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IDS Forum

Re: NULL situation

Posted By: Art Kagel
Date: Monday, 8 February 2010, at 6:21 p.m.

In Response To: NULL situation (John Adamski)

Adding a DEFAULT clause will not affect existing rows at all. You will not
be able to include a NOT NULL clause though it will fail with an error. You
COULD create a NOT NULL constraint set to FILTERING, but that will just
create rows in the exceptions tables that you will have to process to update
or delete the offending rows, which is just as easy to do without the
constraint. Just run and UPDATE ... SET <col> = <default> WHERE <col> IS
NULL; after adding the default clause to the column.

Art S. Kagel
Advanced DataTools (
IIUG Board of Directors (

See you at the 2010 IIUG Informix Conference
April 25-28, 2010
Overland Park (Kansas City), KS

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that my own opinions are my own opinions and
do not reflect on my employer, Advanced DataTools, the IIUG, nor any other
organization with which I am associated either explicitly, implicitly, or by
inference. Neither do those opinions reflect those of other individuals
affiliated with any entity with which I am affiliated nor those of the
entities themselves.

On Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 4:30 PM, John Adamski <> wrote:

> HPUX 11.23 IDS 10.00.FC9
> We are trying to find the best solution for a situation that our
> third-party
> software and their database design has created. Since we do not have full
> control of the third-party software nor their database design we need a way
> to
> clean up the mess left behind.
> The situation is this: we get null values where the software is not
> expecting
> nulls or is not coded to handle nulls might be more accurate. Most of the
> null
> values come for the software itself. Example might be program A creates a
> row
> in an accounting table and program Q down the road then tries to do
> something
> with that row after a number of other programs have manipulated the data,
> but
> it fails cause a field has a null. Or worse yet is processes the row
> incorrectly because it did not have coding to handle nulls.
> Since we have a bit more flexibility in changing the tables in the system
> rather than the actual software, the tentative plan is to modify the tables
> to
> have default values on the fields we know causes us problems.
> A question came up that I can't remember back to my training 8 years ago so
> want to pose it here. If we add a default to a field already in the table
> will
> it apply that default to null records or will it just apply the default to
> new
> records? My memory say as long as not null clause is not added it will
> leave
> current rows alone.
> Example if we have a NAMES table that has a field called fullname that is a
> char(32) with no default set an also doesn't have the not null clause -
> just a
> plain char(32). And now I alter the table to have a default of blank (''),
> my
> assumption is since null are still allowed it would leave the nulls already
> in
> the table alone. I would have to add the not null clause, which seems like
> a
> catch 22 as wouldn't I get an error cause I have nulls? I need a memory
> refresh.
> alter table modify fullname char(32) default ''; -- only new rows get a
> blank
> value ?
> alter table modify fullname char(32) default '', not null; -- will this
> change
> nulls already in table or cause an error?
> John
> *******************************************************************************
> Forum Note: Use "Reply" to post a response in the discussion forum.


Messages In This Thread

  • NULL situation
    John Adamski -- Monday, 8 February 2010, at 4:30 p.m.
    • RE: NULL situation
      Jarrod Teale -- Monday, 8 February 2010, at 4:52 p.m.
    • Re: NULL situation
      Art Kagel -- Monday, 8 February 2010, at 6:21 p.m.

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