INSERT IGNORE INTO table.
INSERT … ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE syntax, and you can find explanations in 220.127.116.11 INSERT … ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE Statement.
18th October 2007
To start: as of the latest MySQL, syntax presented in the title is not possible. But there are several very easy ways to accomplish what is expected using existing functionality.
There are 3 possible solutions: using INSERT IGNORE, REPLACE, or INSERT … ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE.
Imagine we have a table:
CREATE TABLE `transcripts` ( `ensembl_transcript_id` varchar(20) NOT NULL, `transcript_chrom_start` int(10) unsigned NOT NULL, `transcript_chrom_end` int(10) unsigned NOT NULL, PRIMARY KEY (`ensembl_transcript_id`) ) ENGINE=InnoDB DEFAULT CHARSET=latin1;
Now imagine that we have an automatic pipeline importing transcripts meta-data from Ensembl, and that due to various reasons the pipeline might be broken at any step of execution. Thus, we need to ensure two things:
- repeated executions of the pipeline will not destroy our > database
- repeated executions will not die due to ‘duplicate > primary key’ errors.
Method 1: using REPLACE
It’s very simple:
REPLACE INTO `transcripts` SET `ensembl_transcript_id` = 'ENSORGT00000000001', `transcript_chrom_start` = 12345, `transcript_chrom_end` = 12678;
If the record exists, it will be overwritten; if it does not yet exist, it will be created. However, using this method isn’t efficient for our case: we do not need to overwrite existing records, it’s fine just to skip them.
Method 2: using INSERT IGNORE Also very simple:
INSERT IGNORE INTO `transcripts` SET `ensembl_transcript_id` = 'ENSORGT00000000001', `transcript_chrom_start` = 12345, `transcript_chrom_end` = 12678;
Here, if the ‘ensembl_transcript_id’ is already present in the database, it will be silently skipped (ignored). (To be more precise, here’s a quote from MySQL reference manual: “If you use the IGNORE keyword, errors that occur while executing the INSERT statement are treated as warnings instead. For example, without IGNORE, a row that duplicates an existing UNIQUE index or PRIMARY KEY value in the table causes a duplicate-key error and the statement is aborted.”.) If the record doesn’t yet exist, it will be created.
This second method has several potential weaknesses, including non-abortion of the query in case any other problem occurs (see the manual). Thus it should be used if previously tested without the IGNORE keyword.
Method 3: using INSERT … ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE:
Third option is to use
INSERT … ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE syntax, and in the UPDATE part just do nothing do some meaningless (empty) operation, like calculating 0+0 (Geoffray suggests doing the id=id assignment for the MySQL optimization engine to ignore this operation). Advantage of this method is that it only ignores duplicate key events, and still aborts on other errors.
As a final notice: this post was inspired by Xaprb. I’d also advise to consult his other post on writing flexible SQL queries.