Systems Engineering and RDBMS

Using schema.ini when reading a text file with openrowset()

Posted by decipherinfosys on October 6, 2009

At a client site, their existing code was using openrowset() to read and upload the text files (this process was later on changed to use a SSIS package to have a more robust process).  And a couple of days back, that nightly process failed because the demiliter was present as part of the column string itself.   The problem was that as part of the openrowset() command, there was no way to specify the delimiter and it relied on the default delimiters.  Here is a sample of how the command looked like:

declare @file varchar(100), @cmd varchar(1000)
select @file = 'dataupload_' + convert(varchar(10), getdate(), 112) + '.txt'

select @cmd =
'select * from OpenRowset(''MSDASQL'',''Driver={Microsoft Text Driver (*.txt; *.csv)}; DefaultDir=Z:\Inbound_Feed;'',''select * from '+@file+''') as X'
print @cmd

The output was:

select * from OpenRowset('MSDASQL','Driver={Microsoft Text Driver (*.txt; *.csv)}; DefaultDir=Z:\Inbound_Feed;','select * from dataupload_20091006.txt') as X

In order to be able to specify a delimiter when reading a text file like this, one needs to take the following steps:

1) Create a file called Schema.ini file.  You can read more about the contents of this file from this msdn post – here.

For our purposes, this file needed to have these enteries:


The first entry is the name of the file, the second specifies that the first row has column names and the third entry specifies the custom delimiter.

2) This file needs to be placed in the same folder where the text file is going to be read from.

Once you do that, the upload will go through fine.  As you can see from above, it is a cumbersome process (can be automated through scripts though) and that is why we converted this into a SSIS package with all the bells and whistles and it works like a charm. But wanted to put it out there in case our readers face this issue.


  • Schema.ini documentation – here.
  • Openrowset() documentation – here.

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