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Managing & Using MySQL, 2nd Edition by Hugh E. Williams, Randy Yarger, George Reese, Tim King

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Transactions

MySQL recently introduced transactions along with SQL for executing statements in a transactional context. By default, MySQL is in a state called autocommit. Autocommit mode means that any SQL you send to MySQL is executed immediately. In some cases, however, you may want to execute two or more SQL statements together as a single unit of work.

A transfer between two bank accounts is the perfect example of such a transaction. The banking system needs to make sure that the debit from the first account and the credit to the second account occur as a single unit of work. If they are treated separately, the server could in theory crash between the debit and the credit. The result would be that you would lose that money!

By making sure the two statements occur as a single unit of work, transactions ensure that the first statement can be “rolled back” in the event that the second statement fails. To use transactions in MySQL, you first need to create a table using a transactional table type such as BDB or InnoDB.[6]

If your MySQL install was not compiled with support for these table types, you cannot use transactions unless you reinstall. The SQL to create a transactional table specifies one of the transactional types:

CREATE TABLE ACCOUNT (
    ACCOUNT_ID BIGINT UNSIGNED NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY AUTO_INCREMENT,
    BALANCE    DOUBLE) 
TYPE = BDB;

For a transaction against a transactional table to work, you need to turn off autocommit. You can do this with the command:

SET AUTOCOMMIT=0;

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