ENUM now works properly (in Drizzle)

Over at the Drizzle blog, the recent 2010-06-07 tarball was announced. This tarball release has my fixes for the ENUM type, so that it now works as it should. I was quite amazed that such a small block of code could have so many bugs! One of the most interesting was the documented limit we inherited from MySQL (see the MySQL Docs on ENUM) of a maximum of 65,535 elements for an ENUM column.

This all started out from a quite innocent comment of Jay‘s in a code review for adding support for the ENUM data type to the embedded_innodb engine. It was all pretty innocent… saying that I should use a constant instead of the magic 0x10000 number as a limit on an assert for sanity of values getting passed to the engine. Seeing as there wasn’t a constant already in the code for that (surprise number 1), I said I’d fix it properly in a separate patch (creating a bug for it so it wouldn’t get lost) and the code went in.

So, now, a few weeks after that, I got around to dealing with that bug (because hey, this was going to be an easy fix that’ll give me a nice sense of accomplishment). A quick look in the Field_enum code raised my suspicions of bugs… I initially wondered if we’d get any error message if a StorageEngine returned a table definition that had too many ENUM elements (for example, 70,000). So, I added a table to the tableprototester plugin (a simple dummy engine that is loaded for testing the parsing of specially constructed table messages) that had 70,000 elements for a single ENUM column. It didn’t throw an error. Darn. It did, however, have an incredibly large result for SHOW CREATE TABLE.

Often with bugs like this I may try to see if the problem is something inherited from MySQL. I’ll often file a bug with MySQL as well if that’s the case. If I can, I’ll sometimes attach the associated patch from Drizzle that fixes the bug, sometimes with a patch directly for and tested on MySQL (if it’s not going to take me too long). If these patches are ever applied is a whole other thing – and sometimes you get things like “each engine is meant to have auto_increment behave differently!” – which doesn’t inspire confidence.

But anyway, the MySQL limit is somewhere between 10850 and 10900. This is not at all what’s documented. I’ve filed the appropriate bug (Bug #54194) with reproducible test case and the bit of problematic code. It turns out that this is (yet another) limit of the FRM file. The limit is “about 64k FRM”. The bit of code in MySQL that was doing the checking for the ENUM limit was this:


/* Hack to avoid bugs with small static rows in MySQL */
  reclength=max(file->min_record_length(table_options),reclength);
  if (info_length+(ulong) create_fields.elements*FCOMP+288+
      n_length+int_length+com_length > 65535L || int_count > 255)
  {
    my_message(ER_TOO_MANY_FIELDS, ER(ER_TOO_MANY_FIELDS), MYF(0));
    DBUG_RETURN(1);
  }

So it’s no surprise to anyone how this specific limit (the number of elements in an ENUM) got missed when I converted Drizzle from using an FRM over to a protobuf based structure.

So a bunch of other cleanup later, a whole lot of extra testing and I can pretty confidently state that the ENUM type in Drizzle does work exactly how you think it would.

Either way, if you’re getting anywhere near 10,000 choices for an ENUM column you have no doubt already lost.

4 thoughts on “ENUM now works properly (in Drizzle)

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  2. Hi!

    interesting post, thanks for clarifying.

    I’m wondering though, why would one have lost usigng a 10,000 item enum? I always thought of it as a cheap way of compressing a varchar column – something that may be useful in a reporting environment. (in this case, the inflexibility of the enum data type is not that big a problem as you have opportunity to rebuild tables during a nightly load window)

  3. Of course, adding/removing enum elements (with some limitations as to storage size) should not require a rewrite of the table. pretty simple online DDL if there ever was one.

    One downside is that you’re going to be using an awful lot more memory for the table definition… and all the code around validating the insert and looking it up isn’t very optimal at all (see my previous post on the CREATE TABLE performance record)

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