SQL SERVER – The Basics of the File System Task – Part 2 – Notes from the Field #075

[Note from Pinal]: This is a new episode of Notes from the Field series. SQL Server Integration Service (SSIS) is one of the most key essential part of the entire Business Intelligence (BI) story. It is a platform for data integration and workflow applications.

SQL SERVER - The Basics of the File System Task - Part 2 - Notes from the Field #075 andyleonard

In this episode of the Notes from the Field series I asked SSIS Expert Andy Leonard a very crucial question – What are the Basics of the File System Task and where do we start with it? Andy was very kind to answer the questions and provides plenty of information about how a novice developer can learn SSIS from the beginning and become expert in the technology.


Many data integration scenarios involve reading data stored in flat files or performing extracts from a relational (or legacy) system into flat files. Learning how to configure and use the SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) File System Task will support your efforts when loading data to and from flat files. In a previous article, I described configuring the File System Task to archive a file. In this article, I will repeat the exercise, but I will add flexibility (and complexity – the two always go together) by using SSIS Variables to manage the Source File and Destination Directory locations. This article is an edited version of The Basics of the File System Task, Part 1. I chose to write it this way for those who find this article but haven’t read Part 1.

Remember: SSIS is a software development platform. With “SQL Server” included in the name, it is easy for people to confuse SSIS as a database tool or accessory, but Control Flow Tasks put that confusion to rest.

SSIS provides several Control Flow tasks. Here is a list that provides a good approximation of which tasks I use most, from most-used to least-used:

In this article I provide an advanced example of configuring the SSIS File System Task, shown in Figure 1:

SQL SERVER - The Basics of the File System Task - Part 2 - Notes from the Field #075 notes-75-1
Figure 1: SSIS File System Task

The File System Task provides one way to implement an SSIS Design Pattern for source file archival. When you first open the File System Task Editor, you will note several properties in the property grid. Whenever you see an Operation property in an SSIS task editor, know that that property drives the other property selections. Options for the Operation property of the SSIS File System Task are shown in Figure 2:
SQL SERVER - The Basics of the File System Task - Part 2 - Notes from the Field #075 notes-75-2
Figure 2: SSIS File System Task Operation Property Options

The Operation options are:

  • Copy directory
  • Copy file (default)
  • Create directory
  • Delete directory
  • Delete directory content
  • Delete file
  • Move directory
  • Move file
  • Rename file
  • Set Attributes

I stated the Operation property drives the other property selections. Take a look at the File System Task Editor when I change the Operation option from “Copy file” (Figure 2) to “Delete file” as shown in Figure 3:
SQL SERVER - The Basics of the File System Task - Part 2 - Notes from the Field #075 notes-75-3
Figure 3: The File System Task Editor with the “Delete file” Operation Selected

See? There are less properties required for the “Delete file” operation. The available properties are even more different for the “Set Attributes” operation, shown in Figure 4:
SQL SERVER - The Basics of the File System Task - Part 2 - Notes from the Field #075 notes-75-4
Figure 4: The File System Task Editor with the “Set Attributes” Operation Selected

The Operation property changes the editable properties, exposing some and hiding others. With flexibility come complexity. Even though the File System Task is complex, I’ve found the task is stable and extremely useful. Let’s look at a practical example; using the File System Task to archive a flat file.

To begin configuring the SSIS File System Task for file archival, select the “Move file” operation as shown in Figure 5:
SQL SERVER - The Basics of the File System Task - Part 2 - Notes from the Field #075 notes-75-5
Figure 5: SSIS File System Task with the “Move file” Operation Selected

Using the IsSourcePathVariable and IsDestinationPathVariable properties extends the flexibility of the File System Task and further changes the list of available properties in the property grid, as shown in Figure 6:
SQL SERVER - The Basics of the File System Task - Part 2 - Notes from the Field #075 notes-75-6
Figure 6: Opting to Use Variables for Source and Destination Paths

Note the SourceConnection and DestinationConnection properties are hidden and the SourceVariable and DestinationVariable properties are available in their place. Click the SourceVariable property dropdown, and click “<New variable…>” as shown in Figure 7:
SQL SERVER - The Basics of the File System Task - Part 2 - Notes from the Field #075 notes-75-7
Figure 7: Selecting “<New variable…>” from the SourceVariable Property

When the Add Variable window displays, enter “SourceFilePath” for the variable name property and a full path to your source file in the Value textbox, as shown in Figure 8:
SQL SERVER - The Basics of the File System Task - Part 2 - Notes from the Field #075 notes-75-8
Figure 8: Configuring the SourceFilePath SSIS Variable

Click the OK button to close the Add Variable window and return to the File System Task Editor. Click the DestinationVariable property dropdown, and then click “<New variable…>” to open a new Add Variable window. Configure the new variable by setting the Name property to “DestinationFolder” and the Value property to a location you wish to move the file, as shown in Figure 9:
SQL SERVER - The Basics of the File System Task - Part 2 - Notes from the Field #075 notes-75-9
Figure 9: Configuring the DestinationFolder SSIS Variable

Click the OK button to close the Add Variable window and return to the File System Task Editor. You have configured an SSIS File System Task to move a file using SSIS Variables to manage the source and destination of the file, as shown in Figure 10:
SQL SERVER - The Basics of the File System Task - Part 2 - Notes from the Field #075 notes-75-10
Figure 10: An SSIS File System Task Configured to Move a File Using SSIS Variables

The SSIS File System Task is now configured to archive a file. Let’s test it! Click the OK button to close the File System Task Editor. Press the F5 key or select SSIS->Start Debugging to test your work. My result is shown in Figure 11:
SQL SERVER - The Basics of the File System Task - Part 2 - Notes from the Field #075 notes-75-11
Figure 11: Successful Test Execution of the SSIS File System Task

Viewing the source and destination directories, we see the file was successfully moved – shown in Figure 12:
SQL SERVER - The Basics of the File System Task - Part 2 - Notes from the Field #075 notes-75-12
Figure 12: The File, Moved!

One tricky part when configuring the SSIS File System Task to move a file is realizing that you need to select the actual file for the source and the directory for the destination.

As I stated earlier, the SSIS File System Task is powerful, flexible, and robust. This article has demonstrated another way you can use the File System Task to archive files. Archiving files after loading the data they contain is a common practice in data integration.

If you want to get started with SSIS with the help of experts, read more over at Fix Your SQL Server.

Reference: Pinal Dave (https://blog.sqlauthority.com)

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