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Re: Thoughts on "SELECT * EXCLUDING (...) FROM ..."?

From: "Eric B(dot) Ridge" <ebr(at)tcdi(dot)com>
To: Joshua D(dot) Drake <jd(at)commandprompt(dot)com>
Cc: Eric Ridge <eebbrr(at)gmail(dot)com>, pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: Thoughts on "SELECT * EXCLUDING (...) FROM ..."?
Date: 2011-10-30 17:51:26
Message-ID: FD1ABD9E-400D-44E8-A39A-AE59DF4E7031@tcdi.com (view raw or flat)
Thread:
Lists: pgsql-hackers
On Oct 30, 2011, at 12:53 AM, Joshua D. Drake wrote:
> 
> If it is quite regular I would actually argue two things:
> 
> 1. Use a view
> 2. You haven't normalized correctly
> 
> I am not trying to be a pedantic zealot or anything but those would be my arguments against.

You know how general database work goes.  For every situation where you can make a view or every situation where you should normalize, there's at least one corresponding situation where you can't.  All database systems, Postgres included, give us plenty of ways to do things "wrong", many of which are much worse than this little idea.

I guess I'd like for everyone to evaluate the idea on the value it could provide to Postgres and its users, rather than imposing philosophical/religious beliefs about "correct" database schema design.  

I'm regularly tasked with debugging queries, analyzing, exporting, and otherwise transforming data into something a customer wants.  I'd use something like "SELECT * EXCLUDING (…)" on a *daily* basis.  I'm sick and tired of stuff like:

	psql -tA db -c "\d table" | cut -f1 -d\| | grep -v col | tr \\n ,

just to exclude one column from a list of maybe 100.  And if multiple tables are involved in the query, it just gets that much more complicated.  I'd rather do:

	SELECT * EXCLUDING (x.col) FROM ( <giant application-generated query> ) x;

Then, once I verify it's all good:

	COPY ( SELECT * EXCLUDING (x.col) FROM ( <giant application-generated query> ) x ) TO '/tmp/foo.out' WITH CSV;

Anyways, looks like it might be an uphill battle to get the idea accepted (let alone any code I write!), but I ain't givin' up just yet.

eric

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