Jerry Krinock Jerry Krinock - 26 days ago 4
MySQL Question

Perl DBI::fetchrow_array() gives empty instead of undef for NULL

After migrating to a new server, upon executing a SELECT query, if a requested column value is NULL, Perl's

returns what appears to be an empty string:
returns 1 and
returns 0.

Everything I read tells me that I should be getting undef from a NULL, and indeed this is the way it works on my old server. The new server has a copy of the MySQL database which I migrated using the Export SQL and Import SQL features of Sequel Pro, a MySQL gui which I run on my Mac. For both databases, the values in question are clearly indicated as gray NULL in Sequel Pro, and as NULL if I run
interactively. For example, see
in this transcript:

mysql> SELECT * from trials WHERE id = 26069 ;
+-------+----------+-----------+---------+--------+ ...
| id | language | numTrials | name | status | ...
+-------+----------+-----------+---------+--------+ ...
| 26069 | en | 3 | NULL | Done | ...
+-------+----------+-----------+---------+--------+ ...
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

My old server is running older packages:

  • Perl 5.10.1 vs. 5.22.1

  • DBI 1.634 vs. 1.636

  • DBD::mysql 4.022 vs. 4.033

Here is my code around

@result = $statementHandle->fetchrow_array ;

for my $value (@result) {
if (! utf8::is_utf8($value)) {
utf8::decode($value) ;

# Log values for debugging the NULL/undef issue:
my $aValue = $value ;
my $len = length($aValue) ;
if (!defined($value)) {
$aValue = "<unnndefined>" ;
print {*::STDLOG} info => "daValue l=$len : $daValue\n" ;

Big thanks to anyone who can suggest what might be going on here!


You code will have produced the warning

Use of uninitialized value in subroutine entry

Your call to utf8::decode($value) attempts to convert $value to a character string. If you pass it undef then the value will be treated as the empty string (with the accompanying warning) and decoded and stored as such

It seems strange to enclose all of that code in your conditional statement. Surely you just want

utf8::decode($value) if $value and not utf8::is_utf8($value);

and then the rest of the code should be independent of the field's encoding status?

Even better, you should just make sure that DBI automatically encodes and decodes characters strings on their way to and from the database, by adding the option {mysql_enable_utf8mb4 => 1} to the database connect call. You will also need to add CHARACTER SET utf8mb4 to either the CREATE TABLE or CREATE DATABASE statements. (Don't use CHARACTER SET utf8; that is a subset of real UTF-8 limited to three bytes per character.) Of course, you can ALTER TABLE after the initial creation if you need to.