Microsoft KB Archive/248915

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How to show expanding hierarchies by using SQL Server

Article ID: 248915

Article Last Modified on 12/20/2005


  • Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2000 64-bit Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 6.5 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Developer Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Workgroup Edition

This article was previously published under Q248915



Databases frequently store hierarchical information. For more details about hierarchical information, see the "Expanding Hierarchies" topic in Microsoft SQL Server Books Online. The "Expanding Hierarchies" topic has a detailed Transact-SQL procedure that expands an encoded hierarchy to any arbitrary depth.

NOTE: The SQL Books Online procedure declares @level, which is a reserved word in SQL Server 6.5 and SQL Server 7.0. Level is no longer a reserved word in SQL Server 2000 and in SQL Server 2005. The following code is a corrected version of this procedure in which @lvl is substituted for the reserved word so that it works on all versions. The procedure is enhanced to include the CREATE TABLE statement, CREATE INDEX samples, and INSERT statements that are required to demonstrate the example.

Following is the updated code sample:

CREATE TABLE hierarchy
        (parent VARCHAR(20) NOT NULL,
         child VARCHAR(20),
CONSTRAINT UIX_parentchild
         UNIQUE NONCLUSTERED (parent,child)
 ON hierarchy(parent)
INSERT hierarchy VALUES('World','Europe')
INSERT hierarchy VALUES('World','North America')
INSERT hierarchy VALUES('Europe','France')
INSERT hierarchy VALUES('France','Paris')
INSERT hierarchy VALUES('North America','United States')
INSERT hierarchy VALUES('North America','Canada')
INSERT hierarchy VALUES('United States','New York')
INSERT hierarchy VALUES('United States','Washington')
INSERT hierarchy VALUES('New York','New York City')
INSERT hierarchy VALUES('Washington','Redmond')

CREATE PROCEDURE expand (@current char(20)) as  --This is a non-recursive preorder traversal.
 DECLARE @lvl int, @line char(20)

 CREATE TABLE #stack (item char(20), lvl int)   --Create a tempory stack.
 INSERT INTO #stack VALUES (@current, 1)    --Insert current node to the stack.
 SELECT @lvl = 1                
 WHILE @lvl > 0                  --From the top level going down.
        IF EXISTS (SELECT * FROM #stack WHERE lvl = @lvl)
                SELECT @current = item  --Find the first node that matches current node's name.
                FROM #stack
                WHERE lvl = @lvl

                SELECT @line = space(@lvl - 1) + @current   --@lvl - 1 s spaces before the node name.
                PRINT @line                 --Print it.

                DELETE FROM #stack
                WHERE lvl = @lvl
                    AND item = @current --Remove the current node from the stack.

                INSERT #stack       --Insert the childnodes of the current node into the stack.
                    SELECT child, @lvl + 1
                    FROM hierarchy
                    WHERE parent = @current

                IF @@ROWCOUNT > 0        --If the previous statement added one or more nodes, go down for its first child.
                        SELECT @lvl = @lvl + 1  --If no nodes are added, check its brother nodes.
            SELECT @lvl = @lvl - 1      --Back to the level immediately above.
END                         --While

EXEC expand 'World'


The result is World North America United States Washington Redmond New York New York City Canada Europe France Paris
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For additional information, see the "Expanding Hierarchies" topic in Microsoft SQL Server Books Online.

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Keywords: kbhowtomaster KB248915