Running SQL queries

There are two ways to run SQL queries against your database:

  • dolt sql runs SQL queries from your shell

  • dolt sql-server starts a MySQL-compatible server

dolt sql

Using dolt sql you can issue SQL statements against a local database without starting a server.

With no arguments, dolt sql begins an interactive shell.

% dolt sql
# Welcome to the DoltSQL shell.
# Statements must be terminated with ';'.
# "exit" or "quit" (or Ctrl-D) to exit.
menus> show tables;
| Table |
| menu_items |
menus> exit

With the -q flag, it executes queries specified as arguments.

% dolt sql -q "show tables"
| Table |
| menu_items |

You can also feed a file of queries to the dolt sql command with standard input redirection. This is useful for importing a dump from another database.

% dolt sql < mysqldump.sql

View the dolt sql command documentation here.

dolt sql-server

The dolt sql-server command runs a MySQL compatible server which clients can connet to and execute queries against. Any library or tool that can connect to MySQL can connect to Dolt.

% dolt sql-server
Starting server with Config HP="localhost:3306"|U="root"|P=""|T="28800000"|R="false"|L="info"

The host, user, password, timeout, logging info and other options can be set on the command line or via a config file.

View the dolt sql-server command documentation here.

Dolt CLI in SQL

Most of Dolt's CLI commands, e.g. dolt status, dolt commit, dolt merge, dolt push, dolt pull, are available in the SQL context, either via system tables or as custom SQL functions. All CLI functionality will eventually be exposed in SQL.

System Tables

Many of Dolt's unique features are accessible via system tables. These tables allow you to query the same information available from various Dolt commands, such as branch information, the commit log, and much more. You can write queries that examine the history of a table, or that select the diff between two commits.


Dolt supports SQL transactions using the standard transaction control statements: START TRANSACTION, COMMIT, ROLLBACK, and SAVEPOINT. The @@autocommit session variable is also supported, and behaves identically as in MySQL. @@autocommit is enabled by default using the dolt sql shell and the MySQL shell, but some other clients turn it off by default (notably the Python mysql connector.

Querying non-HEAD revisions of a database

Dolt SQL supports a variant of SQL 2011 syntax to query non-HEAD revisions of a database via the AS OF clause:

SELECT * FROM myTable AS OF 'kfvpgcf8pkd6blnkvv8e0kle8j6lug7a';
SELECT * FROM myTable AS OF 'myBranch';
SELECT * FROM myTable AS OF TIMESTAMP('2020-01-01');
SELECT * FROM myTable AS OF 'myBranch' JOIN myTable AS OF 'yourBranch' AS foo;

The AS OF expression must name a valid Dolt reference, such as a commit hash, branch name, or other reference. Timestamp / date values are also supported. Each table in a query can use a different AS OF clause.

In addition to this AS OF syntax for SELECT statements, Dolt also supports an extension to the standard MySQL syntax to examine the database schema for a previous revision:

SHOW TABLES AS OF 'kfvpgcf8pkd6blnkvv8e0kle8j6lug7a';

You can also connect to a non-HEAD revision in your connection string or with a USE statements. See working with multiple HEADS