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Bug #40417 Suddenly binding as many vars as there are *identical* prepared tokens
Submitted: 2007-02-09 16:39 UTC Modified: 2007-03-06 00:53 UTC
Avg. Score:4.0 ± 0.0
Reproduced:2 of 2 (100.0%)
Same Version:1 (50.0%)
Same OS:0 (0.0%)
From: exaton at free dot fr Assigned:
Status: Closed Package: PDO related
PHP Version: 5.2.1 OS: Windows XP Pro SP2
Private report: No CVE-ID: None
 [2007-02-09 16:39 UTC] exaton at free dot fr
I have just upgraded from PHP 5.2.0 to PHP 5.2.1, and one of my scripts has broken on the following point (note, the backend database is PostgreSQL 8.1.5) :

Consider this prepared statement query, automatically generated as part of a basic search engine operating on a table of shops :

SELECT indx, name, town FROM shops WHERE enabled AND (lower(name) LIKE :word0 OR lower(address) LIKE :word0 OR lower(town) LIKE :word0 OR lower(company) LIKE :word0 OR lower(description) LIKE :word0) ORDER BY name;

You notice that 5 ':word0' tokens are defined. I then proceed to bind ':word0' to a certain value (individual $word taken from a search field), *a single time* of course :

$shops -> bindValue(':word'.$i, '%'.$word.'%'); // $i = 0

Up to PHP 5.2.0, this worked as expected. Now in PHP 5.2.1 I am getting a PDOException : "SQLSTATE[HY093]: Invalid parameter number: number of bound variables does
not match number of tokens".

To work around this problem, I indeed have to call bindValue() as many times as there are tokens (5 in this example), even though those tokens are identical. As a consequence, the name of the extra *fictitious* bound tokens does not matter, except that binding 5 times the same token name (e.g. 5 times ':word0') does not work. But binding ':word0' to ':word4' does, for instance.

I have noticed some similarity with PHP bug #33886, but I believe this to be a slightly different situation (bindValue() as opposed to on-the-fly binding), not to mention that it breaks existing scripts.

Thank you in advance for your feedback on this issue.


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 [2007-02-09 16:58 UTC]
Thank you for this bug report. To properly diagnose the problem, we
need a short but complete example script to be able to reproduce
this bug ourselves. 

A proper reproducing script starts with <?php and ends with ?>,
is max. 10-20 lines long and does not require any external 
resources such as databases, etc. If the script requires a 
database to demonstrate the issue, please make sure it creates 
all necessary tables, stored procedures etc.

Please avoid embedding huge scripts into the report.

 [2007-02-09 17:25 UTC] exaton at free dot fr
All right, here you go, but it's really because I love you guys :)

So, still comparing PHP 5.2.0 and PHP 5.2.1 on Windows XP Pro SP2 with a PostgreSQL 8.1.5 backend.

From phpinfo() concerning pdo_pgsql :

PHP 5.2.0 :

PostgreSQL(libpq) Version 	8.1.4
Module version 	1.0.2
Revision 	$Id: pdo_pgsql.c,v 2006/03/14 10:49:18 edink Exp $

PHP 5.2.1 :

PostgreSQL(libpq) Version 	8.1.4
Module version 	1.0.2
Revision 	$Id: pdo_pgsql.c,v 2007/01/01 09:36:05 sebastian Exp $

So the difference is just in the revision of pdo_pgsql.c .

Now for the test case ; I'll even give you a test table :



INSERT INTO t (id, s) VALUES (1, 'foo');
INSERT INTO t (id, s) VALUES (2, 'bar');
INSERT INTO t (id, s) VALUES (3, 'doh');
INSERT INTO t (id, s) VALUES (4, 'duh');

And here's the PHP code :

// Connect to database
// Let $DATA be the resulting PDO object

$sta = $DATA -> prepare('SELECT id, s FROM t WHERE id = :id OR id = :id'); // notice 2 identical ':id' tokens

$sta -> bindValue(':id', 2, PDO :: PARAM_INT); // bind ':id' a single time, of course

$sta -> execute(); // this is line #12

$arr = $sta -> fetch(PDO :: FETCH_ASSOC);

echo "<pre>";
echo "</pre>";

/* Expected (as obtained in PHP 5.2.0) :

    [id] => 2
    [s] => bar


/* Obtained in PHP 5.2.1 : 

thrown at ...\bug.php(12)

SQLSTATE[HY093]: Invalid parameter number: number of bound variables does
not match number of tokens

#0 ...\bug.php(12):
#1 {main}


Binding an extra token (to make up the 2 tokens in the prepared statement, even though they are identical) will work around the problem :

$sta -> bindValue(':xyz', 42, PDO :: PARAM_INT);

I think it should complain that the :xyz token is not to be found in the statement in the first place, but anyway (it doesn't make that complaint in PHP 5.2.0 either).

By adding that line before the call to execute(), the expected result is obtained.

Hope this helps !
 [2007-02-10 16:07 UTC]
Thank you for taking the time to write to us, but this is not
a bug. Please double-check the documentation available at and the instructions on how to report
a bug at

When you have multiple instances of :id they count as one 
token since they reference the same bound parameter.
 [2007-02-10 16:18 UTC] exaton at free dot fr
I'm sorry, but I don't understand your reply.

Perhaps my use of the word "token" is wrong. The multiple instances "count[ing] as one token, since they reference the same bound parameter" is exactly the behaviour I expect, and had been counting on *and getting* up to now.

However, Re. my initial example and test case, *several bindings* are required, *as many as there are _instances_*, not just tokens. This is what is happening in PHP 5.2.1.

1) It differs from what I believe we both understand to be the correct behaviour.

2) Even if "binding as many times as there are *instances* of tokens" were the correct behaviour, we would have to conclude that the implementation was flawed up to PHP 5.2.0, because *existing code* breaks with the upgrade to PHP 5.2.1.

My apologies again for insisting, but I think we're both on the same track here, with PHP 5.2.1 having introduced an incoherence on this point (maybe the code in pdo_pgsql.c compares the number of effective bindings to the number of ":<token>" instances instead of the number of effectively different tokens...).
 [2007-02-10 17:18 UTC] exaton at free dot fr
OK, I've taken a look at the source code to try and lend a hand in clearing up this issue. My first time though, so here's hoping I'm not too far off the mark.

Diffing ext/pdo/ and ext/pdo_pgsql/ files between PHP 5.2.0 and 5.2.1, I find that the error message I am encountering is due to a new paragraph having been *added* to the much remangled ext/pdo/pdo_sql_parser.c (line 262) :

if (params && bindno != zend_hash_num_elements(params) && stmt->supports_placeholders == PDO_PLACEHOLDER_NONE) {
    pdo_raise_impl_error(stmt->dbh, stmt, "HY093", "number of bound variables does not match number of tokens" TSRMLS_CC);
    ret = -1;
    goto clean_up;

Somehow I'm trigerring the error condition, here. I'm guessing that my bindno is different from the number of elements in the params hash table.

bindno is incremented on line 214. I could be wrong, but I'm under the impression that it is *incremented with each _placeholder_*, which in turn I take to be the "token *instances*" we were talking about before.

Now, I think we both agree that we only have to bind as many values/vars as there are *different* tokens in the statement. That is in any case how things worked up to PHP 5.2.0.

With the new error detection that has been added (the above paragraph of code), and if I'm right about the way bindno is counted, then we are expected to bind as many values/vars as there are *placeholders* in the statement, even if there are 2 or more placeholders for the same token name.

That would be very coherent with the new error I am getting. It would also be coherent with my workaround, in which one just had to bind extra, bogus values/vars (thus artificially filling up the params hash table, with params = stmt -> bound_params) in order to not get this error.

So :

1) The new error detection breaks existing scripts that worked with 5.2.0.

2) I think we agree that the specification introduced by this new error detection is incorrect. One may, as far as I know, use several times the same placeholder for bound values/vars in a statement. It is only possible to bind a given token once (because that binding fills a hash table, which will of course not increase in size if the same token is bound several times). Therefore, forcing one to bind as many values/vars as there are *placeholders* is surely incorrect.

3) The workaround is symptomatic of something real fishy going on (having to write bogus code to "unblock" a piece of functionality, wt... ?).

That's as much as I can do guys, I have no setup whatsoever for tracing variables in the code. The object of such a trace would be to confirm that, with my test case (in which there are 2 identical ":id" placeholders in the statement), bindno = 2 versus only 1 entry in the params = stmt -> bound_params hash table.

Good luck, and thank you for your patience, I'm not much good at writing simple sentences :)
 [2007-02-16 11:26 UTC] exaton at free dot fr
Hey again people,

I don't mean to be annoying, but I've just done a bit more research, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Iliaa, I found the code change where you added the infamous spec-altering error check that I'm going on about :

PHP_5_2 :

Also applied to MAIN, with both times the comment : "Added missing check for mismatching number of tokens & bound params in prepared statement emulation."

That perfectly matches my error conditions.

The problem is, the bindno variable contains the number of individual tokens. However, multiple tokens may have the same name ; but each token name can only be bound once ! So comparing bindno to the number of bindings is incorrect. It introduces the following specification : "multiple tokens may not have the same name in a prepared statement".

The workaround is still the same : binding enough bogus tokens to match the number of individual tokens used in the prepared statement, when some share the same name.

Oh, did I mention that this prevented anyone with prepared statements containing multiple tokens sharing the same name from upgrading to PHP 5.2.1 ? :-)
 [2007-02-24 03:19 UTC]
Thank you for taking the time to write to us, but this is not
a bug. Please double-check the documentation available at and the instructions on how to report
a bug at

 [2007-02-24 08:47 UTC] exaton at free dot fr
Wow. I'm flabbergasted.

Mr Alshanetsky, I am, as they say, and until further notice, disappointed in you.

No update of the CVS code. Not even a note in the manual to reflect this spec change.

I guess this is going to have to wait until someone else reports it. It's got to be relatively common, especially in not too complex search engine implementations.

Until then, therefore...
 [2007-02-27 11:50 UTC]
This is really annoying issue, which forces me to rewrite some 
of the code I've done in the past. Perhaps the bindno 
shouldn't be incremented if the named placeholder already 
exists in the placeholders struct? Would it break something 
 [2007-02-27 13:00 UTC] exaton at free dot fr
Hi again, thanks for reopening this issue.

Sorry for being so snarky before, but I'd just received a little dressing down from my boss because of having to add the workaround to already-validated code at extremely short notice. Classic case of pushing for an upgrade on the production server in the frenzy of the moment.

I'll let you guys take care of this now. I've kept my test case around so I'm available for further trials if I can be of any use.
 [2007-03-01 08:15 UTC] xing at mac dot com
I have to agree with exaton on this. This is an absolute "app-breaker" change and MUST be noted in the change-log at the very least.

It is pure luck I found this change before my official upgrade to 5.2.1.

I really hope there there a solution to this.

On a blog, wez mentioned that this was a fix and the previous ability to bind one to many placements was rather an bug. I however, strongly disagree on a simple level that the pre-5.2.1 pdo binding just "made sense". Why should php force developers to introduce more lines of code that does nothing more when this can be take care of behind the scenes?
 [2007-03-01 15:30 UTC] exaton at free dot fr
@ xing : I had not seen that word from Wez, but indeed is does make sense to add the check in principle -- the API should make sure that enough tokens were bound (to enhance its service and avoid "silent" bugs) and can also guarantee that not too many were bound (might as well).

It's back to the problem with bindno, however... I'm not even sure of the name of that variable. I think it would stand for "number of bindings", e.g. the expected number of bound variables or values. I believe that's how Ilia read it, and quite reasonably so. That meaning is just not valid in the special (but probably not uncommon) case of multiple named tokens (as opposed to question marks ?) with the same name.

Just a shot in the dark : wouldn't a workable, albeit expensive, solution be to create a little hash table here with the names of all the named tokens ? It would not hold duplicates, by definition ; hence named tokens with the same name would only be counted once. Therefore zend_hash_num_elements(params) would just have to be compared to zend_hash_num_elements(token_names). But of course question-mark placeholders would have to be treated in a different way...

Anyway, I don't think that's anything the PHP developers won't have thought about themselves. Just my 2 cents.
 [2007-03-02 07:25 UTC] mgagne at generationphp dot net

I have the same bug using PHP 5.2.1. I had to downgrade to PHP 5.2.0 and it fixed the problem.

I'm using PDO::MYSQL. I have 2 bound variables in my request. All 2 have the same name. Since I'm only binding value once using PDO::bindValue, the error is triggered without valid reason.

My query is similar to this one:

FROM posts
WHERE post_title LIKE :q OR
      post_text LIKE :q

I'm binding value once like this:

$sth->bindValue(':q', "$q", PDO::PARAM_STR);

This means there is something wrong within the internal count.

Also for the records, issue does not seem to be related to any specific PDO driver. (issue is present with PostGreSQL and MySQL driver)

 [2007-03-02 21:59 UTC] mgagne at generationphp dot net
Unfortunately for some people, Iliaa is right:

"You cannot use a named parameter marker of the same name twice in a prepared statement."

However, even if it's was added to the documentation about a year ago (Sun Jan 8 14:02:42 2006 UTC), the behavior changed between PHP 5.2.0 and PHP 5.2.1 and it should have been added to the changelog as well.

I didn't know when happened to my application until I saw this bug report.
 [2007-03-03 15:13 UTC] exaton at free dot fr
*Damn* *it*.

Good on you for spotting that, mgagne. For some freaking reason I was so bent on examining the documentation for binding methods that I skipped prepare(). No idea why.

Ilia, my apologies again, therefore ; but really I had not understood your intermediate reply. At least now we have the knowledge that you were working with all along.

So now, of course, the question is : should the spec' be changed in favor of PHP's behaviour up until now ? I of course advocate changing the manual, allowing for the new "feature" of multiple parameter markers with the same name. I argue with the following points :

1) This issue already seems quite popular ; obviously, quite a few people relied on the feature without realizing that it went against the true specification.

Now that, of course, is a rather specious argument ; developers working with PHP should stick to the spec' and get bent if they make use of unintended functionality which is suddenly dropped -- I'm the first to agree. However :

2) I see no compelling reason for which PHP should not "support" this feature. It is a very natural feature that makes perfect sense when it is used. It is most practical is naive search engine implementations for small sites (auto-generated : WHERE (title LIKE :term0 OR text LIKE :term0 OR author_name LIKE :term0) AND (title LIKE :term1 OR text LIKE :term1 OR author_name LIME :term1) ...).

The underlying code is already designed in such a way as to support the feature of multiple parameter markers with the same name. The only change in PHP 5.2.1 is a condition check that throws an error, based on the specification. And admittedly, writing that check in conformance with the "feature" would be expensive (see e.g. my suggestion above) and/or cumbersome or complicated, etc.

This would be a call for the PHP core developers.
 [2007-03-06 00:53 UTC]
This bug has been fixed in CVS.

Snapshots of the sources are packaged every three hours; this change
will be in the next snapshot. You can grab the snapshot at
Thank you for the report, and for helping us make PHP better.

 [2011-12-26 10:51 UTC] spam at shishnet dot org
Can someone clarify what is meant by "fixed"? I'm finding that binding multiple paramaters with the same name works fine for PDO/mysql, but fails in weird ways for PDO/postgres...
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