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12.5. C Language Functions

User-defined functions can be written in C (or a language that can be made compatible with C, such as C++). Such functions are compiled into dynamically loadable objects (also called shared libraries) and are loaded by the server on demand. The dynamic loading feature is what distinguishes "C language" functions from "internal" functions --- the actual coding conventions are essentially the same for both. (Hence, the standard internal function library is a rich source of coding examples for user-defined C functions.)

Two different calling conventions are currently used for C functions. The newer "version 1" calling convention is indicated by writing a PG_FUNCTION_INFO_V1() macro call for the function, as illustrated below. Lack of such a macro indicates an old-style ("version 0") function. The language name specified in CREATE FUNCTION is C in either case. Old-style functions are now deprecated because of portability problems and lack of functionality, but they are still supported for compatibility reasons.

12.5.1. Dynamic Loading

The first time a user-defined function in a particular loadable object file is called in a backend session, the dynamic loader loads that object file into memory so that the function can be called. The CREATE FUNCTION for a user-defined C function must therefore specify two pieces of information for the function: the name of the loadable object file, and the C name (link symbol) of the specific function to call within that object file. If the C name is not explicitly specified then it is assumed to be the same as the SQL function name.

The following algorithm is used to locate the shared object file based on the name given in the CREATE FUNCTION command:

  1. If the name is an absolute path, the given file is loaded.

  2. If the name starts with the string $libdir, that part is replaced by the PostgreSQL package library directory name, which is determined at build time.

  3. If the name does not contain a directory part, the file is searched for in the path specified by the configuration variable dynamic_library_path.

  4. Otherwise (the file was not found in the path, or it contains a non-absolute directory part), the dynamic loader will try to take the name as given, which will most likely fail. (It is unreliable to depend on the current working directory.)

If this sequence does not work, the platform-specific shared library file name extension (often .so) is appended to the given name and this sequence is tried again. If that fails as well, the load will fail.

Note: The user ID the PostgreSQL server runs as must be able to traverse the path to the file you intend to load. Making the file or a higher-level directory not readable and/or not executable by the "postgres" user is a common mistake.

In any case, the file name that is given in the CREATE FUNCTION command is recorded literally in the system catalogs, so if the file needs to be loaded again the same procedure is applied.

Note: PostgreSQL will not compile a C function automatically. The object file must be compiled before it is referenced in a CREATE FUNCTION command. See Section 12.5.7 for additional information.

Note: After it is used for the first time, a dynamically loaded object file is retained in memory. Future calls in the same session to the function(s) in that file will only incur the small overhead of a symbol table lookup. If you need to force a reload of an object file, for example after recompiling it, use the LOAD command or begin a fresh session.

It is recommended to locate shared libraries either relative to $libdir or through the dynamic library path. This simplifies version upgrades if the new installation is at a different location. The actual directory that $libdir stands for can be found out with the command pg_config --pkglibdir.

Note: Before PostgreSQL release 7.2, only exact absolute paths to object files could be specified in CREATE FUNCTION. This approach is now deprecated since it makes the function definition unnecessarily unportable. It's best to specify just the shared library name with no path nor extension, and let the search mechanism provide that information instead.

12.5.2. Base Types in C-Language Functions

Table 12-1 gives the C type required for parameters in the C functions that will be loaded into PostgreSQL. The "Defined In" column gives the header file that needs to be included to get the type definition. (The actual definition may be in a different file that is included by the listed file. It is recommended that users stick to the defined interface.) Note that you should always include postgres.h first in any source file, because it declares a number of things that you will need anyway.

Table 12-1. Equivalent C Types for Built-In PostgreSQL Types

SQL Type C Type Defined In
abstime AbsoluteTime utils/nabstime.h
boolean bool postgres.h (maybe compiler built-in)
box BOX* utils/geo_decls.h
bytea bytea* postgres.h
"char" char (compiler built-in)
character BpChar* postgres.h
cid CommandId postgres.h
date DateADT utils/date.h
smallint (int2) int2 or int16 postgres.h
int2vector int2vector* postgres.h
integer (int4) int4 or int32 postgres.h
real (float4) float4* postgres.h
double precision (float8) float8* postgres.h
interval Interval* utils/timestamp.h
lseg LSEG* utils/geo_decls.h
name Name postgres.h
oid Oid postgres.h
oidvector oidvector* postgres.h
path PATH* utils/geo_decls.h
point POINT* utils/geo_decls.h
regproc regproc postgres.h
reltime RelativeTime utils/nabstime.h
text text* postgres.h
tid ItemPointer storage/itemptr.h
time TimeADT utils/date.h
time with time zone TimeTzADT utils/date.h
timestamp Timestamp* utils/timestamp.h
tinterval TimeInterval utils/nabstime.h
varchar VarChar* postgres.h
xid TransactionId postgres.h

Internally, PostgreSQL regards a base type as a "blob of memory". The user-defined functions that you define over a type in turn define the way that PostgreSQL can operate on it. That is, PostgreSQL will only store and retrieve the data from disk and use your user-defined functions to input, process, and output the data. Base types can have one of three internal formats:

  • pass by value, fixed-length

  • pass by reference, fixed-length

  • pass by reference, variable-length

By-value types can only be 1, 2 or 4 bytes in length (also 8 bytes, if sizeof(Datum) is 8 on your machine). You should be careful to define your types such that they will be the same size (in bytes) on all architectures. For example, the long type is dangerous because it is 4 bytes on some machines and 8 bytes on others, whereas int type is 4 bytes on most Unix machines. A reasonable implementation of the int4 type on Unix machines might be:

/* 4-byte integer, passed by value */
typedef int int4;

PostgreSQL automatically figures things out so that the integer types really have the size they advertise.

On the other hand, fixed-length types of any size may be passed by-reference. For example, here is a sample implementation of a PostgreSQL type:

/* 16-byte structure, passed by reference */
typedef struct
{
    double  x, y;
} Point;

Only pointers to such types can be used when passing them in and out of PostgreSQL functions. To return a value of such a type, allocate the right amount of memory with palloc(), fill in the allocated memory, and return a pointer to it. (Alternatively, you can return an input value of the same type by returning its pointer. Never modify the contents of a pass-by-reference input value, however.)

Finally, all variable-length types must also be passed by reference. All variable-length types must begin with a length field of exactly 4 bytes, and all data to be stored within that type must be located in the memory immediately following that length field. The length field is the total length of the structure (i.e., it includes the size of the length field itself). We can define the text type as follows:

typedef struct {
    int4 length;
    char data[1];
} text;

Obviously, the data field declared here is not long enough to hold all possible strings. Since it's impossible to declare a variable-size structure in C, we rely on the knowledge that the C compiler won't range-check array subscripts. We just allocate the necessary amount of space and then access the array as if it were declared the right length. (If this isn't a familiar trick to you, you may wish to spend some time with an introductory C programming textbook before delving deeper into PostgreSQL server programming.) When manipulating variable-length types, we must be careful to allocate the correct amount of memory and set the length field correctly. For example, if we wanted to store 40 bytes in a text structure, we might use a code fragment like this:

#include "postgres.h"
...
char buffer[40]; /* our source data */
...
text *destination = (text *) palloc(VARHDRSZ + 40);
destination->length = VARHDRSZ + 40;
memcpy(destination->data, buffer, 40);
...

VARHDRSZ is the same as sizeof(int4), but it's considered good style to use the macro VARHDRSZ to refer to the size of the overhead for a variable-length type.

Now that we've gone over all of the possible structures for base types, we can show some examples of real functions.

12.5.3. Version-0 Calling Conventions for C-Language Functions

We present the "old style" calling convention first --- although this approach is now deprecated, it's easier to get a handle on initially. In the version-0 method, the arguments and result of the C function are just declared in normal C style, but being careful to use the C representation of each SQL data type as shown above.

Here are some examples:

#include "postgres.h"
#include <string.h>

/* By Value */
         
int
add_one(int arg)
{
    return arg + 1;
}

/* By Reference, Fixed Length */

float8 *
add_one_float8(float8 *arg)
{
    float8    *result = (float8 *) palloc(sizeof(float8));

    *result = *arg + 1.0;
       
    return result;
}

Point *
makepoint(Point *pointx, Point *pointy)
{
    Point     *new_point = (Point *) palloc(sizeof(Point));

    new_point->x = pointx->x;
    new_point->y = pointy->y;
       
    return new_point;
}

/* By Reference, Variable Length */

text *
copytext(text *t)
{
    /*
     * VARSIZE is the total size of the struct in bytes.
     */
    text *new_t = (text *) palloc(VARSIZE(t));
    VARATT_SIZEP(new_t) = VARSIZE(t);
    /*
     * VARDATA is a pointer to the data region of the struct.
     */
    memcpy((void *) VARDATA(new_t), /* destination */
           (void *) VARDATA(t),     /* source */
           VARSIZE(t)-VARHDRSZ);    /* how many bytes */
    return new_t;
}

text *
concat_text(text *arg1, text *arg2)
{
    int32 new_text_size = VARSIZE(arg1) + VARSIZE(arg2) - VARHDRSZ;
    text *new_text = (text *) palloc(new_text_size);

    VARATT_SIZEP(new_text) = new_text_size;
    memcpy(VARDATA(new_text), VARDATA(arg1), VARSIZE(arg1)-VARHDRSZ);
    memcpy(VARDATA(new_text) + (VARSIZE(arg1)-VARHDRSZ),
           VARDATA(arg2), VARSIZE(arg2)-VARHDRSZ);
    return new_text;
}

Supposing that the above code has been prepared in file funcs.c and compiled into a shared object, we could define the functions to PostgreSQL with commands like this:

CREATE FUNCTION add_one(int4) RETURNS int4
     AS 'PGROOT/tutorial/funcs' LANGUAGE C
     WITH (isStrict);

-- note overloading of SQL function name add_one()
CREATE FUNCTION add_one(float8) RETURNS float8
     AS 'PGROOT/tutorial/funcs',
        'add_one_float8'
     LANGUAGE C WITH (isStrict);

CREATE FUNCTION makepoint(point, point) RETURNS point
     AS 'PGROOT/tutorial/funcs' LANGUAGE C
     WITH (isStrict);
                         
CREATE FUNCTION copytext(text) RETURNS text
     AS 'PGROOT/tutorial/funcs' LANGUAGE C
     WITH (isStrict);

CREATE FUNCTION concat_text(text, text) RETURNS text
     AS 'PGROOT/tutorial/funcs' LANGUAGE C
     WITH (isStrict);

Here PGROOT stands for the full path to the PostgreSQL source tree. (Better style would be to use just 'funcs' in the AS clause, after having added PGROOT/tutorial to the search path. In any case, we may omit the system-specific extension for a shared library, commonly .so or .sl.)

Notice that we have specified the functions as "strict", meaning that the system should automatically assume a NULL result if any input value is NULL. By doing this, we avoid having to check for NULL inputs in the function code. Without this, we'd have to check for NULLs explicitly, for example by checking for a null pointer for each pass-by-reference argument. (For pass-by-value arguments, we don't even have a way to check!)

Although this calling convention is simple to use, it is not very portable; on some architectures there are problems with passing smaller-than-int data types this way. Also, there is no simple way to return a NULL result, nor to cope with NULL arguments in any way other than making the function strict. The version-1 convention, presented next, overcomes these objections.

12.5.4. Version-1 Calling Conventions for C-Language Functions

The version-1 calling convention relies on macros to suppress most of the complexity of passing arguments and results. The C declaration of a version-1 function is always

Datum funcname(PG_FUNCTION_ARGS)

In addition, the macro call

PG_FUNCTION_INFO_V1(funcname);

must appear in the same source file (conventionally it's written just before the function itself). This macro call is not needed for internal-language functions, since PostgreSQL currently assumes all internal functions are version-1. However, it is required for dynamically-loaded functions.

In a version-1 function, each actual argument is fetched using a PG_GETARG_xxx() macro that corresponds to the argument's datatype, and the result is returned using a PG_RETURN_xxx() macro for the return type.

Here we show the same functions as above, coded in version-1 style:

#include "postgres.h"
#include <string.h>
#include "fmgr.h"

/* By Value */

PG_FUNCTION_INFO_V1(add_one);
         
Datum
add_one(PG_FUNCTION_ARGS)
{
    int32   arg = PG_GETARG_INT32(0);

    PG_RETURN_INT32(arg + 1);
}

/* By Reference, Fixed Length */

PG_FUNCTION_INFO_V1(add_one_float8);

Datum
add_one_float8(PG_FUNCTION_ARGS)
{
    /* The macros for FLOAT8 hide its pass-by-reference nature */
    float8   arg = PG_GETARG_FLOAT8(0);

    PG_RETURN_FLOAT8(arg + 1.0);
}

PG_FUNCTION_INFO_V1(makepoint);

Datum
makepoint(PG_FUNCTION_ARGS)
{
    /* Here, the pass-by-reference nature of Point is not hidden */
    Point     *pointx = PG_GETARG_POINT_P(0);
    Point     *pointy = PG_GETARG_POINT_P(1);
    Point     *new_point = (Point *) palloc(sizeof(Point));

    new_point->x = pointx->x;
    new_point->y = pointy->y;
       
    PG_RETURN_POINT_P(new_point);
}

/* By Reference, Variable Length */

PG_FUNCTION_INFO_V1(copytext);

Datum
copytext(PG_FUNCTION_ARGS)
{
    text     *t = PG_GETARG_TEXT_P(0);
    /*
     * VARSIZE is the total size of the struct in bytes.
     */
    text     *new_t = (text *) palloc(VARSIZE(t));
    VARATT_SIZEP(new_t) = VARSIZE(t);
    /*
     * VARDATA is a pointer to the data region of the struct.
     */
    memcpy((void *) VARDATA(new_t), /* destination */
           (void *) VARDATA(t),     /* source */
           VARSIZE(t)-VARHDRSZ);    /* how many bytes */
    PG_RETURN_TEXT_P(new_t);
}

PG_FUNCTION_INFO_V1(concat_text);

Datum
concat_text(PG_FUNCTION_ARGS)
{
    text  *arg1 = PG_GETARG_TEXT_P(0);
    text  *arg2 = PG_GETARG_TEXT_P(1);
    int32 new_text_size = VARSIZE(arg1) + VARSIZE(arg2) - VARHDRSZ;
    text *new_text = (text *) palloc(new_text_size);

    VARATT_SIZEP(new_text) = new_text_size;
    memcpy(VARDATA(new_text), VARDATA(arg1), VARSIZE(arg1)-VARHDRSZ);
    memcpy(VARDATA(new_text) + (VARSIZE(arg1)-VARHDRSZ),
           VARDATA(arg2), VARSIZE(arg2)-VARHDRSZ);
    PG_RETURN_TEXT_P(new_text);
}

The CREATE FUNCTION commands are the same as for the version-0 equivalents.

At first glance, the version-1 coding conventions may appear to be just pointless obscurantism. However, they do offer a number of improvements, because the macros can hide unnecessary detail. An example is that in coding add_one_float8, we no longer need to be aware that float8 is a pass-by-reference type. Another example is that the GETARG macros for variable-length types hide the need to deal with fetching "toasted" (compressed or out-of-line) values. The old-style copytext and concat_text functions shown above are actually wrong in the presence of toasted values, because they don't call pg_detoast_datum() on their inputs. (The handler for old-style dynamically-loaded functions currently takes care of this detail, but it does so less efficiently than is possible for a version-1 function.)

One big improvement in version-1 functions is better handling of NULL inputs and results. The macro PG_ARGISNULL(n) allows a function to test whether each input is NULL (of course, doing this is only necessary in functions not declared "strict"). As with the PG_GETARG_xxx() macros, the input arguments are counted beginning at zero. Note that one should refrain from executing PG_GETARG_xxx() until one has verified that the argument isn't NULL. To return a NULL result, execute PG_RETURN_NULL(); this works in both strict and nonstrict functions.

The version-1 function call conventions make it possible to return "set" results and implement trigger functions and procedural-language call handlers. Version-1 code is also more portable than version-0, because it does not break ANSI C restrictions on function call protocol. For more details see src/backend/utils/fmgr/README in the source distribution.

12.5.5. Composite Types in C-Language Functions

Composite types do not have a fixed layout like C structures. Instances of a composite type may contain null fields. In addition, composite types that are part of an inheritance hierarchy may have different fields than other members of the same inheritance hierarchy. Therefore, PostgreSQL provides a procedural interface for accessing fields of composite types from C. As PostgreSQL processes a set of rows, each row will be passed into your function as an opaque structure of type TUPLE. Suppose we want to write a function to answer the query

SELECT name, c_overpaid(emp, 1500) AS overpaid
FROM emp
WHERE name = 'Bill' OR name = 'Sam';

In the query above, we can define c_overpaid as:

#include "postgres.h"
#include "executor/executor.h"  /* for GetAttributeByName() */

bool
c_overpaid(TupleTableSlot *t, /* the current row of EMP */
           int32 limit)
{
    bool isnull;
    int32 salary;

    salary = DatumGetInt32(GetAttributeByName(t, "salary", &isnull));
    if (isnull)
        return (false);
    return salary > limit;
}

/* In version-1 coding, the above would look like this: */

PG_FUNCTION_INFO_V1(c_overpaid);

Datum
c_overpaid(PG_FUNCTION_ARGS)
{
    TupleTableSlot  *t = (TupleTableSlot *) PG_GETARG_POINTER(0);
    int32            limit = PG_GETARG_INT32(1);
    bool isnull;
    int32 salary;

    salary = DatumGetInt32(GetAttributeByName(t, "salary", &isnull));
    if (isnull)
        PG_RETURN_BOOL(false);
    /* Alternatively, we might prefer to do PG_RETURN_NULL() for null salary */

    PG_RETURN_BOOL(salary > limit);
}

GetAttributeByName is the PostgreSQL system function that returns attributes out of the current row. It has three arguments: the argument of type TupleTableSlot* passed into the function, the name of the desired attribute, and a return parameter that tells whether the attribute is null. GetAttributeByName returns a Datum value that you can convert to the proper data type by using the appropriate DatumGetXXX() macro.

The following command lets PostgreSQL know about the c_overpaid function:

CREATE FUNCTION c_overpaid(emp, int4) 
RETURNS bool
AS 'PGROOT/tutorial/funcs' 
LANGUAGE C;

While there are ways to construct new rows or modify existing rows from within a C function, these are far too complex to discuss in this manual. Consult the backend source code for examples.

12.5.6. Writing Code

We now turn to the more difficult task of writing programming language functions. Be warned: this section of the manual will not make you a programmer. You must have a good understanding of C (including the use of pointers and the malloc memory manager) before trying to write C functions for use with PostgreSQL. While it may be possible to load functions written in languages other than C into PostgreSQL, this is often difficult (when it is possible at all) because other languages, such as FORTRAN and Pascal often do not follow the same calling convention as C. That is, other languages do not pass argument and return values between functions in the same way. For this reason, we will assume that your programming language functions are written in C.

The basic rules for building C functions are as follows:

  • Use pg_config --includedir-server to find out where the PostgreSQL server header files are installed on your system (or the system that your users will be running on). This option is new with PostgreSQL 7.2. For PostgreSQL 7.1 you should use the option --includedir. (pg_config will exit with a non-zero status if it encounters an unknown option.) For releases prior to 7.1 you will have to guess, but since that was before the current calling conventions were introduced, it is unlikely that you want to support those releases.

  • When allocating memory, use the PostgreSQL routines palloc and pfree instead of the corresponding C library routines malloc and free. The memory allocated by palloc will be freed automatically at the end of each transaction, preventing memory leaks.

  • Always zero the bytes of your structures using memset or bzero. Several routines (such as the hash access method, hash join and the sort algorithm) compute functions of the raw bits contained in your structure. Even if you initialize all fields of your structure, there may be several bytes of alignment padding (holes in the structure) that may contain garbage values.

  • Most of the internal PostgreSQL types are declared in postgres.h, while the function manager interfaces (PG_FUNCTION_ARGS, etc.) are in fmgr.h, so you will need to include at least these two files. For portability reasons it's best to include postgres.h first, before any other system or user header files. Including postgres.h will also include elog.h and palloc.h for you.

  • Symbol names defined within object files must not conflict with each other or with symbols defined in the PostgreSQL server executable. You will have to rename your functions or variables if you get error messages to this effect.

  • Compiling and linking your object code so that it can be dynamically loaded into PostgreSQL always requires special flags. See Section 12.5.7 for a detailed explanation of how to do it for your particular operating system.

12.5.7. Compiling and Linking Dynamically-Loaded Functions

Before you are able to use your PostgreSQL extension functions written in C, they must be compiled and linked in a special way to produce a file that can be dynamically loaded by the server. To be precise, a shared library needs to be created.

For more information you should read the documentation of your operating system, in particular the manual pages for the C compiler, cc, and the link editor, ld. In addition, the PostgreSQL source code contains several working examples in the contrib directory. If you rely on these examples you will make your modules dependent on the availability of the PostgreSQL source code, however.

Creating shared libraries is generally analogous to linking executables: first the source files are compiled into object files, then the object files are linked together. The object files need to be created as position-independent code (PIC), which conceptually means that they can be placed at an arbitrary location in memory when they are loaded by the executable. (Object files intended for executables are usually not compiled that way.) The command to link a shared library contains special flags to distinguish it from linking an executable. --- At least this is the theory. On some systems the practice is much uglier.

In the following examples we assume that your source code is in a file foo.c and we will create a shared library foo.so. The intermediate object file will be called foo.o unless otherwise noted. A shared library can contain more than one object file, but we only use one here.

BSD/OS

The compiler flag to create PIC is -fpic. The linker flag to create shared libraries is -shared.

gcc -fpic -c foo.c
ld -shared -o foo.so foo.o

This is applicable as of version 4.0 of BSD/OS.

FreeBSD

The compiler flag to create PIC is -fpic. To create shared libraries the compiler flag is -shared.

gcc -fpic -c foo.c
gcc -shared -o foo.so foo.o

This is applicable as of version 3.0 of FreeBSD.

HP-UX

The compiler flag of the system compiler to create PIC is +z. When using GCC it's -fpic. The linker flag for shared libraries is -b. So

cc +z -c foo.c

or

gcc -fpic -c foo.c

and then

ld -b -o foo.sl foo.o

HP-UX uses the extension .sl for shared libraries, unlike most other systems.

IRIX

PIC is the default, no special compiler options are necessary. The linker option to produce shared libraries is -shared.

cc -c foo.c
ld -shared -o foo.so foo.o
Linux

The compiler flag to create PIC is -fpic. On some platforms in some situations -fPIC must be used if -fpic does not work. Refer to the GCC manual for more information. The compiler flag to create a shared library is -shared. A complete example looks like this:

cc -fpic -c foo.c
cc -shared -o foo.so foo.o
NetBSD

The compiler flag to create PIC is -fpic. For ELF systems, the compiler with the flag -shared is used to link shared libraries. On the older non-ELF systems, ld -Bshareable is used.

gcc -fpic -c foo.c
gcc -shared -o foo.so foo.o
OpenBSD

The compiler flag to create PIC is -fpic. ld -Bshareable is used to link shared libraries.

gcc -fpic -c foo.c
ld -Bshareable -o foo.so foo.o
Solaris

The compiler flag to create PIC is -KPIC with the Sun compiler and -fpic with GCC. To link shared libraries, the compiler option is -G with either compiler or alternatively -shared with GCC.

cc -KPIC -c foo.c
cc -G -o foo.so foo.o

or

gcc -fpic -c foo.c
gcc -G -o foo.so foo.o
Tru64 UNIX

PIC is the default, so the compilation command is the usual one. ld with special options is used to do the linking:

cc -c foo.c
ld -shared -expect_unresolved '*' -o foo.so foo.o

The same procedure is used with GCC instead of the system compiler; no special options are required.

UnixWare

The compiler flag to create PIC is -K PIC with the SCO compiler and -fpic with GCC. To link shared libraries, the compiler option is -G with the SCO compiler and -shared with GCC.

cc -K PIC -c foo.c
cc -G -o foo.so foo.o

or

gcc -fpic -c foo.c
gcc -shared -o foo.so foo.o

Tip: If you want to package your extension modules for wide distribution you should consider using GNU Libtool for building shared libraries. It encapsulates the platform differences into a general and powerful interface. Serious packaging also requires considerations about library versioning, symbol resolution methods, and other issues.

The resulting shared library file can then be loaded into PostgreSQL. When specifying the file name to the CREATE FUNCTION command, one must give it the name of the shared library file, not the intermediate object file. Note that the system's standard shared-library extension (usually .so or .sl) can be omitted from the CREATE FUNCTION command, and normally should be omitted for best portability.

Refer back to Section 12.5.1 about where the server expects to find the shared library files.

Comments


April 22, 2002, 11:34 p.m.

Until MacOS X is covered in the main body, here is the commandline needed to prepare an extension (this assumes that the developer tools are installed):

cc -c foo.c
cc -bundle -flat_namespace -undefined suppress -o foo.so foo.o


July 30, 2002, 8 p.m.

I've just puzzled out the methods for casting pgsql's text type into a normal C char type and vice versa. This would appear to be frequently necessary so that normal C &lt;string.h&gt; functions can be used on them. This info should be documented in this section of the manual and since I couldn't find an explanation anywhere, here is my proposed addition (this should be modified by someone else as it's based on my total 3 days of C programming experience):

PostgreSQL text strings are retrieved in a particular format different from the null terminated char arrays assumed by C library &lt;string.h&gt; manipulation functions. To operate on strings with these functions their type must be converted (cast) to char arrays, manipulated, and cast back to pgsql format. Here is one simple way to accomplish this:

1: #include "postgres.h"
2: #include "fmgr.h"
3: #include &lt;string.h&gt;
4: Datum changetext(PG_FUNCTION_ARGS);
5: PG_FUNCTION_INFO_V1(changetext);
6: Datum changetext(PG_FUNCTION_ARGS){
7: text *instring = PG_GETARG_TEXT_P(0);
8: char *buff;
9: buff = DatumGetCString( DirectFunctionCall1( textout, (int) instring));
10: &lt;modify buff as desired, including length change&gt;
11: PG_RETURN_TEXT_P( DirectFunctionCall1( textin, CStringGetDatum( buff)));
12: }

Here is an explanation of the code. utils/builtins.h defines 2 functions, textout() and textin(). The former casts a pgsql string (instring, in this case) from text to Datum type, the latter does the reverse. They deal with details like length setting and null terminators. For reasons unclear to me, these functions can't be called directly. Instead, the indirect function DirectFunctionCall1() must be used, as shown in the code. One further cast is needed in each direction, between char and Datum types. Another pair of functions handles this: DatumGetCString() casts from Datum to char, CStringGetDatum does the reverse.


Nov. 22, 2002, 1:30 a.m.

I found out how to do it, use elog ( level, format, ...)
eg. to raise a notice:
elog(NOTICE,"value: %dn",some_value);
or to abort the current transaction with an error:
elog(ERROR,"Aaarrrrgh, this should never happen!n");
other levels are (from server/utils/elog.h):
NOTICE /* random info, sent to frontend */
ERROR /* user error - return to known state */
FATAL /* fatal error - abort process */
REALLYFATAL /* take down the other backends with me */
DEBUG /* debug message */

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