DBA Tips Archive for Oracle


Convert Numbers to Words

by Brian Membrey, The PaperBag Software Company Pty Ltd

I guess a mundane exercise that most programmers cop at some stage is having to convert a number (123) into a text equivalent (ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THREE) - for cheques, group certificates, etc. Probably the code involved a loop stripping out the numerals and then applying a value according to the relative position within the overall value.

Although it winds a strange path via date functions, SQL*Plus actually provides a mechanism for automating much of this process. Executing the following :

    SELECT TO_CHAR ( TO_DATE ( TO_CHAR ( 103465, '99999999999') , 'J'),  'JSP') FROM dual;


If we break the statement into each component function, then what happens is :

SP can be used in a number of situations. For example, if SYSDATE is 26-AUG-98, then :

    SELECT TO_CHAR ( SYSDATE, 'DdSp') FROM dual;    -- spells the day as Twenty-Six, 

Some simple manipulations can be included with the base conversion to cover floating numbers or currencies (email brianm@lt.com.au for source), eg. 103465.27 becomes ONE HUNDRED AND THREE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIVE DOLLARS AND TWENTY-SEVEN CENTS.

One covenant however : if in your mad appreciation of this trivia you want to send me a cheque for more than $5,373,484.00, then you'll have to write it manually, or send more than one cheque!

SQL*Plus restricts Julian days to between 1 and 5373484, which won't be a problem for most applications, but should be borne in mind before using the technique in anger.

5373484 represents 31-Dec-9999, so this may be Oracle's way of introducing us to a Year 10K problem!

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