MySQL: Query Real Values from Delimiter-Separated-String-IDs

I had a problem in using a string-comma-separated-value returned from a query in an “IN” statement. I used the IDs from one table, concat them into a comma separated value and insert them into another table. Baaaad idea… Now when I query that value, I can’t use it directly into an “IN” statement to retrieve their real values since its a string being returned from the query, the “IN” statement will not compare all the values inside as a set, but it will compare it as a string.

e.g.
SELECT value FROM my_table WHERE my_id IN (‘1, 2, 3’) is NOT equivalent to SELECT value FROM my_table WHERE my_id IN (‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’)

So, if you have a table containing values 1 to 3, the first query will return only 1 while the second query will return all values; 1, 2 and 3.

I Googled around and found out that MySQL does not have a native equivalent of PHP’s explode() function. Crap… I had to do it the hard war and create a MySQL stored function to ‘explode’ the values from its delimiter, query the right value from the other table using the exploded IDs, concat them back together and return them as a string.

Below is the function I was able to patch together from different codes I found in the MySQL forum. I added comments below as to make things clearer. I named the function splitAndTranslate since that’s what I was really trying to implement. You can make up your own modifications and function name.

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DELIMITER //
DROP FUNCTION IF EXISTS `splitAndTranslate` //
CREATE FUNCTION splitAndTranslate(str TEXT, delim VARCHAR(124))
RETURNS TEXT
DETERMINISTIC
BEGIN
	DECLARE i INT DEFAULT 0;	-- total number of delimiters
	DECLARE ctr INT DEFAULT 0;	-- counter for the loop
	DECLARE str_len INT;		-- string length,self explanatory
	DECLARE out_str text DEFAULT '';	-- return string holder
	DECLARE temp_str text DEFAULT '';	-- temporary string holder
  	DECLARE temp_val VARCHAR(255) DEFAULT '';	-- temporary string holder for query
 
	-- get length
	SET str_len=LENGTH(str);	
 
	SET i = (LENGTH(str)-LENGTH(REPLACE(str, delim, '')))/LENGTH(delim) + 1;	
		-- get total number delimeters and add 1
		-- add 1 since total separated values are 1 more than the number of delimiters
 
	-- start of while loop
	WHILE(ctr<i) DO
		-- add 1 to the counter, which will also be used to get the value of the string
		SET ctr=ctr+1; 
 
		-- get value separated by delimiter using ctr as the index
		SET temp_str = REPLACE(SUBSTRING(SUBSTRING_INDEX(str, delim, ctr), LENGTH(SUBSTRING_INDEX(str, delim,ctr - 1)) + 1), delim, '');
 
		-- query real value and insert into temporary value holder, temp_str contains the exploded ID    		
		SELECT <real_value_column> INTO temp_val FROM <my_table> WHERE <table_id>=temp_str;
 
		-- concat real value into output string separated by delimiter
    		SET out_str=CONCAT(out_str, temp_val, ',');
	END WHILE;
	-- end of while loop
 
	-- trim delimiter from end of string
	SET out_str=TRIM(TRAILING delim FROM out_str);
	RETURN(out_str);	-- return 
 
END//

After creating the stored function, you can now use it normally like any MySQL function inside a query. So what I now do with the new function is…

SELECT splitAndTranslate( g.comma_separated_ids ) real_values FROM my_group_table g;

Thanks to Chris Stubben in the MySQL Forum, I used and modified his code to fit my need.

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