Rob Forrest Rob Forrest - 18 days ago 6
MySQL Question

MySQL order by before group by

There are plenty of similar questions to be found on here but I don't think that any answer the question adequately.

I'll continue from the current most popular question and use their example if that's alright.

The task in this instance is to get the latest post for each author in the database.

The example query produces unusable results as its not always the latest post that is returned.

SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts
WHERE wp_posts.post_status='publish'
AND wp_posts.post_type='post'
GROUP BY wp_posts.post_author
ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC


The current accepted answer is

SELECT
wp_posts.*
FROM wp_posts
WHERE
wp_posts.post_status='publish'
AND wp_posts.post_type='post'
GROUP BY wp_posts.post_author
HAVING wp_posts.post_date = MAX(wp_posts.post_date) <- ONLY THE LAST POST FOR EACH AUTHOR
ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC


Unfortunately this answer is plain and simple wrong and in many cases produces less stable results than the orginal query.

By best solution is to use a subquery of the form

SELECT wp_posts.* FROM
(
SELECT *
FROM wp_posts
ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC
) AS wp_posts
WHERE wp_posts.post_status='publish'
AND wp_posts.post_type='post'
GROUP BY wp_posts.post_author


My question is a simple one then:
Is there anyway to order rows before grouping without resorting to a subquery?

Edit: This question was a continuation from another question and the specifics of my situation are slightly different. You can (and should) assume that there is also a wp_posts.id that is a unique identifier for that particular post.

Answer

Using an ORDER BY in a subquery is not the best solution to this problem.

The best solution to get the max(post_date) by author is to use a subquery to return the max date and then join that to your table on both the post_author and the max date.

The solution should be:

SELECT p1.* 
FROM wp_posts p1
INNER JOIN
(
    SELECT max(post_date) MaxPostDate, post_author
    FROM wp_posts
    WHERE post_status='publish'
       AND post_type='post'
    GROUP BY post_author
) p2
  ON p1.post_author = p2.post_author
  AND p1.post_date = p2.MaxPostDate
WHERE p1.post_status='publish'
  AND p1.post_type='post'
order by p1.post_date desc

If you have the following sample data:

CREATE TABLE wp_posts
    (`id` int, `title` varchar(6), `post_date` datetime, `post_author` varchar(3))
;

INSERT INTO wp_posts
    (`id`, `title`, `post_date`, `post_author`)
VALUES
    (1, 'Title1', '2013-01-01 00:00:00', 'Jim'),
    (2, 'Title2', '2013-02-01 00:00:00', 'Jim')
;

The subquery is going to return the max date and author of:

MaxPostDate | Author
2/1/2013    | Jim

Then since you are joining that back to the table, on both values you will return the full details of that post.

See SQL Fiddle with Demo.

To expand on my comments about using a subquery to accurate return this data.

MySQL does not force you to GROUP BY every column that you include in the SELECT list. As a result, if you only GROUP BY one column but return 10 columns in total, there is no guarantee that the other column values which belong to the post_author that is returned. If the column is not in a GROUP BY MySQL chooses what value should be returned.

Using the subquery with the aggregate function will guarantee that the correct author and post is returned every time.

As a side note, while MySQL allows you to use an ORDER BY in a subquery and allows you to apply a GROUP BY to not every column in the SELECT list this behavior is not allowed in other databases including SQL Server.

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