Mysql – Basics of Foreign Keys in MySQL


Is there any good explanation of how to use MySQL's foreign key construct?

I don't quite get it from the MySQL docs themselves. Up until now I've been handling things like foreign keys with joins and programming code.

And the second part of the question, are there any improvements to be made by using MySQL's inbuilt foreign keys?

Best Solution

FOREIGN KEYS just ensure your data are consistent.

They do not improve queries in sense of efficiency, they just make some wrong queries fail.

If you have a relationship like this:

CREATE TABLE employee (id INT NOT NULL, dept_id INT NOT NULL, FOREIGN KEY (dept_id) REFERENCES department(id))

, then you cannot delete a department if it has some employee's.

If you supply ON DELETE CASCADE to the FOREIGN KEY definition, the referencing rows will be deleted automatically along with the referenced ones.

As a constraint, FOREIGN KEY actually slows down the queries a little.

Extra checking needs to be performed when deleting from a referenced table or inserting into a referencing one.