Use MySQL to generate MySQL for Admin tasks

I recently learned how to use MySQL to generate MySQL statements for several admin-type Data Definition Language (DDL) SQL queries I needed to execute on the server. For many DBA’s this is likely nothing new and in fact, is a well-used tool in their kit. However, I mostly focus on developer-related tasks, so it is a fresh-in-my-mind learning experience. Continue reading for more information…

Some backstory for context

I’ve recently been porting over an existing vanilla PHP application to CodeIgniter 4. One of the new features is bootstrapping all of the necessary MySQL CREATE TABLE statements dynamically based on information parsed from a .fxl file (which is close kin to a .xml file structure-wise).

Each CREATE TABLE statement is complete with FOREIGN KEY constraint clauses to ensure data integrity between linking tables.

Wanting to perform several smoke tests for the table creation process, I came to a situation in which I needed to DROP the FOREIGN KEY for each table, and then DROP all the tables once each constraint had been disabled. With 60 plus tables, executing that many statements by hand are just not feasible.

What do I do?

Google and learn specific queries against the INFORMATION_SCHEMA database along with using the CONCAT() function, and generating all the needed SQL statements.

Although I won’t use the tables and data I work with within the application I’m building, I’ll use the familiar sakila practice database for the examples.


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SQL to SQL

The KEY_COLUMN_USAGE table in the INFORMATION_SCHEMA database is chock-full of goodies. The following query returns all the constraints for all the tables in the ‘sakila’ database:

SELECT
    TABLE_NAME,
    COLUMN_NAME,
    CONSTRAINT_NAME,
    REFERENCED_TABLE_NAME,
    REFERENCED_COLUMN_NAME
FROM
    INFORMATION_SCHEMA.KEY_COLUMN_USAGE
WHERE
    REFERENCED_TABLE_SCHEMA = 'sakila';
Query on the KEY_COLUMN_USAGE table.

Related: The REFERENTIAL_CONSTRAINTS_TABLE in the INFORMATION_SCHEMA database is another great source of information on FOREIGN KEYS.

Suppose for whatever reason we want to drop the FOREIGN KEY constraint for each table? That’s a great number of ALTER TABLE statements

Here we can use a little craftiness and the CONCAT() function to generate all the necessary DDL statements with this SELECT query:

SELECT CONCAT('ALTER TABLE ',TABLE_NAME, ' DROP FOREIGN KEY ', CONSTRAINT_NAME, ';') AS DDL
FROM
    INFORMATION_SCHEMA.KEY_COLUMN_USAGE
WHERE
    REFERENCED_TABLE_SCHEMA = 'sakila'
AND
    REFERENCED_TABLE_NAME IS NOT NULL;
Multiple ALTER TABLE statements were created dynamically.

All of the individual ALTER TABLE statements can be saved to a script and run whenever needed.


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MySQL to MySQL – Adding a column to multiple tables

Based on the same concept, if we needed to add an identical column to all the tables in the schema, we can use the CONCAT() function and a SELECT query against the same table in the INFORMATION_SCHEMA and produce the necessary ALTER TABLE statements as shown below:

SELECT CONCAT('ALTER TABLE ',TABLE_NAME, ' ADD COLUMN my_column TEXT DEFAULT NULL', ';') AS DDL
FROM
    INFORMATION_SCHEMA.KEY_COLUMN_USAGE
WHERE
    REFERENCED_TABLE_SCHEMA = 'sakila'

Note: Scripting out mass DDL statements like this is a great skill to have. However, you must exercise caution because you are applying changes to a large number of tables in your database, for better or worse!


It’s worth noting: Also, this is my first encounter with the tables in the INFORMATION_SCHEMA database. Please let me know if the example queries are inaccurate or inadequate for their purposes and if any other alternatives or corrective measures are needed.


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Josh Otwell has a passion to study and grow as a SQL Developer and blogger. Other favorite activities find him with his nose buried in a good book, article, or the Linux command line. Among those, he shares a love of tabletop RPG games, reading fantasy novels, and spending time with his wife and two daughters.

Disclaimer: The examples presented in this post are hypothetical ideas of how to achieve similar types of results. They are not the utmost best solution(s). The majority, if not all, of the examples provided, are performed on a personal development/learning workstation environment and should not be considered production quality or ready. Your particular goals and needs may vary. Use those practices that best benefit your needs and goals. Opinions are my own.

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