String replace using concatenated strings from various columns

All we need is an easy explanation of the problem, so here it is.

I’d like to remove a substring in a column via update statement. The substring to replace consists of multiple strings from other different columns but in strict order.

The specification says:

replace(string text, from text, to text)


field1                     |field2       |field3      |field4 
(varchar)bla abla 123 ooops|(varchar)abla|(varchar)123|(varchar) ooops

The substring to replace consists of strings in field2, field3, field4 and blanks between field2 and field3, field3 and field4. In the given example: “abla 123 ooops”.

So, after performing the update statement field1 should only contain the string “bla”.

Note: I want to perform this on all rows and not to a particular one.

How to solve :

I know you bored from this bug, So we are here to help you! Take a deep breath and look at the explanation of your problem. We have many solutions to this problem, But we recommend you to use the first method because it is tested & true method that will 100% work for you.

Method 1

Depending on how you would want to deal with possible NULL values, concat_ws() is probably your safest and simplest way to go:

SET filed1 = replace(field1, concat_ws(' ', field2, field3, field4), '')
WHERE filed1 IS DISTINCT FROM replace(field1, concat_ws(' ', field2, field3, field4), '')

concat_ws() ignores NULL values. With plain concatenation (||), one NULL field would make the whole pattern NULL. It was introduced with Postgres 9.1.

The added WHERE clause prevents empty updates. This enhances performance a lot if many rows wouldn’t change anyway.

Note: Use and implement method 1 because this method fully tested our system.
Thank you 🙂

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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