Valentijn van den Hout Valentijn van den Hout - 6 months ago 31
SQL Question

SQL: What are all the delimiters?

I am running some php on my website pulling content from an SQL database. Queries are working and all is good there. Only problem I am having is that when I upload my dataset (.csv format) using phpmyadmin, an error occurs dropping all contents after a certain row. Supposedly this is caused by SQL recognizing more columns in that specific row than intended. And unfortunately, this is not just a single occurrence. I cannot seem to find out exactly what the problem is but most likely it is caused by some values in the column 'description' containing delimiters that split it into multiple columns. Hopefully, by deleting/replacing all these delimiters the problem can be solved. I am rather new to SQL though and I cannot seem to find a source that simply lays out what all the potential delimiters are that I should consider. Is there somebody that can help me out?

Thank you in advance and take care!


Answer Source

From personal experience, once can delimit by many different things. I've seen pipes | and commas , as well as tab, fixed space, tildas ~ and colons :.

Taken directly from

"Due to their widespread use, comma- and tab-delimited text files can be opened by several kinds of applications, including most spreadsheet programs and statistical packages, sometimes even without the user designating which delimiter has been used.[5][6] Despite that each of those applications has its own database design and its own file format (for example, accdb or xlsx), they can all map the fields in a DSV file to their own data model and format.[citation needed]

Typically a delimited file format is indicated by a specification. Some specifications provide conventions for avoiding delimiter collision, others do not. Delimiter collision is a problem that occurs when a character that is intended as part of the data gets interpreted as a delimiter instead. Comma- and space-separated formats often suffer from this problem, since in many contexts those characters are legitimate parts of a data field.

Most such files avoid delimiter collision either by surrounding all data fields in double quotes, or only quoting those data fields that contain the delimiter character. One problem with tab-delimited text files is that tabs are difficult to distinguish from spaces; therefore, there are sometimes problems with the files being corrupted when people try to edit them by hand. Another set of problems occur due to errors in the file structure, usually during import of file into a database (in the example above, such error may be a pupil's first name missing).

Depending on the data itself, it may be beneficial to use non-standard characters such as the tilde (~) as delimiters. With rising prevalence of web sites and other applications that store snippets of code in databases, simply using a " which occurs in every hyperlink and image source tag simply isn't sufficient to avoid this type of collision. Since colons (:), semi-colons (;), pipes (|), and many other characters are also used, it can be quite challenging to find a character that isn't being used elsewhere."

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