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The Tally Table Splitter

Steve Jones talks tally tables:

That being said, years ago I got an article from Jeff Moden on the tally table. I hadn’t used this, and was fascinated. I know Itzik had written about numbers tables early on, but it hadn’t caught my attention. However, in a follow-up, Jeff wrote about a splitter function, which would use the tally table to split strings efficiently. This is the function (credit to Jeff in his article):

Click through for that function. The CLR-based tally table function is still faster, but if you can’t have CLR in your environment, and you split strings so frequently that you need a splitter, and STRING_SPLIT() just doesn’t do it for you (or you’re on an older version of SQL Server), this is a good solution. It’s also the foundation for a principle I have with T-SQL query tuning: sometimes you need to think in terms of pivoted or unpivoted data and operate on it versus the raw data. Here, we’re unpivoting a string into one row per character to get what we need out of it much more efficiently than if we tried to work the string by itself.