Hadi Fadlallah
Executed data flow

SSIS term extraction vs. term lookup

November 25, 2021 by

This article explains both the SSIS term extraction and term lookup components. Besides, it illustrates the use cases of each one of them.

This article is the eighteenth of the SSIS features face-to-face series that aims to compare similar SSIS components in order to remove any confusion for the data integration developers that use this technology.


While structured data is essential, unstructured data such as plain texts, tweets, and social media posts are even more valuable to businesses if analyzed correctly. It can provide a wealth of insights that statistics and numbers just can’t explain. One of the most popular analyzing techniques is “Text mining” or “Text Analytics”.

Text mining transforms unstructured text into a structured format to identify meaningful patterns and new insights. Nowadays, text analytics is still a hot topic where intelligent algorithms and natural language processing models are being involved and improved continuously.

In SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), two components are developed to help users extract useful information from texts: SSIS term extraction and SSIS term lookup components.

To illustrate those components, we will be analyzing the About section in the Stack Overflow users’ profiles. We will be using the Stack overflow 2013 database.

The "About me" section in the Stack Overflow user profile

Figure 1 – The “About me” section in the Stack Overflow user profile

  • Side Note: All examples in this article are made using SQL Server 2019, Visual Studio 2019, SQL Server Integration Services projects extension version 3.4.

SSIS term extraction

As described in the SSIS toolbox, the term extraction component extracts frequently used English-only terms from an input data flow. Terms and their corresponding score are written to output data columns.

SSIS term extraction description in the Visual Studio toolbox

Figure 2 – SSIS term extraction description in the Visual Studio toolbox

As mentioned in the official documentation, the term extraction process is done :

  1. Words identification: Removing unnecessary characters and symbols from words
  2. Tagging words: Separating nouns, verbs, numbers, adjectives…
  3. Words Stemming: The SSIS Term Extraction transformation stems from nouns to extract only a noun’s singular form
  4. Normalization: The Term Extraction transformation normalizes terms that are capitalized only because of their position in a sentence and uses their non-capitalized form instead
  5. Case-Sensitive Normalization: The Term Extraction transformation can be configured to consider lowercase and uppercase words as distinct terms or variants of the same term
  6. Sentence and Word Boundaries: Separating text into sentences

The SSIS Text Extraction transformation uses internal algorithms and statistical models to generate its results.

To demonstrate how to use this component, we created an SSIS package. We defined two OLE DB connection managers; one for the Stack Overflow database and the other for the destination database. Then, we added a data flow task. In the data flow task, we added an OLE DB source, a term extraction component, and an OLE DB Destination.

Data flow task

Figure 3 – Data flow task

The SSIS term extraction editor contains three configuration tabs: Term extraction, Exclusion, and Advanced.

In the term extraction tab page, we should select the column that contains the text to be analyzed. In addition, we should specify the names of the two output columns generated by the SSIS term extraction component:

  1. Term: The extracted terms column
  2. Score: The term score (Method is selected in the advanced tab page)

Term extraction tab page in the SSIS term extraction editor

Figure 4 – Term extraction tab page

In the Exclusion tab page, we can select a table that contains a list of terms to be excluded in the component output. The SSIS term extraction component only supports OLE DB connection managers for exclusion tables.

Exclusion tab page in the term extraction editor

Figure 5 – Exclusion tab page

The Advanced tab page contains several configurations:

  1. Term Type:
    1. Noun: Specify that the transformation extracts individual nouns only
    2. Noun phrase: Specify that the transformation extracts noun phrases only
    3. Noun and noun phrase: Specify that the transformation extracts both nouns and noun phrases
  2. Score Type:
    1. Frequency: Specify that the score is the frequency of the term
    2. TFIDF: Specify that the score is the TF*IDF value of the term

      The TFIDF score is the product of Term Frequency and Inverse Document Frequency. It is a numerical statistic intended to reflect how important a word is to a document in a collection

      TFIDF of a Term T = (frequency of T) * log( (#rows in Input) / (#rows having T))

  3. Parameters:
    1. Frequency threshold: Specify the number of times a word or phrase must occur before extracting it
    2. Maximum length of term: Specify the maximum length of a phrase in words
  4. Options:
    1. Use case-sensitive term extraction: Specify whether to make the extraction case-sensitive

Advanced tab page in the term extraction editor

Figure 6 – Advanced tab page

After executing the package, we can check that 130345 terms were extracted from 2465713 users in the Stack Overflow 2013.

Executed data flow task

Figure 7 – Executed data flow task

Let us check what the frequency of some of the Job Titles is. We can do that using a simple SQL query:

For instance, we can check that 11917 users mentioned the word “Software Developer” term while Data Scientist is mentioned “624” time.

Querying job titles in the destination table

Figure 8 – Querying job titles in the destination table

For more information about the term extraction transformation, you can refer to the following SQL Shack article: Term Extraction Transformation in SSIS.

SSIS term lookup

As described in the SSIS toolbox, the term lookup determines how frequently specific terms occur in a data flow. This component is similar to the SSIS term extraction. The main difference is that the term lookup looks for the frequency of terms that matches a reference table within each text instead of extracting all terms from all texts provided.

SSIS term lookup description in the SSIS toolbox

Figure 9 – SSIS term lookup description in the SSIS toolbox

To demonstrate the SSIS term lookup, we created a reference table named “JobTitles”, where we inserted few job titles. In the data flow task, we replace the SSIS term extraction component with a term lookup.

There are also three configuration tab pages in the SSIS term lookup editor: Reference table, term lookup, and Advanced.

In the reference table tab page, we should specify the SQL table that contains the list of terms we are looking to use as a reference in our extraction process.

Reference table tab page in the SSIS term lookup editor

Figure 10 – Reference table tab page

In the term lookup tab page, we should select the columns we need to pass-through this transformation (keep them in the data pipeline). Besides, we should link the input columns with the lookup column (the one that contains the reference terms).

Term lookup tab page in the SSIS term lookup editor

Figure 11 – Term lookup tab page

In the “Advanced” tab page, only enabling case-sensitive term extraction option is available.

Advanced tab page in the SSIS term lookup editor

Figure 12 – Advanced tab page

After configuring the SSIS term lookup transformation and setting up the destination component, let us execute the package. As we can see in the image below, 18075 rows were generated as output. The number of rows is smaller than the SSIS term extraction output since only the terms in the reference table are valid.

Executed data flow

Figure 13 – Executed data flow

If we check the generated data, we can see that the score generated is per user. This means it shows how many times a specific term is found in each user’s “about me” section.

Term lookup generated data

Figure 14 – Term lookup generated data

For example, if we check the highest score of a term, we can find that the term “Software developer” is mentioned 45 times by the user 2427022.

Highest term score

Figure 15 – Highest term score

It is not normal that we have a similar number of occurrences in a single about me section. Let us check what the original text stored by querying the “users” table is.

Retrieving the "about me" column

Figure 16 – Retrieving the “about me” column

As shown in the images, the user repeated the software developer term 45 times in his about me section. This means that if using the term extraction component, the frequency of the term may be affected by those strange cases, while the SSIS term lookup gives more insights.

About me" column content

Figure 17 – “About me” column content


In this article, we illustrated the difference between the SSIS term extraction and term lookup transformations.

At the end of this article, it is worth mentioning that we may have to run the term extraction transformation several times and examine the results to configure the component to generate the type of results that works for our text mining solution. Besides, term lookup may give us a much-detailed output in several cases, especially when having unexpected issues, as we mentioned in the article.

Table of contents

SSIS OLE DB Source: SQL Command vs Table or View
SSIS Expression Tasks vs Evaluating variables as expressions
SSIS OLE DB Destination vs SQL Server Destination
Execute SQL Task in SSIS: SqlStatementSource Expressions vs Variable Source Types
Execute SQL Task in SSIS: Output Parameters vs Result Sets
SSIS Derived Columns with Multiple Expressions vs Multiple Transformations
SSIS Data types: Change from the Advanced Editor vs Data Conversion Transformations
SSIS Connection Managers: OLE DB vs ODBC vs ADO.NET
SSIS Flat Files vs Raw Files
SSIS Foreach Loop vs For Loop Container
SSIS: Execute T-SQL Statement Task vs Execute SQL Task
SSIS Lookup transformation vs. Fuzzy Lookup transformation
SSIS Pivot transformation vs. Unpivot transformation
SSIS Merge Join vs. Merge Transformation
Data Access Modes in SSIS OLE DB Destination: SQL Command vs. Table or View
SSIS XML Source vs XML task
SSIS Script task vs. Script Component
SSIS term extraction vs. term lookup
Hadi Fadlallah
ETL, Integration Services (SSIS)

About Hadi Fadlallah

Hadi is an SQL Server professional with more than 10 years of experience. His main expertise is in data integration. He's one of the top ETL and SQL Server Integration Services contributors at Stackoverflow.com . Also, he published several article series about Biml, SSIS features, Search engines, Hadoop, and many other technologies. Besides working with SQL Server, he worked with different data technologies such as NoSQL databases, Hadoop, Apache Spark. He is a MongoDB, Neo4j, and ArangoDB certified professional. On the academic level, Hadi holds two master's degrees in computer science and business computing. Currently, he is a Ph.D. candidate in data science focusing on Big Data quality assessment techniques. Hadi really enjoys learning new things everyday and sharing his knowledge. You can reach him on his personal website. View all posts by Hadi Fadlallah