Empty Strings Aren’t Better Than NULLs


Prove me wrong.

23 thoughts on “Empty Strings Aren’t Better Than NULLs

  1. What about ‘NULL’ as a string? That seems like a nice compromise. That way everybody knows what’s going on.

  2. I teach this during t-sql fundamentals, when I compare INTERSECT vs INNER JOIN (two-value logic vs three-value logic).
    You cannot INNER JOIN a NULL-able column that contains, well, NULLs, whereas INTERSECT couldn’t care less about your NULLs (two value logic). Let me rephrase that, you can INNER JOIN, it’s just a terrible idea, that’s all.
    So, by using an empty string instead of NULL you can go old school with JOINs. Like 99,9% of the general population – you know, the ones telling you how cool NoSQL is.

  3. Consider the case of the non-null column where stupid humans, errr,,, ummm… “people” use NULL and Empty strings to mean the same thing.

    Then when they want to find things that don’t have a value, they end up with criteria that looks like one of the following:
    WHERE (SomeColumn IS NULL or SomeColumn = ”)
    WHERE ISNULL(SomeColumn,”) = ”

    In this case, empty strings in a non-null column are much better than having NULLs in the column.

    Do I get to say that I proved you wrong (which would be an extreme rarity by anyone and then only because someone has to do something wrong for you to be wrong)? 😀

  4. p.s. And I agree with Calin… his post is another place where empty strings are better than NULLs but for the same reason.

    Heh… Empty Strings Rock!

      1. I mean, I agree with you.
        I use NULL in my projects (SQL Server and PostgreSQL) and we work well together. NULL has saved my skin many times when some (user or developer) going bullshits.
        It’s probably a matter of habit.

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