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The UNION Virtual Table
  1. The UNION virtual table (hereafter: "union-vtab") is a virtual table that makes multiple independent rowid tables tables look like a single large table.

  2. The tables that participate in a union-vtab can be in the same database file, or they can be in separate databases files that are ATTACH-ed to the same database connection.

  3. The union-vtab is not built into SQLite. Union-vtab is a loadable extension. The source code for union-vtab is contained in a single file located at ext/misc/unionvtab.c in the SQLite source tree.

  4. A new union-vtab instance is created as follows:

    CREATE VIRTUAL TABLE temp.tabname USING unionvtab(query);
  5. Every union-vtab must be in the TEMP namespace. Hence, the "temp." prior to tabname is required. Only the union-vtab itself is required to be in the TEMP namespace - the individual tables that are being unioned can be any ATTACH-ed database.

  6. The query in the CREATE VIRTUAL TABLE statement for a union-vtab must be a well-formed SQL query that returns four columns and an arbitrary number of rows. Each row in the result of the query represents a single table that is to participate in the union.

    1. The first column is the schema name for the database that contains the tables. Examples: "main", "zone512".
    2. The second column is the name of the table.
    3. The third column is the minimum value for any rowid in the table.
    4. The fourth column is the maximum value of any rowid in the table.
  7. The query for the CREATE VIRTUAL TABLE statement of a union-vtab can be either a SELECT statement or a VALUES clause.

  8. The query is run once when the CREATE VIRTUAL TABLE statement is first encountered and the results of that one run are used for all subsequent access to the union-vtab. If the results of query change, then the union-vtab should be DROP-ed and recreated in order to cause the query to be run again.

  9. There must be no overlap in the bands of rowids for the various tables in a union-vtab.

  10. All tables that participate in a union-vtab must have identical CREATE TABLE definitions, except that the names of the tables can be different.

  11. All tables that participate in a union-vtab must be rowid tables.

  12. The column names and definitions for tabname will be the same as the underlying tables. An application can access tabname just like it was one of the real underlying tables.

  13. No table in a union-vtab may contain entries that are outside of the rowid bounds established by the query in the CREATE VIRTUAL TABLE statement.

  14. The union-vtab shall optimize access to the underlying real tables when the constraints on the query are among forms shown below. Other kinds of constraints may be optimized in the future, but only these constraints are optimized in the initial implementation.

    • rowid=$id
    • rowid IN query-or-list
    • rowid BETWEEN $lwr AND $upr

    Other kinds of constraints may be used and will work, but other constraints will be checked individually for each row and will not be optimized (at least not initially). All constraint checking is completely automatic regardless of whether or not optimization occurs. The optimization referred to in this bullet point is a performance consideration only. The same result is obtained regardless of whether or not the query is optimized.

  15. The union-vtab is read-only. Support for writing may be added at a later time, but writing is not a part of the initial implementation.

  16. Nota bene: The sqlite3_blob_open() interface does not work for a union-vtab. BLOB content must be read from the union-vtab using ordinary SQL statements.

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