PostgreSQL Primer for Busy People

This is work-in-progress, suggestions or tips are welcome. To move around efficiently, use `Ctrl-F`. Last updated: Dec 1st, 2016

PostgreSQL is an open source object-relational database system. It is a multi-user, multi-threaded database management system.

Installation and configuration

Install PostgreSQL on Debian/Ubuntu

Add APT repository

sudo sh -c 'echo "deb http://apt.postgresql.org/pub/repos/apt/ `lsb_release -cs`-pgdg main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/pgdg.list'
wget -q https://www.postgresql.org/media/keys/ACCC4CF8.asc -O - | sudo apt-key add -

Install PostgreSQL

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install postgresql postgresql-contrib postgresql-client libpq-dev

Install PostgreSQL on macOS

brew install postgresql

Set password for postgres (PostgreSQL root) role

sudo -u postgres psql
\password

Disable PostgreSQL version

sudo service postgresql status
9.1/main (port 5432): online
9.2/main (port 5433): online
9.4/main (port 5434): online

Each PostgreSQL cluster in Debian/Ubuntu has a start.conf file that controls what /etc/init.d/postgresql should do. Replace auto with manual in /etc/postgresql/9.x/main/start.conf.

Disable auto boot

update-rc.d -f postgresql remove

User

A role is a user in a database world. Roles are separate from operating system users and global across a cluster. Users without password can connect to the cluster only locally (i.e. through socket).

Create role

On the command line

sudo -u postgres createuser [role_name] -d -P

In psql

CREATE ROLE [role_name] WITH LOGIN CREATEDB PASSWORD '[password]';

List roles

In psql

\du

or

select * from pg_roles

Change a user’s password

ALTER ROLE [role_name] WITH PASSWORD '[new_password]';

Allow user to create databases

ALTER USER <username> WITH CREATEDB;

Database

List all databases

in psql

\l

Create database

on the command line

sudo -u postgres createdb [name] -O [role_name]

in psql

CREATE DATABASE [name] OWNER [role_name];

Drop database

on the command line

sudo -u postgres dropdb [name] --if-exists

in psql

DROP DATABASE IF EXISTS [name];

Export database as CSV

COPY (SELECT * FROM widgets) TO '/absolute/path/to/export.csv'
WITH FORMAT csv, HEADER true;

COPY requires to specify an absolute path and only writes to the file system local to the database. \copy is a wrapper around COPY that circumvents those restrictions.

\copy (SELECT * FROM widgets) TO export.csv
WITH FORMAT csv, HEADER true

You can specify encoding of exported data (e.g. latin1 for Excel instead of utf-8).

\copy (SELECT * FROM widgets) TO export.csv
WITH FORMAT csv, HEADER true, ENCODING 'latin1'

Create compressed PostgreSQL database backup

pg_dump -U [role_name] [db_name] -Fc > backup.dump

Create schema-only database backup

Schema-only means tables, indexes, triggers, etc, but not data inside; done -s option.

pg_dump -U [role_name] [db_name] -s > schema.sql

Restore database from binary dump

PGPASSWORD=<password> pg_restore -Fc --no-acl --no-owner -U <user> -d <database> <filename.dump>

Create compressed backups for all databases at once

pg_dump -Fc

Convert binary database dump to SQL file

pg_restore binary_file.backup > sql_file.sql

Copy database quickly

In order to copy a database, we create a new database and specify an existing one as the template.

createdb -T app_db app_db_backup

Change database ownership

ALTER DATABASE acme OWNER TO zaiste;

Table

List tables

\dt

Create table

CREATE TABLE widgets (
  id BIGINT PRIMARY KEY,
  name VARCHAR(20),
  price INT,
  created_at timestamp without time zone default now()
)

Insert into table

INSERT INTO widgets VALUES(1,'widget1',100)
INSERT INTO widgets(name, price) VALUES ('widget2', 101)

Upsert into table

PostgreSQL 9.5 or newer:

INSERT INTO widgets VALUES ... ON CONFLICT UPDATE

PostgreSQL 9.4 (and older) doesn't have built-in UPSERT (or MERGE) facility and it's difficult to do it right (concurrent use).

Drop table

DROP TABLE IF EXISTS widgets

Delete all rows from table

DELETE FROM widgets;

Drop table and dependencies

DROP TABLE table_name CASCADE;

Column

Available column types

Create Enum type

CREATE TYPE environment AS ENUM ('development', 'staging', 'production');

Add column to table

ALTER TABLE [table_name] ADD COLUMN [column_name] [data_type];

Remove column from table

ALTER TABLE [table_name] DROP COLUMN [column_name];

Change column data type

ALTER TABLE [table_name] ALTER COLUMN [column_name] [data_type];

Change column name

ALTER TABLE [table_name] RENAME COLUMN [column_name] TO [new_column_name];

Set default value for existing column

ALTER TABLE [table_name] ALTER_COLUMN created_at SET DEFAULT now();

Add UNIQUE constrain to existing column

ALTER TABLE [table_name] ADD CONSTRAINT [constraint_name] UNIQUE ([column_name]);

or shorter (PostgreSQL will automatically assign a constrain name)

ALTER TABLE [table_name] ADD UNIQUE ([column_name]);

Date and time

Dates

clock_timestamp() returns current value. now() always returns current value, unless in a transaction, in which case it returns the value from the beginning of the transaction.

Convert datetimes between timezones

SELECT now() AT TIME ZONE 'GMT';
SELECT now() AT TIME ZONE 'PST';

Get to know the day of the week for a given date

SELECT extract(DAY FROM now());

Specify time interval

JSON

Extract from JSON

SELECT '{"arr":[2,4,6,8]}'::json -> 'arr' -> 2              # returns 6
SELECT '{"arr":[2,4,6,8]}'::json #> ARRAY['arr','2']        # returns 6

Create JSON array

CREATE TABLE test (
  j JSON,
  ja JSON[]
);
INSERT INTO test(ja) VALUES (
  array[
    '{"name":"alex", "age":20}'::json,
    '{"name":"peter", "age":24}'::json
  ]
);

PSQL

Render NULL visible in psql

By default NULL is indifferentiable from an empty string.

\pset null ¤

Extended display mode

Extended display on and off depending on the size

\x auto

Indexes

An index helps retrieve rows from a table and its use is efficient only if the number of rows to be retrieved is relatively small. Adding an index to a column will allow you to query the data faster, but data inserts will be slower.

A partial index covers just a subset of a table’s data. It is an index with a WHERE clause. By reducing the index size (less storage, easier to maintain, faster to scan), its efficiency increases.

sequential scan: the database searches over all of the data before returning the results.

CREATE INDEX widgets_paid_index ON widgets(paid) WHERE paid IS TRUE;

Types

Varia

PgBouncer

PgBouncer is a lightweight connection pooler for PostgreSQL. An application connects to pgbouncer as if it were a PostgreSQL server, pgbouncer creates a connection to the actual server or it reuses one of its existing connections. Its aim is to lower the performance impact of opening new connections to PostgreSQL server.

WAL

PostgreSQL maintains a write ahead log (WAL) in the pg_xlog/ subdirectory of the cluster's data directory. The log records every change made to the database's data files.

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