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How to create a table in MySQL in 3 steps

In this article we get to know How to create a table in MySQL

When creating a table, we need to specify the table name, its columns, and the backing data types for the columns. There are other constraints that we can specify when creating a table but for now we’ll demonstrate creating the table in the simplest possible manner.

CREATE TABLE tableName (
col1 <dataType> <Restrictions>,
col2 <dataType> <Restrictions>,
col3 <dataType> <Restrictions>,
<Primary Key or Index definitions>);
-- The lesson queries are reproduced below for convenient copy/paste into the terminal.

-- Query 1
CREATE TABLE Actors (
FirstName VARCHAR(20),
SecondName VARCHAR(20),
DoB DATE,
Gender ENUM('Male','Female','Transgender'),
MaritalStatus ENUM('Married', 'Divorced', 'Single'),
NetWorthInMillions DECIMAL);

-- Query 2
SHOW TABLES;

-- Query 3
DESC Actors;

CREATE a TABLE in MySQL

Execute the following command to create the Actors table. You can copy and paste the command in the terminal:

CREATE TABLE Actors (
FirstName VARCHAR(20),
SecondName VARCHAR(20),
DoB DATE,
Gender ENUM('Male','Female','Transgender'),
MaritalStatus ENUM('Married', 'Divorced', 'Single'),
NetWorthInMillions DECIMAL);

The create table statement has three pieces to itself. The create table snippet followed by the table name and opening parenthesis. The second piece lists the columns of the table and the third piece is the key definitions. To keep things simple, we don’t define any keys until the next lesson. The statement is terminated by a closing parenthesis.

The syntax for defining a column is as follows:

columnName columnType [NOT NULL | NULL] [DEFAULT columnValue]

Note that column names are case-insensitive and portable across all operating systems, unlike database names.

SHOW TABLES

Successful execution of the previous command will create the Actors table. Execute the following command to view all the tables in the MovieIndustry database.

SHOW TABLES;

The output from the command should be similar to the one below:

DESC Table

We can inspect the Actors table we just created using the following command:

DESC Actors;

The output from the above command will be as follows:

The DESC command displays all the columns of the table and related metadata such as data type and nullability for each column.

Our create statement is very basic in its current form. We can add duplicate rows or NULL as column values which is usually not what we want.

Applying restriction on table

-- Query 1
CREATE TABLE Actors (
Id INT AUTO_INCREMENT,
FirstName VARCHAR(20) NOT NULL,
SecondName VARCHAR(20) NOT NULL,
DoB DATE NOT NULL,
Gender ENUM('Male','Female','Transgender') NOT NULL,
MaritalStatus ENUM('Married', 'Divorced', 'Single', 'Unknown') DEFAULT "Unknown",
NetWorthInMillions DECIMAL NOT NULL,
PRIMARY KEY (Id));

-- Query 2
CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS Actors (
Id INT AUTO_INCREMENT,
FirstName VARCHAR(20) NOT NULL,
SecondName VARCHAR(20) NOT NULL,
DoB DATE NOT NULL,
Gender ENUM('Male','Female','Transgender') NOT NULL,
MaritalStatus ENUM('Married', 'Divorced', 'Single', 'Unknown') DEFAULT "Unknown",
NetWorthInMillions DECIMAL NOT NULL,
PRIMARY KEY (Id));

We’ll want to restrict a user from adding duplicate rows. In a relational database we can uniquely identify a row by designating a single column or a set of columns as the primary key. We discuss the concept of a primary key in depth in a later lesson but for now, it suffices to know that a column or multiple columns acting as the primary key serve to uniquely identify each row in a table. In the case of our Actors table, we may be tempted to choose the combination of the first name and the second name as the primary key. However, there is a remote possibility that two actors have the same first and last names. In fact, even if we choose all the columns to form the primary key, an obviously bad design choice, we’ll not be assured each row can be uniquely identified. One way out of this predicament is to add a column that assigns a numeric ID starting from one that is incremented each time we add a new row. Since every row will be associated with a different integer, we can be assured that every row can be uniquely identified using the ID column.

If we create a new column ID and designate it as the primary key for the Actors table, then we must know the highest value of the ID column in the table, add one to it and insert the result as the Id of a new row. MySQL provides a feature AUTO_INCREMENT that automatically assigns the next integer in the sequence to the ID column of a new row.

The auto-increment sequence begins at 1 for an empty table. The following restrictions exist when using the AUTO_INCREMENT feature:

  • There can be only one column marked as AUTO_INCREMENT in a table.
  • The AUTO_INCREMENT column can’t have a default value.
  • The AUTO_INCREMENT column must be indexed.

The AUTO_INCREMENT feature isn’t portable to other databases and the counter is reset when we truncate or drop a table.

The next restriction we want to put on the users of Actors table is to disallow inserting null as a column value. We can mark a column as NOT NULL to achieve this purpose.

Imagine a situation for the Actors table where you want to add a record to the table but aren’t aware of the marital status of the Actor. In such a scenario, we can set a default value for a particular column using the DEFAULT keyword. The default value specified must be a constant. The default value will be used whenever a user omits a value for a column that has a default specified. We’ll recreate the table Actors and add another enum value “Unknown” to the list. We’ll also mark other columns as NOT NULL so that users are forced to provide valid values for other columns.

We can also use NOT NULL and DEFAULT together.

The following MYSQL statement adds all the restrictions we just talked about:

CREATE TABLE Actors (
Id INT AUTO_INCREMENT,
FirstName VARCHAR(20) NOT NULL,
SecondName VARCHAR(20) NOT NULL,
DoB DATE NOT NULL,
Gender ENUM('Male','Female','Transgender') NOT NULL,
MaritalStatus ENUM('Married', 'Divorced', 'Single', 'Unknown') DE
FAULT "Unknown",
NetWorthInMillions DECIMAL NOT NULL,
PRIMARY KEY (Id));

Contrast the output of the DESC command from the previous article below:

VS

We can also use the IF EXISTS clause when creating a table, similar to the way we did when creating a database. We can execute the following query without any side-effects as the Actors table already exists.

CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS Actors (
Id INT AUTO_INCREMENT,
FirstName VARCHAR(20) NOT NULL,
SecondName VARCHAR(20) NOT NULL,
DoB DATE NOT NULL,
Gender ENUM('Male','Female','Transgender') NOT NULL,
MaritalStatus ENUM('Married', 'Divorced', 'Single', 'Unknown') DE
FAULT "Unknown",
NetWorthInMillions DECIMAL NOT NULL,
PRIMARY KEY (Id));
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