This is one of the many custom sorting we do with SQL queries. In few cases we may need to sort all records of a result set in a particular order except one specific row containing some specific value, which we may want to keep on the top of all other rows or we may like to move it to the bottom. Now, let’s relate this to few real time scenarios.
Sometimes we need an element to be placed at bottom in the list. For example, a Dropdownlist containing educational qualifications may contain an item with text as “Other”. While showing all these educational qualifications from database we may need this particular element (i.e, “Other”) to move to the bottom in the list. If we try to sort this list in the SELECT query by normal ORDER BY keyword (like ORDER BY Qualification) then we may not get the desired sequence.
To get the desired result we need to use CASE WHEN keyword along with ORDER BY. Let’s illustrate this with following example-
Simple ORDER BY :
SELECT * FROM ( SELECT 'I.Sc.' AS Qualification UNION SELECT 'B.Sc.' AS Qualification UNION SELECT 'Other' AS Qualification UNION SELECT 'P.G.' AS Qualification UNION SELECT 'MCA' AS Qualification UNION SELECT 'DCA' AS Qualification UNION SELECT 'P.H.D' AS Qualification ) AS TBL ORDER BY Qualification
ORDER BY with CASE WHEN :
SELECT * FROM ( SELECT 'I.Sc.' AS Qualification UNION SELECT 'B.Sc.' AS Qualification UNION SELECT 'Other' AS Qualification UNION SELECT 'P.G.' AS Qualification UNION SELECT 'MCA' AS Qualification UNION SELECT 'DCA' AS Qualification UNION SELECT 'P.H.D' AS Qualification ) AS TBL ORDER BY CASE WHEN Qualification='Other' THEN 'ZZZZZ' ELSE Qualification END
Here we have set the value of item “Other” as “ZZZZZ” while the sorting is being done. Generally “ZZZZZ” will be the last item in any real world list and hence will move to the last.
In some other cases we may need the desired item to be moved to top of the result set. An example for this situation can be, a Dropdownlist containing items for Book Category. The list may have an item with text “General” , which is meant for those books whose category is not clearly known. Let’s assume that most of the books are supposed to belong this category. Then we have to place this item in the first index of the Dropdownlist so that it will be easier for user to pick the item. Now, we need a little modification in the ORDER BY clause as follows.
ORDER BY CASE WHEN Qualification='General' THEN NULL ELSE Qualification END
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