How To Use the PDO PHP Extension to Perform MySQL Transactions in PHP on Ubuntu 18.04

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A MySQL transaction is a group of logically related SQL commands that are executed in the database as a single unit. Transactions are used to enforce ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability) compliance in an application. This is a set of standards that govern the reliability of processing operations in a database.

Atomicity ensures the success of related transactions or a complete failure if an error occurs. Consistency guarantees the validity of the data submitted to the database according to defined business logic. Isolation is the correct execution of concurrent transactions ensuring the effects of different clients connecting to a database do not affect each other. Durability ensures that logically related transactions remain in the database permanently.

SQL statements issued via a transaction should either succeed or fail altogether. If any of the queries fails, MySQL rolls back the changes and they are never committed to the database.

A good example to understand how MySQL transactions work is an e-commerce website. When a customer makes an order, the application inserts records into several tables, such as: orders and orders_products, depending on the business logic. Multi-table records related to a single order must be atomically sent to the database as a single logical unit.

Another use-case is in a bank application. When a client is transferring money, a couple of transactions are sent to the database. The sender’s account is debited and the receiver’s party account is credited. The two transactions must be committed simultaneously. If one of them fails, the database will revert to its original state and no changes should be saved to disk.

In this tutorial, you will use the PDO PHP Extension, which provides an interface for working with databases in PHP, to perform MySQL transactions on an Ubuntu 18.04 server.


Before you begin, you will need the following:

  • One Ubuntu 18.04 server set up by following the Initial Server Setup with Ubuntu 18.04, including a sudo non-root user.
  • Apache, MySQL, and PHP installed on your system. You can follow the guide on How To Install Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP (LAMP) stack on Ubuntu 18.04. You can skip Step 4 (setting up virtual hosts) and work directly with the default Apache settings.

Step 1 — Creating a Sample Database and Tables

You’ll first create a sample database and add some tables before you start working with MySQL transactions. First, log in to your MySQL server as root:

  • sudo mysql -u root -p

When prompted, enter your MySQL root password and hit ENTER to proceed. Then, create a database, for the purposes of this tutorial we’ll call the database sample_store:

  • CREATE DATABASE sample_store;

You will see the following output:

OutputQuery OK, 1 row affected (0.00 sec) 

Create a user called sample_user for your database. Remember to replace PASSWORD with a strong value:

  • CREATE USER 'sample_user'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'PASSWORD';

Issue full privileges for your user to the sample_store database:

  • GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON sample_store.* TO 'sample_user'@'localhost';

Finally, reload the MySQL privileges:


You’ll see the following output once you’ve created your user:

OutputQuery OK, 0 rows affected (0.01 sec) . . . 

With the database and user in place, you can now create several tables for demonstrating how MySQL transactions work.

Log out from the MySQL server:

  • QUIT;

Once the system logs you out, you will see the following output:


Then, log in with the credentials of the sample_user you just created:

  • sudo mysql -u sample_user -p

Enter the password for the sample_user and hit ENTER to proceed.

Switch to the sample_store to make it the currently selected database:

  • USE sample_store;

You’ll see the following output once it is selected:

OutputDatabase Changed. 

Next, create a products table:

  • CREATE TABLE products (product_id BIGINT PRIMARY KEY AUTO_INCREMENT, product_name VARCHAR(50), price DOUBLE) ENGINE = InnoDB;

This command creates a products table with a field named product_id. You use a BIGINT data type that can accommodate a large value of up to 2^63-1. You use this same field as a PRIMARY KEY to uniquely identify products. The AUTO_INCREMENT keyword instructs MySQL to generate the next numeric value as new products are inserted.

The product_name field is of type VARCHAR that can hold up to a maximum of 50 letters or numbers. For the product price, you use a DOUBLE data type to cater for floating point formats in prices with decimal numbers.

Lastly, you use the InnoDB as the ENGINE because it comfortably supports MySQL transactions as opposed to other storage engines such as MyISAM.

Once you’ve created your products table, you’ll get the following output:

OutputQuery OK, 0 rows affected (0.02 sec) 

Next, add some items to the products table by running the following commands:

  • INSERT INTO products(product_name, price) VALUES ('WINTER COAT','25.50');
  • INSERT INTO products(product_name, price) VALUES ('EMBROIDERED SHIRT','13.90');
  • INSERT INTO products(product_name, price) VALUES ('FASHION SHOES','45.30');
  • INSERT INTO products(product_name, price) VALUES ('PROXIMA TROUSER','39.95');

You’ll see output similar to the following after each INSERT operation:

OutputQuery OK, 1 row affected (0.02 sec) . . . 

Then, verify that the data was added to the products table:

  • SELECT * FROM products;

You will see a list of the four products that you have inserted:

Output+------------+-------------------+-------+ | product_id | product_name      | price | +------------+-------------------+-------+ |          1 | WINTER COAT       |  25.5 | |          2 | EMBROIDERED SHIRT |  13.9 | |          3 | FASHION SHOES     |  45.3 | |          4 | PROXIMA TROUSER   | 39.95 | +------------+-------------------+-------+ 4 rows in set (0.01 sec) 

Next, you’ll create a customers table for holding basic information about customers:

  • CREATE TABLE customers (customer_id BIGINT PRIMARY KEY AUTO_INCREMENT, customer_name VARCHAR(50) ) ENGINE = InnoDB;

As in the products table, you use the BIGINT data type for the customer_id and this will ensure the table can support a lot of customers up to 2^63-1 records. The keyword AUTO_INCREMENT increments the value of the columns once you insert a new customer.

Since the customer_name column accepts alphanumeric values, you use VARCHAR data type with a limit of 50 characters. Again, you use the InnoDB storage ENGINE to support transactions.

After running the previous command to create the customers table, you will see the following output:

OutputQuery OK, 0 rows affected (0.02 sec) 

You’ll add three sample customers to the table. Run the following commands:

  • INSERT INTO customers(customer_name) VALUES ('JOHN DOE');
  • INSERT INTO customers(customer_name) VALUES ('ROE MARY');
  • INSERT INTO customers(customer_name) VALUES ('DOE JANE');

Once the customers have been added, you will see an output similar to the following:

OutputQuery OK, 1 row affected (0.02 sec) . . . 

Then, verify the data in the customers table:

  • SELECT * FROM customers;

You’ll see a list of the three customers:

Output+-------------+---------------+ | customer_id | customer_name | +-------------+---------------+ |           1 | JOHN DOE      | |           2 | ROE MARY      | |           3 | DOE JANE      | +-------------+---------------+ 3 rows in set (0.00 sec) 

Next, you’ll create an orders table for recording orders placed by different customers. To create the orders table, execute the following command:

  • CREATE TABLE orders (order_id BIGINT AUTO_INCREMENT PRIMARY KEY, order_date DATETIME, customer_id BIGINT, order_total DOUBLE) ENGINE = InnoDB;

You use the column order_id as the PRIMARY KEY. The BIGINT data type allows you to accommodate up to 2^63-1 orders and will auto-increment after each order insertion. The order_date field will hold the actual date and time the order is placed and hence, you use the DATETIME data type. The customer_id relates to the customers table that you created previously.

You will see the following output:

OutputQuery OK, 0 rows affected (0.02 sec) 

Since a single customer’s order may contain multiple items, you need to create an orders_products table to hold this information.

To create the orders_products table, run the following command:

  • CREATE TABLE orders_products (ref_id BIGINT PRIMARY KEY AUTO_INCREMENT, order_id BIGINT, product_id BIGINT, price DOUBLE, quantity BIGINT) ENGINE = InnoDB;

You use the ref_id as the PRIMARY KEY and this will auto-increment after each record insertion. The order_id and product_id relate to the orders and the products tables respectively. The price column is of data type DOUBLE in order to accommodate floating values.

The storage engine InnoDB must match the other tables created previously since a single customer’s order will affect multiple tables simultaneously using transactions.

Your output will confirm the table’s creation:

OutputQuery OK, 0 rows affected (0.02 sec) 

You won’t be adding any data to the orders and orders_products tables for now but you’ll do this later using a PHP script that implements MySQL transactions.

Log out from the MySQL server:

  • QUIT;

Your database schema is now complete and you’ve populated it with some records. You’ll now create a PHP class for handling database connections and MySQL transactions.

Step 2 — Designing a PHP Class to Handle MySQL Transactions

In this step, you will create a PHP class that will use PDO (PHP Data Objects) to handle MySQL transactions. The class will connect to your MySQL database and insert data atomically to the database.

Save the class file in the root directory of your Apache web server. To do this, create a DBTransaction.php file using your text editor:

  • sudo nano /var/www/html/DBTransaction.php

Then, add the following code to the file. Replace PASSWORD with the value you created in Step 1:


<?php  class DBTransaction {     protected $pdo;     public $last_insert_id;      public function __construct()     {         define('DB_NAME', 'sample_store');         define('DB_USER', 'sample_user');         define('DB_PASSWORD', 'PASSWORD');         define('DB_HOST', 'localhost');          $this->pdo = new PDO("mysql:host=" . DB_HOST . ";dbname=" . DB_NAME, DB_USER, DB_PASSWORD);         $this->pdo->setAttribute(PDO::ATTR_ERRMODE, PDO::ERRMODE_EXCEPTION);         $this->pdo->setAttribute(PDO::ATTR_EMULATE_PREPARES, false);     } 

Toward the beginning of the DBTransaction class, the PDO will use the constants (DB_HOST, DB_NAME, DB_USER, and DB_PASSWORD) to initialize and connect to the database that you created in step 1.

Note: Since we are demonstrating MySQL transactions in a small scale here, we have declared the database variables in the DBTransaction class. In a large production project, you would normally create a separate configuration file and load the database constants from that file using a PHP require_once statement.

Next, you set two attributes for the PDO class:

  • ATTR_ERRMODE, PDO::ERRMODE_EXCEPTION: This attribute instructs PDO to throw an exception if an error is encountered. Such errors can be logged for debugging.
  • ATTR_EMULATE_PREPARES, false: This option disables emulation of prepared statements and allows the MySQL database engine to prepare the statements itself.

Now add the following code to your file to create the methods for your class:


. . .     public function startTransaction()     {         $this->pdo->beginTransaction();     }      public function insertTransaction($sql, $data)     {         $stmt = $this->pdo->prepare($sql);         $stmt->execute($data);         $this->last_insert_id = $this->pdo->lastInsertId();     }      public function submitTransaction()     {         try {             $this->pdo->commit();         } catch(PDOException $e) {             $this->pdo->rollBack();             return false;         }            return true;     } } 

Save and close the file by pressing CTRL + X, Y, then ENTER.

To work with MySQL transactions, you create three main methods in the DBTransaction class; startTransaction, insertTransaction, and submitTransaction.

  • startTransaction: This method instructs PDO to start a transaction and turns auto-commit off until a commit command is issued.

  • insertTransaction : This method takes two arguments. The $sql variable holds the SQL statement to be executed while the $data variable is an array of the data to be bound to the SQL statement since you’re using prepared statements. The data is passed as an array to the insertTransaction method.

  • submitTransaction : This method commits the changes to the database permanently by issuing a commit() command. However, if there is an error and the transactions have a problem, the method calls the rollBack() method to revert the database to its original state in case a PDO exception is raised.

Your DBTransaction class initializes a transaction, prepares the different SQL commands to be executed, and finally commits the changes to the database atomically if there are no issues, otherwise, the transaction is rolled back. In addition, the class allows you to retrieve the record order_id you just created by accessing the public property last_insert_id.

The DBTransaction class is now ready to be called and used by any PHP code, which you’ll create next.

Step 3 — Creating a PHP Script to Use the DBTransaction Class

You’ll create a PHP script that will implement the DBTransaction class and send a group of SQL commands to the MySQL database. You’ll mimic the workflow of a customer’s order in an online shopping cart.

These SQL queries will affect the orders and the orders_products tables. Your DBTransaction class should only allow changes to the database if all of the queries are executed without any errors. Otherwise, you’ll get an error back and any attempted changes will roll back.

You are creating a single order for the customer JOHN DOE identified with customer_id 1. The customer’s order has three different items with differing quantities from the products table. Your PHP script takes the customer’s order data and submits it into the DBTransaction class.

Create the orders.php file:

  • sudo nano /var/www/html/orders.php

Then, add the following code to the file:


<?php  require("DBTransaction.php");  $db_host = "database_host"; $db_name = "database_name"; $db_user = "database_user"; $db_password = "PASSWORD";  $customer_id = 2;  $products[] = [   'product_id' => 1,   'price' => 25.50,   'quantity' => 1 ];  $products[] = [   'product_id' => 2,   'price' => 13.90,   'quantity' => 3 ];  $products[] = [   'product_id' => 3,   'price' => 45.30,   'quantity' => 2 ];  $transaction = new DBTransaction($db_host, $db_user, $db_password, $db_name); 

You’ve created a PHP script that initializes an instance of the DBTransaction class that you created in Step 2.

In this script, you include the DBTransaction.php file and you initialize the DBTransaction class. Next, you prepare a multi-dimensional array of all the products the customer is ordering from the store. You also invoke the startTransaction() method to start a transaction.

Next add the following code to finish your orders.php script:


. . . $order_query = "insert into orders (order_id, customer_id, order_date, order_total) values(:order_id, :customer_id, :order_date, :order_total)"; $product_query = "insert into orders_products (order_id, product_id, price, quantity) values(:order_id, :product_id, :price, :quantity)";  $transaction->insertQuery($order_query, [   'customer_id' => $customer_id,   'order_date' => "2020-01-11",   'order_total' => 157.8 ]);  $order_id = $transaction->last_insert_id;  foreach ($products as $product) {   $transaction->insertQuery($product_query, [     'order_id' => $order_id,     'product_id' => $product['product_id'],     'price' => $product['price'],     'quantity' => $product['quantity']   ]); }  $result = $transaction->submit();  if ($result) {     echo "Records successfully submitted"; } else {     echo "There was an error."; }  

Save and close the file by pressing CTRL + X, Y, then ENTER.

You prepare the command to be inserted to the orders table via the insertTransaction method. After this, you retrieve the value of the public property last_insert_id from the DBTransaction class and use it as the $order_id.

Once you have an $order_id, you use the unique ID to insert the customer’s order items to the orders_products table.

Finally, you call the method submitTransaction to commit the entire customer’s order details to the database if there are no problems. Otherwise, the method submitTransaction will rollback the attempted changes.

Now you’ll run the orders.php script in your browser. Run the following and replace your-server-IP with the public IP address of your server:


You will see confirmation that the records were successfully submitted:

PHP Output from MySQL Transactions Class

Your PHP script is working as expected and the order together with the associated order products were submitted to the database atomically.

You’ve run the orders.php file on a browser window. The script invoked the DBTransaction class which in turn submitted the orders details to the database. In the next step, you will verify if the records saved to the related database tables.

Step 4 — Confirming the Entries in Your Database

In this step, you’ll check if the transaction initiated from the browser window for the customer’s order was posted to the database tables as expected.

To do this, log in to your MySQL database again:

  • sudo mysql -u sample_user -p

Enter the password for the sample_user and hit ENTER to continue.

Switch to the sample_store database:

  • USE sample_store;

Ensure the database is changed before proceeding by confirming the following output:

OutputDatabase Changed. 

Then, issue the following command to retrieve records from the orders table:

  • SELECT * FROM orders;

This will display the following output detailing the customer’s order:

Output+----------+---------------------+-------------+-------------+ | order_id | order_date          | customer_id | order_total | +----------+---------------------+-------------+-------------+ |  1       | 2020-01-11 00:00:00 |           2 |       157.8 | +----------+---------------------+-------------+-------------+ 1 row in set (0.00 sec)  

Next, retrieve the records from the orders_products table:

  • SELECT * FROM orders_products;

You’ll see output similar to the following with a list of products from the customer’s order:

Output+--------+----------+------------+-------+----------+ | ref_id | order_id | product_id | price | quantity | +--------+----------+------------+-------+----------+ |      1 |  1       |          1 |  25.5 |        1 | |      2 |  1       |          2 |  13.9 |        3 | |      3 |  1       |          3 |  45.3 |        2 | +--------+----------+------------+-------+----------+ 3 rows in set (0.00 sec)  

The output confirms that the transaction was saved to the database and your helper DBTransaction class is working as expected.


In this guide, you used the PHP PDO to work with MySQL transactions. Although this is not a conclusive article on designing an e-commerce software, it has provided an example for using MySQL transactions in your applications.

To learn more about the MySQL ACID model, consider visiting the InnoDB and the ACID Model guide from the official MySQL website. Visit our MySQL content page for more related tutorials, articles, and Q&A.