J4.x:Inserting Updating and Removing data using JDatabase

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Version Note

Note many examples online do not use the prepared statements methods that have been introduced with Joomla 4.x, please do not use these old APIs for new projects, because they result in massive security issues if user input is not strictly escaped.

This tutorial is split into two independent parts:

  • Inserting, updating and removing data from the database.
  • Selecting data from one or more tables and retrieving it in a variety of different forms.

This section of the documentation looks at inserting, updating and removing data from a database table. To see the other part click here


Joomla provides a sophisticated database abstraction layer to simplify the usage for third party developers. New versions of the Joomla Platform API provide additional functionality which extends the database layer further, and includes features such as connectors to a greater variety of database servers and the query chaining to improve readability of connection code and simplify SQL coding.

Joomla can use different kinds of SQL database systems and run in a variety of environments with different table-prefixes. In addition to these functions, the class automatically creates the database connection. Besides instantiating the object you need just two lines of code to get a result from the database in a variety of formats. Using the Joomla database layer ensures a maximum of compatibility and flexibility for your extension.

The Query

Joomla's database querying has changed since the new Joomla Framework was introduced "query chaining" is now the recommended method for building database queries (although string queries are still supported).

Query chaining refers to a method of connecting a number of methods, one after the other, with each method returning an object that can support the next method, improving readability and simplifying code.

To obtain a new instance of the JDatabaseQuery class we use the JDatabaseDriver getQuery method:

$db = JFactory::getDbo();

$query = $db->getQuery(true);

The JDatabaseDriver::getQuery takes an optional argument, $new, which can be true or false (the default being false).

To query our data source we can call a number of JDatabaseQuery methods; these methods encapsulate the data source's query language (in most cases SQL), hiding query-specific syntax from the developer and increasing the portability of the developer's source code.

Some of the more frequently used methods include; select, from, join, where and order. There are also methods such as insert, update and delete for modifying records in the data store. By chaining these and other method calls, you can create almost any query against your data store without compromising portability of your code.

Inserting a Record

Using SQL

The JDatabaseQuery class provides a number of methods for building insert queries, the most common being insert, columns and values.

// Get a db connection.
$db = JFactory::getDbo();

// Create a new query object.
$query = $db->getQuery(true);

// Insert columns.
$columns = array('user_id', 'profile_key', 'profile_value', 'ordering');

// Prepare the insert query.
    ->values(':user_id, :profile_key, :profile_value, :ordering');

// Bind values
    ->bind(':user_id', 1001, Joomla\Database\ParameterType::INTEGER)
    ->bind(':profile_key', 'custom.message')
    ->bind(':profile_value', 'Inserting a record using insert()')
    ->bind(':ordering', 1, Joomla\Database\ParameterType::INTEGER);

// Set the query using our newly populated query object and execute it.


Using an Object

The JDatabaseDriver class also provides a convenient method for saving an object directly to the database allowing us to add a record to a table without writing a single line of SQL.

// Create and populate an object.
$profile = new stdClass();
$profile->user_id = 1001;
$profile->profile_value='Inserting a record using insertObject()';

// Insert the object into the user profile table.
$result = JFactory::getDbo()->insertObject('#__user_profiles', $profile);

Notice here that we do not need to escape the table name; the insertObject method does this for us.

The insertObject method will throw a error if there is a problem inserting the record into the database table.

If you are providing a unique primary key value (as in the example above), it is highly recommended that you select from the table by that column value before attempting an insert.

If you are simply inserting the next row in your table (i.e. the database generates a primary key value), you can specify the primary key column-name as the third parameter of the insertObject() method and the method will update the object with the newly generated primary key value.

For example, given the following statement:

$result = $dbconnect->insertObject('#__my_table', $object, 'primary_key');

after execution, $object->primary_key will be updated with the newly inserted row's primary key value.

HINT: Set $object->primary_key to null or 0 (zero) before inserting.

Updating a Record

Using SQL

The JDatabaseQuery class also provides methods for building update queries, in particular update and set. We also reuse another method which we used when creating select statements, the where method.

$db = JFactory::getDbo();

$query = $db->getQuery(true);

// Fields to update.
$fields = array(
    $db->quoteName('profile_value') . ' = :profile_value',
    $db->quoteName('ordering') . ' = :ordering'

// Conditions for which records should be updated.
$conditions = array(
    $db->quoteName('user_id') . ' = :user_id', 
    $db->quoteName('profile_key') . ' = :profile_key'


    ->bind(':profile_value', 'Updating custom message for user 1001.')
    ->bind(':ordering', 2, Joomla\Database\ParameterType::INTEGER)
    ->bind(':user_id', 42, Joomla\Database\ParameterType::INTEGER)   
    ->bind(':profile_key', 'custom.message');


$result = $db->execute();

Using an Object

Like insertObject, the JDatabaseDriver class provides a convenience method for updating an object.

Below we will update our custom table with new values using an existing id primary key:

// Create an object for the record we are going to update.
$object = new stdClass();

// Must be a valid primary key value.
$object->id = 1;
$object->title = 'My Custom Record';
$object->description = 'A custom record being updated in the database.';

// Update their details in the users table using id as the primary key.
$result = JFactory::getDbo()->updateObject('#__custom_table', $object, 'id');

Just like insertObject, updateObject takes care of escaping table names for us.

The updateObject method will throw a error if there is a problem updating the record into the database table.

We need to ensure that the record already exists before attempting to update it, so we would probably add some kind of record check before executing the updateObject method.

Deleting a Record

Finally, there is also a delete method to remove records from the database.

$db = JFactory::getDbo();

$query = $db->getQuery(true);

// delete all custom keys for user 1001.
$conditions = array(
    $db->quoteName('user_id') . ' = :user_id', 
    $db->quoteName('profile_key') . ' = :profile_key'


    ->bind(':user_id', 1001, Joomla\Database\ParameterType::INTEGER)
    ->bind(':profile_key', 'custom.%');


$result = $db->execute();

See also