From SQL Aggregate Functions (Office 2007) there are only these GROUP BY aggregate functions in Access SQL:

Count(), Sum(), Avg(), 
First(), Last(), Min(), Max(), 
StDev(), StDevP(), Var(), VarP()

From PostgreSQL Aggregate Functions there are (among others) also these aggregate functions in PostgreSQL:

array_agg (expression)
  -- input values, including nulls, concatenated into an array

string_agg (expression, delimiter)
  -- input values concatenated into a string, separated by delimiter

How to get the equivalent of array or string GROUP BY aggregate functions in Access? Is it possible to build Access SQL aggregate functions? In case it's not clear, if I this data

ID col
1  A
1  B
1  C
2  A
3  A
3  B

how can I get the following aggregation?

ID cols
1  A, B, C
2  A
3  A, B

Do I have to resort to VBA? Any other ideas?

I'm using Access 2007 - 2010, but if things are different in a newer version, please let me know.

1 Answer 1


Access does come with a set of domain aggregation functions. An overview of these can be found here or in the MSN documentation here. There is, unfortunately, no native domain concatenation function.

Fortunately, Patrick Matthews has published a domain concatenation function here (and reproduced below to guard against link rot) that will accomplish what you're looking for.

From the documentation of DConcat():

SELECT DConcat("Account","Sample") AS Accounts
FROM Sample
GROUP BY DConcat("Account","Sample");

Acct1, Acct10, Acct2, Acct3, Acct4, Acct5, Acct6, Acct7, Acct8, Acct9

For the specific example in question:

SELECT ID, DConcat("col","YourTable", "ID=1") AS cols
FROM YourTable
GROUP BY ID, DConcat("col","YourTable", "ID=1")

Should return these values:

ID cols
1  A, B, C

Then repeat for each different required ID value.

Function DConcat(ConcatColumns As String, Tbl As String, Optional Criteria As String = "", _
    Optional Delimiter1 As String = ", ", Optional Delimiter2 As String = ", ", _
    Optional Distinct As Boolean = True, Optional Sort As String = "Asc", _
    Optional Limit As Long = 0)

    ' Function by Patrick G. Matthews, basically embellishing an approach seen in many
    ' incarnations over the years

    ' Requires reference to Microsoft DAO library

    ' This function is intended as a "domain aggregate" that concatenates (and delimits) the
    ' various values rather than the more usual Count, Sum, Min, Max, etc.  For example:
    '    Select Field1, DConcat("Field2", "SomeTable", "[Field1] = '" & Field1 & "'") AS List
    '    FROM SomeTable
    '    GROUP BY Field1
    ' will return the distinct values of Field1, along with a concatenated list of all the
    ' distinct Field2 values associated with each Field1 value.

    ' ConcatColumns is a comma-delimited list of columns to be concatenated (typically just
    '   one column, but the function accommodates multiple).  Place field names in square
    '   brackets if they do not meet the customary rules for naming DB objects
    ' Tbl is the table/query the data are pulled from.  Place table name in square brackets
    '   if they do not meet the customary rules for naming DB objects
    ' Criteria (optional) are the criteria to be applied in the grouping.  Be sure to use And
    '   or Or as needed to build the right logic, and to encase text values in single quotes
    '   and dates in #
    ' Delimiter1 (optional) is the delimiter used in the concatenation (default is ", ").
    '   Delimiter1 is applied to each row in the code query's result set
    ' Delimiter2 (optional) is the delimiter used in concatenating each column in the result
    '   set if ConcatColumns specifies more than one column (default is ", ")
    ' Distinct (optional) determines whether the distinct values are concatenated (True,
    '   default), or whether all values are concatenated (and thus may get repeated)
    ' Sort (optional) indicates whether the concatenated string is sorted, and if so, if it is
    '   Asc or Desc.  Note that if ConcatColumns has >1 column and you use Desc, only the last
    '   column gets sorted
    ' Limit (optional) places a limit on how many items are placed into the concatenated string.
    '   The Limit argument works as a TOP N qualifier in the SELECT clause

    Dim rs As DAO.Recordset
    Dim SQL As String
    Dim ThisItem As String
    Dim FieldCounter As Long

    On Error GoTo ErrHandler

    ' Initialize to Null

    DConcat = Null

    ' Build up a query to grab the information needed for the concatenation

    SQL = "SELECT " & IIf(Distinct, "DISTINCT ", "") & _
            IIf(Limit > 0, "TOP " & Limit & " ", "") & _
            ConcatColumns & " " & _
        "FROM " & Tbl & " " & _
        IIf(Criteria <> "", "WHERE " & Criteria & " ", "") & _
        Switch(Sort = "Asc", "ORDER BY " & ConcatColumns & " Asc", _
            Sort = "Desc", "ORDER BY " & ConcatColumns & " Desc", True, "")

    ' Open the recordset and loop through it:
    ' 1) Concatenate each column in each row of the recordset
    ' 2) Concatenate the resulting concatenated rows in the function's return value

    Set rs = CurrentDb.OpenRecordset(SQL)
    With rs
        Do Until .EOF

            ' Initialize variable for this row

            ThisItem = ""

            ' Concatenate columns on this row

            For FieldCounter = 0 To rs.Fields.Count - 1
                ThisItem = ThisItem & Delimiter2 & Nz(rs.Fields(FieldCounter).Value, "")

            ' Trim leading delimiter

            ThisItem = Mid(ThisItem, Len(Delimiter2) + 1)

            ' Concatenate row result to function return value

            DConcat = Nz(DConcat, "") & Delimiter1 & ThisItem
    End With

    ' Trim leading delimiter

    If Not IsNull(DConcat) Then DConcat = Mid(DConcat, Len(Delimiter1) + 1)

    GoTo Cleanup


    ' Error is most likely an invalid database object name, or bad syntax in the Criteria

    DConcat = CVErr(Err.Number)

    Set rs = Nothing

End Function
  • 1
    One thing to note about all domain functions in Access is that they are extremely slow at runtime. If it's still an option to reengineer the solution to not require them, that is probably preferable in the long term. Apr 20, 2015 at 21:04

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