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GRDB Associations

Associations Benefits

An association is a connection between two Record types.

Associations streamline common operations in your code, make them safer, and more efficient. For example, consider a library application that has two record types, author and book:

struct Author {
    var id: Int64
    var name: String
}

struct Book {
    var id: Int64
    var authorId: Int64?
    var title: String
}

Now, suppose we wanted to load all books from an existing author. We'd need to do something like this:

let author: Author = ...
let books = try Book
    .filter(Column("authorId") == author.id)
    .fetchAll(db)

Or, loading all pairs of books along with their authors:

struct BookInfo {
    var book: Book
    var author: Author?
}

let books = try Book.fetchAll(db)
let bookInfos = books.map { book -> BookInfo in
    let author = try Author.fetchOne(db, key: book.authorId)
    return BookInfo(book: book, author: author)
}

With GRDB associations, we can streamline these operations (and others), by declaring the connections between books and authors. Here is how we define associations, and properties that access them:

extension Author {
    static let books = hasMany(Book.self)
    var books: QueryInterfaceRequest<Book> {
        return request(for: Author.books)
    }
}

extension Book {
    static let author = belongsTo(Author.self)
    var author: QueryInterfaceRequest<Author> {
        return request(for: Book.author)
    }
}

Loading all books from an existing author is now easier:

let books = try author.books.fetchAll(db)

As for loading all pairs of books and authors, it is not only easier, but also far much efficient:

struct BookInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
    let book: Book
    let author: Author?
}

let request = Book.including(optional: Book.author)
let bookInfos = BookInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

Before we dive in, please remember that associations can not generate all possible SQL queries that involve several tables. You may also prefer writing SQL, and this is just OK, because your SQL skills are welcome: see the Joined Queries Support chapter.

Required Protocols

Associations are available on types that adopt the necessary supporting protocols.

When your record type is a subclass of the Record class, all necessary protocols are already setup and ready: you can skip this chapter.

Generally speaking, associations use the TableRecord, FetchableRecord, and EncodableRecord protocols:

  • TableRecord is the protocol that lets you declare associations between record types:

    extension Author: TableRecord {
        static let books = hasMany(Book.self)
    }
    
    extension Book: TableRecord {
        static let author = belongsTo(Author.self)
    }
  • FetchableRecord makes it possible to fetch records from the database:

    extension Author: FetchableRecord { }
    
    // Who's prolific?
    let authors = try dbQueue.read { db in
        try Author
            .having(Author.books.count >= 20)
            .fetchAll(db) // [Author]
    }

    FetchableRecord conformance can be derived from the standard Decodable protocol. See Codable Records for more information.

  • EncodableRecord makes it possible to fetch associated records with the request(for:) method:

    extension Book: EncodableRecord {
        // The request for the author of a book.
        var author: QueryInterfaceRequest<Author> {
            return request(for: Book.author)
        }
    }
    
    // Who wrote this book?
    let book: Book = ...
    let author = try dbQueue.read { db in
        try book.author.fetchOne(db) // Author?
    }

    A record type can conform to EncodableRecord via the PersistableRecord protocol. However, PersistableRecord also grants persistence methods, the ones that are able to insert, update, and delete rows in the database. When you'd rather keep a record type read-only, and yet profit from associations, all you need is EncodableRecord.

    EncodableRecord conformance can be derived from the standard Encodable protocol. See Codable Records for more information.

The Types of Associations

GRDB handles five types of associations:

  • BelongsTo
  • HasMany
  • HasOne
  • HasManyThrough
  • HasOneThrough

An association declares a link from a record type to another, as in "one book belongs to its author". It instructs GRDB to use the foreign keys declared in the database as support for Swift methods.

Each one of the three types of associations is appropriate for a particular database situation.

BelongsTo

The BelongsTo association sets up a one-to-one connection from a record type to another record type, such as each instance of the declaring record "belongs to" an instance of the other record.

For example, if your application includes authors and books, and each book is assigned its author, you'd declare the Book.author association as below:

struct Book: TableRecord {
    static let author = belongsTo(Author.self)
    ...
}

struct Author: TableRecord {
    ...
}

The BelongsTo association between a book and its author needs that the database table for books has a column that points to the table for authors:

BelongsToSchema

See Convention for the BelongsTo Association for some sample code that defines the database schema for such an association, and Building Requests from Associations in order to learn how to use it.

HasMany

The HasMany association indicates a one-to-many connection between two record types, such as each instance of the declaring record "has many" instances of the other record. You'll often find this association on the other side of a BelongsTo association.

For example, if your application includes authors and books, and each author is assigned zero or more books, you'd declare the Author.books association as below:

struct Author: TableRecord {
    static let books = hasMany(Book.self)
}

struct Book: TableRecord {
    ...
}

The HasMany association between an author and its books needs that the database table for books has a column that points to the table for authors:

HasManySchema

See Convention for the HasMany Association for some sample code that defines the database schema for such an association, and Building Requests from Associations in order to learn how to use it.

HasOne

The HasOne association, like BelongsTo, sets up a one-to-one connection from a record type to another record type, but with different semantics, and underlying database schema. It is usually used when an entity has been denormalized into two database tables.

For example, if your application has one database table for countries, and another for their demographic profiles, you'd declare the Country.demographics association as below:

struct Country: TableRecord {
    static let demographics = hasOne(Demographics.self, key: "demographics")
    ...
}

struct Demographics: TableRecord {
    ...
}

The HasOne association between a country and its demographics needs that the database table for demographics has a column that points to the table for countries:

HasOneSchema

Note that this demographics example of HasOne association uses an explicit "demographics" key, unlike the BelongsTo and HasMany associations above. This key is necessary when you use a plural name for a one-to-one association. See Convention for Database Table Names for more information.

See Convention for the HasOne Association for some sample code that defines the database schema for such an association, and Building Requests from Associations in order to learn how to use it.

HasManyThrough

The HasManyThrough association is often used to set up a many-to-many connection with another record. This association indicates that the declaring record can be matched with zero or more instances of another record by proceeding through a third record. For example, consider the practice of passport delivery. The relevant association declarations could look like this:

struct Country: TableRecord, EncodableRecord {
    static let passports = hasMany(Passport.self)
    static let citizens = hasMany(Citizen.self, through: passports, using: Passport.citizen)
    ...
}

struct Passport: TableRecord {
    static let country = belongsTo(Country.self)
    static let citizen = belongsTo(Citizen.self)
}
 
struct Citizen: TableRecord, EncodableRecord {
    static let passports = hasMany(Passport.self)
    static let countries = hasMany(Country.self, through: passports, using: Passport.country)
    ...
}

HasManyThroughSchema

The HasManyThrough association is also useful for setting up "shortcuts" through nested associations. For example, if a document has many sections, and a section has many paragraphs, you may sometimes want to get a simple collection of all paragraphs in the document. You could set that up this way:

struct Document: TableRecord {
    static let sections = hasMany(Section.self)
    static let paragraphs = hasMany(Paragraph.self, through: sections, using: Section.paragraphs)
    ...
}

struct Section: TableRecord {
    static let paragraphs = hasMany(Paragraph.self)
    ...
}
 
struct Paragraph: TableRecord {
    ...
}

As in the examples above, HasManyThrough association is always built from two other associations: the through: and using: arguments. Those associations can be any other association (BelongsTo, HasMany, HasManyThrough, etc). The above Document.paragraphs association can also be defined, in a much more explicit way, as below:

struct Document: TableRecord {
    static let paragraphs = hasMany(
        Paragraph.self, 
        through: Document.hasMany(Section.self),
        using: Section.hasMany(Paragraph.self))
    ...
}

See Building Requests from Associations in order to learn how to use the HasManyThrough association.

HasOneThrough

A HasOneThrough association sets up a one-to-one connection with another record. This association indicates that the declaring record can be matched with one instance of another record by proceeding through a third record. For example, if each book belongs to a library, and each library has one address, then one knows where the book should be returned to:

struct Book: TableRecord, EncodableRecord {
    static let library = belongsTo(Library.self)
    static let returnAddress = hasOne(Address.self, through: library, using: library.address)
    ...
}

struct Library: TableRecord {
    static let address = hasOne(Address.self)
    ...
}
 
struct Address: TableRecord {
    ...
}

HasOneThroughSchema

As in the example above, HasOneThrough association is always built from two other associations: the through: and using: arguments. Those associations can be any other association to one (BelongsTo, HasOne, HasOneThrough). The above Book.returnAddress association can also be defined, in a much more explicit way, as below:

struct Book: TableRecord {
    static let returnAddress = hasOne(
        Address.self,
        through: Book.belongsTo(Library.self),
        using: Library.hasOne(Address.self))
    ...
}

See Building Requests from Associations in order to learn how to use the HasOneThrough association.

Choosing Between BelongsTo and HasOne

When you want to set up a one-to-one relationship between two record types, you'll need to add a BelongsTo association to one, and a HasOne association to the other. How do you know which is which?

The distinction is in where you place the database foreign key. The record that points to the other one has the BelongsTo association. The other record has the HasOne association:

A country has one demographic profile, a demographic profile belongs to a country:

HasOneSchema

struct Country: TableRecord {
    static let demographics = hasOne(Demographics.self)
    ...
}

struct Demographics: TableRecord {
    static let country = belongsTo(Country.self)
    ...
}

Self Joins

When designing your data model, you will sometimes find a record that should have a relation to itself. For example, you may want to store all employees in a single database table, but be able to trace relationships such as between manager and subordinates. This situation can be modeled with self-joining associations:

struct Employee {
    static let subordinates = hasMany(Employee.self, key: "subordinates")
    static let manager = belongsTo(Employee.self, key: "manager")
    ...
}

RecursiveSchema

The matching migration would look like:

migrator.registerMigration("Employees") { db in
    try db.create(table: "employee") { t in
        t.autoIncrementedPrimaryKey("id")
        t.column("managerId", .integer)
            .indexed()
            .references("employee", onDelete: .restrict)
        t.column("name", .text)
    }
}

Note that both sides of the self-join use a customized association key. This helps consuming this association. For example:

struct EmployeeInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
    var employee: Employee
    var manager: Employee?
    var subordinates: Set<Employee>
}

let request = Employee
    .including(optional: Employee.manager)
    .including(all: Employee.subordinates)

let employeeInfos: [EmployeeInfo] = try EmployeeInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

See Fetching Values from Associations for more information.

Associations and the Database Schema

Associations are grounded in the database schema, the way database tables are defined.

For example, a BelongsTo association between a book and its author needs that the database table for books has a column that points to the table for authors.

GRDB also comes with several conventions for defining your database schema.

Those conventions help associations be convenient and, generally, "just work". When you can't, or don't want to follow conventions, you will have to override the expected defaults in your Swift code.

Convention for Database Table Names

Database table names should be written in English, singular, and camelCased.

Make them look like Swift identifiers: book, author, postalAddress.

If the database schema does not follow this convention, and has, for example, database tables which are named with underscores (postal_address), you can still use associations. But you need to help row consumption by naming your associations with a customized key:

// Setup for table names that does not follow the expected convention

struct PostalAddress: TableRecord {
    // Customized table name
    static let databaseTableName = "postal_address"
}

extension Author {
    // Customized association key
    static let postalAddress = belongsTo(PostalAddress.self, key: "postalAddress")
}

GRDB will automatically pluralize or singularize names in order to help you easily associate records.

For example, the Book and Author records will automatically feed properties named books, author, or bookCount in your decoded records, without any explicit configuration, as long as the names of the backing database tables are "book" and "author".

The GRDB pluralization mechanisms are very powerful, being capable of pluralizing and singularizing both regular and irregular words (it's directly inspired from the battle-tested Ruby on Rails inflections).

When using class names composed of two or more words, the table name should use the camelCase singular form:

RecordType Table Name Derived identifiers
Book book book, books, bookCount
LineItem lineItem lineItem, lineItems, lineItemPriceSum
Mouse mouse mouse, mice, maxMouseSize
Person person person, people, personCount

If your application relies on non-English names, GRDB may generate unexpected identifiers. If this happens, please open an issue.

See The Structure of a Joined Request for more information.

Convention for the BelongsTo Association

extension Book: TableRecord {
    static let author = belongsTo(Author.self)
}

BelongsToSchema

Here is the recommended migration for the BelongsTo association:

migrator.registerMigration("Books and Authors") { db in
    try db.create(table: "author") { t in
        t.autoIncrementedPrimaryKey("id")             // (1)
        t.column("name", .text)
    }
    try db.create(table: "book") { t in
        t.autoIncrementedPrimaryKey("id")
        t.column("authorId", .integer)                // (2)
            .notNull()                                // (3)
            .indexed()                                // (4)
            .references("author", onDelete: .cascade) // (5)
        t.column("title", .text)
    }
}
  1. The author table has a primary key.
  2. The book.authorId column is used to link a book to the author it belongs to.
  3. Make the book.authorId column not null if you want SQLite to guarantee that all books have an author.
  4. Create an index on the book.authorId column in order to ease the selection of an author's books.
  5. Create a foreign key from book.authorId column to authors.id, so that SQLite guarantees that no book refers to a missing author. The onDelete: .cascade option has SQLite automatically delete all of an author's books when that author is deleted. See Foreign Key Actions for more information.

The example above uses auto-incremented primary keys. But generally speaking, all primary keys are supported, including composite primary keys that span several columns.

Following this convention lets you write, for example:

struct Book: TableRecord {
    static let author = belongsTo(Author.self)
}

struct Author: TableRecord {
}

If the database schema does not follow this convention, and does not define foreign keys between tables, you can still use BelongsTo associations. But your help is needed to define the missing foreign key:

struct Book: TableRecord {
    static let author = belongsTo(Author.self, using: ForeignKey(...))
}

See Foreign Keys for more information.

Convention for the HasMany Association

extension Author: TableRecord {
    static let books = hasMany(Book.self)
}

HasManySchema

Here is the recommended migration for the HasMany association:

migrator.registerMigration("Books and Authors") { db in
    try db.create(table: "author") { t in
        t.autoIncrementedPrimaryKey("id")             // (1)
        t.column("name", .text)
    }
    try db.create(table: "book") { t in
        t.autoIncrementedPrimaryKey("id")
        t.column("authorId", .integer)                // (2)
            .notNull()                                // (3)
            .indexed()                                // (4)
            .references("author", onDelete: .cascade) // (5)
        t.column("title", .text)
    }
}
  1. The author table has a primary key.
  2. The book.authorId column is used to link a book to the author it belongs to.
  3. Make the book.authorId column not null if you want SQLite to guarantee that all books have an author.
  4. Create an index on the book.authorId column in order to ease the selection of an author's books.
  5. Create a foreign key from book.authorId column to authors.id, so that SQLite guarantees that no book refers to a missing author. The onDelete: .cascade option has SQLite automatically delete all of an author's books when that author is deleted. See Foreign Key Actions for more information.

The example above uses auto-incremented primary keys. But generally speaking, all primary keys are supported, including composite primary keys that span several columns.

Following this convention lets you write, for example:

struct Book: TableRecord {
}

struct Author: TableRecord {
    static let books = hasMany(Book.self)
}

If the database schema does not follow this convention, and does not define foreign keys between tables, you can still use HasMany associations. But your help is needed to define the missing foreign key:

struct Author: TableRecord {
    static let books = hasMany(Book.self, using: ForeignKey(...))
}

See Foreign Keys for more information.

Convention for the HasOne Association

extension Country: TableRecord {
    static let demographics = hasOne(Demographics.self)
}

HasOneSchema

Here is the recommended migration for the HasOne association:

migrator.registerMigration("Countries") { db in
    try db.create(table: "country") { t in
        t.column("code", .text).primaryKey()           // (1)
        t.column("name", .text)
    }
    try db.create(table: "demographics") { t in
        t.autoIncrementedPrimaryKey("id")
        t.column("countryCode", .text)                 // (2)
            .notNull()                                 // (3)
            .unique()                                  // (4)
            .references("country", onDelete: .cascade) // (5)
        t.column("population", .integer)
        t.column("density", .double)
    }
}
  1. The country table has a primary key.
  2. The demographics.countryCode column is used to link a demographic profile to the country it belongs to.
  3. Make the demographics.countryCode column not null if you want SQLite to guarantee that all profiles are linked to a country.
  4. Create a unique index on the demographics.countryCode column in order to guarantee the unicity of any country's profile.
  5. Create a foreign key from demographics.countryCode column to country.code, so that SQLite guarantees that no profile refers to a missing country. The onDelete: .cascade option has SQLite automatically delete a profile when its country is deleted. See Foreign Key Actions for more information.

The example above uses a string primary key for the "country" table. But generally speaking, all primary keys are supported, including composite primary keys that span several columns.

Following this convention lets you write, for example:

struct Country: TableRecord {
    static let demographics = hasOne(Demographics.self)
}

struct Demographics: TableRecord {
}

If the database schema does not follow this convention, and does not define foreign keys between tables, you can still use HasOne associations. But your help is needed to define the missing foreign key:

struct Country: TableRecord {
    static let demographics = hasOne(Demographics.self, using: ForeignKey(...))
}

See Foreign Keys for more information.

Foreign Keys

Associations can automatically infer the foreign keys that define how two database tables are linked together.

In the example below, the book.authorId column is automatically used to link a book to its author:

BelongsToSchema

struct Book: TableRecord {
    static let author = belongsTo(Author.self)
}

struct Author: TableRecord {
    static let books = hasMany(Book.self)
}

But this requires the database schema to define a foreign key between the book and author database tables (see Convention for the BelongsTo Association).

Sometimes the database schema does not define any foreign key. And sometimes, there are several foreign keys from a table to another.

AmbiguousForeignKeys

When this happens, associations can't be automatically inferred from the database schema. GRDB will complain with a fatal error such as "Ambiguous foreign key from book to person", or "Could not infer foreign key from book to person".

Your help is needed. You have to instruct GRDB which foreign key to use:

struct Book: TableRecord {
    // Define foreign keys
    static let authorForeignKey = ForeignKey(["authorId"])
    static let translatorForeignKey = ForeignKey(["translatorId"])
    
    // Use foreign keys to define associations:
    static let author = belongsTo(Person.self, using: authorForeignKey)
    static let translator = belongsTo(Person.self, using: translatorForeignKey)
}

Foreign keys are always defined from the table that contains the columns at the origin of the foreign key. Person's symmetric HasMany associations reuse Book's foreign keys:

struct Person: TableRecord {
    static let writtenBooks = hasMany(Book.self, using: Book.authorForeignKey)
    static let translatedBooks = hasMany(Book.self, using: Book.translatorForeignKey)
}

Foreign keys can also be defined from query interface columns:

struct Book: TableRecord {
    enum Columns: String, ColumnExpression {
        case id, title, authorId, translatorId
    }
    
    static let authorForeignKey = ForeignKey([Columns.authorId])
    static let translatorForeignKey = ForeignKey([Columns.translatorId])
}

When the destination table of a foreign key does not define any primary key, you need to provide the full definition of a foreign key:

struct Book: TableRecord {
    static let authorForeignKey = ForeignKey(["authorId"], to: ["id"])
    static let author = belongsTo(Person.self, using: authorForeignKey)
}

Building Requests from Associations

Once you have defined associations, you can define fetch request that involve several record types.

Fetch requests do not visit the database until you fetch values from them. This will be covered in Fetching Values from Associations. But before you can fetch anything, you have to describe what you want to fetch. This is the topic of this chapter.

Requesting Associated Records

You can use associations to build requests for associated records.

For example, given a Book.author BelongsTo association, you can build a request for the author of a book with the request(for:) method. In the example below, we return this request from the Book.author property:

struct Book: TableRecord, EncodableRecord {
    /// The association from a book to is author
    static let author = belongsTo(Author.self)
    
    /// The request for the author of a book
    var author: QueryInterfaceRequest<Author> {
        return request(for: Book.author)
    }
}

You can now fetch the author of a book:

let book: Book = ...
let author = try book.author.fetchOne(db) // Author?

All other associations, HasOne, HasMany, HasOneThrough, and HasManyThrough, can also build requests for associated records. For example:

struct Author: TableRecord, EncodableRecord {
    /// The association from an author to its books
    static let books = hasMany(Book.self)
    
    /// The request for the books of an author
    var books: QueryInterfaceRequest<Book> {
        return request(for: Author.books)
    }
}

let author: Author = ...
let books = try author.books.fetchAll(db) // [Book]

Requests for associated records can be filtered and ordered like all query interface requests:

let novels = try author
    .books
    .filter(Column("kind") == BookKind.novel)
    .order(Column("publishDate").desc)
    .fetchAll(db) // [Book]

Those requests can also turn out useful when you want to track their changes with database observation tools like ValueObservation:

// Track changes in the author's books:
let author: Author = ...
author.books.observationForAll().start(
    in: dbQueue,
    onError: { error in ... },
    onChange: { (books: [Book]) in
        print("Author's book have changed")
    })

Joining And Prefetching Associated Records

You build requests that involve several records with the following "joining methods":

  • joining(optional: association)
  • joining(required: association)
  • including(optional: association)
  • including(required: association)
  • including(all: associationToMany)

Before we describe them in detail, let's see a few requests they can build:

/// All authors with their respective books
let request = Author
    .including(all: Author.books)

/// All books with their respective author
let request = Book
    .including(required: Book.author)

/// All books with their respective author, sorted by title
let request = Book
    .order(Column("title"))
    .including(required: Book.author)

/// All books written by a French author
let request = Book
    .joining(required: Book.author.filter(Column("countryCode") == "FR"))

The pattern is always the same: you start from a base request, that you extend with one of the joining methods.

To choose the joining method you need, you ask yourself two questions:

  1. Should the associated records be fetched along with the base records?

    If yes, use including(...). Otherwise, use joining(...).

    For example, to load books with their respective author, you use including(required:):

    // All books with their respective author
    let request = Book
        .including(required: Book.author)
    
    // This request can feed the following record:
    struct BookInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
        var book: Book
        var author: Author // the required associated author
    }
    let bookInfos: [BookInfo] = try BookInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

    And to load authors with their respective books, you use including(all:):

    // All authors with their respective books
    let request = Author
        .including(all: Author.books)
    
    // This request can feed the following record:
    struct AuthorInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
        var author: Author
        var books: [Book] // all associated books
    }
    let authorInfos: [AuthorInfo] = try AuthorInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

    On the other side, to load all books written by a French author, you sure need to filter authors, but you don't need them to be present in the fetched results. You prefer joining:

    // All books written by a French author
    let request = Book
        .joining(required: Book.author.filter(Column("countryCode") == "FR"))
    
    // This request feeds the Book record:
    let books: [Book] = try request.fetchAll(db)
  2. For to-one associations, should the request allow missing associated records?

    If yes, choose the optional variant. Otherwise, choose required.

    For example, to load all books with their respective authors, even if the book has no recorded author, you'd use including(optional:):

    // All books with their respective (eventual) authors
    let request = Book
        .including(optional: Book.author)
    
    // This request can feed the following record:
    struct BookInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
        var book: Book
        var author: Author? // the optional associated author
    }
    let bookInfos: [BookInfo] = try BookInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

    You can remember to use optional when the fetched associated records should feed optional Swift values, of type Author?. Conversely, when the fetched results feed non-optional values of type Author, prefer required.

    Another way to describe the difference is that required filters the fetched results in order to discard missing associated records, when optional does not filter anything, and lets missing values pass through.

    Finally, readers who speak SQL may compare optional with left joins, and required with inner joins.

Combining Associations

Associations can be combined in order to build more complex requests.

You can join several associations in parallel:

// SELECT book.*, person1.*, person2.*
// FROM book
// JOIN person person1 ON person1.id = book.authorId
// LEFT JOIN person person2 ON person2.id = book.translatorId
let request = Book
    .including(required: Book.author)
    .including(optional: Book.translator)

// This request can feed the following record:
struct BookInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
    var book: Book
    var author: Person
    var translator: Person?
}
let bookInfos: [BookInfo] = try BookInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

The request above fetches all books, along with their author and eventual translator.

You can chain associations in order to jump from a record to another:

// SELECT book.*, person.*, country.*
// FROM book
// JOIN person ON person.id = book.authorId
// LEFT JOIN country ON country.code = person.countryCode
let request = Book
    .including(required: Book.author
        .including(optional: Person.country))

// This request can feed the following record:
struct BookInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
    var book: Book
    var author: Author
    var country: Country?
}
let bookInfos: [BookInfo] = try BookInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

The request above fetches all books, along with their author, and their author's country.

When you chain associations, you can avoid fetching intermediate tables by replacing the including method with joining. The request below fetches all books, along with their author's country, but does not include the intermediate authors in the fetched results:

// SELECT book.*, country.*
// FROM book
// LEFT JOIN person ON person.id = book.authorId
// LEFT JOIN country ON country.code = person.countryCode
let request = Book
    .joining(optional: Book.author
        .including(optional: Person.country))

// This request can feed the following record:
struct BookInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
    var book: Book
    var country: Country?
}
let bookInfos: [BookInfo] = try BookInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

HasOneThrough and HasManyThrough associations provide a shortcut for those requests that skip intermediate tables:

// SELECT book.*, country.*
// FROM book
// LEFT JOIN person ON person.id = book.authorId
// LEFT JOIN country ON country.code = person.countryCode
let request = Book.including(optional: Book.country)

// This request can feed the following record:
struct BookInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
    var book: Book
    var country: Country?
}
let bookInfos: [BookInfo] = try BookInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

⚠️ Warning: you can not currently chain a required association behind an optional association:

// Not implemented
let request = Book
    .joining(optional: Book.author
        .including(required: Person.country))

This code compiles, but you'll get a runtime fatal error "Not implemented: chaining a required association behind an optional association". Future versions of GRDB may allow such requests.

Filtering Associations

You can filter associated records.

The filter(_:), filter(key:) and filter(keys:) methods, that you already know for filtering simple requests, can filter associated records as well:

// SELECT book.*
// FROM book
// JOIN person ON person.id = book.authorId
//            AND person.countryCode = 'FR'
let frenchAuthor = Book.author.filter(Column("countryCode") == "FR")
let request = Book.joining(required: frenchAuthor)

// This request feeds the Book record:
let books: [Book] = try request.fetchAll(db)

The request above fetches all books written by a French author.

The one below fetches all authors along with their novels and poems:

let request = Author
    .including(all: Author.book
        .filter(Column("kind") == "novel")
        .forKey("novels"))
    .including(all: Author.book
        .filter(Column("kind") == "poems")
        .forKey("poems"))

// This request can feed the following record:
struct AuthorInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
    var author: Author
    var novels: [Book]
    var poems: [Book]
}
let authorInfos: [AuthorInfo] = try AuthorInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

There are more filtering options:

  • Filtering on conditions that involve several tables.
  • Filtering in the WHERE clause instead of the ON clause (can be useful when you are skilled enough in SQL to make the difference).

Those extra filtering options require Table Aliases, introduced below.

Sorting Associations

You can sort fetched results according to associated records.

The order() method, that you already know for sorting simple requests, can sort associated records as well:

// SELECT book.*, person.*
// FROM book
// JOIN person ON person.id = book.authorId
// ORDER BY person.name
let sortedAuthor = Book.author.order(Column("name"))
let request = Book.including(required: sortedAuthor)

When you sort both the base record on the associated record, the request is sorted on the base record first, and on the associated record next:

// SELECT book.*, person.*
// FROM book
// JOIN person ON person.id = book.authorId
// ORDER BY book.publishDate DESC, person.name
let sortedAuthor = Book.author.order(Column("name"))
let request = Book
    .including(required: sortedAuthor)
    .order(Column("publishDate").desc)

There are more sorting options:

  • Sorting on expressions that involve several tables.
  • Changing the order of the sorting terms (such as sorting on author name first, and then publish date).

Those extra sorting options require Table Aliases, introduced below.

Columns Selected by an Association

By default, associated records include all their columns:

// SELECT book.*, author.*
// FROM book
// JOIN author ON author.id = book.authorId
let request = Book.including(required: Book.author)

The selection can be changed for each individual request, or for all requests including a given type.

To specify the selection of an associated record in a specific request, use the select method:

// SELECT book.*, author.id, author.name
// FROM book
// JOIN author ON author.id = book.authorId
let restrictedAuthor = Book.author.select(Column("id"), Column("name"))
let request = Book.including(required: restrictedAuthor)

To specify the default selection for all inclusions of a given type, see Columns Selected by a Request.

Table Aliases

In all examples we have seen so far, all associated records are joined, included, filtered, and sorted independently. We could not filter them on conditions that involve several records, for example.

Let's say we look for posthumous books, published after their author has died. We need to compare a book publication date with an author eventual death date.

Let's first see a wrong way to do it:

// A wrong request:
// SELECT book.*
// FROM book
// JOIN person ON person.id = book.authorId
// WHERE book.publishDate >= book.deathDate
let request = Book
    .joining(required: Book.author)
    .filter(Column("publishDate") >= Column("deathDate"))

When executed, we'll get a DatabaseError of code 1, "no such column: book.deathDate".

That is because the "deathDate" column has been used for filtering books, when it is defined on the person database table.

To fix this error, we need a table alias:

let authorAlias = TableAlias()

We modify the Book.author association so that it uses this table alias, and we use the table alias to qualify author columns where needed:

// SELECT book.*
// FROM book
// JOIN person ON person.id = book.authorId
// WHERE book.publishDate >= person.deathDate
let request = Book
    .joining(required: Book.author.aliased(authorAlias))
    .filter(Column("publishDate") >= authorAlias[Column("deathDate")])

Table aliases can also improve control over the ordering of request results. In the example below, we override the default ordering of associated records by sorting on author names first:

// SELECT book.*
// FROM book
// JOIN person ON person.id = book.authorId
// ORDER BY person.name, book.publishDate
let request = Book
    .joining(required: Book.author.aliased(authorAlias))
    .order(authorAlias[Column("name")], Column("publishDate"))

Table aliases can be given a name. This name is guaranteed to be used as the table alias in the SQL query. This guarantee lets you write SQL snippets when you need it:

// SELECT b.*
// FROM book b
// JOIN person a ON a.id = b.authorId
//              AND a.countryCode = 'FR'
// WHERE b.publishDate >= a.deathDate
let bookAlias = TableAlias(name: "b")
let authorAlias = TableAlias(name: "a")
let request = Book.aliased(bookAlias)
    .joining(required: Book.author.aliased(authorAlias)
        .filter(sql: "a.countryCode = ?", arguments: ["FR"]))
    .filter(sql: "b.publishDate >= a.deathDate")

☝️ Note: avoid reusing table aliases between several tables or requests, because you will get a fatal error:

// Fatal error: A TableAlias most not be used to refer to multiple tables
let alias = TableAlias()
let books = Book.aliased(alias)...
let people = Person.aliased(alias)...

☝️ Note: you can't use the including(all:) method and use table aliases to filter the associated records on other records:

// NOT IMPLEMENTED: loading all authors along with their posthumous books
let authorAlias = TableAlias()
let request = Author
    .aliased(authorAlias)
    .including(all: Author.books
        .filter(Column("publishDate") >= authorAlias[Column("deathDate")]))    

Refining Association Requests

You can join and include an association several times in a single request. This can help you craft complex requests in a modular way.

Let's say, for example, that your application needs all books, along with their Spanish authors, sorted by author name and then by title. That's already pretty complex.

This request can be built in a single shot:

let authorAlias = TableAlias()
let request = Book
    .including(required: Book.author
        .filter(Column("countryCode") == "ES")
        .aliased(authorAlias))
    .order(authorAlias[Column("name")], Column("title"))

The same request can also be built in three distinct steps, as below:

// 1. include author
var request = Book.including(required: Book.author)

// 2. filter by author country
request = request.joining(required: Book.author.filter(Column("countryCode") == "ES"))

// 3. sort by author name and then title
let authorAlias = TableAlias()
request = request
    .joining(optional: Book.author.aliased(authorAlias))
    .order(authorAlias[Column("name")], Column("title"))

See how the Book.author has been joined or included, on each step, independently, for a different purpose. We can wrap those steps in an extension to the QueryInterfaceRequest<Book> type:

extension QueryInterfaceRequest where T == Book {
    func filter(authorCountryCode: String) -> QueryInterfaceRequest<Book> {
        let filteredAuthor = Book.author.filter(Column("countryCode") == countryCode)
        return joining(required: filteredAuthor)
    }
    
    func orderedByAuthorNameAndTitle() -> QueryInterfaceRequest<Book> {
        let authorAlias = TableAlias()
        return joining(optional: Book.author.aliased(authorAlias))
            .order(authorAlias[Column("name")], Column("title"))
    }
}

And now our complex request looks much simpler:

let request = Book
    .including(required: Book.author)
    .filter(authorCountryCode: "ES")
    .orderedByAuthorNameAndTitle()

When you join or include an association several times, with the same association key, GRDB will apply the following rules:

  • including wins over joining:

    // Equivalent to Record.including(optional: association)
    Record
        .including(optional: association)
        .joining(optional: association)
  • required wins over optional:

    // Equivalent to Record.including(required: association)
    Record
        .including(required: association)
        .including(optional: association)
  • All filters are applied:

    // Equivalent to Record.including(required: association.filter(condition1 && condition2))
    Record
        .including(required: association.filter(condition1))
        .including(optional: association.filter(condition1))
  • The last ordering wins:

    // Equivalent to Record.including(required: association.order(ordering2))
    Record
        .including(required: association.order(ordering1))
        .including(optional: association.order(ordering2))
  • The last selection wins:

    // Equivalent to Record.including(required: association.select(selection2))
    Record
        .including(required: association.select(selection1))
        .including(optional: association.select(selection2))

Fetching Values from Associations

We have seen in Joining And Prefetching Associated Records how to define requests that involve several records.

To consume those requests, you will generally define a record type that matches the structure of the request. You'll make it adopt the FetchableRecord protocol, so that it can decode database rows.

Often, you'll also make it adopt the standard Decodable protocol, because the compiler will generate the decoding code for you.

Each association included in the request can feed a property of the decoded record:

  • including(all:) feeds an Array or Set property:

    // All authors with their books
    let request = Author.including(all: Author.books)
    
    struct AuthorInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
        var author: Author
        var books: [Book] // all associated books
    }
    let authorInfos: [AuthorInfo] = try AuthorInfo.fetchAll(db, request)
  • including(optional:) feeds an optional property:

    // All employees with their manager and subordinate
    let request = Employee
        .including(optional: Employee.manager)
        .including(all: Employee.subordinates)
    
    struct EmployeeInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
        var employee: Employee
        var manager: Employee? // the optional manager
        var subordinates: Set<Employee>
    }
    let employeeInfos: [EmployeeInfo] = try EmployeeInfo.fetchAll(db, request)
  • including(required:) feeds an non-optional property:

    // All books with information about their author, country, and cover image:
    let request = Book
        .including(required: Book.author
            .including(optional: Author.country))
        .including(optional: Book.coverImage)
    
    struct BookInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
        var book: Book
        var author: Author // the required author
        var country: Country?
        var coverImage: CoverImage?
    }
    
    let bookInfos: [BookInfo] = try BookInfo.fetchAll(db, request)
  • The Structure of a Joined Request

  • Decoding a Joined Request with a Decodable Record

  • Decoding a Joined Request with FetchableRecord

  • Debugging Request Decoding

  • Good Practices for Designing Record Types - in this general guide about records, check out the "Compose Records" chapter.

The Structure of a Joined Request

Joined request defines a tree of associated records identified by "association keys".

Below, author and cover image are both associated to book, and country is associated to author:

let request = Book
    .including(required: Book.author
        .including(optional: Author.country))
    .including(optional: Book.coverImage)

This request builds the following tree of association keys:

TreeOfAssociationKeys

Requests can feed record types whose property names match those association keys:

struct BookInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
    var book: Book
    var author: Author
    var country: Country?
    var coverImage: CoverImage?
}

let bookInfos: [BookInfo] = try BookInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

By default, association keys are the names of the database tables of associated records. Keys are automatically singularized or pluralized, depending of the cardinality of the included association:

extension Author {
    static let books = hasMany(Book.self)
}
Author.including(all: Author.books)            // association key "books"

extension Book {
    static let author = belongsTo(Author.self)
}
Book.including(required: Book.author)          // association key "author"

Keys can be customized when the association is defined:

extension Employee {
    static let manager = belongsTo(Employee.self, key: "manager")
}
Employee.including(optional: Employee.manager) // association key "manager"

Keys can also be customized with the forKey method:

extension Author {
    static let novels = books
        .filter(Column("kind") == "novel")
        .forKey("novels")
}
Author.including(all: Author.novels)           // association key "novels"

Decoding a Joined Request with a Decodable Record

When association keys match the property names of a Decodable record, you get free decoding of joined requests into this record:

let request = Book
    .including(required: Book.author
        .including(optional: Author.country))
    .including(optional: Book.coverImage)

struct BookInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
    var book: Book
    var author: Author
    var country: Country?
    var coverImage: CoverImage?
}
let bookInfos: [BookInfo] = try BookInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

We see that a hierarchical tree has been flattened in the BookInfo record.

But sometimes your decoded records will have better reflect the hierarchical structure of the request:

Decoding a Hierarchical Decodable Record

Some requests are better decoded with a Decodable record that reflects the hierarchical structure of the request.

let request = Book
    .including(optional: Book.coverImage)
    .including(required: Book.author
        .including(optional: Person.country))
    .including(optional: Book.translator
        .including(optional: Person.country))

This requests for all books, with their cover images, and their authors and translators. Those people are themselves decorated with their respective nationalities.

We plan to decode this request into is the following nested record:

struct BookInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
    struct PersonInfo: Decodable {
        var person: Person
        var country: Country?
    }
    var book: Book
    var authorInfo: PersonInfo
    var translatorInfo: PersonInfo?
    var coverImage: CoverImage?
}

This request needs a little preparation: we need association keys that match the coding keys for the authorInfo and translatorInfo properties.

And who is the most able to know those coding keys? BookInfo itself, thanks to its CodingKeys enum that was automatically generated by the Swift compiler. We thus define the BookInfo.all() method that builds our request:

extension BookInfo {
    static func all() -> QueryInterfaceRequest<BookInfo> {
        return Book
            .including(optional: Book.coverImage)
            .including(required: Book.author
                .forKey(CodingKeys.authorInfo)        // (1)
                .including(optional: Person.country))
            .including(optional: Book.translator
                .forKey(CodingKeys.translatorInfo)    // (1)
                .including(optional: Person.country))
            .asRequest(of: BookInfo.self)             // (2)
    }
}

let bookInfos = try BookInfo.all().fetchAll(db, request) // [BookInfo]
  1. The forKey(_:) method changes the association key, so that the associated records can feed their target properties.
  2. The asRequest(of:) method turns the request into a request of BookInfo. See Custom Requests for more information.

Decoding a Joined Request with FetchableRecord

When Dedocable records provides convenient decoding of joined rows, you may want a little more control over row decoding.

The init(row:) initializer of the FetchableRecord protocol is what you look after:

let request = Book
    .including(required: Book.author
        .including(optional: Author.country))
    .including(optional: Book.coverImage)

struct BookInfo: FetchableRecord {
    var book: Book
    var author: Author
    var country: Country?
    var coverImage: CoverImage?
    
    init(row: Row) {
        book = Book(row: row)
        author = row["author"]
        country = row["country"]
        coverImage = row["coverImage"]
    }
}

let bookInfos: [BookInfo] = try BookInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

You are already familiar with row subscripts to decode database values:

let name: String = row["name"]

When you extract a record instead of a value from a row, GRDB looks up the tree of association keys. If the key is not found, or only associated with columns that all contain NULL values, an optional record is decoded as nil:

let author: Author = row["author"]
let country: Country? = row["country"]

You can also perform custom navigation in the tree by using row scopes. See Row Adapters for more information.

When you use the include(all:) method, you can decode an Array or a Set of records:

let request = Author.including(all: Author.books)

struct AuthorInfo: FetchableRecord {
    var author: Author
    var books: [Book]
    
    init(row: Row) {
        author = Author(row: row)
        books = row["books"]
    }
}

let authorInfos: [AuthorInfo] = try AuthorInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

Debugging Request Decoding

When you have difficulties building a Decodable record that successfully decodes a joined request, we advise to temporarily decode raw database rows, and inspect them.

let request = Book
    .including(required: Book.author
        .including(optional: Author.country))
    .including(optional: Book.coverImage)
    .including(all: Book.prizes)

let rows = try Row.fetchAll(db, request)
print(rows[0].debugDescription)
// Prints:
// ▿ [id:1, authorId:2, title:"Moby-Dick"]
//   unadapted: [id:1, authorId:2, title:"Moby-Dick", id:2, name:"Herman Melville", countryCode:"US", code:"US", name:"United States of America", id:NULL, imageId:NULL, path:NULL]
//   - author: [id:2, name:"Herman Melville", countryCode:"US"]
//     - country: [code:"US", name:"United States of America"]
//   - coverImage: [id:NULL, imageId:NULL, path:NULL]
//   + prizes: 3 rows

Watch in the row debugging description:

  • the association keys: "person", "country", "coverImage" and "prizes" in our example
  • associated rows that contain only null values ("coverImage", above).

The associated rows that contain only null values are easy to deal with: null rows loaded from optional associated records should be decoded into Swift optionals:

struct BookInfo: FetchableRecord, Decodable {
    var book: Book
    var author: Author          // .including(required: Book.author)
    var country: Country?       // .including(optional: Author.country)
    var coverImage: CoverImage? // .including(optional: Book.coverImage)
    var prizes: [Prize]         // .including(all: Book.prizes)
}

When the association keys don't match your expectations, change them (see The Structure of a Joined Request):

let request = Book
    .including(optional: Book.author.forKey("writer")) // customized association key

let rows = try Row.fetchAll(db, request)
print(rows[0].debugDescription)
// Prints:
// ▿ [id:1, authorId:2, title:"Moby-Dick"]
//   unadapted: [id:1, authorId:2, title:"Moby-Dick", id:2, name:"Herman Melville"]
//   - writer: [id:2, name:"Herman Melville", countryCode:"US"]

Association Aggregates

It is possible to fetch aggregated values from HasMany and HasManyThrough associations:

Counting associated records, fetching the minimum, maximum, average value of an associated record column, computing the sum of an associated record column, these are all aggregation operations.

When you need to compute aggregates from a single record, you use regular aggregating methods on requests for associated records. For example:

struct Author: TableRecord, EncodableRecord {
    static let books = hasMany(Book.self)
    var books: QueryInterfaceRequest<Book> {
        return request(for: Author.books)
    }
}

let author: Author = ...

// The number of books by this author
let bookCount = try author.books.fetchCount(db)  // Int

// The year of the most recent book by this author
let request = author.books.select(max(yearColumn))
let maxBookYear = try Int.fetchOne(db, request)  // Int?

When you need to compute aggregates from several record, in a single shot, you'll use an association aggregate. Those are the topic of this chapter.

For example, you'll use the isEmpty aggregate when you want, say, to fetch all authors who wrote no book at all, or some books:

let lazyAuthors = try Author
    .having(Author.books.isEmpty)
    .fetchAll(db) // [Author]

let productiveAuthors: [Author] = try Author
    .having(Author.books.isEmpty == false)
    .fetchAll(db) // [Author]

And you'll use the count aggregate in order to fetch all authors along with the number of books they wrote:

struct AuthorInfo: Decodable, FetchableRecord {
    var author: Author
    var bookCount: Int
}

let request = Author.annotated(with: Author.books.count)
let authorInfos: [AuthorInfo] = try AuthorInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

for info in authorInfos {
    print("\(info.author.name) wrote \(info.bookCount) book(s).")
}

Available Association Aggregates

HasMany and HasManyThrough associations let you build the following association aggregates:

  • books.count
  • books.isEmpty
  • books.min(column)
  • books.max(column)
  • books.average(column)
  • books.sum(column)

Annotating a Request with Aggregates

The annotated(with:) method appends aggregated values to the selected columns of a request. You can append as many aggregates values as needed, from one or several associations.

In order to access those values, you fetch records that have matching properties.

For example:

struct AuthorInfo: Decodable, FetchableRecord {
    var author: Author
    var bookCount: Int
    var maxBookYear: Int?
}

// SELECT author.*,
//        COUNT(DISTINCT book.rowid) AS bookCount,
//        MAX(book.year) AS maxBookYear,
// FROM author
// LEFT JOIN book ON book.authorId = author.id
// GROUP BY author.id
let request = Author.annotated(with:
    Author.books.count,
    Author.books.max(Column("year")))

let authorInfos: [AuthorInfo] = try AuthorInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

for info in authorInfos {
    print(info.author.name)
    print("- number of books: \(info.bookCount)")
    print("- last book published on: \(info.maxBookYear)")
}

As seen in the above example, aggregated values are given a default name, such as "bookCount" or "maxBookYear", which directly feeds the decoded records.

The default name is built from the aggregating method, the association key, and the aggregated column name:

Method Association Key Aggregated Column Aggregate name
Author.books.isEmpty. books - hasNoBook
Author.books.count. books - bookCount
Author.books.min(Column("year")) books year minBookYear
Author.books.max(Column("year")) books year maxBookYear
Author.books.average(Column("price")) books price averageBookPrice
Author.books.sum(Column("awards")) books awards bookAwardsSum

Those default names are lost whenever an aggregate is modified (negated, added, multiplied, whatever).

You can name or rename aggregates with the aliased method:

struct AuthorInfo: Decodable, FetchableRecord {
    var author: Author
    var numberOfBooks: Int
}
let numberOfBooks = Author.books.count.aliased("numberOfBooks")                    // <--
let request = Author.annotated(with: numberOfBooks)
let authorInfos: [AuthorInfo] = try AuthorInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

struct AuthorInfo: Decodable, FetchableRecord {
    var author: Author
    var hasBooks: Bool
}
let hasBooks = (Author.books.isEmpty == false).aliased("hasBooks")                 // <--
let request = Author.annotated(with: hasBooks)
let authorInfos: [AuthorInfo] = try AuthorInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

struct AuthorInfo: Decodable, FetchableRecord {
    var author: Author
    var workCount: Int
}
let workCount = (Author.books.count + Author.paintings.count).aliased("workCount") // <--
let request = Author.annotated(with: workCount)
let authorInfos: [AuthorInfo] = try AuthorInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

Coding keys are also accepted:

struct AuthorInfo: Decodable, FetchableRecord {
    var author: Author
    var numberOfBooks: Int
    
    static func all() -> QueryInterfaceRequest<AuthorInfo> {
        let numberOfBooks = Author.books.count.aliased(CodingKey.numberOfBooks)    // <--
        return Author
            .annotated(with: numberOfBooks)
            .asRequest(of: AuthorInfo.self)
    }
}
let authorInfos: [AuthorInfo] = try AuthorInfo.all().fetchAll(db)

Filtering a Request with Aggregates

The having(_:) method filters a request according to an aggregated value. You can append as many aggregate conditions as needed, from one or several associations.

  • Authors who did not write any book:

    SQL
    SELECT author.*
    FROM author
    LEFT JOIN book ON book.authorId = author.id
    GROUP BY author.id
    HAVING COUNT(DISTINCT book.rowid) = 0
    let request = Author.having(Author.books.isEmpty)
  • Authors who wrote at least one book:

    SQL
    SELECT author.*
    FROM author
    LEFT JOIN book ON book.authorId = author.id
    GROUP BY author.id
    HAVING COUNT(DISTINCT book.rowid) > 0
    let request = Author.having(Author.books.isEmpty == false)
  • Authors who wrote at least two books:

    SQL
    SELECT author.*
    FROM author
    LEFT JOIN book ON book.authorId = author.id
    GROUP BY author.id
    HAVING COUNT(DISTINCT book.rowid) >= 2
    let request = Author.having(Author.books.count >= 2)
  • Authors who wrote at least one book after 2010:

    SQL
    SELECT author.*
    FROM author
    LEFT JOIN book ON book.authorId = author.id
    GROUP BY author.id
    HAVING MAX(book.year) >= 2010
    let request = Author.having(Author.books.max(Column("year")) >= 2010)
  • Authors who wrote at least one book of kind "novel":

    SQL
    SELECT author.*
    FROM author
    LEFT JOIN book ON book.authorId = author.id AND book.kind = 'novel'
    GROUP BY author.id
    HAVING COUNT(DISTINCT book.rowid) > 0
    let novels = Author.books.filter(Column("kind") == "novel")
    let request = Author.having(novels.isEmpty == false)
  • Authors who wrote more books than they made paintings:

    SQL
    SELECT author.*
    FROM author
    LEFT JOIN book ON book.authorId = author.id
    LEFT JOIN painting ON painting.authorId = author.id
    GROUP BY author.id
    HAVING COUNT(DISTINCT book.rowid) > COUNT(DISTINCT painting.rowid)
    let request = Author.having(Author.books.count > Author.paintings.count)
  • Authors who wrote no book, but made at least one painting:

    SQL
    SELECT author.*
    FROM author
    LEFT JOIN book ON book.authorId = author.id
    LEFT JOIN painting ON painting.authorId = author.id
    GROUP BY author.id
    HAVING ((COUNT(DISTINCT book.rowid) = 0) AND (COUNT(DISTINCT painting.rowid) > 0))
    let request = Author.having(Author.books.isEmpty && !Author.paintings.isEmpty)

Aggregate Operations

Aggregates can be modified and combined with Swift operators:

  • Logical operators &&, || and !

    SQL
    SELECT author.*
    FROM author
    LEFT JOIN book ON book.authorId = author.id
    LEFT JOIN painting ON painting.authorId = author.id
    GROUP BY author.id
    HAVING ((COUNT(DISTINCT book.rowid) = 0) AND (COUNT(DISTINCT painting.rowid) = 0))
    let condition = Author.books.isEmpty && Author.paintings.isEmpty
    let request = Author.having(condition)
  • Comparison operators <, <=, =, !=, >=, >

    SQL
    SELECT author.*
    FROM author
    LEFT JOIN book ON book.authorId = author.id
    GROUP BY author.id
    HAVING MAX(book.year) >= 2010
    let request = Author.having(Author.books.max(Column("year")) >= 2010)
  • Arithmetic operators +, -, *, /

    SQL
    SELECT author.*,
           (COUNT(DISTINCT book.rowid) +
            COUNT(DISTINCT painting.rowid)) AS workCount
    FROM author
    LEFT JOIN book ON book.authorId = author.id
    LEFT JOIN painting ON painting.authorId = author.id
    GROUP BY author.id
    let workCount = Author.books.count + Author.paintings.count)
    let request = Author.annotated(with: workCount.aliased("workCount"))
  • IFNULL operator ??

    SQL
    SELECT "team".*, IFNULL(MIN("player"."score"), 0) AS "minPlayerScore"
    FROM "team"
    LEFT JOIN "player" ON ("player"."teamId" = "team"."id")
    GROUP BY "team"."id"
    let request = Team.annotated(with: Team.players.min(Column("score")) ?? 0)

Isolation of Multiple Aggregates

When you compute multiple aggregates, make sure they use as many distinct association keys as there are distinct populations of associated records.

In the example below, we use compute two aggregates from the same association Author.books. Both aggregates are computed on the same population of associated records, and so we want them to share the same association key:

  • Authors with the publishing year of their first and last book:

    SQL
    SELECT author.*,
           MIN(book.year) AS minBookYear,
           MAX(book.year) AS maxBookYea
    FROM author
    LEFT JOIN book ON book.authorId = author.id
    GROUP BY author.id
    struct Author: TableRecord {
        static let books = hasMany(Book.self) // association key "books"
    }
    
    struct AuthorInfo: Decodable, FetchableRecord {
        var author: Author
        var minBookYear: Int?
        var maxBookYear: Int?
    }
    
    let request = Author.annotated(with:
        Author.books.min(Column("year")), // association key "books"
        Author.books.max(Column("year"))) // association key "books"
    let authorInfos: [AuthorInfo] = try AuthorInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

In this other example, the Author.books and Author.paintings have the distinct book and painting keys. They don't interfere, and provide the expected results:

  • Authors with their number of books and paintings:

    SQL
    SELECT author.*,
           (COUNT(DISTINCT book.rowid) + COUNT(DISTINCT painting.rowid)) AS workCount
    FROM author
    LEFT JOIN book ON book.authorId = author.id
    LEFT JOIN painting ON painting.authorId = author.id
    GROUP BY author.id
    struct Author: TableRecord {
        static let books = hasMany(Book.self)         // association key "books"
        static let paintings = hasMany(Painting.self) // association key "paintings"
    }
    
    struct AuthorInfo: Decodable, FetchableRecord {
        var author: Author
        var workCount: Int
    }
    
    let aggregate = Author.books.count +   // association key "books"
                    Author.paintings.count // association key "paintings"
    let request = Author.annotated(with: aggregate.aliased("workCount"))
    let authorInfos: [AuthorInfo] = try AuthorInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

But in the following example, we use the same association Author.books twice, in order to compute aggregates on two distinct populations of associated books. We must provide explicit keys in order to make sure both aggregates are computed independently:

  • Authors with their number of novels and theatre plays:

    SQL
    SELECT author.*,
           COUNT(DISTINCT book1.rowid) AS novelCount,
           COUNT(DISTINCT book2.rowid) AS theatrePlayCount
    FROM author
    LEFT JOIN book book1 ON book1.authorId = author.id AND book1.kind = 'novel'
    LEFT JOIN book book2 ON book2.authorId = author.id AND book2.kind = 'theatrePlay'
    GROUP BY author.id
    struct Author: TableRecord {
        static let books = hasMany(Book.self) // association key "books"
    }
    
    struct AuthorInfo: Decodable, FetchableRecord {
        var author: Author
        var novelCount: Int
        var theatrePlayCount: Int
    }
    
    let novelCount = Author.books
        .filter(Column("kind") == "novel")
        .forKey("novels")                        // association key "novels"
        .count
    let theatrePlayCount = Author.books
        .filter(Column("kind") == "theatrePlay")
        .forKey("theatrePlays")                  // association key "theatrePlays"
        .count
    let request = Author.annotated(with: novelCount, theatrePlayCount)
    let authorInfos: [AuthorInfo] = try AuthorInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

    When one doesn't use distinct association keys for novels and theatre plays, GRDB will not count two distinct sets of associated books, and will not fetch the expected results:

    SQL
    SELECT author.*,
           COUNT(DISTINCT book.rowid) AS novelCount,
           COUNT(DISTINCT book.rowid) AS theatrePlayCount
    FROM author
    LEFT JOIN book ON book.authorId = author.id
          AND (book.kind = 'novel' AND book.kind = 'theatrePlay')
    GROUP BY author.id
    // WRONG: not counting distinct sets of associated books
    let novelCount = Author.books                // association key "books"
        .filter(Column("kind") == "novel")
        .count
        .aliased("novelCount")
    let theatrePlayCount = Author.books          // association key "books"
        .filter(Column("kind") == "theatrePlay")
        .count
        .aliased("theatrePlayCount")
    let request = Author.annotated(with: novelCount, theatrePlayCount)
    let authorInfos: [AuthorInfo] = try AuthorInfo.fetchAll(db, request)

DerivableRequest Protocol

The DerivableRequest protocol is adopted by both query interface requests such as Author.all() and associations such as Book.author. It is intended for you to use as a customization point when you want to extend the built-in GRDB apis.

For example:

extension DerivableRequest where RowDecoder == Author {
    func filter(country: String) -> Self {
        return filter(Column("country") == country)
    }
    
    func orderByFullName() -> Self {
        return order(
            Column("lastName").collating(.localizedCaseInsensitiveCompare),
            Column("firstName").collating(.localizedCaseInsensitiveCompare))
    }
}

Thanks to DerivableRequest, both the filter(country:) and orderByFullName() methods are now available for both Author-based requests and associations:

// French authors sorted by full name:
let request = Author.all()
    .filter(country: "FR")
    .orderByFullName()

// French books, sorted by full name of author:
let request = Book.joining(required: Book.author
    .filter(country: "FR")
    .orderByFullName())

Known Issues

  • You can't chain a required association on an optional association:

    // NOT IMPLEMENTED
    let request = Book
        .joining(optional: Book.author
            .including(required: Person.country))

    This code compiles, but you'll get a runtime fatal error "Not implemented: chaining a required association behind an optional association". Future versions of GRDB may allow such requests.

  • You can't use the including(all:) method and use table aliases to filter the associated records on other records:

    // NOT IMPLEMENTED: loading all authors along with their posthumous books
    let authorAlias = TableAlias()
    let request = Author
        .aliased(authorAlias)
        .including(all: Author.books
            .filter(Column("publishDate") >= authorAlias[Column("deathDate")]))    
  • You can't use the including(all:) method with a HasMany and a HasManyThrough associations that share the same base association in the same request:

    // NOT IMPLEMENTED
    let request = Country
        .including(all: Country.passports)
        .including(all: Country.citizens)

    This code compiles, but you'll get a runtime fatal error "Not implemented: merging a direct association and an indirect one with including(all:)". Future versions of GRDB may allow such requests.

    The workaround is to nest the most remote association:

    // Workaround
    let request = Country
        .including(all: Country.passports
            .including(required: Passport.citizen))

Come discuss for more information, or if you wish to help turning those missing features into reality.


This documentation owns a lot to the Active Record Associations guide, which is an immensely well-written introduction to database relations. Many thanks to the Rails team and contributors.


LICENSE

GRDB

Copyright (C) 2019 Gwendal Roué

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

Ruby on Rails documentation

Copyright (c) 2005-2018 David Heinemeier Hansson

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

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