Recursive CTE - Part 51

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A CTE that references itself is called as recursive CTE. Recursive CTE's can be of great help when displaying hierarchical data. Example, displaying employees in an organization hierarchy. A simple organization chart is shown below.

Let's create tblEmployee table, which holds the data, that's in the organization chart.
Create Table tblEmployee
  EmployeeId int Primary key,
  Name nvarchar(20),
  ManagerId int

Insert into tblEmployee values (1, 'Tom', 2)
Insert into tblEmployee values (2, 'Josh'null)
Insert into tblEmployee values (3, 'Mike', 2)
Insert into tblEmployee values (4, 'John', 3)
Insert into tblEmployee values (5, 'Pam', 1)
Insert into tblEmployee values (6, 'Mary', 3)
Insert into tblEmployee values (7, 'James', 1)
Insert into tblEmployee values (8, 'Sam', 5)
Insert into tblEmployee values (9, 'Simon', 1)

Since, a MANAGER is also an EMPLOYEE, both manager and employee details are stored in tblEmployee table. Data from tblEmployee is shown below.

Let's say, we want to display, EmployeeName along with their ManagerName. The ouptut should be as shown below.

To achieve this, we can simply join tblEmployee with itself. Joining a table with itself is called as self join. We discussed about Self Joins in Part 14 of this video series. In the output, notice that since JOSH does not have a Manager, we are displaying 'Super Boss', instead of NULL. We used IsNull(), function to replace NULL with 'Super Boss'. If you want to learn more about replacing NULL values, please watch Part 15.
Select Employee.Name as [Employee Name],
IsNull(Manager.Name, 'Super Boss'as [Manager Name]
from tblEmployee Employee
left join tblEmployee Manager
on Employee.ManagerId = Manager.EmployeeId

Along with Employee and their Manager name, we also want to display their level in the organization. The output should be as shown below.

We can easily achieve this using a self referencing CTE.
  EmployeesCTE (EmployeeId, Name, ManagerId, [Level])
    Select EmployeeId, Name, ManagerId, 1
    from tblEmployee
    where ManagerId is null
    union all
    Select tblEmployee.EmployeeId, tblEmployee.Name, 
    tblEmployee.ManagerId, EmployeesCTE.[Level] + 1
    from tblEmployee
    join EmployeesCTE
    on tblEmployee.ManagerID = EmployeesCTE.EmployeeId
Select EmpCTE.Name as Employee, Isnull(MgrCTE.Name, 'Super Boss'as Manager, 
from EmployeesCTE EmpCTE
left join EmployeesCTE MgrCTE
on EmpCTE.ManagerId = MgrCTE.EmployeeId

The EmployeesCTE contains 2 queries with UNION ALL operator. The first query selects the EmployeeId, Name, ManagerId, and 1 as the level from tblEmployee where ManagerId is NULL. So, here we are giving a LEVEL = 1 for super boss (Whose Manager Id is NULL). In the second query, we are joining tblEmployee with EmployeesCTE itself, which allows us to loop thru the hierarchy. Finally to get the reuired output, we are joining EmployeesCTE with itself.


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