Using a self join to select the rows with the maxium values per group
Of course there's more in these tables but here are the relevant columns:
CREATE TABLE article ( id int(10) auto_increment, location_id int(10), modified timestamp ) CREATE TABLE location ( id int(10) auto_increment, type varchar(10) )
Now, I'd like to select all article rows with the newest modified timestamp per blog and sort the results by the modified value. Also I want to exclude just some of the blogs which I already know by their primary key id.
Simple, isn't it? I was *sure* that it's possible to just add a GROUP BY clause on the articles location_id, sort them by modified and that's it. The exclusion of the blogs would be done by a simple, implicit JOIN.
SELECT article.* FROM articles, location WHERE location.id NOT IN (1) GROUP BY article.location_id ORDER BY article.modified
But I got wrong results. I set up two tables with test data because at thought, I'd probably expect the wrong results. I threw 4 articles in the articles table and 3 blogs in the locations table. I.e. one blog had two articles, two blogs had one article.
Again, I got the wrong results. The query above selected the *older* article from the both belonging to the same blog, instead of the newer one. Both of the other articles where present in the results.
What the heck is going on here?
Obviously the ORDER statement applies to the selection *after* the GROUP clause has been applied to the data. Because in the "natural order" of MySQL ISAM Tables older rows will oftenly (not always) be selected first, the GROUP clause first selects the older article row and *then* sorts all selected rows.
That's been kind of new to me. I've always thought it works the other ways around. I asked Google about "group by order by mysql" but found nothing particular illuminating about this.
After some time of playing around with this, looking for alternatives and doing a considerable amount of trial-and-error variations ... I've yet found nothing and already prepared to throw that stuff aside, go ahead and do an expensive
CREATE TEMPORARY TABLE tmp ... TYPE = HEAP SELECT INTO tmp ... SELECT FROM tmp ...
thing which I wouldn't like.
More or less by accident I found this page in the (not-really-that-concise) MySQL 3.0/4.0 manual
The docs themselve tell you that something like this is only possible with subselects which the database doesn't support (MySQL 4.0).
But hidden in the user comments there's this helpful tip from Csaba Gabor:
"To find the most recent entry (the entry with the highest Id) for each Item, where the Item does not currently have a Deleted status, we could use:"
SELECT t1.* FROM Tracker AS t1 LEFT JOIN Tracker AS t2 ON t1.Item=t2.Item AND t1.Id < t2.Id WHERE t2.Id IS NULL AND t1.Status!='Deleted'
... which set me on track again.
After some tweaking around, I found this one to be working in my case:
SELECT DISTINCT article.* FROM article, location as l LEFT JOIN article AS a2 ON article.locationID = a2.locationID AND article.modified < a2.modified AND article.locationID = l.id WHERE a2.modified IS NULL AND article.locationID = l.id AND l.type = 'blog' AND l.parentID NOT IN (1)
Now, I'll have to annihilate some pizzas and revel :)