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Debugging MySQL Procedures

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In my second database class we focus on PL/SQL but we’ve begun highlighting the alternatives in MySQL and SQL Server. A student asked how they could debug runtime variable values in a MySQL Stored Procedure (or subroutines according to some documentation). You can see this post for how to create an equivalent solutions for MySQL functions.

In Oracle, we debug with the DBMS_OUTPUT package. Packages, like DBMS_OUTPUT hold related functions and procedures, and are a corollary to System.out.println() in Java.

Before you can see the output at the command-line in Oracle (that is if you’re not using SQL*Developer or Toad), you must set a SQL*Plus environment variable. These variables don’t exist in MySQL or SQL Server command-line tools because they never served the function of a report writer like SQL*Plus.

You enable output display in Oracle by setting this in SQL*Plus:

SQL> SET SERVEROUTPUT ON SIZE 1000000

You can test your anonymous or named block. Since MySQL doesn’t support anonymous named block, the examples using a trivial procedure that prints Hello World! (orginal, right ;-)).

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-- Create a procedure in Oracle.
CREATE OR REPLACE PROCEDURE hello_world IS
BEGIN
  -- Print a word without a line return.
  DBMS_OUTPUT.put('Hello ');
  -- Print the rest of the phrase and a line return.
  DBMS_OUTPUT.put_line('World!');
END;
/
 
-- Call the procedure.
EXECUTE hello_world;

It’s seems useless to print the output because it should be evident. MySQL procedures are a bit different because there’s no OR REPLACE syntax. The equivalent to calling the DBMS_OUTPUT package procedures in MySQL is to simply select a string. Now you can do this with or without the FROM dual clause in MySQL, don’t we wish we could do the same thing in Oracle. :-)

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-- Conditionally drop the procedure.
SELECT 'DROP PROCEDURE hello_world' AS "Statement";
DROP PROCEDURE IF EXISTS hello_world;
 
-- Reset the delimiter to write a procedure.
DELIMITER $$
 
-- Create a procedure in Oracle.
CREATE PROCEDURE hello_world()
BEGIN
  -- Print the phrase and a line return.
  SELECT 'Hello World!';
END;
$$
 
-- Reset the delimiter back to a semicolon to work again.
DELIMITER ;
 
-- Call the procedure.
SELECT 'CALL hello_world' AS "Statement";
CALL hello_world();

Originally, I tried to keep this short but somebody wanted an example in a loop. Ouch, loops are so verbose in MySQL. Since I was modifying this post, it seemed like a good idea to put down some guidelines for successful development too.

Guidelines for Development of Procedures

Declaration Guidelines

The sequencing of components in MySQL procedures is important. Unlike, PL/SQL, there’s no declaration block, declarations must be at the top of the execution block. They also must appear in the following order:

  1. Variable declarations must go first, you can assign initial values with the DEFAULT keyword. While not required, you should:
  • Consider using something like lv_ to identify them as local variables for clarity and support of your code.
  • Consider grouping local variables that relate to handlers at the bottom of the list of variables.
  1. After local variables and before handlers, you put your cursor definitions. You should note that MySQL doesn’t support explicit dynamic cursors, which means you can’t define one with a formal signature. However, you do have prepared statements and they mimic dynamic cursor behaviors.
  2. Last in your declaration block, you declare your handler events.

Execution Guidelines

  1. Variable assignments are made one of two ways:
  • You should start each execution block with a START TRANSACTION and then a SAVEPOINT, which ensures the procedure acts like a cohesive programming unit.
  • You assign a left_operand = right_operand; as a statement.
  • You use the SELECT column INTO variable; syntax to filter a value through SQL functions and assign the resulting expression to a local variable.
  • You assign a single row cursor output to variables using a SELECT column INTO variable FROM ....
  1. You must assign values from cursors called in a loop into local variables when you want to use the results in nested SQL statements or loops.
  2. You must reset looping variables, like the fetched control variable at the end of the loop to reuse the handler variable in subsequent loops.
  3. You must assign values to local variables if you want to use them in the exception handler.
  4. If you’ve started a transaction, don’t forget to COMMIT your work.

Exception Guidelines

  1. Leave out the exception handler until you’ve tested all outcomes, and make sure you document them and add them as potential handlers.
  2. When you deploy exception blocks, they’re the last element at the bottom of the exception block.
  3. You should consider explicit exception handlers for each error unless the action taken is the same.
  4. You should consider grouping all exception handlers when the action taken is the same.
  5. You should include a ROLLBACK whenever you’ve performed two or more SQL statements that may modify data.

Below is an example for putting debug code inside a loop.

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-- Conditionally drop a sample table.
SELECT 'DROP TABLE IF EXISTS sample' AS "Statement";
DROP TABLE IF EXISTS sample;
 
-- Create a table.
CREATE TABLE sample
( sample_id    INT UNSIGNED PRIMARY KEY AUTO_INCREMENT
, sample_msg   VARCHAR(20));
 
-- Insert into sample.
INSERT INTO sample (sample_msg) VALUES
 ('Message #1')
,('Message #2')
,('Message #3');
 
-- Conditionally drop the procedure.
SELECT 'DROP PROCEDURE debug_loop' AS "Statement";
DROP PROCEDURE IF EXISTS debug_loop;
 
-- Reset the delimiter to write a procedure.
DELIMITER $$
 
-- Create a procedure in Oracle.
CREATE PROCEDURE debug_loop()
BEGIN
 
  /* Declare a counter variable. */
  DECLARE lv_counter INT DEFAULT 1;
 
  /* Declare local control loop variables. */
  DECLARE lv_sample_id  INT;
  DECLARE lv_sample_msg VARCHAR(20);
 
  /* Declare a local variable for a subsequent handler. */
  DECLARE duplicate_key INT DEFAULT 0;
  DECLARE fetched INT DEFAULT 0;
 
  /* Declare a SQL cursor fabricated from local variables. */  
  DECLARE sample_cursor CURSOR FOR
    SELECT * FROM sample;
 
  /* Declare a duplicate key handler */
  DECLARE CONTINUE HANDLER FOR 1062 SET duplicate_key = 1;
 
  /* Declare a not found record handler to close a cursor loop. */
  DECLARE CONTINUE HANDLER FOR NOT FOUND SET fetched = 1;
 
  /* Start transaction context. */
  START TRANSACTION;
 
  /* Set savepoint. */  
  SAVEPOINT all_or_none;
 
  /* Open a sample cursor. */
  OPEN sample_cursor;
  cursor_sample: LOOP
 
    /* Fetch a row at a time. */  
    FETCH sample_cursor
    INTO  lv_sample_id
    ,     lv_sample_msg;
 
    /* Place the catch handler for no more rows found
       immediately after the fetch operation.          */
    IF fetched = 1 THEN LEAVE cursor_sample; END IF;
 
    -- Print the cursor values.
    SELECT CONCAT('Row #',lv_counter,' [',lv_sample_id,'][',lv_sample_msg,']') AS "Rows";
 
    -- Increment counter variable.
    SET lv_counter = lv_counter + 1;
 
  END LOOP cursor_sample;
  CLOSE sample_cursor;
 
  /* This acts as an exception handling block. */  
  IF duplicate_key = 1 THEN
 
    /* This undoes all DML statements to this point in the procedure. */
    ROLLBACK TO SAVEPOINT all_or_none;
 
  END IF;
 
END;
$$
 
-- Reset the delimiter back to a semicolon to work again.
DELIMITER ;
 
-- Call the procedure.
SELECT 'CALL debug_loop' AS "Statement";
CALL debug_loop();

This post certainly answers the student question. Hopefully, it also helps other who must migrate Oracle skills to MySQL. Since IBM DB2 has introduced a PL/SQL equivalent, wouldn’t it be nice if Oracle did that for MySQL. That is, migrate PL/SQL to MySQL. Don’t tell me if you think that’s a pipe dream, I’d like to hope for that change.

Written by maclochlainn

February 27th, 2010 at 11:01 pm

2 Responses to 'Debugging MySQL Procedures'

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  1. A post on how you perform assignments from SQL Expressions in MySQL stored procedures.

  2. [...] why the strategy of selecting a string literal didn’t work in a MySQL function. [...]

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