SQL Constants represent a simple value that doesn’t change.
There are five categories of constants in CockroachDB:
- String literals: these define string values but their actual data type will
be inferred from context, for example,
- Numeric literals: these define numeric values but their actual data
type will be inferred from context, for example,
- Byte array literals: these define byte array values with data type
BYTES, for example,
- Interpreted literals: these define arbitrary values with an explicit
type, for example,
INTERVAL '3 days'.
- Named constants: these have predefined values with a predefined
type, for example,
CockroachDB supports two formats for string literals:
These format also allow arbitrary Unicode characters encoded as UTF-8.
In any case, the actual data type of a string literal is determined using the context where it appears.
|Expression||Data type of the string literal|
In general, the data type of a string literal is that demanded by the
context if there is no ambiguity, or
Check our blog for more information about the typing of string literals.
Standard SQL string literals
SQL string literals are formed by an arbitrary sequence of characters
enclosed between single quotes (
'), for example,
To include a single quote in the string, use a double single quote. For example:
> SELECT 'hello' as a, 'it''s a beautiful day' as b;
+-------+----------------------+ | a | b | +-------+----------------------+ | hello | it's a beautiful day | +-------+----------------------+
For compatibility with the SQL standard, CockroachDB also recognizes the following special syntax: two simple string literals separated by a newline character are automatically concatenated together to form a single constant. For example:
> SELECT 'hello' ' world!' as a;
+--------------+ | a | +--------------+ | hello world! | +--------------+
This special syntax only works if the two simple literals are
separated by a newline character. For example
'hello' ' world!'
doesn’t work. This is mandated by the SQL standard.
String literals with character escapes
CockroachDB also supports string literals containing escape sequences
like in the programming language C. These are constructed by prefixing
the string literal with the letter
e, for example,
The following escape sequences are supported:
||ASCII code 7 (BEL)|
||backspace (ASCII 8)|
||tab (ASCII 9)|
||newline (ASCII 10)|
||vertical tab (ASCII 11)|
||form feed (ASCII 12)|
||carriage return (ASCII 13)|
||hexadecimal byte value|
||octal byte value|
||16-bit hexadecimal Unicode character value|
||32-bit hexadecimal Unicode character value|
For example, the
e'x61\141\u0061' escape string represents the
hexadecimal byte, octal byte, and 16-bit hexadecimal Unicode character
values equivalent to the
'aaa' string literal.
Numeric literals can have the following forms:
[+-]9999 [+-]9999.[e[+-]999] [+-].9999[e[+-]999] [+-]9999e[+-]999 [+-]0xAAAA
+4269 3.1415 -.001 6.626e-34 50e6 0xcafe111
The actual data type of a numeric constant depends both on the context where it is used, its literal format, and its numeric value.
|Syntax||Possible data types|
|Contains a decimal separator||
|Contains an exponent||
|Contains a value outside of the range -2^63…(2^63)-1||
Of the possible data types, which one is actually used is then further refined depending on context.
Check our blog for more information about the typing of numeric literals.
Byte array literals
CockroachDB supports two formats for byte array literals:
Byte array literals with character escapes
This uses the same syntax as string literals containing character escapes,
b prefix instead of
e. Any character escapes are interpreted like they
would be for string literals.
The two differences between byte array literals and string literals with character escapes are as follows:
- Byte array literals always have data type
BYTES, whereas the data type of a string literal depends on context.
- Byte array literals may contain invalid UTF-8 byte sequences, whereas string literals must always contain valid UTF-8 sequences.
Hexadecimal-encoded byte array literals
This is a CockroachDB-specific extension to express byte array
literals: the delimiter
x' followed by an arbitrary sequence of
hexadecimal digits, followed by a closing
For example, both
X'636174' are equivalent to
This feature is inspired from MySQL.
A constant of any data type can be formed using either of the following formats:
type 'string' 'string':::type
The value of the string part is used as input for the conversion function to the specified data type, and the result is used as a constant with that data type.
DATE '2013-12-23' BOOL 'FALSE' '42.69':::INT 'TRUE':::BOOL '3 days':::INTERVAL
Additionally, for compatibility with PostgreSQL, the notation
CAST('string' AS type) is also recognized as an
interpreted literal. These are special cases of
CockroachDB recognizes the following SQL named constants:
FALSE, the two possible values of data type
NULL, the special SQL symbol that indicates “no value present”.
NULL is a valid constant for any type: its actual data
type during expression evaluation is determined based on context.