TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Programming and MySQL

Volume Number: 20 (2004)
Issue Number: 3
Column Tag: Programming

Untangling the Web

by Kevin Hemenway, Imitating Conspirator

Programming and MySQL

Modifying our MySQL database with the shell and PHP.

We finally added information into our MySQL database last issue, but in a rather infantile way: by writing all the SQL statements (like those seen in Listing 1) into a text file and then passing them to MySQL with a command line, mysql mactech < mactech-insert.sql, which completes silently when successful. This is certainly helpful if we're passing default information to be initialized in newly created databases, but not very useful if we want to programmatically access the information within.

Listing 1: Three new SQL INSERT statements for our database.

mactech-insert.sql
INSERT INTO books
   SET publication = "2000-00-00",
       title = "Object Oriented Perl";
       
INSERT INTO books
   SET publication = "1999-00-00",
       title = "MyEssQueEll";
       
INSERT INTO books
   SET publication = "2003-00-00",
       title = "PHP and MySQL Web Development";

In this article, we'll talk about two more ways to manipulate data: through the MySQL interactive shell, and via PHP's built in database functions. First up, let's walkthrough the interactive shell, which is quite helpful for quickly testing out new SQL statements or applying immediate fixes without new code overhead and development.

The MySQL Interactive Shell

Starting up the MySQL interactive shell is mindlessly simple. Just type mysql and you'll be shown a mysql> prompt, similar to the shell prompt you see when you first enter the Terminal. Since we've yet to specify a database, we're in a sort of limbo: MySQL knows we're here, but we've yet to tell it anything of import. First we'll show which databases have been configured, choose which one we'd like to work with, and then ask for a table listing:

:~ > mysql
Welcome to the MySQL monitor.  Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MySQL connection id is 2 to server version: 4.0.15

Type 'help;' or '\h' for help.
Type '\c' to clear the buffer.

mysql> SHOW DATABASES;
+--------------------+
| Database           |
+--------------------+
| mactech            |
| mysql              |
| test               |
+--------------------+
3 rows in set (0.26 sec)

mysql> USE mactech;
Reading table information for completion of
table and column names. You can turn off this
feature to get a quicker startup with -A.

Database changed
mysql> SHOW TABLES;
+------------------------------------------+
| Tables_in_mactech                        |
+------------------------------------------+
| books                                    |
| person                                   |
| relationships                            |
+------------------------------------------+
3 rows in set (0.05 sec)

The most obvious fact from the above is that all SQL commands must end with a semi-colon. If you happen to forget that termination, MySQL will change its shell prompt to show you it's waiting patiently for a complete command. The following is the same command as before, only split with new lines. Notice the prompt indicating an incomplete statement:

mysql> SHOW
    -> TABLES
    -> ;

A good portion of readers will know that the shell opened by the Terminal gives you command line history (press the UP arrow to see commands you've previously typed) as well as file or directory completion (press TAB after typing the first few letters). MySQL also supports these time-savers: pressing UP will show you SQLs you've typed previously, and pressing TAB when typing a table or column name will auto-complete the nearest match.

In our previous work with SQL, we've touched on the INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE commands. We've yet to touch on the most often used, however, which is SELECT. While our previous statements have focused on adding, modifying, or deleting data, the sole purpose of SELECT is for displaying:

mysql> SELECT * FROM books;
+----+-------------------------------+-------------+
| id | title                         | publication |
+----+-------------------------------+-------------+
|  1 | Spidering Hacks               | 2003-11-01  |
|  2 | Mac OS X Hacks                | 2003-04-01  |
|  3 | Object Oriented Perl          | 2000-00-00  |
|  4 | MyEssQueEll                   | 1999-00-00  |
|  5 | PHP and MySQL Web Development | 2003-00-00  |
+----+-------------------------------+-------------+
5 rows in set (0.00 sec)

mysql> SELECT title, name FROM person;
+-------+----------------+
| title | name           |
+-------+----------------+
| Mr.   | Kevin Hemenway |
+-------+----------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

mysql> SELECT * FROM relationships WHERE book_id = '2';
+-----------+----------+
| person_id | book_id  |
+-----------+----------+
|         1 |       2  |
+-----------+----------+
1 row in set (0.05 sec)

The above shows three different variants of a SELECT statement--many more are possible. The first is the easiest to understand: "select everything from the books table". The second is an example of specifying only the columns you want to see, in any order. Even though title came after name in our original CREATE statement (last issue), SELECT allows us to reorder things however we decide best. The third statement is an example of more intimately specifying which exact rows you'd like to retrieve.

Comparing the above walkthrough to the command line we entered last issue (mysql mactech < mactech-insert.sql) gives us a better understanding of what's going on. We specify the database to connect to (mactech; similar to USE mactech in the MySQL shell), and then send a bunch of SQL commands in a batch, as opposed to manually entering them one at a time. It doesn't take a giant leap of faith to realize that we can save the USE database step by specifying it on the command line:

~ > mysql mactech
Reading table information for completion of
table and column names. You can turn off this
feature to get a quicker startup with -A.

Welcome to the MySQL monitor.  Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MySQL connection id is 2 to server version: 4.0.15

Type 'help;' or '\h' for help.
Type '\c' to clear the buffer.

mysql> UPdAtE books SET title = "MySQL"
    -> where title = "MyEssQueEll";
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.02 sec)
Rows matched: 1  Changed: 1  Warnings: 0

mysql> SeLeCT id, title FRoM
    -> books WHERE title LIKE '%SQL%';
+----+-------------------------------+
| id | title                         |
+----+-------------------------------+
| 4  | MySQL                         |
| 5  | PHP and MySQL Web Development |
+----+-------------------------------+
2 rows in set (0.30 sec)

The previous listing shows an example of entering the MySQL interactive shell with a database already selected, updating a row of misspelling in our previous INSERT (Listing 1), and then getting a pattern match with LIKE. The % characters are boundary placeholders for "anything or nothing", so our final statement finds the letters "SQL" in the beginning, middle, or end of a title. Changing "SQL" to "my" would return the same set of results, confirming that LIKE searches are case-insensitive.

Up until now, all our SQL commands have used capital letters, but you'll notice that they too are case-insensitive. For clarity, I prefer uppercase SQL: it just makes things easier to mentally and visually parse after long hours of fevered coding.

Accessing MySQL From PHP

Our next step is to access our mactech database programmatically with PHP. You'll notice some similarities with the above interactive shell process: we connect to MySQL, choose a database, and issue some SQL queries. You'll note that we're passing the MySQL username and password we created with mysql_setpermission a few columns back. This is important for security: just like you don't want your sister messing with your personal files, you don't want to make it too easy for web interlopers to affect the various databases you maintain. In most cases, once you're finished developing an application, you'd tighten the user's permission even further (say, to restrict DELETE and DROP access).

Save the contents of Listing 2 into /Library/WebServer/Documents:

Listing 2: PHP code for accessing our MySQL database.

db_access.php
<h1>MySQL Database Access in PHP</h1>
<?php
   $dbh = mysql_connect("localhost","favemarksman","***")
     or die ("There was an error connecting to MySQL.");
?>

Before we delve deeper into our code, I wanted to show you a one-character-difference that can be used to improve security. Astute readers will notice that even though I meant davemarksman (the MySQL user created a few issues ago) I mistyped as favemarksman:


Figure 1: An error occurred during the database connection.

Here's the problem: if someone comes to our site and triggers this error message, we've freely given them four pieces of valuable information that can be used against us for exploitive purposes. We've told them we're using MySQL as a database, that it's installed on the same machine as the web server, that there's (possibly) a user named favemarksman (a similar error would occur if the username was correct, but not the password), and revealed a directory path (which, in this case, infers we're using OS X, a fifth fact).

Listing 3 contains a much stronger version of our code, which removes any mention of the technology being used, and stops MySQL from spitting useful information to our visitors. The real magic happens with the @ symbol before our function name: using it will silence any automatically visible errors. This makes for more secure code, as well as a more professional web site (i.e., what impression does it leave visitors if they see nothing but errors?)

Listing 3: Revised PHP code for accessing our MySQL database.

db_access.php, revised
<h1>Database Access in PHP</h1>

<?php
   $dbh = @mysql_connect("localhost","favemarksman","***")
     or die ("An error has occurred. Please report this.");
?>

The revised output is shown in Figure 2:


Figure 2: No more information disclosure. Much better.

With that out of the way, we can now accomplish something. Listing 4 contains complete (but simple) PHP code to insert some information into the mactech database, view it, and then DELETE a bit. As with most programming, there are many ways this can be done: more information about the different mysql_ functions we've not shown can be found at the PHP web site: http://www.php.net/manual/en/ref.mysql.php.

Listing 4: Finished PHP code for accessing our MySQL database.

db_access.php, finished
<h1>Database Access in PHP</h1>

<?php

   // connect to the database server.
   $dbh = @mysql_connect("localhost","davemarksman","***")
     or die ("ERROR: Could not connect to the database!");

   // choose our database.
   @mysql_select_db( "mactech" )
      or die ("ERROR: Could not select our database!");

   // create a SQL statement. Notice that through
   // PHP, the SQL terminating semi-colon is optional.
   $statement = "INSERT INTO person SET
                  name          = 'Dave Mark',
                  date_of_birth = '1901-03-31',
                  title         = 'Intern', 
                  designation   = 'Bullseye Hole Filler'";

   // standard way of executing SQL through PHP.
   $response = @mysql_query( $statement, $dbh );
   
   // mysql_error() would give too much information for
   // a production site, but this is just an example. 
   if (!$response) { print mysql_error () . "\n"; }

   // create and execute another SQL statement.
   $sg_made_out_of = "SELECT * FROM person;";
   $response = @mysql_query( $sg_made_out_of, $dbh );

   // this is one of a few ways to iterate through rows.
   print "<h3>People, List #1</h3>";
   while ( $person = @mysql_fetch_array( $response ) ) {

       // column name is array key.
       print "$person[id], $person[title], 
              $person[name], $person[designation]<br />"; 
   }

   // one more SQL statement, this time a delete.
   $freedom = "DELETE FROM person WHERE name LIKE '%Mar%'";
   $response = @mysql_query( $freedom, $dbh );
 
   // and make sure he's really gone.
   $sg_made_out_of = "SELECT * FROM person;";
   $response = @mysql_query( $sg_made_out_of, $dbh );

   // another way of iterating through rows, only
   // as variables, not hash keys. Could get messy.
   print "<h3>People, List #2</h3>";
   while ( $person = @mysql_fetch_array( $response ) ) {
       extract ( $person ); // make columns variables.
       print "$id, $title $name, $designation<br />"; 
   }

?>

The results of running this script are in Figure 3. Since we're inserting a new record, then deleting it, successive loads will assign the new record an ever-increasing sequential ID, even though the data we're entering is exactly the same.


Figure 3: The final results of our database access in PHP.

Homework Malignments

As is typical in a four-page article, we've barely touched the surface of what PHP can do in regards to database access and handling. Next month, we'll change gears and see how Perl handles the same logic. Until then, contact the teacher at morbus@disobey.com.


Kevin Hemenway, coauthor of Mac OS X Hacks and Spidering Hacks, is better known as Morbus Iff, the creator of disobey.com, which bills itself as "content for the discontented." Publisher and developer of more home cooking than you could ever imagine (like the popular open-sourced aggregator AmphetaDesk, the best-kept gaming secret Gamegrene.com, the ever ignorable Nonsense Network, etc.), he'd rather be nursing his wounds with a swift kick to the head. Contact him at morbus@disobey.com.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Can PokeMatch help you find love with Po...
The unofficial Pokemon GO companion app space has exploded almost as fast as the game itself over the last few weeks. Aspiring app developers, many of them working solo, have given us apps that locate Pokemon, keep track of the server status, and... | Read more »
How to get started with Prisma
If there's one thing people like to do more than taking pictures with their smartphones, it's tinkering with those photos in some way. Numerous apps have sprung up over the last several years that allow you to use filters and special effects to... | Read more »
6 Pokemon GO updates you can expect, acc...
Pokemon GO had a scheduled appearance at this year's San Diego Comic-Con for a while, but it was only relatively close to the show that it was upgraded to a spot in Hall H. That's the biggest venue at SDCC, one usually reserved for the largest... | Read more »
How to evolve Eevee in Pokemon GO
By now, almost everyone should be hip to how to evolve Pokemon in Pokemon GO (and if not, there's a guide for that). Just gather enough candy of the appropriate type, feed them all to the Pokemon, and evolution happens. It's a miracle that would... | Read more »
CSR Racing 2: Guide to all game modes
It might not seem like there are all that many ways to go fast in a straight line, but CSR Racing 2 begs to differ. [Read more] | Read more »
Bulb Boy (Games)
Bulb Boy 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Multi-award winning 2D point & click horror adventure about a boy with a glowing head. | Read more »
5 top free emoji keyboard apps
If we're not at peak emoji yet as a society, it feels like we definitely should be. The emoji concept has gone far beyond what anyone in Japan could have envisioned when the people there unleashed it on an unsuspecting world, but the West has... | Read more »
How to unlock more characters in Disney...
One of the big charms of Disney Emoji Blitz is seeing a wide variety of beloved Disney and Pixar characters transformed into smiling emojis. Even someone like the sneaky Randall from Monsters Inc., who probably never cracked a smile on film, is... | Read more »
Cubway (Games)
Cubway 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Cubway is a journey with an abstract story of lifecycle of rebirth, called Samsara. Guide the cube through the long way full of dangers... | Read more »
Colorcube (Games)
Colorcube 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Turn pieces and blend colours in this minimal yet visually stunning puzzler.Over 200 handcrafted and challenging levels. Features... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Clearance 12-inch Retina MacBooks, Apple refu...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 12″ Retina MacBooks available starting at $929. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free. The following... Read more
13-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has 13″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only: - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro: $1199 $100 off MSRP - 13″ 2.7GHz/... Read more
13-inch 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for...
Amazon has the 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $200 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (sku MMGF2LL/A): $799.99 $200 off MSRP Their price is the... Read more
13-inch 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air on sale for...
Amazon has the 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air on sale for $200 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free: - 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air (sku MMGG2LL/A): $999.99 $200 off MSRP Their price is the... Read more
Free iOS Business App notably* Helps Service...
PayStudio Inc. has introduced their new business app notably* 1.0, developed for iPhone and iPod touch. notably* was specifically developed to help service and trade professionals go digital and... Read more
27-inch iMacs on sale for $200 off MSRP
Amazon has 27″ iMacs on sale for $200 off MSRP including free shipping: - 27″ 3.3GHz iMac 5K: $2099 $200 off MSRP - 27″ 3.2GHz/1TB Fusion iMac 5K: $1799.99 $200 off MSRP - 27″ 3.2GHz/1TB HD iMac 5K... Read more
Mac Pros on sale for $200 off MSRP
B&H Photo has Mac Pros on sale for $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro: $2799, $200 off MSRP - 3.5GHz 6-core Mac Pro: $3799, $200... Read more
Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac Pros available for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The following... Read more
Apple price trackers, updated continuously
Scan our Apple Price Trackers for the latest information on sales, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers. We update the trackers continuously: - 15″... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro (Apple refurbished...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros available for $829, or $270 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions, Willow...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Evangelist - JAMF Software (United S...
The Apple Evangelist is responsible for building and cultivating strategic relationships with Apple 's small and mid-market business development field teams. This Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - APPLE (United...
Job Summary As an Apple Solutions Consultant, you'll be the link between our future customers and our products. You'll showcase your entrepreneurial spirit as you Read more
*Apple* Professional Learning Specialist - A...
Job Summary The Apple Professional Learning Specialist is a full-time position for one year with Apple in the Phoenix, AZ area. This position requires a high Read more
*Apple* Picker - Apple Hill Orchard (United...
Apple Hill Orchard, Co. Rte. 21,Whitehall, NY 9/7/16-10/228/16. Pick fresh market or processing apples Productivity of 60 boxes and 80 boxes processing fruit per Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.