MS SQL Azure – Conditional Computed Column Definition Using CASE

Setting aside for the moment the rights and wrongs of using persisted columns sometimes it is just a great way to add some automation to your database and make it clearer for the user.

But what if you want to add a conditional computed column for rows based on another value within that row. Here’s something I worked out.

ALTER TABLE ProjectManagement
ADD FutureorPast AS CAST
WHEN TargetDate > GetDate() or TargetDate is Null THEN 'FUTURE' WHEN TargetDate <= GetDate() THEN 'PAST'
END as nvarchar(6)

MS SQL Azure – CONCAT_WS Working with addresses and nicely formatting separated fields

I recently came across a very useful function that I am told was introduced in SQL Server 2017 called CONCAT_WS
I have never used it in any other application other than SQL Server I hope it exists in MYSQL and PostgreSQL

This will join together a series of fields with chosen separators and by combining it with NULLIF can be used to remove spaces and format address nicely.
For applications that will at some point need addresses either for post or for information this function allows the display of addresses in a format the most clearly reflects the requirements of most postal systems. Needless to say it is likely that most of my systems will at some point transition to the use of this function.

Here is a link to Microsofts documentation on the function CONCAT_WS

Firstly let me review what I am starting to standardise on with regard to address fields which should be a balance between enough detail to store any address on the planet but not so much that it is overly complicated. I’ve expanded their descriptions somewhat. In my experience someone will have created an excel spreadsheet to start the process of recording information, often they standardise on column names such as address01/02/03 etc. If that breakdown exists then I have indicated the fields that I would normally expect to map those fields too.


And here is an example of the code implemented.

CREATE VIEW v001formattedaddress AS SELECT pkid,
CONCAT_WS(' ',NULLIF(dbo.t001addresstable.firstname,' '), NULLIF(dbo.t001addresstable.surname,' ')) AS fullname,
NULLIF(dbo.t001addresstable.flatno, ' '), 
NULLIF(dbo.t001addresstable.houseno,' '), 
NULLIF(dbo.t001addresstable.housename,' '),
NULLIF(dbo.t001addresstable.streetfirst,' '),
NULLIF(dbo.t001addresstable.streetsecond,' '),
NULLIF(dbo.t001addresstable.locality,' '),
NULLIF(dbo.t001addresstable.towncity,' '),
NULLIF(dbo.t001addresstable.stateoradminlocality,' '),
NULLIF(dbo.t001addresstable.postcode,' '),
NULLIF(,' '),
REPLICATE('-', 30) ) AS addressconcat FROM dbo.t001addresstable;

Additionally on reflection for a recent project I made up a list of countries that covers most in the world. For my project I put an include field next to them to allow system administrators to include whether these would be visible in the drop down. Clearly while overtime more and more countries may be added there I would expect it to be years or possibly decades before some of the values of the smaller nations are needed. (For my particular application anyway)

I standardised on the following the 2 digit codes are the ISO Country code standard

AD Andorra
AE United Arab Emirates
AF Afghanistan
AG Antigua and Barbuda
AI Anguilla
AL Albania
AM Armenia
AO Angola
AQ Antarctica
AR Argentina
AT Austria
AU Australia
AW Aruba
AX Aland Islands
AZ Azerbaijan
BA Bosnia and Herzegovina
BB Barbados
BD Bangladesh
BE Belgium
BF Burkina Faso
BG Bulgaria
BH Bahrain
BI Burundi
BJ Benin
BL Saint Barthélemy
BM Bermuda
BN Brunei Darussalam
BO Bolivia, Plurinational State of
BQ Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
BR Brazil
BS Bahamas
BT Bhutan
BV Bouvet Island
BW Botswana
BY Belarus
BZ Belize
CA Canada
CC Cocos (Keeling) Islands
CD Congo, the Democratic Republic of the
CF Central African Republic
CG Congo
CH Switzerland
CI Cote d’Ivoire
CK Cook Islands
CL Chile
CM Cameroon
CN China*
CO Colombia
CR Costa Rica
CU Cuba
CV Cape Verde
CW Curaçao
CX Christmas Island
CY Cyprus
CZ Czech Republic
DE Germany
DJ Djibouti
DK Denmark
DM Dominica
DO Dominican Republic
DZ Algeria
EC Ecuador
EE Estonia
EG Egypt
EH Western Sahara
ER Eritrea
ES Spain
ET Ethiopia
FI Finland
FJ Fiji
FK Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FO Faroe Islands
FR France
GA Gabon
GB United Kingdom
GB United Kingdom Northern Ireland
GD Grenada
GE Georgia
GF French Guiana
GG Guernsey
GH Ghana
GI Gibraltar
GL Greenland
GM Gambia
GN Guinea
GP Guadeloupe
GQ Equatorial Guinea
GR Greece
GS South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
GT Guatemala
GW Guinea-Bissau
GY Guyana
HK Hong Kong SAR China
HM Heard Island and McDonald Islands
HN Honduras
HR Croatia
HT Haiti
HU Hungary
ID Indonesia
IC Spain Canary Islands
IE Ireland Republic
IL Israel
IM Isle of Man
IN India
IO British Indian Ocean Territory
IQ Iraq
IR Iran, Islamic Republic of
IS Iceland
IT Italy
JE Jersey
JM Jamaica
JO Jordan
JP Japan
KE Kenya
KG Kyrgyzstan
KH Cambodia
KI Kiribati
KM Comoros
KN Saint Kitts and Nevis
KP Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of
KR Korea, Republic of
KW Kuwait
KY Cayman Islands
KZ Kazakhstan
LA Lao People’s Democratic Republic
LB Lebanon
LC Saint Lucia
LI Liechtenstein
LK Sri Lanka
LR Liberia
LS Lesotho
LT Lithuania
LU Luxembourg
LV Latvia
LY Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
MA Morocco
MC Monaco
MD Moldova, Republic of
ME Montenegro
MF Saint Martin (French part)
MG Madagascar
MK Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of
ML Mali
MM Myanmar
MN Mongolia
MO Macau SAR China
MQ Martinique
MR Mauritania
MS Montserrat
MT Malta
MU Mauritius
MV Maldives
MW Malawi
MX Mexico
MY Malaysia
MZ Mozambique
NA Namibia
NC New Caledonia
NE Niger
NF Norfolk Island
NG Nigeria
NI Nicaragua
NL Netherlands
NO Norway
NP Nepal
NR Nauru
NU Niue
NZ New Zealand
OM Oman
PA Panama
PE Peru
PF French Polynesia
PG Papua New Guinea
PH Philippines
PK Pakistan
PL Poland
PM Saint Pierre and Miquelon
PN Pitcairn
PS Palestine
PT Portugal
PY Paraguay
QA Qatar
RE Reunion
RO Romania
RS Serbia
RU Russian Federation
RW Rwanda
SA Saudi Arabia
SB Solomon Islands
SC Seychelles
SD Sudan
SE Sweden
SG Singapore
SH Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
SI Slovenia
SJ Svalbard and Jan Mayen
SK Slovakia
SL Sierra Leone
SM San Marino
SN Senegal
SO Somalia
SR Suriname
SS South Sudan
ST Sao Tome and Principe
SV El Salvador
SX Sint Maarten (Dutch part)
SY Syrian Arab Republic
SZ Swaziland
TC Turks and Caicos Islands
TD Chad
TF French Southern Territories
TG Togo
TH Thailand
TJ Tajikistan
TK Tokelau
TL Timor-Leste
TM Turkmenistan
TN Tunisia
TO Tonga
TR Turkey
TT Trinidad and Tobago
TV Tuvalu
TW Taiwan
TZ Tanzania United Republic of
UA Ukraine
UG Uganda
US United States
UY Uruguay
UZ Uzbekistan
VA Holy See (Vatican City State)
VC Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
VE Venezuela Bolivarian Republic of
VG Virgin Islands, British
VN Vietnam
VU Vanuatu
WF Wallis and Futuna
WS Samoa
YE Yemen
YT Mayotte
ZA South Africa
ZM Zambia
ZW Zimbabwe

MS SQL Azure – Creating contained users – SQL Authentication – DACPAC and BACPAC import

In every database engine it is important to create logins that enforce security around your database and that can be maintained.
Additionally if you are working for a client you may wish to transfer this database at some point in the future to the client.

In SQL Azure users can be created against the master database in the instance and the role can then be transferred to individual databases.

Fine but there may be circumstances where you want to isolate roles to individual databases so that when they are moved the roles move with them and are not left in the master database.
The following sets out an example of how to set up a Contained database in SQL Azure along with something extra you have to think about when re-importing to an SQL Server instance.

Using your sysadmin account connect to the database you wish to add a user to and run;

CREATE USER rocketengineapplication WITH PASSWORD = 'bluedanube';
ALTER ROLE db_owner ADD MEMBER rocketengineapplication;

Now developers could use this password and username to login to the database and do most of what is required without having any privileges to the SQL Server and if you ever transfer the database the role will pass with the database.

Here is a link to built in database roles
SQL Database Roles

Secure a single or pooled database in SQL Azure

and here is a useful query that can be run to identify the users and roles that a particular database has. This allows you to check what users are on a database and what are there roles.

SELECT AS UserName, u.type_desc AS UserType, AS RoleName
FROM sys.database_principals AS u
LEFT JOIN sys.database_role_members AS rm ON rm.member_principal_id = u.principal_id
LEFT JOIN sys.database_principals AS r ON r.principal_id = rm.role_principal_id
    u.type NOT IN('R', 'G')
    , RoleName;

Note that when deploying or importing data tier applications to for instance SQL Express versions by default contained database authentication is deactivated and must be activated.

To do this connect to the local sql express instance and highlight the Databases on the left hand side then run the following code

sp_configure 'contained database authentication', 1;

DACPAC (structure only) and BACPAC (data and structure) import should now be possible locally!

This will specifically assist with the following error message which I was getting when I tried to import the database back into a local machine.

TITLE: Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio

Could not deploy package.
Error SQL72014: .Net SqlClient Data Provider: Msg 12824, Level 16, State 1, Line 5 The sp_configure value 'contained database authentication' must be set to 1 in order to alter a contained database. You may need to use RECONFIGURE to set the value_in_use.
Error SQL72045: Script execution error. The executed script:
FROM [master].[dbo].[sysdatabases]
WHERE [name] = N'$(DatabaseName)')
ALTER DATABASE [$(DatabaseName)]

Error SQL72014: .Net SqlClient Data Provider: Msg 5069, Level 16, State 1, Line 5 ALTER DATABASE statement failed.
Error SQL72045: Script execution error. The executed script:
FROM [master].[dbo].[sysdatabases]
WHERE [name] = N'$(DatabaseName)')
ALTER DATABASE [$(DatabaseName)]


Upload Shape Files into SQL Azure using OGR2OGR – Explanation of MS SQL Azure Connection String to be placed within OGR2OGR Command Line

Lets say you have a SQL Azure Server with the following parameters

SQL Azure Instance : azureinstance1
Database name within Instance : TouristDB1
Your User Name is : tom
Password is : Edinburgh

The SQLAzure connection string would be;Database=TouristDB1;;Pwd=Edinburgh;

and the full OGR2OGR to import Command Line Instruction for a shape file called Monuments.shp would be..

ogr2ogr -overwrite -f MSSQLSpatial ";Database=TouristDB1;;Pwd=Edinburgh;" "C:\Monuments.shp"

Upload XLS information to a specific table or new table within an SQL Azure Database

I have started experimenting with Microsoft Azure if you haven’t already you can get a free experimentation account here;

Microsoft Azure Trial account with £125 credit

This gets your registered on Microsoft’s cloud and after a free trial period you will be able to continue with a Pay as You go Account which depending on the services that you go for can start at very cheap rates.

In order for this to work you will need the following
1) Microsoft Azure account
2) An SQL Azure Database
3) SQL Server Management Studio downloaded and installed on the machine you will be uploading from, this can be obtained from SSMS download link be warned its over 800mb. Here I use SSMS 2016
4) Know your server name this is generally [Yourname]
5) Login and Password (I use SQL Server Authentication)

Testing things out I have been using the Web Apps Service to run a website and connect to an SQL Azure Database – both on the cheapest options.

What makes the website particularly cheap is that it can be stopped and started and by paying for it by the minute you can really get a powerful demonstration sites up and running and stop them immediately after the demonstration for very little money.

So after having created an Azure SQL database (Microsoft Create Azure Database Tutorial)I wanted to get a decent number of records into it. Which would be the starting position when taking on most work.
Here I use the Lichfield Planning Application information previously referred to in this post QGIS Import. What I did was take the 45,000 records of planning applications from the shape file. I did this by opening up the dbf file of the shape collection in Excel 2003 and then saving it in excel format. This will be used later to import into the database.

Having your excel file ready the next step is to open up SQL Server Management Studio and connect to your Azure Database. The parameters with regard to username and servername will have been setup when you created your Azure database it is important that when you create your Azure database you somehow record these details.

Next highlight the database – in my case this was DB001 and right click to get tasks.

At this point you enter the import wizard windows dialog boxes and having passed the opening welcome screen , a screen that can be turned off for subsequent navigations, you should hit your first screen that allows you to define the format of the file that should be imported.

The next step is about the only one that is slightly confusing – you are given a number of different options for the target – for me SQL Server Native Client 11.0 worked for me.

Now using the previous parameters specific to your database server and your database name complete the next dialog.

The next dialog asks you whether you want to copy all information or want to write a query to filter the information to be imported. For my example I chose the all import item. Here I select the database and then I am able to see the from and too destinations.

If you wish to import into an existing table use the drop down to select tables from the database – if you wish to import into a new table you can type in the name of the new table within the square brackets.

Here I create a new table called T010Test and import and then continue through the import wizard dialogs until on completion of import you should see a similar screen to that below. It is possible to go into the edit mappings if you are copying into a table that already exists. This will give you a preview showing to what extent the mapping will be successful and how the fields map. You may wish to alter the names of columns to match your target table at this point.

Setting up a Blank SQL Server Spatially enabled Table using Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 2008R2 Express and displaying it in QGIS 2.8.1

Programs used;

1- SQL Server 2008R2 Express
2- SQL Server Management Studio 2008R2 Express

The example uses UK national grids coordinates to create a Triangle Polygon in a SQL Server Table

I’ve previously written that while we’ve had spatially enabled SQL Server for over 5 years I constantly come across line of business applications that although using SQL Server have not and do not intend to spatially enable the application. This is undoubtedly because of the difficulty in re-designing legacy systems actively in use and because the benefits although significant are not generally requested by all but the most knowledgable of colleagues.

While I understand this legacy system reasoning spatially enabled databases are the future so its just a matter of when and not if an application will require alteration. Understanding it in this context makes it really a requirement to start seriously planning for its inclusion.

Developerers creating new applications however should always consider spatially enabling relevant tables from the start even if it is not specked by the client/colleague. It being so much easier to spend a couple of minutes future proofing the schema of a new born database rather than hours trying to retrofit a live in production back end.

Firstly it’s important to understand what a geodatabase in SQL Server actually is.
Really it is a normal database which has one table that has a field that has a geometry or geography value type. In this example I will use desktop QGIS 2.8.1 to display the resulting geometry but any other digital mapping package that can link to SQL Server could be used. SQL Server also has a very rudimentary Mapping Display but you will need something better if you want to manipulate boundaries visually.

Many digital mapping products have plugins that will create Geodatabases and tables however I haven’t seen one for QGIS. I really wanted to be able to create spatial SQL tables on my own without recourse to paid tools directly in SQL Server Management Studio. So here’s my method of creating blank polygon table whose geometry is ready to be read and edited in QGIS or any other digital mapping system just using SQL Server Management Studio Express 08R2.

1. Create a new Table
2. Ensure the table has an identity Key that increments
3. Create a geometry column
4. Write a query that updates the geometry column

UPDATE T001Sites SET Coordinates=geometry::STGeomFromText(‘POLYGON((301804 675762,295789 663732,309581 664870,301804 675762))’,27700)

You will note that there are four coordinates here (each coordinate being a pair of numbers )
The first coordinate and last are the same this is required by SQL to ensure that the polygon is closed.

The 27700 number is the Spatial Reference System Identifier (SRID) – it is a unique value used to unambiguosly identify projecttion. 27700 is the unique identifier for the United Kingdom National Grid and represents the coordinates my example refer to. The spatial reference identification system is defined by the European Petroleum Survey Group (EPSG) standard which is a set of standards developmed for cartography surveying etc and owned by the Oil and Gas Producers Group list here;

The above coordinates display a triangle in West Lothian near Edinburgh

5. Set up the connection to SQL Server Instance

Ensure the box marked “Only look in the geometry_columns metadata table” checkbox is unchecked. By default this is checked and if the geometry_columns table does not exist you will get an error message.


6. Display the table and edit as appropriate.

Select the table then hit the Add button


And here is the SQL Server table in QGIS ready to be added to or edited.

Attaching Databases to SQL Server 08R2 Express

It should be noted that the following although the easiest way to get a new database into an instance it should not be used in a production environment. In fact doing so may get you sacked. If experimenting though this method should be fine. If in doubt seek help as in a production environment you would want to look through all the code before attaching anything into an instance.

Go to SQL server management studio and on the Databases tree
Right click and select

Attach database window should appear which will allow you to use the Add… button to navigate to the
\Data\ subdirectory where all the sql server databases are held.

IMPORTANT – prior to loading a file in the database will have needed to have been DETACHED and you should always move anything mdf file that you are wanting to put into a database into the data subdirectory.
This ordinarily is done by going to database in question scrolling down to the database and right clicking on the database

Tasks > – Detach…

If a database has not been detached properly it may NOT be possible to re-attach the database this is of course a security feature. So experimenting with simple moving files about will not work…

The listed code below does it at command line but the above works in SSMS

The default location for databases in SQL 08R2 Express is
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10_50.SQLEXPRESS\MSSQL\DATA

The default location for database in SQL 2012 is
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL11.[InstanceName\MSSQL\DATA

Stopping and Starting SQL Server Instance 08R2 Express


Simply within SSMS right click on the instance and hit STOP and
To start an instance if you are still in SSMS you can simply right click and hit start

Note if you stop a SQL Server instance from within SSMS AND then exit SSMS and try and go back in you will be denied as SSMS is unable to connect to a service that is not up and running.

In such a case to restart the instance you need to go to SQL server configuration manager and click on the instance and restart from there.
In Windows 8.1 you can get to config manager by using the search facility.

Windows 10 Alternative
Hit the search ring
type in services.msc
A new dialog should appea that will have Services(Local) with several columns – Name / Description / Status / StartupType
You want the Status to be Running
Use the mouse to highlight SQL Server (MSSQLServer) and then right click

Your server should now be running

Allowing sa login and altering password SSMS SQL 08 R2 Express


Recently I installed SQL Server 08 R2 Express.

As part of the standard installation the sa login is disabled as default.

Clearly although this is a useful security feature it is a bit awkward if you are wanting to undertake certain tasks and as part of the installation this security feature is in no way obvious.

So what do you do to re-enable it?

Firstly log into SSMS under the machine windows login.

Go to the Security section of the server (not any of the databases) and expand the Logins branch. SA the system admin should be listed and if it is disabled it will have a small red down arrow next to it.

To re-enable highlight sa and right click

Select properties

Select Status

now alter the following
Permissions to connect to database engine
Set this to GRANT

Set this to Enabled

Now highlight instance itself and right click and go to properties.
Within server properties highlight Security.
And change set server authentication to
SQL Server and Windows Authentication mode.

You should have sa login now enabled – don’t worry if sa still has a small red arrow next to it the SSMS client needs to be refreshed to see changes to set up.

If you want to change the password for the SSMS server I would recommend running the following.

ALTER LOGIN sa WITH PASSWORD = 'DifficultPass9£' ;

Note you can enforce the requirement for a strong password within the same security section of the sa login if you require.