Paulo Phagula

Musings and Scribbles on Software Development

MySQL queries fail due to ONLY_FULL_GROUP_BY sql_mode after updating to v5.7.*

Recently, on an live project, we've updated our MySQL server version so we could use the new JSON field introduced in v5.7.8. We were successful in our quest, but, what we didn't expect, was the following stream of errors in queries. Find in this post, what caused these errors and how we fixed them (or at least circumvented for the time being)

On v5.7.8, MySQL, introduced a new kind of field: the almighty JSON field, famous for its versatility and glory in the NoSQL world.

In a quest for staying up-to-date, using, benefiting and profiting from its awesome features β€” blog post on we use it coming soon β€” we had to upgrade our server from the now old v5.6.10.

The upgrade process was smooth and nothing of extraordinary popped-up in the logs β€” yes, we kept watch for a while just to make sure β€” so we believed we were safe … but, we were not …

A few hours later, errors like the following started filling the log:

Database error Expression #2 of SELECT list is not in GROUP BY clause and contains non-aggregated column <column-name> which is not functionally dependent on columns in GROUP BY clause; this is incompatible with sql_mode=only_full_group_by for query <select-query-which-old-version-let-pass>

There are two things to notice here

  1. All of these queries were running before and MySQL was ok with how they were written.
  2. The error message mentions incompatibility with a sql_mode=only_full_group_by. So what is this sql_mode?

This is what the official documentation has to say about the sql_mode:

The MySQL server can operate in different SQL modes, and can apply these modes differently for different clients, depending on the value of the sql_mode system variable. DBAs can set the global SQL mode to match site server operating requirements, and each application can set its session SQL mode to its own requirements.

Modes affect the SQL syntax MySQL supports and the data validation checks it performs. This makes it easier to use MySQL in different environments and to use MySQL together with other database servers.

That meant to us that somewhere in this new version, MySQL changed it’s sql_mode, and that we have to find this place and change things back. Again the official documentation helped us confirming our suspicious as it states that:

In MySQL 5.7.5, the ONLY_FULL_GROUP_BY SQL mode is enabled by default because GROUP BY processing has become more sophisticated to include detection of functional dependencies.

The temporary solution which we adapted was to set the sql_mode to an empty value which then defaults to NO_AUTO_CREATE_USER which came as default for v5.6.10>. But, in the end we’ll have to upgrade our queries to be compliant with the new sql_mode as definitive fix.


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