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38.2. Visibility of Data Changes

If you execute SQL commands in your trigger function, and these commands access the table that the trigger is for, then you need to be aware of the data visibility rules, because they determine whether these SQL commands will see the data change that the trigger is fired for. Briefly:

  • Statement-level triggers follow simple visibility rules: none of the changes made by a statement are visible to statement-level BEFORE triggers, whereas all modifications are visible to statement-level AFTER triggers.

  • The data change (insertion, update, or deletion) causing the trigger to fire is naturally not visible to SQL commands executed in a row-level BEFORE trigger, because it hasn't happened yet.

  • However, SQL commands executed in a row-level BEFORE trigger will see the effects of data changes for rows previously processed in the same outer command. This requires caution, since the ordering of these change events is not in general predictable; a SQL command that affects multiple rows can visit the rows in any order.

  • Similarly, a row-level INSTEAD OF trigger will see the effects of data changes made by previous firings of INSTEAD OF triggers in the same outer command.

  • When a row-level AFTER trigger is fired, all data changes made by the outer command are already complete, and are visible to the invoked trigger function.

If your trigger function is written in any of the standard procedural languages, then the above statements apply only if the function is declared VOLATILE. Functions that are declared STABLE or IMMUTABLE will not see changes made by the calling command in any case.

Further information about data visibility rules can be found in Section 46.4. The example in Section 38.4 contains a demonstration of these rules.

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