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1.9.4. MySQL Extensions to Standard SQL

MySQL Server supports some extensions that you probably won't find in other SQL DBMSs. Be warned that if you use them, your code won't be portable to other SQL servers. In some cases, you can write code that includes MySQL extensions, but is still portable, by using comments of the following form:

/*! MySQL-specific code */

In this case, MySQL Server parses and executes the code within the comment as it would any other SQL statement, but other SQL servers will ignore the extensions. For example, MySQL Server recognizes the STRAIGHT_JOIN keyword in the following statement, but other servers will not:

SELECT /*! STRAIGHT_JOIN */ col1 FROM table1,table2 WHERE ...

If you add a version number after the ‘!’ character, the syntax within the comment is executed only if the MySQL version is greater than or equal to the specified version number. The TEMPORARY keyword in the following comment is executed only by servers from MySQL 3.23.02 or higher:


The following descriptions list MySQL extensions, organized by category.

  • Organization of data on disk

    MySQL Server maps each database to a directory under the MySQL data directory, and maps tables within a database to filenames in the database directory. This has a few implications:

    • Database and table names are case sensitive in MySQL Server on operating systems that have case-sensitive filenames (such as most Unix systems). See Section 9.2.2, “Identifier Case Sensitivity”.

    • You can use standard system commands to back up, rename, move, delete, and copy tables that are managed by the MyISAM storage engine. For example, it is possible to rename a MyISAM table by renaming the .MYD, .MYI, and .frm files to which the table corresponds. (Nevertheless, it is preferable to use RENAME TABLE or ALTER TABLE ... RENAME and let the server rename the files.)

    Database and table names cannot contain pathname separator characters (‘/’, ‘\’).

  • General language syntax

    • By default, strings can be enclosed by either ‘"’ or ‘'’, not just by ‘'’. (If the ANSI_QUOTES SQL mode is enabled, strings can be enclosed only by ‘'’ and the server interprets strings enclosed by ‘"’ as identifiers.)

    • Use of ‘\’ as an escape character in strings.

    • In SQL statements, you can access tables from different databases with the db_name.tbl_name syntax. Some SQL servers provide the same functionality but call this User space. MySQL Server doesn't support tablespaces such as used in statements like this: CREATE TABLE ralph.my_table...IN my_tablespace.

  • SQL statement syntax

  • Data types

    • The MEDIUMINT, SET, and ENUM data types, and the various BLOB and TEXT data types.

    • The AUTO_INCREMENT, BINARY, NULL, UNSIGNED, and ZEROFILL data type attributes.

  • Functions and operators

    • To make it easier for users who migrate from other SQL environments, MySQL Server supports aliases for many functions. For example, all string functions support both standard SQL syntax and ODBC syntax.

    • MySQL Server understands the || and && operators to mean logical OR and AND, as in the C programming language. In MySQL Server, || and OR are synonyms, as are && and AND. Because of this nice syntax, MySQL Server doesn't support the standard SQL || operator for string concatenation; use CONCAT() instead. Because CONCAT() takes any number of arguments, it's easy to convert use of the || operator to MySQL Server.

    • Use of COUNT(DISTINCT value_list) where value_list has more than one element.

    • String comparisons are case-insensitive by default, with sort ordering determined by the current character set, which is latin1 (cp1252 West European) by default. If you don't like this, you should declare your columns with the BINARY attribute or use the BINARY cast, which causes comparisons to be done using the underlying character code values rather then a lexical ordering.

    • The % operator is a synonym for MOD(). That is, N % M is equivalent to MOD(N,M). % is supported for C programmers and for compatibility with PostgreSQL.

    • The =, <>, <=,<, >=,>, <<, >>, <=>, AND, OR, or LIKE operators may be used in expressions in the output column list (to the left of the FROM) in SELECT statements. For example:

      mysql> SELECT col1=1 AND col2=2 FROM my_table;
    • The LAST_INSERT_ID() function returns the most recent AUTO_INCREMENT value. See Section 12.10.3, “Information Functions”.

    • LIKE is allowed on numeric values.

    • The REGEXP and NOT REGEXP extended regular expression operators.

    • CONCAT() or CHAR() with one argument or more than two arguments. (In MySQL Server, these functions can take a variable number of arguments.)


    • Use of TRIM() to trim substrings. Standard SQL supports removal of single characters only.

    • The GROUP BY functions STD(), BIT_OR(), BIT_AND(), BIT_XOR(), and GROUP_CONCAT(). See Section 12.11, “Functions and Modifiers for Use with GROUP BY Clauses”.

For a prioritized list indicating when new extensions are added to MySQL Server, you should consult the online MySQL development roadmap at

  Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License Design by Interspire