Sunday, June 23, 2024

Sorted by What?

Shortened for illustrative purposes, I came across some ancient code of the form:

SELECT DATE_FORMAT(o.created_at, '%c/%e/%Y') AS dt,
    DATE_FORMAT(c.updated_at, '%l:%i %p') as tm,
FROM orders o JOIN customers c … WHERE …
ORDER BY c.last_name, dt DESC, tm;

The ORDER BY dt caught my eye because it’s not an actual column in any table. Its value turns out to be the American-style “6/23/2024” format, which is reasonable to display, but completely wrong to sort on.  Doing that puts October prior to February, as “10” begins with “1”, which is less than “2”.

I cannot guess why it pulls the time from an unrelated column as tiebreaker, sorting it the other direction.  The rest of the issues are likely for the same reasons as the date.

I assume the chaotic arrangement of orders within a customer was never raised as a concern only because duplicating orders would be rare enough—ideally, never happening—that it didn’t matter.

Nonetheless, I queued a change to sort on the full date+time held in created_at, so that records will be fully chronological in the future.

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