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23.2. Structure of PL/pgSQL

PL/pgSQL is a block structured language. The complete text of a function definition must be a block. A block is defined as:

[ <<label>> ]
[ DECLARE
    declarations ]
BEGIN
    statements
END;

Any statement in the statement section of a block can be a sub-block. Sub-blocks can be used for logical grouping or to localize variables to a small group of statements.

The variables declared in the declarations section preceding a block are initialized to their default values every time the block is entered, not only once per function call. For example:

CREATE FUNCTION somefunc() RETURNS INTEGER AS '
DECLARE
   quantity INTEGER := 30;
BEGIN
   RAISE NOTICE ''Quantity here is %'',quantity;  -- Quantity here is 30
   quantity := 50;
   --
   -- Create a sub-block
   --
   DECLARE
      quantity INTEGER := 80;
   BEGIN
      RAISE NOTICE ''Quantity here is %'',quantity;  -- Quantity here is 80
   END;

   RAISE NOTICE ''Quantity here is %'',quantity;  -- Quantity here is 50

   RETURN quantity;
END;
' LANGUAGE 'plpgsql';

It is important not to confuse the use of BEGIN/END for grouping statements in PL/pgSQL with the database commands for transaction control. PL/pgSQL's BEGIN/END are only for grouping; they do not start or end a transaction. Functions and trigger procedures are always executed within a transaction established by an outer query --- they cannot start or commit transactions, since PostgreSQL does not have nested transactions.

23.2.1. Lexical Details

Each statement and declaration within a block is terminated by a semicolon.

All keywords and identifiers can be written in mixed upper- and lower-case. Identifiers are implicitly converted to lower-case unless double-quoted.

There are two types of comments in PL/pgSQL. A double dash -- starts a comment that extends to the end of the line. A /* starts a block comment that extends to the next occurrence of */. Block comments cannot be nested, but double dash comments can be enclosed into a block comment and a double dash can hide the block comment delimiters /* and */.