


How to use a while loop to iterate through each table of each database within an instance

Say you have code you want executed against every table on a SQL Server instance, you could use SQL Server’s inbuilt sp_MSForEachDB and sp_MSForEachTable. I’m not a big fan of them though because they are undocumented, so I’d always be concerned Microsoft might decide to kill it with any given patch or service pack update. (I know the likelihood of that is extremely low but I’m a risk adverse kinda guy)

I prefer to use the example below. It may not be the most efficient snippet of code available on the net but it’s good and simple and it’s not going anywhere unless I drop it.



SET @DbName = ''

INSERT INTO @Database (DbName)
FROM sys.databases
WHERE NAME <> 'tempdb'
AND state_desc = 'ONLINE'

	SET @DbName = (
			FROM @Database
			WHERE DbName > @DbName

	EXAMPLE PRINT Database Name
	PRINT @DbName


How to assess T-SQL code quickly

I’m sure you’re an excellent SQL coder writing beautiful efficient queries, but your predecessor . . . well they might have just been lucky to have a job.

Going through someone else’s bad code is usually tiresome, tedious and often very confusing.

I’ve created the T-SQL Assessor excel file to help in this task.

DOWNLOAD (Dropbox link)

The assessor will colour code the sql to highlight the lines of importance. With the Key Word column you can then simply filter to words like INSERT, UPDATE, MERGE and EXEC to see where the data is going or filter the column by the word FROM to see where the data has come from.

To use the T-SQL Assessor file you will first have to format your code using Poor Man’s T-SQL Formatter. This excellent tool can be installed in Visual Studio, SQL Server Management Studio or Notepad++.

You can also use the online option:

Poor Man’s T-SQL Formatter makes text that contains a SQL command a new line, so you can’t have INSERT and FROM on one line. This is what allows Excel formula’s to highlight the lines with key words as each line can only contain one key word, excluding comments.

Once the code is formatted simply paste it into the first sheet of the file, “SQL”.

That’s it, all the work is then done for you on the second sheet of the file, “SQL Assessed”

T-SQL Assessor is also great at preparing a report from a schema compare script created by Visual Studio. It’s very annoying Microsoft didn’t provide a way of exporting the comparison directly into excel the way Redgate did but this will help. Simply filter the file to only include the keywords.

DOWNLOAD (Dropbox link)

How to archive tables that contain a keyword from one database to another using T-Sql

In the previous article I wrote about how to identify and remove unwanted tables. Link

In that tutorial I suggested prefixing the tables you want to remove with _DELETE_.

I also suggested you may want to archive the tables in some manner before you delete them. This could be because there is a chance someone might come looking for the data that was in a deleted table or something might break by removing the table and you might want to put it back asap.

If you have only a few tables you could script the tables out but if you have a lot of tables that becomes a little unmanageable. Also if the tables total in size to 10 Gb the script to recreate the tables will be a lot lot larger.

An alternative method is to create an Archive database, copy the tables across to this target database and then delete the tables in the source database. You can then backup and drop the Archive database saving the .bak file somewhere cheaper.

The script below will allow you to do just that. It prints the T-Sql to do the job, it doesn’t carry out the job, so it’s completely safe to execute and review.

To use the script below create a target database.

Use the target database name for the variable value @TargetDb

Use the source database name for the variable value @SourceDb

The @KeyWord variable is used to gather all the tables that contain the string of choice, in the example below _DELETE_.

The @RemoveKeyWord variable is a flag that will remove the keyword string from the target database table name, e.g. _DELETE_Sales will become Sales.

IF OBJECT_ID('tempdb..#Table') IS NOT NULL

DECLARE @RemoveKeyWord BIT

SET @RemoveKeyWord = 1
SET @KeyWord = '_DELETE_'
SET @TargetDb = 'Archive'
SET @SourceDb = 'Source'

	Id_Table INT IDENTITY(1, 1)
	,SchemaName SYSNAME
	,TableName SYSNAME

SET @Sql = '
FROM ' + QUOTENAME(@SourceDb) + '.sys.tables AS so
LEFT JOIN ' + QUOTENAME(@SourceDb) + '.sys.schemas AS s ON so.schema_id = s.schema_id
WHERE so.NAME LIKE ' + '''' + '%' + @KeyWord + '%' + '''' + '

EXEC (@Sql)

SET @SchemaName = ''

	SET @SchemaName = (
			SELECT MIN(SchemaName)
			FROM #Table
			WHERE SchemaName > @SchemaName
				AND SchemaName <> 'dbo'

	PRINT 'USE ' + QUOTENAME(@TargetDb) + ';
IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT * FROM ' + QUOTENAME(@TargetDb) + '.sys.schemas WHERE name = ' + '''' + @SchemaName + '''' + ')
    EXEC (' + '''' + 'CREATE SCHEMA ' + QUOTENAME(@SchemaName) + ';' + '''' + ');

SET @Id = 1

	SELECT @TableName = TableName
		,@SchemaName = SchemaName
	FROM #Table
	WHERE Id_Table = @Id

	IF @RemoveKeyWord = 1
INTO ' + QUOTENAME(@TargetDb) + '.' + QUOTENAME(@SchemaName) + '.' + QUOTENAME(REPLACE(@TableName, @KeyWord, '')) + ' 
FROM ' + QUOTENAME(@SourceDb) + '.' + QUOTENAME(@SchemaName) + '.' + QUOTENAME(@TableName)
INTO ' + QUOTENAME(@TargetDb) + '.' + QUOTENAME(@SchemaName) + '.' + QUOTENAME(@TableName) + ' 
FROM ' + QUOTENAME(@SourceDb) + '.' + QUOTENAME(@SchemaName) + '.' + QUOTENAME(@TableName)

	SET @Id = (
			SELECT MIN(Id_Table)
			FROM #Table
			WHERE Id_Table > @Id