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Moving From SQLite 3.5.9 to 3.6.0

SQLite version 3.6.0 contains many changes. As is the custom with the SQLite project, most changes are fully backwards compatible. However, a few of the changes in version 3.6.0 are incompatible and might require modifications to application code and/or makefiles. This document is a briefing on the changes in SQLite 3.6.0 with special attention to the incompatible changes.

Key Points:

1.0 Incompatible Changes

Incompatible changes are covered first since they are the most important to maintainers and programmers.

1.1 Overview Of Incompatible Changes

  1. Changes to the sqlite3_vfs object

    1. The signature of the xAccess method has been modified to return an error code and to store its output into an integer pointed to by a parameter, rather than returning the output directly. This change allows the xAccess() method to report failures. In association with this signature change, a new extended error code SQLITE_IOERR_ACCESS has been added.

    2. The xGetTempname method has been removed from sqlite3_vfs. In its place, the xOpen method is enhanced to open a temporary file of its own invention when the filename parameter is NULL.

    3. Added the xGetLastError() method to sqlite3_vfs for returning filesystem-specific error messages and error codes back to SQLite.

  2. The signature of the xCheckReservedLock method on sqlite3_io_methods has been modified so that it returns an error code and stores its boolean result into an integer pointed to by a parameter. In association with this change, a new extended error code SQLITE_IOERR_CHECKRESERVEDLOCK has been added.

  3. When SQLite is ported to new operation systems (operating systems other than Unix, Windows, and OS/2 for which ports are provided together with the core) two new functions, sqlite3_os_init() and sqlite3_os_end(), must be provided as part of the port.

  4. The way in which the IN and NOT IN operators handle NULL values in their right-hand expressions has been brought into compliance with the SQL standard and with other SQL database engines.

  5. The column names for the result sets of SELECT statements have been tweaked in some cases to work more like other SQL database engines.

  6. Changes to compile-time options:

    1. The SQLITE_MUTEX_APPDEF compile-time parameter is no longer recognized. As a replacement, alternative mutex implementations may be created at runtime using sqlite3_config() with the SQLITE_CONFIG_MUTEX operator and the sqlite3_mutex_methods object.

    2. Compile-time options OS_UNIX, OS_WIN, OS_OS2, OS_OTHER, and TEMP_STORE have been renamed to include an "SQLITE_" prefix in order to help avoid namespace collisions with application software. The new names of these options are respectively: SQLITE_OS_UNIX, SQLITE_OS_WIN, SQLITE_OS_OS2, SQLITE_OS_OTHER, and SQLITE_TEMP_STORE.

1.2 Changes To The VFS Layer

SQLite version 3.5.0 introduced a new OS interface layer that provided an abstraction of the underlying operating system. This was an important innovation and has proven to be helpful in porting and maintaining SQLite. However, the developers have discovered some minor flaws in the original "virtual file system" design introduced in version 3.5.0 and so SQLite 3.6.0 includes some small incompatible changes to address these flaws.

Key Point: The incompatible changes in the SQLite operating-system interface for version 3.6.0 only affect the rare applications that make use of the virtual file system interface or that supply an application-defined mutex implementation or that make use of other obscure compile-time options. The changes introduced by SQLite version 3.6.0 will have zero impact on the vast majority of SQLite applications that use the built-in interfaces to Unix, Windows, and OS/2 and that use the standard build configuration.

1.3 Changes In The Way The IN Operator Handles NULLs

All versions of SQLite up to and including version 3.5.9 have mishandled NULL values on the right-hand side of IN and NOT IN operators. Specifically, SQLite has previously ignored NULLs on the right-hand side of IN and NOT IN.

Suppose we have a table X1 defined as follows:

  CREATE TABLE x1(x INTEGER);
  INSERT INTO x1 VALUES(1);
  INSERT INTO x1 VALUES(2);
  INSERT INTO x1 VALUES(NULL);

Given the definition of X1 above, the following expressions have historically evaluated to FALSE in SQLite, though the correct answer is actually NULL:

  3 IN (1,2,NULL)
  3 IN (SELECT * FROM x1)

Similarly, the following expressions have historically evaluated to TRUE when in fact NULL is also the correct answer here:

  3 NOT IN (1,2,NULL)
  3 NOT IN (SELECT * FROM x1)

The historical behavior of SQLite is incorrect according to the SQL:1999 standard and it is inconsistent with the behavior of MySQL and PostgreSQL. Version 3.6.0 changes the behavior of the IN and NOT IN operators to conform to the standard and to give the same results as other SQL database engines.

Key Point: The change to the way NULL values are handled by the IN and NOT IN operators is technically a bug fix, not a design change. However, maintainers should check to ensure that applications do not depend on the older, buggy behavior prior to upgrading to version 3.6.0.

1.4 Changes To Column Naming Rules

The column names reported by join subqueries have been modified slightly in order to work more like other database engines. Consider the following query:

  CREATE TABLE t1(a);
  CREATE TABLE t2(x);
  SELECT * FROM (SELECT t1.a FROM t1 JOIN t2 ORDER BY t2.x LIMIT 1) ORDER BY 1;

In version 3.5.9 the query above would return a single column named "t1.a". In version 3.6.0 the column name is just "a".

SQLite has never made any promises about the names of columns in the result set of SELECT statement unless the column contains an AS clause. So this change to column name is technically not an incompatibility. SQLite is merely changing from one undefined behavior to another. Nevertheless, many applications depend on the unspecified column naming behavior of SQLite and so this change is discussed under the incompatible changes subheading.

1.5 Changes To Compile-Time Options

Compile-time options to SQLite are controlled by C-preprocessor macros. SQLite version 3.6.0 changes the names of some of these macros so that all C-preprocessor macros that are specific to SQLite begin with the "SQLITE_" prefix. This is done to reduce the risk of name collisions with other software modules.

Key Point: Changes to compile-time options have the potential to affect makefiles in projects that do customized builds of SQLite. These changes should have zero impact on application code and for most projects which use a standard, default build of SQLite.

2.0 Fully Backwards-Compatible Enhancements

In addition to the incompatible changes listed above, SQLite version 3.6.0 adds the following backwards compatible changes and enhancements:

  1. The new sqlite3_config() interface allows an application to customize the behavior of SQLite at run-time. Customizations possible using sqlite3_config() include the following:

    1. Specify an alternative mutex implementation using the SQLITE_CONFIG_MUTEX verb with the sqlite3_mutex_methods object.

    2. Specify an alternative malloc implementation using the SQLITE_CONFIG_MALLOC verb with the sqlite3_mem_methods object.

    3. Partially or fully disable the use of mutexes using SQLITE_CONFIG_SINGLETHREAD, SQLITE_CONFIG_MULTITHREAD and SQLITE_CONFIG_SERIALIZED.

  2. A new flag SQLITE_OPEN_NOMUTEX is made available to the sqlite3_open_v2() interface.

  3. The new sqlite3_status() interface allows an application to query the performance status of SQLite at runtime.

  4. The sqlite3_memory_used() and sqlite3_memory_highwater() interfaces are deprecated. The equivalent functionality is now available through sqlite3_status().

  5. The sqlite3_initialize() interface can be called to explicitly initialize the SQLite subsystem. The sqlite3_initialize() interface is called automatically when invoking certain interfaces so the use of sqlite3_initialize() is not required, but it is recommended.

  6. The sqlite3_shutdown() interface causes SQLite release any system resources (memory allocations, mutexes, open file handles) that it might have been allocated by sqlite3_initialize().

  7. The sqlite3_next_stmt() interface allows an application to discover all prepared statements associated with a database connection.

  8. Added the page_count PRAGMA for returning the size of the underlying database file in pages.

  9. Added a new R*Tree index extension.

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