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10.4. Value Storage

Values to be inserted into a table are converted to the destination column's data type according to the following steps.

Value Storage Type Conversion

  1. Check for an exact match with the target.

  2. Otherwise, try to convert the expression to the target type. This will succeed if there is a registered cast between the two types. If the expression is an unknown-type literal, the contents of the literal string will be fed to the input conversion routine for the target type.

  3. Check to see if there is a sizing cast for the target type. A sizing cast is a cast from that type to itself. If one is found in the pg_cast catalog, apply it to the expression before storing into the destination column. The implementation function for such a cast always takes an extra parameter of type integer, which receives the destination column's declared length (actually, its atttypmod value; the interpretation of atttypmod varies for different data types). The cast function is responsible for applying any length-dependent semantics such as size checking or truncation.

Example 10-6. character Storage Type Conversion

For a target column declared as character(20) the following statement ensures that the stored value is sized correctly:

CREATE TABLE vv (v character(20));
INSERT INTO vv SELECT 'abc' || 'def';
SELECT v, length(v) FROM vv;

          v           | length
 abcdef               |     20
(1 row)

What has really happened here is that the two unknown literals are resolved to text by default, allowing the || operator to be resolved as text concatenation. Then the text result of the operator is converted to bpchar ("blank-padded char", the internal name of the character data type) to match the target column type. (Since the types text and bpchar are binary-compatible, this conversion does not insert any real function call.) Finally, the sizing function bpchar(bpchar, integer) is found in the system catalog and applied to the operator's result and the stored column length. This type-specific function performs the required length check and addition of padding spaces.