Generic stored procedure for PIVOT in SQL Server

Saturday, May 9, 2009 |

Well, so far I have written few small example of PIVOTing the data in SQL Server and thought that now this is enough about PIVOT, I won’t write anything more about PIVOT but when I seen one good stored procedure for dynamic PIVOT  in expert exchange forum written by my friend and very experienced person Mr. Mark Wills I tempted again to share PIVOT material with my reader.

Here is the article written by Mr. Mark Wills. I am sure my blog reader will like his article very much.

SQL 2005 Dynamic Pivot Query
By Mark Wills

PIVOT is a great facility and solves many an EAV (Entity - Attribute - Value) type transformation where we need the information held as data within a column to become columns in their own right. Now, in some cases that is relatively easy to do, other times it can be a challenge (and that is why we are here).
Let's have a quick look at the PIVOT function...
SELECT <display_column_list>
          (SELECT <source_columns> as Column_Source
                         ,<column_to_be_aggregated> as Column_Value
                         ,<column_with_new_column_names> as Column_List
           FROM <datasource> ) as DataSource
          (<aggregate_function>(Column_Value)  FOR  Column_List  IN
          ([<new_column_1_heading>],[<new_column_2_heading>],...,[<new_column_N_heading>]) ) PivotTable
ORDER BY <column_number_or_name>;
That looks pretty straight forward, except for one or two small details:

1) First up, we need to know the "display_column_list"
    easy enough, just do a Select * instead and problem solved (except that it does control display sequence)
 2) Secondly, we need to know and hard code the new column headings as in :
 And that last point is often the big challenge. Not so bad if we are doing something static like "months in a year", just list out those months in sequence, and make sure you can cast the column which contains those new headings accordingly e.g. datename(month,"column_with_new_column_names")
But, what about a moving target - like "last 3 months" ? Or, an EAV table with unknown attribute names ? Normally, that means we need to rewrite our query every month, or after every change of data.
There is a way, and that involves some Dynamic SQL, more importantly, we can make it a procedure which can handle any "simple" dynamic pivot table.
So, lets get started... but first we need a fairly simple example, so we will create some data accordingly. Feeling generous, we will do two. One is a classic "rolling periods"  and the other a typical EAV
CREATE TABLE tst_CustSales (
   TCS_ID INT Identity Primary Key Clustered,
   TCS_Customer varchar(60),
   TCS_Quantity INT,
   TCS_Value MONEY )
   TED_ID INT Identity Primary Key Clustered,
   TED_Entity varchar(60),
   TED_Attribute varchar(60),
   TED_Value varchar(60) )

-- now let's populate our tst_* tables
INSERT tst_CustSales (TCS_Customer, TCS_Date, TCS_Quantity, TCS_Value)
SELECT 'Customer 1' as Customer,'20090101' as Date, 11 as Qty, 1001.00 as Val union all   
SELECT 'Customer 1','20090201',12, 1002.00 union all
SELECT 'Customer 1','20090301',13, 1003.00 union all
SELECT 'Customer 1','20090401',14, 1004.00 union all
SELECT 'Customer 2','20090101',21, 2001.00 union all
SELECT 'Customer 2','20090201',22, 2002.00 union all
SELECT 'Customer 2','20090301',23, 2003.00 union all
SELECT 'Customer 2','20090401',24, 2004.00 union all
SELECT 'Customer 3','20090101',31, 3001.00 union all
SELECT 'Customer 4','20090201',42, 4002.00 union all
SELECT 'Customer 5','20090301',53, 5003.00 ) as src
-- notice I do not mention the Identity Column - SQL will manage that for me
-- notice the yyyymmdd "style 112" format - implicitly converts to datetime
-- now our EAV table, again imagine some diverse attributes
INSERT tst_EAV_Data (TED_Entity, TED_Attribute, TED_Value)
SELECT 'Customer 1' as Customer,'Phone' as Attr,'+61299991234' as Data_Val union all
SELECT 'Customer 1','Address','24 Somewhere Street' union all
SELECT 'Customer 1','Building','The ReallyTall One' union all
SELECT 'Customer 1','Contact','Marcus Aurelius' union all
SELECT 'Customer 2','Phone','+61288881234' union all
SELECT 'Customer 2','Contact','Ritesh Shah' union all
SELECT 'Customer 3','Address','1600 Pennsylvania Avenue' union all
SELECT 'Customer 3','Building','The WhiteHouse' union all
SELECT 'Customer 4','Phone','+61277771234' union all
SELECT 'Customer 4','Address','1 Nile Way' union all
SELECT 'Customer 4','Building','The Pyramids' union all
SELECT 'Customer 4','Contact','Cleo Patra' union all
SELECT 'Customer 5','Phone','+61277771222' union all
SELECT 'Customer 5','Friend','Cleo Patra' ) as src
-- Now we can get down and dirty with the Pivot.
-- First we will construct a properly formed one so you can "see" the pivot in action.
SELECT TCS_Customer, [01 Feb 2009],[01 Mar 2009],[01 Apr 2009]
  (select TCS_Customer, TCS_Date, TCS_Value from tst_CustSales ) sourcedata
  (sum(TCS_Value) for TCS_Date in ([01 Feb 2009],[01 Mar 2009],[01 Apr 2009])) pivottable
-- You can see from the above that the column_list and headings are all hard coded...
-- Also note how SQL is dynamically converting the datetime to those column headings
-- that is because dd MMM yyyy is implicitly converted to datetime in a date context
-- but "Style 106" is language dependant,
-- and in this case, amazingly, can handle the "hard coded" column names.
-- Now let us have a look at some Dynamic SQL for the EAV table, again in "long hand".
-- The dynamic bit is getting those column names so we do not have to hard code them...
DECLARE @Columns varchar(8000)
DECLARE @SQL varchar(8000)
SET @Columns = substring((select ',['+TED_Attribute+']' from tst_EAV_Data group by TED_Attribute for xml path('')),2,8000)
  (Select TED_Entity as Cust,TED_Attribute,TED_Value from tst_EAV_Data) sourcedata
  (max(TED_Value) for TED_Attribute in ('+@Columns+')) pivottable'
-- Let's have a look at the above, all we really did was to generate the column list.
-- You can try it again replacing the EXEC(@SQL) with Print @SQL
-- You will see pretty much the same command structure as the earlier pivot.
-- Now to create a Procedure so we can simply keep using a stored procedure
-- rather than having to write code all the time. So lets get into it...
                 @sourcedata varchar(8000),
                 @Pivot_On_Source_Column varchar(2000),
                 @Pivot_Value_Aggregate varchar(10),
                 @Pivot_Value_Column varchar(2000),
                 @Pivot_Column_List varchar(2000),
                 @Pivot_Column_Style_Code varchar(4))  -- used in convert for style code
-- we really should put in some error checking, e.g. if anything is NULL it will crash.
   declare @columns varchar(max)
   declare @sql nvarchar(max)
   set @sql = N'set @columns = substring((select '', [''+convert(varchar,'+@Pivot_Column_List+@Pivot_Column_Style_Code+')+'']'' from '+@sourcedata+' group by '+@Pivot_Column_List+' for xml path('''')),2,8000)'
   execute sp_executesql @sql,
                         N'@columns varchar(max) output',
                         @columns=@columns output
   set @sql = N'SELECT * FROM
       (SELECT '+@Pivot_On_Source_Column+','+@Pivot_Column_List+','+@Pivot_Value_Column+' from '+@sourcedata+') src
       ('+@Pivot_Value_Aggregate+'('+@Pivot_Value_Column+') FOR '+@Pivot_Column_List+' IN ('+@columns+') ) pvt
       ORDER BY 1'
   execute sp_executesql @sql
-- Now, let's use that procedure by plugging the parameters needed for a PIVOT function
uDynamicPivot 'tst_CustSales','TCS_customer','sum','TCS_Value','TCS_Date',',106'

-- and the EAV
uDynamicPivot 'tst_EAV_Data','TED_Entity as Cust','max','TED_Value','TED_Attribute',''
-- We can even include some "where" clauses for simple requirements
uDynamicPivot 'tst_CustSales where TCS_Date >= convert(varchar(6),dateadd(month,-3,getdate()),112)+''01''','TCS_customer','sum','TCS_Value','TCS_Date',',106'
-- But that is getting pretty ugly, and that is where the VIEW comes into play...
-- VIEWS allow data to be presented in a similar way in which we use a table.
-- a view is a good way to present data that does need some kind of transformation
-- it also allows a certain detachment from the underlying table.
-- views are really a pointer or script to the actual data
-- and does not contain data itself more so the "rules" on how to get/show the data.
-- once created, it is part of the database and can be re-used as often as you like.
CREATE VIEW vw_last_3_months AS
SELECT TCS_Customer as Customer
,      TCS_Value
,      DATEADD(day, 0, DATEDIFF(day, 0, TCS_Date)) as Date   
,      DATEADD(day, 1, DATEDIFF(day, 0, TCS_Date)) - day(TCS_Date) as Start_Of_Month 
,      DATEADD(month, 1, DATEDIFF(day, 0, TCS_Date)) - day(TCS_Date) as End_Of_Month
FROM   tst_CustSales
WHERE  TCS_Date >= convert(varchar(6),dateadd(month,-3,getdate()),112)+'01'
-- Note how we are using date functions to transform our date data to remove time
-- and generate a start and end of month.
-- Now we can do our "simple" function call using our View
uDynamicPivot 'vw_last_3_months','customer','sum','TCS_Value','End_Of_Month',',106'
-- And that as they say is that. Please take care when running on your machine
-- make sure you check table names,
-- double check your code,
-- go step at a time,
-- hope you have some fun with it.
I would like to request all of my reader, please drop a line with your views about this article.

Reference: Ritesh Shah
Note: Microsoft Books online is a default reference of all articles but examples and explanations prepared by Ritesh Shah, founder of


Anonymous said...

hmmm.... I was just looking for dynamic PIVOT and got lots of PIVOT script here...... rock...... liked the blog and script... didn't run it so far but seems good. :)

Anonymous said...


John Doe said...


This is totally copy paste job. Check Google or copyscape.

Lol - the comments by you too - they are bogus very clearly.

Ritesh Shah said...

Hi John Doe, First of all, thank you very much to come to my blog, in fact keeping watch on my blog :). I appreciate your comment, could you be please do me a favor? send me the link from where Mr. Mark Wills have copied this example... nobody has doubts about Mark's capability. he is very well known name in SQL Server zone in EE.

Mark Wills said...

Hi John Doe,

It is all my own work. It started out as an answer in Experts Exchange, and Ritesh asked if he could post it here. I offered to tidy up a bit, explain what was happening and add example data.

It would not surprise me that there are other Pivot examples using Dynamic SQL in Google. Getting those column_names can be a challenge and so Dynamic SQL inevitably comes into play. There is nothing particularly new about that. But if you read through the article, and look at some of the differences and approach building up to the SP, I think it will become evident that it has been written without reference to any other material.

Part of the message is using a few functions and constructs that often catch people out, such as dates, substrings with xml, using views etc...

Mark Wills

Ritesh Shah said...

Hi Mark,

No one has doubts about your ability and knowledge, so all we need to do is, ignore such people and keep helping community. we are not doing anything for money, we are sharing our own experience just for the community help, so don't worry and keep helping as you used to do always. I really fan of your knowledge, experience and understanding about subject.

Keep up doing great work.

Thanks & Regards,

Ritesh Shah

Anonymous said...

hot discussion is going on ;) for cool article..... interesting.

enjoy reading really good explaination in article and comment as well -:) over all good workout....



Pinal Dave said...

Pivot is an interesting concept and not everybody can master it. To address subject of Pivot requires good understanding of SQL subject and beyond relational visualization.

Mark, very good work. I hope to read similar excellent articles in future.

Ritesh, thanks for giving good platform to the interesting subject.

Kind Regards,

Anonymous said...

nicely written article.