Creating Timestamps in Postgres from Date and Time Columns Without Leading Zeros

Today’s challenge is to read data from a CSV file and construct usable timestamps. This is the layout of the file, notice the missing leading zeros in the month, hour and seconds fields:

"2011/3/15 ";"6:17:3 "
"2011/3/15 ";"6:17:8 "
"2011/3/15 ";"6:17:13 "
"2011/3/15 ";"6:17:18 "
"2011/3/15 ";"6:17:23 "

To get the data into Postgres, I used the copy command with csv header option. The table has to exist already. “csv header” tells the command to ignore the file’s header line.

copy mytable 
from '~/my.csv' 
csv header;

Now, we have to handle the “missing leading zeros” problem. Luckily, Postgres offers a template pattern modifier that addresses exactly this problem: the “FM” (fill mode) prefix. The pattern for a month without leading zeros therefore is ‘FMMM’. The full to_timestamp command looks like this:

update mytable
set utc_timestamp = to_timestamp(utc_date||' '||utc_time,'YYYY/FMMM/FMDD FMHH24:FMMI:FMSS' )

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