BCP XML Format Files with SQL Server
One very common process that occurs in most SQL Server environments is the need to import and export data. One of the best tools to use for this is BCP (Bulk Copy Program). When loading data into SQL Server, it is helpful to use a format flle that specifies what the incoming data looks like and in this article we will look at how to generate a standard format file and XML format file for BCP.
Creating a format file for BCP can be done by using a command similar to the following, which creates a format file based on the structure of the Categories table in the Northwind database.
bcp Northwind.dbo.Categories format nul -c -f categories.fmt -T -S servername
This creates a standard format file that can then be edited to handle differences in your source and destination formats. When you run this command, this is the output you get. For additional information take a look at books online.
8.0 4 1 SQLCHAR 0 12 "\t" 1 CategoryID "" 2 SQLCHAR 0 30 "\t" 2 CategoryName SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS 3 SQLCHAR 0 0 "\t" 3 Description SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS 4 SQLCHAR 0 0 "\r\n" 4 Picture ""
In order to create an XML version of the format file the command is identical except we use the -x parameter.
bcp AdventureWorks.HumanResources.Department format nul -c -x -f department.xml -T -S servername
This is the output from running the above command. Instead of having a simple text file we now have an XML file that is easier to understand as well as easier to modify.
<?xml version="1.0"?> <BCPFORMAT xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2004/bulkload/format" xmlns:xsi="http:// www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"> <RECORD> <FIELD ID="1" xsi:type="CharFixed" LENGTH="7"/> <FIELD ID="2" xsi:type="CharFixed" LENGTH="100"COLLATION="Latin1_General_CS_AS"/> <FIELD ID="3" xsi:type="CharFixed" LENGTH="100"COLLATION="Latin1_General_CS_AS"/> <FIELD ID="4" xsi:type="CharTerm" TERMINATOR="\r\n"MAX_LENGTH="24"/> </RECORD> <ROW> <COLUMN SOURCE="1" NAME="DepartmentID" xsi:type="SQLSMALLINT"/> <COLUMN SOURCE="2" NAME="Name" xsi:type="SQLNVARCHAR"/> <COLUMN SOURCE="3" NAME="GroupName" xsi:type="SQLNVARCHAR"/> <COLUMN SOURCE="4" NAME="ModifiedDate" xsi:type="SQLDATETIME"/> </ROW> </BCPFORMAT>
Other then how to create and modify the format files, the rest of BCP still works the same. So you would still reference your format file just as before. The -x option is only used when creating the format file.
- Take a look at understanding the XML schema syntax
- Take a look at how BCP works and how this could be an addition to your processing if you are not already using BCP
- Take a look at how to create a format file and other options for creating a format file
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Article Last Updated: 2006-09-28