Pivoting data in SQL Server is something that comes up infrequently for me. Whenever the need arises, I have to pause and ask myself “What is it I’m trying to do again?”. Next I go to the documentation for the T-SQL PIVOT syntax (which I’ll never commit to memory) and realize for the umpteenth time the pivoted values have to be hard coded. Then I ponder using dynamic T-SQL because I won’t always know the values to pivot at query design time.
If T-SQL isn’t a good hammer to PIVOT’s nail, perhaps R is. There are different packages that make summarizing and transposing data frames somewhat easy. It can even dynamically pivot unknown values at runtime. But there is a catch, which I’ll get to in a bit.
This excerpt ends on a cliffhanger, so you’ll have to read Dave’s post to learn about the catch.