Query with LEFT JOIN not returning rows for count of 0


This should work:

SELECT o.name AS organisation_name, count(e.id) AS total_used
FROM   organisations   o
LEFT   JOIN exam_items e ON e.organisation_id = o.id 
                        AND e.item_template_id = #{sanitize(item_template_id)}
                        AND e.used
GROUP  BY o.name
ORDER  BY o.name;

You had a LEFT [OUTER] JOIN but the later WHERE conditions made it act like a plain [INNER] JOIN.
Move the condition(s) to the JOIN clause to make it work as intended. This way, only rows that fulfill all these conditions are joined in the first place (or columns from the right table are filled with NULL). Like you had it, joined rows are tested for additional conditions virtually after the LEFT JOIN and removed if they don’t pass, just like with a plain JOIN.

count() never returns NULL to begin with. It’s an exception among aggregate functions in this respect. Therefore, COALESCE(COUNT(col)) never makes sense, even with additional parameters. The manual:

It should be noted that except for count, these functions return a null value when no rows are selected.

Bold emphasis mine. See:

  • Count the number of attributes that are NULL for a row

count() must be on a column defined NOT NULL (like e.id), or where the join condition guarantees NOT NULL (e.organisation_id, e.item_template_id, or e.used) in the example.

Since used is type boolean, the expression e.used = true is noise that burns down to just e.used.

Since o.name is not defined UNIQUE NOT NULL, you may want to GROUP BY o.id instead (id being the PK) – unless you intend to fold rows with the same name (including NULL).

Aggregate first, join later

If most or all rows of exam_items are counted in the process, this equivalent query is typically considerably faster / cheaper:

SELECT o.id, o.name AS organisation_name, e.total_used
FROM   organisations o
   SELECT organisation_id AS id   -- alias to simplify join syntax
        , count(*) AS total_used  -- count(*) = fastest to count all
   FROM   exam_items
   WHERE  item_template_id = #{sanitize(item_template_id)}
   AND    used
   GROUP  BY 1
   ) e USING (id)
ORDER  BY o.name, o.id;

(This is assuming that you don’t want to fold rows with the same name like mentioned above – the typical case.)

Now we can use the faster / simpler count(*) in the subquery, and we need no GROUP BY in the outer SELECT.


  • Multiple array_agg() calls in a single query

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