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SQL to change all in a table

Oracle Tips by Burleson Consulting

January 7, 2011

Question:  I have a table where all rows contain a string that I need to change.  For example, please assume that I have to change "north" to south" in all of my table rows.  How do I use SQL to perform a "change all" operation against the entire table?

Answer:  There are several ways to perform a change all for all strings in all rows of a table.  Prior to regular expressions, you performed a change all using using the substr and instr functions, but today you can use the regexp_replace function to quickly change all rows in a table.

For complete examples of doing a change all in Oracle SQL, see the recommended book Advanced Oracle SQL Programming.

Here is how to use the regexp_replace function to change all string in all of your table rows.  Also see how to  change all special characters from table rows

REGEXP_REPLACE is this syntax: 

regexp_replace( source, pattern, replace string, position, occurrence, options)

Something like this will create a test table with all changed values:. 

-- change all characters in a table
 create table
   mytab1
as
select  mycol = regexp_replace(my_column, 'north', 'south')
from mytab;

Once you get this working, you can make a change all string update statement.  In this example, we issue a SQL update to change a string in all table rows:

-- update to change all strings in a table
update
   mytab1
set mycol = mycol = regexp_replace(my_column, 'north', 'south')
from mytab;

 
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