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Remove all special characters from table rows

Oracle Database Tips by Burleson Consulting

January 7, 2015

Question:  I have table rows that contain carriage return characters (\n)and my SQL*Plus output gets messed up.  I need to know the appropriate change all command to remove a string from all rows in my table.  How can I run a "change all" command to remove all occurrences of these special characters?

Answer:  If you know C or C++, the '\n' is the carriage return character.  SQL*PLus read this, and inserts a carriage return.  The "\n" is equivalent to chr(10), and you can insert this into a Oracle string:

-- insert a carriage return between columns
select
   col1||chr(10)||col2
from mytab;

In your case, you need to update all of your rows to remove the carriage returns. . . .
I would use the regexp_replace function to remove the |\n" from the rows:

REGEXP_REPLACE is this syntax: 

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

The source can be a string literal, variable, or column.  The pattern is the expression to be replaced.  The replace string is the text that will replace the matching patterns.  The optional position defines the location to begin searching the source string and it defaults to 1.  The optional occurrence defines the occurrence of the pattern that you want replaced.  This defaults to 0 (all occurrences). 

Something like this might work.  I have not tested this; you may need to "escape" the special character backslash.
 

-- create a test table with all strings in all rows changed
set escape '\'
 create table
   mytab1
as
select  mycol = regexp_replace(my_column, '\n', '')
from mytab;

Once you get this working, you can make a change all string update statement.  In this example, we escape the backslash by following it with a percent sign:
 

-- remove all special characters in a table, escaping the special character
update
   mytab1
set mycol = mycol = regexp_replace(my_column, '\%n', '')
from mytab;

 

 
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