MySQL FAQ: How do I show the fields or schema of a database table?

MySQL FAQ: How do I show the schema of a database table?

Answer: Use the desc command from the MySQL command line client. For instance, in my current application I have a database table named orders, and when I need to see the schema for that table I show it with the desc command like this:

desc orders

The MySQL output looks like this:

mysql> desc orders;
+-------------+------------------+------+-----+-------------------+----------------+
| Field       | Type             | Null | Key | Default           | Extra          |
+-------------+------------------+------+-----+-------------------+----------------+
| id          | int(10) unsigned | NO   | PRI | NULL              | auto_increment | 
| price       | decimal(10,0)    | YES  |     | NULL              |                | 
| customer_id | int(10) unsigned | NO   | MUL | NULL              |                | 
| order_date  | timestamp        | NO   |     | CURRENT_TIMESTAMP |                | 
+-------------+------------------+------+-----+-------------------+----------------+
4 rows in set (0.02 sec)

The full process of displaying the schema of a MySQL database table

If you're interested in seeing the full process from the time I login until the time I show the schema of this database table, here's what it looks like, with a few embedded comments:

#--------------------------------------------------
# I START WITH THE MYSQL LOGIN FROM MY LINUX PROMPT
#--------------------------------------------------

$linux_prompt> mysql -u root -p

Welcome to the MySQL monitor.  Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MySQL connection id is 3
Server version: 5.0.51b MySQL Community Server (GPL)

Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the buffer.


#---------------------------
# I DISPLAY ALL MY DATABASES
#---------------------------

mysql> show databases;

+--------------------+
| Database           |
+--------------------+
| information_schema | 
| mysql              |
| pizza_store        | 
| sam                | 
| spanglish          | 
| test               | 
+--------------------+
6 rows in set (0.08 sec)


#-------------------------------------------------------
# I DECLARE THAT I WANT TO "USE" MY PIZZA_STORE DATABASE
#-------------------------------------------------------

mysql> use pizza_store;

Reading table information for completion of table and column names
You can turn off this feature to get a quicker startup with -A


#------------------------------------------------
# I LIST ALL THE DATABASE TABLES IN THIS DATABASE
#------------------------------------------------

Database changed

mysql> show tables;

+-----------------------+
| Tables_in_pizza_store |
+-----------------------+
| crust_sizes           | 
| crust_types           | 
| customers             | 
| orders                | 
| pizza_toppings        | 
| pizzas                | 
| toppings              | 
+-----------------------+
7 rows in set (0.00 sec)


#----------------------------------------
# I SHOW THE SCHEMA FOR MY "ORDERS" TABLE
#----------------------------------------

mysql> desc orders;

+-------------+------------------+------+-----+-------------------+----------------+
| Field       | Type             | Null | Key | Default           | Extra          |
+-------------+------------------+------+-----+-------------------+----------------+
| id          | int(10) unsigned | NO   | PRI | NULL              | auto_increment | 
| price       | decimal(10,0)    | YES  |     | NULL              |                | 
| customer_id | int(10) unsigned | NO   | MUL | NULL              |                | 
| order_date  | timestamp        | NO   |     | CURRENT_TIMESTAMP |                | 
+-------------+------------------+------+-----+-------------------+----------------+
4 rows in set (0.02 sec)


#-----------------------------------------------------
# I LOGOUT OF THE MYSQL CLIENT WITH THE "QUIT" COMMAND
#-----------------------------------------------------

mysql> quit

$linux_prompt> _

I hope this helps with any MySQL problems you may be running into.

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