Chapter 21. Views

Table of Contents

21.1. ALTER VIEW Syntax
21.2. CREATE VIEW Syntax
21.3. DROP VIEW Syntax

Views (including updatable views) are available in MySQL Server 5.1.

Answers to some frequently asked questions concerning views in MySQL 5.1 can be found in Section A.7, “MySQL 5.1 FAQ — Views”.

This chapter discusses the following topics:

Discussion of restrictions on use of views is given in Section J.4, “Restrictions on Views”.

To use views if you have upgraded to MySQL 5.1 from an older release that did not support views, you should upgrade your grant tables so that they contain the view-related privileges. See Section 5.6.2, “mysql_upgrade — Check Tables for MySQL Upgrade”.

Metadata about views can be obtained from the INFORMATION_SCHEMA.VIEWS table and by using the SHOW CREATE VIEW statement. See Section 22.15, “The INFORMATION_SCHEMA VIEWS Table”, and Section 13.5.4.10, “SHOW CREATE VIEW Syntax”.

21.1. ALTER VIEW Syntax

ALTER
    [ALGORITHM = {UNDEFINED | MERGE | TEMPTABLE}]
    [DEFINER = { user | CURRENT_USER }]
    [SQL SECURITY { DEFINER | INVOKER }]
    VIEW view_name [(column_list)]
    AS select_statement
    [WITH [CASCADED | LOCAL] CHECK OPTION]

This statement changes the definition of an existing view. The syntax is similar to that for CREATE VIEW. See Section 21.2, “CREATE VIEW Syntax”. This statement requires the CREATE VIEW and DROP privileges for the view, and some privilege for each column referred to in the SELECT statement.

21.2. CREATE VIEW Syntax

CREATE
    [OR REPLACE]
    [ALGORITHM = {UNDEFINED | MERGE | TEMPTABLE}]
    [DEFINER = { user | CURRENT_USER }]
    [SQL SECURITY { DEFINER | INVOKER }]
    VIEW view_name [(column_list)]
    AS select_statement
    [WITH [CASCADED | LOCAL] CHECK OPTION]

This statement creates a new view, or replaces an existing one if the OR REPLACE clause is given. The select_statement is a SELECT statement that provides the definition of the view. The statement can select from base tables or other views.

This statement requires the CREATE VIEW privilege for the view, and some privilege for each column selected by the SELECT statement. For columns used elsewhere in the SELECT statement you must have the SELECT privilege. If the OR REPLACE clause is present, you must also have the DROP privilege for the view.

A view belongs to a database. By default, a new view is created in the default database. To create the view explicitly in a given database, specify the name as db_name.view_name when you create it.

mysql> CREATE VIEW test.v AS SELECT * FROM t;

Base tables and views share the same namespace within a database, so a database cannot contain a base table and a view that have the same name.

Views must have unique column names with no duplicates, just like base tables. By default, the names of the columns retrieved by the SELECT statement are used for the view column names. To define explicit names for the view columns, the optional column_list clause can be given as a list of comma-separated identifiers. The number of names in column_list must be the same as the number of columns retrieved by the SELECT statement.

Columns retrieved by the SELECT statement can be simple references to table columns. They can also be expressions that use functions, constant values, operators, and so forth.

Unqualified table or view names in the SELECT statement are interpreted with respect to the default database. A view can refer to tables or views in other databases by qualifying the table or view name with the proper database name.

A view can be created from many kinds of SELECT statements. It can refer to base tables or other views. It can use joins, UNION, and subqueries. The SELECT need not even refer to any tables. The following example defines a view that selects two columns from another table, as well as an expression calculated from those columns:

mysql> CREATE TABLE t (qty INT, price INT);
mysql> INSERT INTO t VALUES(3, 50);
mysql> CREATE VIEW v AS SELECT qty, price, qty*price AS value FROM t;
mysql> SELECT * FROM v;
+------+-------+-------+
| qty  | price | value |
+------+-------+-------+
|    3 |    50 |   150 |
+------+-------+-------+

A view definition is subject to the following restrictions:

  • The SELECT statement cannot contain a subquery in the FROM clause.

  • The SELECT statement cannot refer to system or user variables.

  • The SELECT statement cannot refer to prepared statement parameters.

  • Within a stored routine, the definition cannot refer to routine parameters or local variables.

  • Any table or view referred to in the definition must exist. However, after a view has been created, it is possible to drop a table or view that the definition refers to. In this case, use of the view results in an error. To check a view definition for problems of this kind, use the CHECK TABLE statement.

  • The definition cannot refer to a TEMPORARY table, and you cannot create a TEMPORARY view.

  • The tables named in the view definition must already exist.

  • You cannot associate a trigger with a view.

ORDER BY is allowed in a view definition, but it is ignored if you select from a view using a statement that has its own ORDER BY.

For other options or clauses in the definition, they are added to the options or clauses of the statement that references the view, but the effect is undefined. For example, if a view definition includes a LIMIT clause, and you select from the view using a statement that has its own LIMIT clause, it is undefined which limit applies. This same principle applies to options such as ALL, DISTINCT, or SQL_SMALL_RESULT that follow the SELECT keyword, and to clauses such as INTO, FOR UPDATE, LOCK IN SHARE MODE, and PROCEDURE.

If you create a view and then change the query processing environment by changing system variables, that may affect the results that you get from the view:

mysql> CREATE VIEW v AS SELECT CHARSET(CHAR(65)), COLLATION(CHAR(65));
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> SET NAMES 'latin1';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> SELECT * FROM v;
+-------------------+---------------------+
| CHARSET(CHAR(65)) | COLLATION(CHAR(65)) |
+-------------------+---------------------+
| latin1            | latin1_swedish_ci   |
+-------------------+---------------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

mysql> SET NAMES 'utf8';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> SELECT * FROM v;
+-------------------+---------------------+
| CHARSET(CHAR(65)) | COLLATION(CHAR(65)) |
+-------------------+---------------------+
| utf8              | utf8_general_ci     |
+-------------------+---------------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

The DEFINER and SQL SECURITY clauses specify the security context to be used when checking access privileges at view invocation time. They were addded in MySQL 5.1.2.

CURRENT_USER also can be given as CURRENT_USER().

Within a stored routine that is defined with the SQL SECURITY DEFINER characteristic, CURRENT_USER returns the routine creator. This also affects a view defined within such a routine, if the view definition contains a DEFINER value of CURRENT_USER.

The default DEFINER value is the user who executes the CREATE VIEW statement. (This is the same as DEFINER = CURRENT_USER.) If a user value is given, it should be a MySQL account in 'user_name'@'host_name' format (the same format used in the GRANT statement). The user_name and host_name values both are required.

If you specify the DEFINER clause, you cannot set the value to any user but your own unless you have the SUPER privilege. These rules determine the legal DEFINER user values:

  • If you do not have the SUPER privilege, the only legal user value is your own account, either specified literally or by using CURRENT_USER. You cannot set the definer to some other account.

  • If you have the SUPER privilege, you can specify any syntactically legal account name. If the account does not actually exist, a warning is generated.

The SQL SECURITY characteristic determines which MySQL account to use when checking access privileges for the view when the view is executed. The legal characteristic values are DEFINER and INVOKER. These indicate that the view must be executable by the user who defined it or invoked it, respectively. The default SQL SECURITY value is DEFINER.

As of MySQL 5.1.2 (when the DEFINER and SQL SECURITY clauses were implemented), view privileges are checked like this:

  • At view definition time, the view creator must have the privileges needed to use the top-level objects accessed by the view. For example, if the view definition refers to a stored function, only the privileges needed to invoke the function can be checked. The privileges required when the function runs can be checked only as it executes: For different invocations of the function, different execution paths within the function might be taken.

  • At view execution time, privileges for objects accessed by the view are checked against the privileges held by the view creator or invoker, depending on whether the SQL SECURITY characteristic is DEFINER or INVOKER, respectively.

  • If view execution causes execution of a stored function, privilege checking for statements executed within the function depend on whether the function is defined with a SQL SECURITY characteristic of DEFINER or INVOKER. If the security characteristic is DEFINER, the function runs with the privileges of its creator. If the characteristic is INVOKER, the function runs with the privileges determined by the view's SQL SECURITY characteristic.

Prior to MySQL 5.1.2 (before the DEFINER and SQL SECURITY clauses were implemented), privileges required for objects used in a view are checked at view creation time.

Example: A view might depend on a stored function, and that function might invoke other stored routines. For example, the following view invokes a stored function f():

CREATE VIEW v AS SELECT * FROM t WHERE t.id = f(t.name);

Suppose that f() contains a statement such as this:

IF name IS NULL then
  CALL p1();
ELSE
  CALL p2();
END IF;

The privileges required for executing statements within f() need to be checked when f() executes. This might mean that privileges are needed for p1() or p2(), depending on the execution path within f(). Those privileges need to be checked at runtime, and the user who must possess the privileges is determined by the SQL SECURITY values of the function f() and the view v.

The DEFINER and SQL SECURITY clauses for views are extensions to standard SQL. In standard SQL, views are handled using the rules for SQL SECURITY INVOKER.

If you invoke a view that was created before MySQL 5.0.13/5.1.2, it is treated as though it was created with a SQL SECURITY DEFINER clause and with a DEFINER value that is the same as your account. However, because the actual definer is unknown, MySQL issues a warning. To make the warning go away, it is sufficient to re-create the view so that the view definition includes a DEFINER clause.

The optional ALGORITHM clause is a MySQL extension to standard SQL. ALGORITHM takes three values: MERGE, TEMPTABLE, or UNDEFINED. The default algorithm is UNDEFINED if no ALGORITHM clause is present. The algorithm affects how MySQL processes the view.

For MERGE, the text of a statement that refers to the view and the view definition are merged such that parts of the view definition replace corresponding parts of the statement.

For TEMPTABLE, the results from the view are retrieved into a temporary table, which then is used to execute the statement.

For UNDEFINED, MySQL chooses which algorithm to use. It prefers MERGE over TEMPTABLE if possible, because MERGE is usually more efficient and because a view cannot be updatable if a temporary table is used.

A reason to choose TEMPTABLE explicitly is that locks can be released on underlying tables after the temporary table has been created and before it is used to finish processing the statement. This might result in quicker lock release than the MERGE algorithm so that other clients that use the view are not blocked as long.

A view algorithm can be UNDEFINED for three reasons:

  • No ALGORITHM clause is present in the CREATE VIEW statement.

  • The CREATE VIEW statement has an explicit ALGORITHM = UNDEFINED clause.

  • ALGORITHM = MERGE is specified for a view that can be processed only with a temporary table. In this case, MySQL generates a warning and sets the algorithm to UNDEFINED.

As mentioned earlier, MERGE is handled by merging corresponding parts of a view definition into the statement that refers to the view. The following examples briefly illustrate how the MERGE algorithm works. The examples assume that there is a view v_merge that has this definition:

CREATE ALGORITHM = MERGE VIEW v_merge (vc1, vc2) AS
SELECT c1, c2 FROM t WHERE c3 > 100;

Example 1: Suppose that we issue this statement:

SELECT * FROM v_merge;

MySQL handles the statement as follows:

  • v_merge becomes t

  • * becomes vc1, vc2, which corresponds to c1, c2

  • The view WHERE clause is added

The resulting statement to be executed becomes:

SELECT c1, c2 FROM t WHERE c3 > 100;

Example 2: Suppose that we issue this statement:

SELECT * FROM v_merge WHERE vc1 < 100;

This statement is handled similarly to the previous one, except that vc1 < 100 becomes c1 < 100 and the view WHERE clause is added to the statement WHERE clause using an AND connective (and parentheses are added to make sure the parts of the clause are executed with correct precedence). The resulting statement to be executed becomes:

SELECT c1, c2 FROM t WHERE (c3 > 100) AND (c1 < 100);

Effectively, the statement to be executed has a WHERE clause of this form:

WHERE (select WHERE) AND (view WHERE)

The MERGE algorithm requires a one-to-one relationship between the rows in the view and the rows in the underlying table. If this relationship does not hold, a temporary table must be used instead. Lack of a one-to-one relationship occurs if the view contains any of a number of constructs:

  • Aggregate functions (SUM(), MIN(), MAX(), COUNT(), and so forth)

  • DISTINCT

  • GROUP BY

  • HAVING

  • UNION or UNION ALL

  • Subquery in the select list

  • Refers only to literal values (in this case, there is no underlying table)

Some views are updatable. That is, you can use them in statements such as UPDATE, DELETE, or INSERT to update the contents of the underlying table. For a view to be updatable, there must be a one-to-one relationship between the rows in the view and the rows in the underlying table. There are also certain other constructs that make a view non-updatable. To be more specific, a view is not updatable if it contains any of the following:

  • Aggregate functions (SUM(), MIN(), MAX(), COUNT(), and so forth)

  • DISTINCT

  • GROUP BY

  • HAVING

  • UNION or UNION ALL

  • Subquery in the select list

  • Certain joins (see additional join discussion later in this section)

  • Non-updatable view in the FROM clause

  • A subquery in the WHERE clause that refers to a table in the FROM clause

  • Refers only to literal values (in this case, there is no underlying table to update)

  • ALGORITHM = TEMPTABLE (use of a temporary table always makes a view non-updatable)

With respect to insertability (being updatable with INSERT statements), an updatable view is insertable if it also satisfies these additional requirements for the view columns:

  • There must be no duplicate view column names.

  • The view must contain all columns in the base table that do not have a default value.

  • The view columns must be simple column references and not derived columns. A derived column is one that is not a simple column reference but is derived from an expression. These are examples of derived columns:

    3.14159
    col1 + 3
    UPPER(col2)
    col3 / col4
    (subquery)
    

A view that has a mix of simple column references and derived columns is not insertable, but it can be updatable if you update only those columns that are not derived. Consider this view:

CREATE VIEW v AS SELECT col1, 1 AS col2 FROM t;

This view is not insertable because col2 is derived from an expression. But it is updatable if the update does not try to update col2. This update is allowable:

UPDATE v SET col1 = 0;

This update is not allowable because it attempts to update a derived column:

UPDATE v SET col2 = 0;

It is sometimes possible for a multiple-table view to be updatable, assuming that it can be processed with the MERGE algorithm. For this to work, the view must use an inner join (not an outer join or a UNION). Also, only a single table in the view definition can be updated, so the SET clause must name only columns from one of the tables in the view. Views that use UNION ALL are disallowed even though they might be theoretically updatable, because the implementation uses temporary tables to process them.

For a multiple-table updatable view, INSERT can work if it inserts into a single table. DELETE is not supported.

INSERT DELAYED is not supported for views.

If a table contains an AUTO_INCREMENT column, inserting into an insertable view on the table that does not include the AUTO_INCREMENT column does not change the value of LAST_INSERT_ID(), because the side effects of inserting default values into columns not part of the view should not be visible.

The WITH CHECK OPTION clause can be given for an updatable view to prevent inserts or updates to rows except those for which the WHERE clause in the select_statement is true.

In a WITH CHECK OPTION clause for an updatable view, the LOCAL and CASCADED keywords determine the scope of check testing when the view is defined in terms of another view. The LOCAL keyword restricts the CHECK OPTION only to the view being defined. CASCADED causes the checks for underlying views to be evaluated as well. When neither keyword is given, the default is CASCADED. Consider the definitions for the following table and set of views:

mysql> CREATE TABLE t1 (a INT);
mysql> CREATE VIEW v1 AS SELECT * FROM t1 WHERE a < 2
    -> WITH CHECK OPTION;
mysql> CREATE VIEW v2 AS SELECT * FROM v1 WHERE a > 0
    -> WITH LOCAL CHECK OPTION;
mysql> CREATE VIEW v3 AS SELECT * FROM v1 WHERE a > 0
    -> WITH CASCADED CHECK OPTION;

Here the v2 and v3 views are defined in terms of another view, v1. v2 has a LOCAL check option, so inserts are tested only against the v2 check. v3 has a CASCADED check option, so inserts are tested not only against its own check, but against those of underlying views. The following statements illustrate these differences:

mysql> INSERT INTO v2 VALUES (2);
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.00 sec)
mysql> INSERT INTO v3 VALUES (2);
ERROR 1369 (HY000): CHECK OPTION failed 'test.v3'

The updatability of views may be affected by the value of the updatable_views_with_limit system variable. See Section 5.2.3, “System Variables”.

21.3. DROP VIEW Syntax

DROP VIEW [IF EXISTS]
    view_name [, view_name] ...
    [RESTRICT | CASCADE]

DROP VIEW removes one or more views. You must have the DROP privilege for each view. If any of the views named in the argument list do not exist, MySQL returns an error indicating by name which non-existing views it was unable to drop, but it also drops all of the views in the list that do exist.

The IF EXISTS clause prevents an error from occurring for views that don't exist. When this clause is given, a NOTE is generated for each non-existent view. See Section 13.5.4.31, “SHOW WARNINGS Syntax”.

RESTRICT and CASCADE, if given, are parsed and ignored.