SQLite transactions with C#

In this chapter, we will work with transactions. First, we provide some basic definitions. Then we will have programs that show, how to work with transactions.

A transaction is an atomic unit of database operations against the data in one or more databases. The effects of all the SQL statements in a transaction can be either all committed to the database or all rolled back.

In SQLite, any command other than the SELECT will start an implicit transaction. Also, within a transaction a command like CREATE TABL ..., VACUUM, PRAGMA, will commit previous changes before executing.

Manual transactions are started with the BEGIN TRANSACTION statement and finished with the COMMIT or ROLLBACK statements.

SQLite supports three non-standard transaction levels: DEFERRED, IMMEDIATE, and EXCLUSIVE. SQLite automatically puts each command into its own transaction unless we start our own transaction. Note that this may be influenced by the driver too. SQLite Python driver has the autocommit mode turned off by default and the first SQL command starts a new transaction.

using System;
using Mono.Data.Sqlite;

public class Example
{

    static void Main() 
    {
        string cs = "URI=file:test.db";        
        
        using (SqliteConnection con = new SqliteConnection(cs)) 
        {
            con.Open();

            using (SqliteCommand cmd = con.CreateCommand())
            {
                cmd.CommandText = "DROP TABLE IF EXISTS Friends";
                cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
                cmd.CommandText = @"CREATE TABLE Friends(Id INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, 
                                    Name TEXT)";
                cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
                cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Tom')";
                cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
                cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Rebecca')";
                cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
                cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Jim')";
                cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
                cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Robert')";
                cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
                cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Julian')";
                cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
            }
            con.Close();
        }
    }
}

We create a Friends table and fill it with data. We do not explicitly start a transaction, nor we call commit or rollback methods. Yet the data is written to the table. It is because by default, we work in the autocommit mode. In this mode each SQL statement is immediately effective.

cmd.CommandText = "DROP TABLE IF EXISTS Friends";
cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
cmd.CommandText = @"CREATE TABLE Friends(Id INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, 
                    Name TEXT)";
cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();

We drop the Friends table if it already exists. Then we create the table with the CREATE TABLE statement.

cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Tom')";
cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Rebecca')";
cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
...

We insert two rows.

sqlite> SELECT * FROM Friends;
1|Tom
2|Rebecca
3|Jim
4|Robert
5|Julian

The Friends table was successfully created.

In the second example we will start a custom transaction with the BeginTransaction() method.

using System;
using Mono.Data.Sqlite;

public class Example
{

    static void Main() 
    {
        string cs = "URI=file:test.db";        
        
        using (SqliteConnection con = new SqliteConnection(cs)) 
        {
            con.Open();

            using(SqliteTransaction tr = con.BeginTransaction())
            {
                using (SqliteCommand cmd = con.CreateCommand())
                {

                    cmd.Transaction = tr;
                    cmd.CommandText = "DROP TABLE IF EXISTS Friends";
                    cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
                    cmd.CommandText = @"CREATE TABLE Friends(Id INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, 
                                        Name TEXT)";
                    cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
                    cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Tom')";
                    cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
                    cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Rebecca')";
                    cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
                    cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Jim')";
                    cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
                    cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Robert')";
                    cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
                    cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Julian')";
                    cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
                    cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Jane')";
                    cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
                }

                tr.Commit();
            }

            con.Close();
        }
    }
}

All SQL commands form a unit. Either all are saved or nothing is saved. This is the basic idea behind transactions.

using(SqliteTransaction tr = con.BeginTransaction())

The BeginTransaction() method starts a transaction.

cmd.Transaction = tr;

We set the transaction within which the SqliteCommand executes.

tr.Commit();

If everything ran OK, we commit the whole transaction to the database. In case of an exception, the transaction is rolled back behind the scenes.

Explicit rollback call

Now we are going to show an example, where we rollback manually a transaction, in case of an exception.

using System;
using Mono.Data.Sqlite;

public class Example
{

    static void Main() 
    {
        string cs = "URI=file:test.db";   

        SqliteConnection con = null;     
        SqliteTransaction tr = null;
        SqliteCommand cmd = null;
        
        try 
        {
            con = new SqliteConnection(cs);
        
            con.Open();
    
            tr = con.BeginTransaction();
            cmd = con.CreateCommand();
                
            cmd.Transaction = tr;
            cmd.CommandText = "DROP TABLE IF EXISTS Friends";
            cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
            cmd.CommandText = @"CREATE TABLE Friends(Id INTEGER PRIMARY KEY, 
                                Name TEXT)";
            cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
            cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Tom')";
            cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
            cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Rebecca')";
            cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
            cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Jim')";
            cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
            cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Robert')";
            cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
            cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Julian')";
            cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
            cmd.CommandText = "INSERT INTO Friends(Name) VALUES ('Jane')";
            cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
                
            tr.Commit();            

        } catch (SqliteException ex) 
        {
            Console.WriteLine("Error: {0}",  ex.ToString());

            if (tr != null)
            {
                try 
                {
                    tr.Rollback();
                    
                } catch (SqliteException ex2)
                {

                    Console.WriteLine("Transaction rollback failed.");
                    Console.WriteLine("Error: {0}",  ex2.ToString());

                } finally
                {
                    tr.Dispose();
                }
            }
        } finally 
        {
            if (cmd != null)
            {
                cmd.Dispose();
            }

            if (tr != null) 
            {
                tr.Dispose();
            }

            if (con != null)
            {
                try 
                {
                    con.Close();                    

                } catch (SqliteException ex)
                {

                    Console.WriteLine("Closing connection failed.");
                    Console.WriteLine("Error: {0}",  ex.ToString());

                } finally
                {
                    con.Dispose();
                }
            }
        }    
    }
}

We create our own try, catch, finally blocks, where we deal with possible issues.

} catch (SqliteException ex) 
{
    Console.WriteLine("Error: {0}",  ex.ToString());

    if (tr != null)
    {
        try 
        {
            tr.Rollback();
            
        } catch (SqliteException ex2)
        {

            Console.WriteLine("Transaction rollback failed.");
            Console.WriteLine("Error: {0}",  ex2.ToString());

        } finally
        {
            tr.Dispose();
        }
    }
}

When an exception was thrown during the creation of the Friends table, we call the Rollback() method. Even when doing rollback, there might occur an exception. So we check this scenario also.

if (cmd != null)
{
    cmd.Dispose();
}

if (tr != null) 
{
    tr.Dispose();
}

When all goes OK, we dispose the resources.

if (con != null)
{
    try 
    {
        con.Close();                    

    } catch (SqliteException ex)
    {

        Console.WriteLine("Closing connection failed.");
        Console.WriteLine("Error: {0}",  ex.ToString());

    } finally
    {
        con.Dispose();
    }
}

When closing a connection, we might receive another exception. We handle this case here.

Errors

When there is an error in the transaction, the transaction is rolled back an no changes are committed to the database.

using System;
using Mono.Data.Sqlite;

public class Example
{

    static void Main() 
    {
        string cs = "URI=file:test.db";        
        
        using (SqliteConnection con = new SqliteConnection(cs)) 
        {
            con.Open();

            using(SqliteTransaction tr = con.BeginTransaction())
            {
                using (SqliteCommand cmd = con.CreateCommand())
                {

                    cmd.Transaction = tr;
                    cmd.CommandText = "UPDATE Friends SET Name='Thomas' WHERE Id=1";
                    cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();

                    cmd.CommandText = "UPDATE Friend SET Name='Bob' WHERE Id=4";
                    cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
                }

                tr.Commit();
            }

            con.Close();
        }
    }
}

In the code example we want to change two names. There are two statements which form a transaction. There is an error in the second SQL statement. Therefore the transaction is rolled back.

cmd.CommandText = "UPDATE Friend SET Name='Bob' WHERE Id=4";

The name of the table is incorrect. There is no Friend table in the database.

$ mono trans_error.exe 

Unhandled Exception: Mono.Data.Sqlite.SqliteException: SQLite error
no such table: Friend
...

Running the example will display this error message. The transaction is rolled back.

sqlite> SELECT * FROM Friends;
1|Tom
2|Rebecca
3|Jim
4|Robert
5|Julian
6|Jane

No changes took place in the Friends table. Even if the first UPDATE statement was correct.

We will again try to change two rows; this time without using the SqliteTransaction.

using System;
using Mono.Data.Sqlite;

public class Example
{

    static void Main() 
    {
        string cs = "URI=file:test.db";        
        
        using (SqliteConnection con = new SqliteConnection(cs)) 
        {
            con.Open();

            using (SqliteCommand cmd = con.CreateCommand())
            {

                cmd.CommandText = "UPDATE Friends SET Name='Thomas' WHERE Id=1";
                cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();

                cmd.CommandText = "UPDATE Friend SET Name='Bob' WHERE Id=4";
                cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();
            }

            con.Close();
        }
    }
}

We try to update two names in the Friends table, Tom to Thomas and Robert to Bob.

cmd.CommandText = "UPDATE Friend SET Name='Bob' WHERE Id=4";
cmd.ExecuteNonQuery();

This UPDATE statement is incorrect.

$ mono notrans_error.exe 

Unhandled Exception: Mono.Data.Sqlite.SqliteException: SQLite error
no such table: Friend

We receive the same error message as in the previous example.

sqlite> SELECT * FROM Friends;
1|Thomas
2|Rebecca
3|Jim
4|Robert
5|Julian
6|Jane

However this time, the first UPDATE statement was saved. The second one was not.

In this part of the SQLite C# tutorial, we have worked with transactions.