# Unpivoting Multiple Columns

Unpivoting is the process of normalizing data. In earlier post I discussed unpivoting a single column. This demonstration is to show how to unpivot multiple columns.

The task is to normalize the following denormalized data, which represents product sales volumes by quarter:

`product_nbr qtr1 sales_qtr1 qtr2 sales_qtr2 qtr3 sales_qtr3 qtr4 sales_qtr4`

----------- ------ ----------- ------ ----------- ------ ----------- ------ -----------

1 2008Q1 100 2008Q2 20 2008Q3 15 2008Q4 10

2 2008Q1 80 2008Q2 15 2008Q3 20 2008Q4 10

3 2008Q1 70 2008Q2 5 2008Q3 10 2008Q4 15

Normalized data set should look like this:

`product_nbr qtr sales`

----------- ------ -----------

1 2008Q1 100

1 2008Q2 20

1 2008Q3 15

1 2008Q4 10

2 2008Q1 80

2 2008Q2 15

2 2008Q3 20

2 2008Q4 10

3 2008Q1 70

3 2008Q2 5

3 2008Q3 10

3 2008Q4 15

The first method uses CROSS JOIN with table with numbers (needs one number for each quarter) and CASE expressions to select the appropriate value (quarter or sales volume) for each quarter.

`SELECT product_nbr,`

CASE n

WHEN 1 THEN qtr1

WHEN 2 THEN qtr2

WHEN 3 THEN qtr3

WHEN 4 THEN qtr4

END AS qtr,

CASE n

WHEN 1 THEN sales_qtr1

WHEN 2 THEN sales_qtr2

WHEN 3 THEN sales_qtr3

WHEN 4 THEN sales_qtr4

END AS sales

FROM QuarterlySales AS S

CROSS JOIN

(SELECT 1 UNION

SELECT 2 UNION

SELECT 3 UNION

SELECT 4) AS Nums(n);

Alsmost seems natural that we should be able to do the same much easier using the UNPIVOT operator (introduced in SQL Server 2005). However, one of the limitations of the UNPIVOT operator is that it works only with a single column. But because SQL Server allows multiple table operators in the FROM clause, we can use two UNPIVOT operators. The catch is that the second UNPIVOT operator applies to the virtual table results from the first unpivot operator. That requires using a little trick to extract and match the quarter from the results of each UNPIVOT operator in order to produce the final result. Here is the query to unpivot using the UNPIVOT operator.

`SELECT product_nbr, qtr, sales`

FROM

(SELECT product_nbr,

qtr1, sales_qtr1,

qtr2, sales_qtr2,

qtr3, sales_qtr3,

qtr4, sales_qtr4

FROM QuarterlySales) AS S

UNPIVOT

(qtr FOR qtrx IN (qtr1, qtr2, qtr3, qtr4)) AS U1

UNPIVOT

(sales FOR sales_qtrx IN (sales_qtr1, sales_qtr2,

sales_qtr3, sales_qtr4)) AS U2

WHERE RIGHT(sales_qtrx, 1) = RIGHT(qtrx, 1);

Thanks for the great example. I used it to unpivot 4 columns and it worked like a charm. Just added a few additional conditions in the WHERE statement:

SELECT userID, sch_code, degree, gpa, major

FROM

(SELECT userID, school_1, degree_1, gpa_1, major1,

school_2, degree_2, gpa_2, major2,

school_3, degree_3, gpa_3, major3,

school_4, degree_4, gpa_4, major4,

school_5, degree_5, gpa_5, major5,

school_6, degree_6, gpa_6, major6

FROM employee_school) p

UNPIVOT

(sch_code FOR sch_codex IN (school_1, school_2, school_3, school_4, school_5, school_6)) AS U1

UNPIVOT

(degree FOR degreex IN (degree_1, degree_2, degree_3, degree_4, degree_5, degree_6)) AS U2

UNPIVOT

(gpa FOR gpax IN (gpa_1, gpa_2, gpa_3, gpa_4, gpa_5, gpa_6)) AS U3

UNPIVOT

(major FOR majorx IN (major1, major2, major3, major4, major5,major6)) AS U4

WHERE RIGHT(sch_codex, 1) = RIGHT(degreex, 1)

AND RIGHT(sch_codex, 1) = RIGHT(gpax, 1)

AND RIGHT(sch_codex, 1) = RIGHT(majorx, 1);

GO

Hi Steve,

I am a Newbee to SQLServer and i am looking for exactly the similar answer that you have given.In Every post or blog every one mentioned about only 2column unpivoting and your example discussing about more than 2 and exactly 4 is my requirement.

This solved my problem and you know what it saved my many many hours. Thank you so much and i cannot express gratitude towards this.

You post not only solved my problem, but also gave me an understanding on how to treat and solve the data with nay number of UNPIvoting.

Thanks & Regards,

Rushi.

Hi Plamen,

Great post. Thanks a ton for the example.

Quick question…

How can I put a WHERE clause into your first non-UNPIVOT example? In my situation, I only have one value I'm trying to unpivot, (e.g. a row looks like: id, terp_id, terp2_id, terp3_id). I can't seem to get a where clause to work.

It works on you second UNPIVOT example, but I can't use this in a View, since SQL Studio tells me the UNPIVOT is unsupported in Views.

Thanks for any help!

Nick

Hi Nick,

You place the WHERE clause after the CROSS JOIN:

SELECT …

FROM QuarterlySales AS S

CROSS JOIN (…) AS Nums(n)

WHERE …

SELECT f.id, CASE n WHEN 1 THEN terp_id WHEN 2 THEN terp2_id WHEN 3 THEN terp3_id END AS terp

FROM dbo.requests AS f CROSS JOIN

(SELECT 1 AS Expr1

UNION ALL

SELECT 2 AS Expr1

UNION ALL

SELECT 3 AS Expr1) AS Nums(n)

WHERE f.terp IS NOT NULL

ORDER BY f.id

This gives me the error:

Invalid column name 'terp'.

I've tried many variants with no success…

You have to use a derived table:

SELECT id, terp

FROM (

SELECT f.id,

CASE n

WHEN 1 THEN terp_id

WHEN 2 THEN terp2_id

WHEN 3 THEN terp3_id

END AS terp

FROM dbo.requests AS f CROSS JOIN

(

SELECT 1 AS Expr1

UNION ALL

SELECT 2 AS Expr1

UNION ALL

SELECT 3 AS Expr1) AS Nums(n)) AS T

WHERE terp IS NOT NULL

ORDER BY id;

Also a simple solution with grouping sets:

SELECT product_nbr,

COALESCE(sales_qtr1, sales_qtr1 ,sales_qtr1, sales_qtr1) AS qtr,

COALESCE(qtr1, qtr2, qtr3, qtr4) AS sales

FROM QuarterlySales

GROUP BY GROUPING SETS

(

(product_nbr, sales_qtr1, qtr1),

(product_nbr, sales_qtr2, qtr2),

(product_nbr, sales_qtr3, qtr3),

(product_nbr, sales_qtr4, qtr4)

);

Avoid UNPIVOT!

Seems in this case this solution is more efficient than the multiple UNPIVOT.

SELECT product_nbr, qtr, sales

FROM QuarterlySales

CROSS APPLY

(SELECT qtr1, sales_qtr1

UNION ALL

SELECT qtr2, sales_qtr2

UNION ALL

SELECT qtr3, sales_qtr3

UNION ALL

SELECT qtr4, sales_qtr4

) D(qtr, sales);

You can execute following statements for testing.

CREATE TABLE QuarterlySales

(product_nbr INTEGER NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY,

qtr1 CHAR(6),

sales_qtr1 INT,

qtr2 CHAR(6),

sales_qtr2 INT,

qtr3 CHAR(6),

sales_qtr3 INT,

qtr4 CHAR(6),

sales_qtr4 INT);

INSERT INTO dbo.QuarterlySales (product_nbr, qtr1, sales_qtr1, qtr2, sales_qtr2, qtr3, sales_qtr3, qtr4, sales_qtr4)

VALUES

(1, '2008Q1', 100, '2008Q2', 20, '2008Q3', 15, '2008Q4', 10),

(2, '2008Q1', 80, '2008Q2', 15, '2008Q3', 20, '2008Q4', 10),

(3, '2008Q1', 70, '2008Q2', 5, '2008Q3', 10, '2008Q4', 15);

No need multiple UNPIVOT. Here is my solution, mixture of traditional and native.

SELECT product_nbr,

qtr,

CASE qtrx WHEN 'qtr1'

THEN sales_qtr1

WHEN 'qtr2'

THEN sales_qtr2

WHEN 'qtr3'

THEN sales_qtr3

WHEN 'qtr4'

THEN sales_qtr4

END AS sales

FROM QuarterlySales

UNPIVOT

(qtr FOR qtrx IN (qtr1, qtr2, qtr3, qtr4)) AS U1

Here is simplified version of grouping set with using grouping sets algebra:

SELECT product_nbr,

COALESCE(sales_qtr1, sales_qtr2 ,sales_qtr3, sales_qtr4) AS qtr,

COALESCE(qtr1, qtr2, qtr3, qtr4) AS sales

FROM QuarterlySales

GROUP BY GROUPING SETS

(

(product_nbr)

),

GROUPING SETS

(

(sales_qtr1, qtr1),

(sales_qtr2, qtr2),

(sales_qtr3, qtr3),

(sales_qtr4, qtr4)

);

Also another native approach no traditional, just one UNPIVOT operator. (This solution will work when data type of column in unpivot list be same)

I want to know what your opinion about this is. Is this practical or not?

SELECT product_nbr,

MAX(CASE WHEN LEFT(attribute, 1) = 's' THEN value END) AS sales,

MAX(CASE WHEN LEFT(attribute, 1) = 'q' THEN value END) AS qtr

FROM QuarterlySales

UNPIVOT

(value FOR attribute IN (sales_qtr1, sales_qtr2, sales_qtr3, sales_qtr4, qtr1, qtr2, qtr3, qtr4)) AS U1

GROUP BY product_nbr, RIGHT(attribute, 1)

ORDER BY product_nbr, RIGHT(attribute, 1);

Hi Mohammad,

I have used this approach on a limited scale. As you noted the data type compatibility between columns can be an issue. Other than that it can be handy and efficient solution.

Here id simplified hybrid version.

SELECT product_nbr,

qtr,

PARSENAME(sales_qtr4 + '.' + sales_qtr3 + '.' + sales_qtr2 + '.' + sales_qtr1, RIGHT(qtrx, 1) * 1) AS sales

FROM QuarterlySales

UNPIVOT

(qtr FOR qtrx IN (qtr1, qtr2, qtr3, qtr4)) AS U1

Hi Plamen,

The multiple UNPIVOT is really nice and wonderful but it is so complex and difficult for understanding its logic for me. So I was looking for a method with just single UNPIVOT, at last I found it. Concatenating and splitting is my new approach.

select product_nbr,

parsename(value, 2) as qtr,

parsename(value, 1) * 1 as sales

from (select

product_nbr,

grp_1 = qtr1 +'.'+ cast(sales_qtr1 as varchar(5)),

grp_2 = qtr2 +'.'+ cast(sales_qtr2 as varchar(5)),

grp_3 = qtr3 +'.'+ cast(sales_qtr3 as varchar(5)),

grp_4 = qtr4 +'.'+ cast(sales_qtr4 as varchar(5))

from QuarterlySales) d

unpivot

(value for attibute in ([grp_1], [grp_2], [grp_3], [grp_4])

) u

First, I'd like to say thank you for your post. I used a portion of your cross join code, specifically the "select from union select from union…" and received the results I needed however, would like to "insert into" these results into a separate table. I am using this in an Access 2007 database and was wondering if you have experience with inserting the results of the "select from union" query into a separate table.

Thank you for the post. Could you give an advice. If I have the same problem, but I have not 4 pairs as in the example, but 25 pairs to unpivot.

Moreover, I have to do group by first of the resulting column of the dynamic table and then order by sum(second resulting column)

Also initial table contains more then 1 000 000 of rows. Is it good scenario for this task ? SQL has to manage group by and order by on the huge dynamic table without indexes.

May be it is exist another approach to get same result ?

Thanks Nick, I have used 4 columns and worked great.

This is

fantastic. Thanks for sharing.I had attempted to unpivot my table using many different websites as reference to no avail.

With your code and direction I was finally able to unpivot my data!

Thanks!

I blog frequently and I seriously thank you for your content.

This article has really peaked my interest.

I’m going to book mark your site and keep checking for

new details about once a week. I opted in for your Feed too.