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MySQL nuances not in Oracle

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I use Alan Beaulieu’s book in my entry level SQL class because it is simple and short. The problem is that we focus on Oracle products as an Oracle Academic Partner. Three items that come up frequently are the MySQL ENUM and SET data types, and how to perform multiple row inserts.

MySQL’s ENUM data type

The ENUM data type lets you enter a list of possible string values. It acts like a check constraint in an Oracle database. As such, it restricts what you enter in the column to a value found in the list, or a NULL value provided you’ve not added a not null column constraint.

You could define a table that contains video store item types, like the following:

CREATE TABLE item_type
( id INT
, text ENUM ('VHS','DVD','Blu-ray') );

You should note that the case sensitivity for display is set by how you define them in the ENUM data type when you create the table. They may be entered in mixed, lowercase, or uppercase in an INSERT statement because they’re actually stored as a number. The numbers correlate to their order in an internal list of values, and that list start with the number one.

An alternative syntax with a VARCHAR data type is:

CREATE TABLE item_type
( id INT
, TYPE VARCHAR(20) CHECK ( TYPE IN ('DVD','VHS','Blu-ray') ));

In MySQL, this syntax is exactly equivalent in behavior to an ENUM data type. The same isn’t true in an Oracle database. While the equivalent check constraint statement is simple, it isn’t alike behavior. The comparable statement for Oracle names the constraint. You can’t name constraints in MySQL.

CREATE TABLE item_type
( id   NUMBER
, TYPE VARCHAR2(20) CONSTRAINT it_type CHECK ( TYPE IN ('DVD','VHS','Blu-ray') ));

The difference between an ENUM type and a check constraint in MySQL is that the data may not display in a uniform way. MySQL check constraints don’t impose case sensitive validation on input strings, and they also store the data however it is input. Whereas, Oracle does impose case sensitive check constraints and rejects non-conforming strings.

Both databases support single and multiple row INSERT statements. The syntax for single row INSERT statements is very much alike. Multiple row INSERT statement syntax differs between the implementations, as shown later in the blog post.

MySQL’s SET data type

The SET data type lets you enter a list of possible string values but differs from the ENUM data type only in how the values are indexed. Values in the SET are stored as bit values. You may store up to 64 members in a set.

You create a table the same way as you did with ENUM data type, except that you use the SET key word.

CREATE TABLE item_type
( id INT
, TYPE SET ('DVD','VHS','Blu-ray'));

All insert patterns shown for the ENUM data type work with the SET data type.

Multiple row INSERT statements

The most common multiple row insert statement in MySQL is a comma delimited set of parenthetical values. Each parenthetical set of values maps to a row in the INSERT statement.

INSERT INTO item_type
VALUES
( 1, 'DVD' ), ( 2, 'Blu-ray'), ( 3, 'VHS' );

You can’t use the foregoing syntax in Oracle. Oralce only supports a multiple row insert with a subquery.

You can write a subquery in MySQL that fabricates an aggregate table by using numeric and string literals, like the following statement.

INSERT INTO item_type
SELECT 1, 'DVD'
UNION ALL
SELECT 2, 'Blu-ray'
UNION ALL
SELECT 3, 'VHS' ;

Another way to perform multiple row inserts in MySQL is to select from an existing table or filtered result set, like this:

INSERT INTO item_type
SELECT some_int, some_varchar FROM some_table;

You raise an error when you use parentheses in a multiple INSERT statement in MySQL. It’s important to note because the Oracle allows you to write the statement either way.

If you’re coming from MySQL to Oracle, you should note that you may use parentheses to enclose a subquery in Oracle. The Oracle SQL parser works with or without them in an INSERT statement.

The MySQL subquery example is the closest to the Oracle syntax for a multiple row insert. The difference is that Oracle give you the option to enclose a subquery in parentheses when using them inside INSERT statements. Oracle requires that you use the FROM dual clause. I actually wish Oracle would adopt the shorter syntax and maintain backward compatibility to the dual pseudo table.

INSERT INTO item_type
( SELECT 1, 'DVD' FROM dual
  UNION ALL
  SELECT 2, 'Blu-ray' FROM dual
  UNION ALL
  SELECT 3, 'VHS'  FROM dual);

Another way to perform a multiple row insert is to select from an existing table, like this:

INSERT INTO item_type
(SELECT some_int, some_varchar FROM some_table);

Other resources:

You should check Oracle’s document that qualifies differences between MySQL and Oracle. It is the Oracle┬« Database SQL Developer Supplementary Information for MySQL Migrations.


Written by maclochlainn

February 19th, 2009 at 2:58 am

Posted in MySQL,Oracle,sql

2 Responses to 'MySQL nuances not in Oracle'

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  1. Mike, there’s a cut-paste error in the Oracle multi-row insert example; the FROM DUAL clauses are missing. The statement should be:

    INSERT INTO item_type
    ( SELECT 1, ‘DVD’ FROM DUAL
    UNION ALL
    SELECT 2, ‘Blu-ray’ FROM DUAL
    UNION ALL
    SELECT 3, ‘VHS’ FROM DUAL);

    Chris Jones

    20 Feb 09 at 4:12 pm

  2. Thanks Chris, it’s so much nicer now that the code agrees with my commentary … ;-) Oops!

    maclochlainn

    20 Feb 09 at 5:18 pm

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