Working with Unknown Columns

The Scan() function requires you to pass exactly the right number of destination variables. What if you don’t know what the query will return?

If you don’t know how many columns the query will return, you can use Columns() to find a list of column names. You can examine the length of this list to see how many columns there are, and you can pass a slice into Scan() with the correct number of values. For example, some forks of MySQL return different columns for the SHOW PROCESSLIST command, so you have to be prepared for that or you’ll cause an error. Here’s one way to do it; there are others:

cols, err := rows.Columns()
if err != nil {
	// handle the error
} else {
	dest := []interface{}{ // Standard MySQL columns
		new(uint64), // id
		new(string), // host
		new(string), // user
		new(string), // db
		new(string), // command
		new(uint32), // time
		new(string), // state
		new(string), // info
	if len(cols) == 11 {
		// Percona Server
	} else if len(cols) > 8 {
		// Handle this case
	err = rows.Scan(dest...)
	// Work with the values in dest

If you don’t know the columns or their types, you should use sql.RawBytes.

cols, err := rows.Columns() // Remember to check err afterwards
vals := make([]interface{}, len(cols))
for i, _ := range cols {
	vals[i] = new(sql.RawBytes)
for rows.Next() {
	err = rows.Scan(vals...)
	// Now you can check each element of vals for nil-ness,
	// and you can use type introspection and type assertions
	// to fetch the column into a typed variable.

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