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Craig Kerstiens

Tag: Postgres, PostgreSQL

The best Postgres feature you're not using – CTEs aka WITH clauses

SQL by default isn’t typically friendly to dive into, and especially so if you’re reading someone else’s already created queries. For some reason most people throw out principles we follow in other languages such as commenting and composability just for SQL. I was recently reminded of a key feature in Postgres that most don’t use by @timonk highlighting it in his AWS Re:Invent Redshift talk. The simple feature actually makes SQL both readable and composable, and even for my own queries capable of coming back to them months later and understanding them, where previously they would not be.

The feature itself is known as CTEs or common table expressions, you may also here it referred to as WITH clauses. The general idea is that it allows you to create something somewhat equivilant to a view that only exists during that transaction. You can create multiple of these which then allow for clear building blocks and make it simple to follow what you’re doing.

Diving into Postgres JSON operators and functions

Just as PostgreSQL 9.3 was coming out I had a need to take advantage of the JSON datatype and some of the operators and functions within it. The use case was pretty simple, run a query across a variety of databases, then take the results and store them. We explored doing something more elaborate with the columns/values, but in the end just opted to save the entire result set as JSON then I could use the operators to explore it as desired.

Here’s the general idea in code (using sequel):

result = r.connection { |c| c.fetch(self.query).all }
mymodel.results = result.to_json