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An object representing a SQL select query, which can be serialized into a SQL statement. It is easier to deal with object-wrappers than string-parsing a raw SQL-query. This object is used by the Silverstripe CMS ORM internally.

Dealing with low-level SQL is not encouraged, since the ORM provides powerful abstraction APIs (see datamodel). Starting with Silverstripe CMS 3, records in collections are lazy loaded, and these collections have the ability to run efficient SQL such as counts or returning a single column.

For example, if you want to run a simple COUNT SQL statement, the following three statements are functionally equivalent:

use SilverStripe\ORM\DB;
use SilverStripe\ORM\Queries\SQLSelect;
use SilverStripe\Security\Member;

// Through raw SQL.
$count = DB::query('SELECT COUNT(*) FROM "Member"')->value();

// Through SQLSelect abstraction layer.
$query = new SQLSelect();
$count = $query->setFrom('Member')->setSelect('COUNT(*)')->value();

// Through the ORM.
$count = Member::get()->count();

If you do use raw SQL, you'll run the risk of breaking various assumptions the ORM and code based on it have:

  • Custom getters/setters (object property can differ from database column)
  • DataObject hooks like onBeforeWrite() and onBeforeDelete()
  • Automatic casting
  • Default values set through objects
  • Database abstraction

We'll explain some ways to use SELECT with the full power of SQL, but still maintain a connection to the ORM where possible.

Please read our security topic to find out how to properly prepare user input and variables for use in queries



Selection can be done by creating an instance of SQLSelect, which allows management of all elements of a SQL SELECT query, including columns, joined tables, conditional filters, grouping, limiting, and sorting.

For example:

$sqlQuery = new SQLSelect();
$sqlQuery->selectField('FieldName', 'Name');
$sqlQuery->selectField('YEAR("Birthday")', 'Birthyear');
$sqlQuery->addLeftJoin('Team', '"Player"."TeamID" = "Team"."ID"');
$sqlQuery->addWhere(['YEAR("Birthday") = ?' => 1982]);
// $sqlQuery->setOrderBy(...);
// $sqlQuery->setGroupBy(...);
// $sqlQuery->setHaving(...);
// $sqlQuery->setLimit(...);
// $sqlQuery->setDistinct(true);

// Get the raw SQL (optional) and parameters
$rawSQL = $sqlQuery->sql($parameters);

// Execute and return a Query object
$result = $sqlQuery->execute();

// Iterate over results
foreach ($result as $row) {
    echo $row['BirthYear'];

The result of SQLSelect::execute() is an array lightly wrapped in a database-specific subclass of Query. This class implements the Iterator-interface, and provides convenience-methods for accessing the data.


Deletion can be done either by calling DB::query/DB::prepared_query directly, by creating a SQLDelete object, or by transforming a SQLSelect into a SQLDelete object instead.

For example, creating a SQLDelete object:

use SilverStripe\ORM\Queries\SQLDelete;

$query = SQLDelete::create()
    ->setWhere(['"SiteTree"."ShowInMenus"' => 0]);

Alternatively, turning an existing SQLSelect into a delete:

use SilverStripe\ORM\Queries\SQLSelect;

$query = SQLSelect::create()
    ->setWhere(['"SiteTree"."ShowInMenus"' => 0])

Directly querying the database:

use SilverStripe\ORM\DB;
DB::prepared_query('DELETE FROM "SiteTree" WHERE "SiteTree"."ShowInMenus" = ?', [0]);


INSERT and UPDATE can be performed using the SQLInsert and SQLUpdate classes. These both have similar aspects in that they can modify content in the database, but each are different in the way in which they behave.

Previously, similar operations could be performed by using the DB::manipulate function which would build the INSERT and UPDATE queries on the fly. This method still exists, but internally uses SQLUpdate / SQLInsert, although the actual query construction is now done by the DBQueryBuilder object.

Each of these classes implement the interface SQLWriteExpression, noting that each accepts write key/value pairs in a number of similar ways. These include the following API methods:

  • addAssignments - Takes a list of assignments as an associative array of key -> value pairs, but also supports SQL expressions as values if necessary
  • setAssignments - Replaces all existing assignments with the specified list
  • getAssignments - Returns all currently given assignments, as an associative array in the format ['Column' => ['SQL' => ['parameters]]]
  • assign - Singular form of addAssignments, but only assigns a single column value
  • assignSQL - Assigns a column the value of a specified SQL expression without parameters assignSQL('Column', 'SQL') is shorthand for assign('Column', ['SQL' => []])

SQLUpdate also includes the following API methods:

  • clear - Clears all assignments
  • getTable - Gets the table to update
  • setTable - Sets the table to update (this should be ANSI-quoted) e.g. $query->setTable('"SiteTree"');

SQLInsert also includes the following API methods:

  • clear - Clears all rows
  • clearRow - Clears all assignments on the current row
  • addRow - Adds another row of assignments, and sets the current row to the new row
  • addRows - Adds a number of arrays, each representing a list of assignment rows, and sets the current row to the last one
  • getColumns - Gets the names of all distinct columns assigned
  • getInto - Gets the table to insert into
  • setInto - Sets the table to insert into (this should be ANSI-quoted), e.g. $query->setInto('"SiteTree"');

For example:

use SilverStripe\ORM\Queries\SQLUpdate;

$update = SQLUpdate::create('"SiteTree"')->addWhere(['ID' => 3]);

// assigning a list of items
    '"Title"' => 'Our Products',
    '"MenuTitle"' => 'Products',

// Assigning a single value
$update->assign('"MenuTitle"', 'Products');

// Assigning a value using parameterised expression
$title = 'Products';
$update->assign('"MenuTitle"', [
    'CASE WHEN LENGTH("MenuTitle") > LENGTH(?) THEN "MenuTitle" ELSE ? END' =>
        [$title, $title],

// Assigning a value using a pure SQL expression
$update->assignSQL('"Date"', 'NOW()');

// Perform the update

In addition to assigning values, the SQLInsert object also supports multi-row inserts. For database connectors and API that don't have multi-row insert support these are translated internally as multiple single row inserts.

For example:

use SilverStripe\ORM\Queries\SQLInsert;

$insert = SQLInsert::create('"SiteTree"');

// Add multiple rows in a single call. Note that column names do not need
// to be symmetric
    ['"Title"' => 'Home', '"Content"' => '<p>This is our home page</p>'],
    ['"Title"' => 'About Us', '"ClassName"' => 'AboutPage'],

// Adjust an assignment on the last row
$insert->assign('"Content"', '<p>This is about us</p>');

// Add another row
$insert->addRow(['"Title"' => 'Contact Us']);

$columns = $insert->getColumns();
// $columns will be ['"Title"', '"Content"', '"ClassName"'];


Value checks

Raw SQL is handy for performance-optimized calls, e.g. when you want a single column rather than a full-blown object representation.

Example: Get the count from a relationship.

use SilverStripe\ORM\Queries\SQLSelect;

$sqlQuery = new SQLSelect();
$sqlQuery->addWhere(['"Team"."ID"' => 99]);
$sqlQuery->addLeftJoin('Team', '"Team"."ID" = "Player"."TeamID"');
$count = $sqlQuery->execute()->value();

Note that in the ORM, this call would be executed in an efficient manner as well:

$count = $myTeam->Players()->count();


Creates a map based on the first two columns of the query result. This can be useful for creating dropdowns.

Example: Show player names with their birth year, but set their birth dates as values.

use SilverStripe\Forms\DropdownField;
use SilverStripe\ORM\Queries\SQLSelect;

$sqlQuery = new SQLSelect();
$sqlQuery->selectField('CONCAT("Name", ' - ', YEAR("Birthdate")', 'NameWithBirthyear');
$map = $sqlQuery->execute()->map();
$field = new DropdownField('Birthdates', 'Birthdates', $map);

Note that going through SQLSelect is just necessary here because of the custom SQL value transformation (YEAR()). An alternative approach would be a custom getter in the object definition:

namespace App\Model;

use SilverStripe\ORM\DataObject;

class Player extends DataObject
    private static $db = [
        'Name' => 'Varchar',
        'Birthdate' => 'Date',

    public function getNameWithBirthyear()
        return date('y', $this->Birthdate);
use App\Model\Player;

$players = Player::get();
$map = $players->map('Name', 'NameWithBirthyear');

Data types

As of Silverstripe CMS 4.4, the following PHP types will be used to return database content:

  • booleans will be an integer 1 or 0, to ensure consistency with MySQL that doesn't have native booleans
  • integer types returned as integers
  • floating point / decimal types returned as floats
  • strings returned as strings
  • dates / datetimes returned as strings

Up until Silverstripe CMS 4.3, bugs meant that strings were used for every column type.

Related lessons

Related documentation

API documentation