Before the introduction of online
DDL, it was common practice to combine many DDL operations
into a single
statement. Because each
statement involved copying and rebuilding the table, it was more
efficient to make several changes to the same table at once, since
those changes could all be done with a single rebuild operation
for the table. The downside was that SQL code involving DDL
operations was harder to maintain and to reuse in different
scripts. If the specific changes were different each time, you
might have to construct a new complex
TABLE for each slightly different scenario.
For DDL operations that can be done in place, you can separate
them into individual
statements for easier scripting and maintenance, without
sacrificing efficiency. For example, you might take a complicated
statement such as:
ALTER TABLE t1 ADD INDEX i1(c1), ADD UNIQUE INDEX i2(c2), CHANGE c4_old_name c4_new_name INTEGER UNSIGNED;
and break it down into simpler parts that can be tested and performed independently, such as:
ALTER TABLE t1 ADD INDEX i1(c1); ALTER TABLE t1 ADD UNIQUE INDEX i2(c2); ALTER TABLE t1 CHANGE c4_old_name c4_new_name INTEGER UNSIGNED NOT NULL;
You might still use multi-part
TABLE statements for:
Operations that must be performed in a specific sequence, such as creating an index followed by a foreign key constraint that uses that index.
Operations all using the same specific
LOCKclause, that you want to either succeed or fail as a group.
Operations that cannot be performed in place, that is, that still use the table-copy method.
Operations for which you specify
old_alter_table=1, to force the table-copying behavior if needed for precise backward-compatibility in specialized scenarios.