I have a table with a column called hold_dt which is of type VARCHAR2. I use it to 'hold' the date field stored...
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as a character, formatted as ddmmyy. I also have a date column in the same table which is of type DATE. How do I use the hold_dt column to populate the real date column? This problem requires that the database be capable of converting a character string to a date. Fortunately, most are. Sadly, they all do it differently. However, the considerations for dealing with the conversion apply to all databases, so since you're using Oracle, let's look at the problem using Oracle's TO_DATE() function --
update yourTable set theDatefield = TO_DATE(hold_dt,'DDMMYY')
There are several things to watch out for:
NULLs in hold_dt will give NULLs in theDatefield
If you want to set a valid date instead, use COALESCE() --
update yourTable set theDatefield = TO_DATE(COALESCE(hold_dt,'311299'),'DDMMYY')
invalid dates in hold_dt will cause exceptions
If you have blanks, for example, do two passes --
update yourTable set theDatefield = TO_DATE(hold_dt,'DDMMYY') where hold_dt <> '';
update yourTable set theDatefield = TO_DATE('311299','DDMMYY') where hold_dt = '';
converted dates will include times that default to midnight
Oracle DATE fields include a time. If you later want to compare the converted dates against, say, SYSDATE, chances are infinitessimal that they will match (those chances being the same as the query running at exactly midnight). Use TRUNC() to compare just the date portions --
select "a hit! a palpable hit!" from yourTable where TRUNC(theDatefield) = TRUNC(SYSDATE)
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