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F.16. hstore

This module implements the hstore data type for storing sets of key/value pairs within a single PostgreSQL value. This can be useful in various scenarios, such as rows with many attributes that are rarely examined, or semi-structured data. Keys and values are simply text strings.

This module is considered trusted, that is, it can be installed by non-superusers who have CREATE privilege on the current database.

F.16.1. hstore External Representation

The text representation of an hstore, used for input and output, includes zero or more key => value pairs separated by commas. Some examples:

k => v
foo => bar, baz => whatever
"1-a" => "anything at all"

The order of the pairs is not significant (and may not be reproduced on output). Whitespace between pairs or around the => sign is ignored. Double-quote keys and values that include whitespace, commas, =s or >s. To include a double quote or a backslash in a key or value, escape it with a backslash.

Each key in an hstore is unique. If you declare an hstore with duplicate keys, only one will be stored in the hstore and there is no guarantee as to which will be kept:

SELECT 'a=>1,a=>2'::hstore;
  hstore
----------
 "a"=>"1"

A value (but not a key) can be an SQL NULL. For example:

key => NULL

The NULL keyword is case-insensitive. Double-quote the NULL to treat it as the ordinary string NULL.

Note

Keep in mind that the hstore text format, when used for input, applies before any required quoting or escaping. If you are passing an hstore literal via a parameter, then no additional processing is needed. But if you're passing it as a quoted literal constant, then any single-quote characters and (depending on the setting of the standard_conforming_strings configuration parameter) backslash characters need to be escaped correctly. See Section 4.1.2.1 for more on the handling of string constants.

On output, double quotes always surround keys and values, even when it's not strictly necessary.

F.16.2. hstore Operators and Functions

The operators provided by the hstore module are shown in Table F.7, the functions in Table F.8.

Table F.7. hstore Operators

Operator

Description

Example(s)

hstore -> texttext

Returns value associated with given key, or NULL if not present.

'a=>x, b=>y'::hstore -> 'a'x

hstore -> text[]text[]

Returns values associated with given keys, or NULL if not present.

'a=>x, b=>y, c=>z'::hstore -> ARRAY['c','a']{"z","x"}

hstore || hstorehstore

Concatenates two hstores.

'a=>b, c=>d'::hstore || 'c=>x, d=>q'::hstore"a"=>"b", "c"=>"x", "d"=>"q"

hstore ? textboolean

Does hstore contain key?

'a=>1'::hstore ? 'a't

hstore ?& text[]boolean

Does hstore contain all the specified keys?

'a=>1,b=>2'::hstore ?& ARRAY['a','b']t

hstore ?| text[]boolean

Does hstore contain any of the specified keys?

'a=>1,b=>2'::hstore ?| ARRAY['b','c']t

hstore @> hstoreboolean

Does left operand contain right?

'a=>b, b=>1, c=>NULL'::hstore @> 'b=>1't

hstore <@ hstoreboolean

Is left operand contained in right?

'a=>c'::hstore <@ 'a=>b, b=>1, c=>NULL'f

hstore - texthstore

Deletes key from left operand.

'a=>1, b=>2, c=>3'::hstore - 'b'::text"a"=>"1", "c"=>"3"

hstore - text[]hstore

Deletes keys from left operand.

'a=>1, b=>2, c=>3'::hstore - ARRAY['a','b']"c"=>"3"

hstore - hstorehstore

Deletes pairs from left operand that match pairs in the right operand.

'a=>1, b=>2, c=>3'::hstore - 'a=>4, b=>2'::hstore"a"=>"1", "c"=>"3"

anyelement #= hstoreanyelement

Replaces fields in the left operand (which must be a composite type) with matching values from hstore.

ROW(1,3) #= 'f1=>11'::hstore(11,3)

%% hstoretext[]

Converts hstore to an array of alternating keys and values.

%% 'a=>foo, b=>bar'::hstore{a,foo,b,bar}

%# hstoretext[]

Converts hstore to a two-dimensional key/value array.

%# 'a=>foo, b=>bar'::hstore{{a,foo},{b,bar}}


Note

Prior to PostgreSQL 8.2, the containment operators @> and <@ were called @ and ~, respectively. These names are still available, but are deprecated and will eventually be removed. Notice that the old names are reversed from the convention formerly followed by the core geometric data types!

Table F.8. hstore Functions

Function

Description

Example(s)

hstore ( record ) → hstore

Constructs an hstore from a record or row.

hstore(ROW(1,2))"f1"=>"1", "f2"=>"2"

hstore ( text[] ) → hstore

Constructs an hstore from an array, which may be either a key/value array, or a two-dimensional array.

hstore(ARRAY['a','1','b','2'])"a"=>"1", "b"=>"2"

hstore(ARRAY[['c','3'],['d','4']])"c"=>"3", "d"=>"4"

hstore ( text[], text[] ) → hstore

Constructs an hstore from separate key and value arrays.

hstore(ARRAY['a','b'], ARRAY['1','2'])"a"=>"1", "b"=>"2"

hstore ( text, text ) → hstore

Makes a single-item hstore.

hstore('a', 'b')"a"=>"b"

akeys ( hstore ) → text[]

Extracts an hstore's keys as an array.

akeys('a=>1,b=>2'){a,b}

skeys ( hstore ) → setof text

Extracts an hstore's keys as a set.

skeys('a=>1,b=>2')

a
b

avals ( hstore ) → text[]

Extracts an hstore's values as an array.

avals('a=>1,b=>2'){1,2}

svals ( hstore ) → setof text

Extracts an hstore's values as a set.

svals('a=>1,b=>2')

1
2

hstore_to_array ( hstore ) → text[]

Extracts an hstore's keys and values as an array of alternating keys and values.

hstore_to_array('a=>1,b=>2'){a,1,b,2}

hstore_to_matrix ( hstore ) → text[]

Extracts an hstore's keys and values as a two-dimensional array.

hstore_to_matrix('a=>1,b=>2'){{a,1},{b,2}}

hstore_to_json ( hstore ) → json

Converts an hstore to a json value, converting all non-null values to JSON strings.

This function is used implicitly when an hstore value is cast to json.

hstore_to_json('"a key"=>1, b=>t, c=>null, d=>12345, e=>012345, f=>1.234, g=>2.345e+4'){"a key": "1", "b": "t", "c": null, "d": "12345", "e": "012345", "f": "1.234", "g": "2.345e+4"}

hstore_to_jsonb ( hstore ) → jsonb

Converts an hstore to a jsonb value, converting all non-null values to JSON strings.

This function is used implicitly when an hstore value is cast to jsonb.

hstore_to_jsonb('"a key"=>1, b=>t, c=>null, d=>12345, e=>012345, f=>1.234, g=>2.345e+4'){"a key": "1", "b": "t", "c": null, "d": "12345", "e": "012345", "f": "1.234", "g": "2.345e+4"}

hstore_to_json_loose ( hstore ) → json

Converts an hstore to a json value, but attempts to distinguish numerical and Boolean values so they are unquoted in the JSON.

hstore_to_json_loose('"a key"=>1, b=>t, c=>null, d=>12345, e=>012345, f=>1.234, g=>2.345e+4'){"a key": 1, "b": true, "c": null, "d": 12345, "e": "012345", "f": 1.234, "g": 2.345e+4}

hstore_to_jsonb_loose ( hstore ) → jsonb

Converts an hstore to a jsonb value, but attempts to distinguish numerical and Boolean values so they are unquoted in the JSON.

hstore_to_jsonb_loose('"a key"=>1, b=>t, c=>null, d=>12345, e=>012345, f=>1.234, g=>2.345e+4'){"a key": 1, "b": true, "c": null, "d": 12345, "e": "012345", "f": 1.234, "g": 2.345e+4}

slice ( hstore, text[] ) → hstore

Extracts a subset of an hstore containing only the specified keys.

slice('a=>1,b=>2,c=>3'::hstore, ARRAY['b','c','x'])"b"=>"2", "c"=>"3"

each ( hstore ) → setof record ( key text, value text )

Extracts an hstore's keys and values as a set of records.

select * from each('a=>1,b=>2')

 key | value
-----+-------
 a   | 1
 b   | 2

exist ( hstore, text ) → boolean

Does hstore contain key?

exist('a=>1', 'a')t

defined ( hstore, text ) → boolean

Does hstore contain a non-NULL value for key?

defined('a=>NULL', 'a')f

delete ( hstore, text ) → hstore

Deletes pair with matching key.

delete('a=>1,b=>2', 'b')"a"=>"1"

delete ( hstore, text[] ) → hstore

Deletes pairs with matching keys.

delete('a=>1,b=>2,c=>3', ARRAY['a','b'])"c"=>"3"

delete ( hstore, hstore ) → hstore

Deletes pairs matching those in the second argument.

delete('a=>1,b=>2', 'a=>4,b=>2'::hstore)"a"=>"1"

populate_record ( anyelement, hstore ) → anyelement

Replaces fields in the left operand (which must be a composite type) with matching values from hstore.

populate_record(ROW(1,2), 'f1=>42'::hstore)(42,2)


F.16.3. Indexes

hstore has GiST and GIN index support for the @>, ?, ?& and ?| operators. For example:

CREATE INDEX hidx ON testhstore USING GIST (h);

CREATE INDEX hidx ON testhstore USING GIN (h);

gist_hstore_ops GiST opclass approximates a set of key/value pairs as a bitmap signature. Its optional integer parameter siglen determines the signature length in bytes. The default length is 16 bytes. Valid values of signature length are between 1 and 2024 bytes. Longer signatures lead to a more precise search (scanning a smaller fraction of the index and fewer heap pages), at the cost of a larger index.

Example of creating such an index with a signature length of 32 bytes:

CREATE INDEX hidx ON testhstore USING GIST (h gist_hstore_ops(siglen=32));

hstore also supports btree or hash indexes for the = operator. This allows hstore columns to be declared UNIQUE, or to be used in GROUP BY, ORDER BY or DISTINCT expressions. The sort ordering for hstore values is not particularly useful, but these indexes may be useful for equivalence lookups. Create indexes for = comparisons as follows:

CREATE INDEX hidx ON testhstore USING BTREE (h);

CREATE INDEX hidx ON testhstore USING HASH (h);

F.16.4. Examples

Add a key, or update an existing key with a new value:

UPDATE tab SET h = h || hstore('c', '3');

Delete a key:

UPDATE tab SET h = delete(h, 'k1');

Convert a record to an hstore:

CREATE TABLE test (col1 integer, col2 text, col3 text);
INSERT INTO test VALUES (123, 'foo', 'bar');

SELECT hstore(t) FROM test AS t;
                   hstore                    
---------------------------------------------
 "col1"=>"123", "col2"=>"foo", "col3"=>"bar"
(1 row)

Convert an hstore to a predefined record type:

CREATE TABLE test (col1 integer, col2 text, col3 text);

SELECT * FROM populate_record(null::test,
                              '"col1"=>"456", "col2"=>"zzz"');
 col1 | col2 | col3 
------+------+------
  456 | zzz  | 
(1 row)

Modify an existing record using the values from an hstore:

CREATE TABLE test (col1 integer, col2 text, col3 text);
INSERT INTO test VALUES (123, 'foo', 'bar');

SELECT (r).* FROM (SELECT t #= '"col3"=>"baz"' AS r FROM test t) s;
 col1 | col2 | col3 
------+------+------
  123 | foo  | baz
(1 row)

F.16.5. Statistics

The hstore type, because of its intrinsic liberality, could contain a lot of different keys. Checking for valid keys is the task of the application. The following examples demonstrate several techniques for checking keys and obtaining statistics.

Simple example:

SELECT * FROM each('aaa=>bq, b=>NULL, ""=>1');

Using a table:

SELECT (each(h)).key, (each(h)).value INTO stat FROM testhstore;

Online statistics:

SELECT key, count(*) FROM
  (SELECT (each(h)).key FROM testhstore) AS stat
  GROUP BY key
  ORDER BY count DESC, key;
    key    | count
-----------+-------
 line      |   883
 query     |   207
 pos       |   203
 node      |   202
 space     |   197
 status    |   195
 public    |   194
 title     |   190
 org       |   189
...................

F.16.6. Compatibility

As of PostgreSQL 9.0, hstore uses a different internal representation than previous versions. This presents no obstacle for dump/restore upgrades since the text representation (used in the dump) is unchanged.

In the event of a binary upgrade, upward compatibility is maintained by having the new code recognize old-format data. This will entail a slight performance penalty when processing data that has not yet been modified by the new code. It is possible to force an upgrade of all values in a table column by doing an UPDATE statement as follows:

UPDATE tablename SET hstorecol = hstorecol || '';

Another way to do it is:

ALTER TABLE tablename ALTER hstorecol TYPE hstore USING hstorecol || '';

The ALTER TABLE method requires an exclusive lock on the table, but does not result in bloating the table with old row versions.

F.16.7. Transforms

Additional extensions are available that implement transforms for the hstore type for the languages PL/Perl and PL/Python. The extensions for PL/Perl are called hstore_plperl and hstore_plperlu, for trusted and untrusted PL/Perl. If you install these transforms and specify them when creating a function, hstore values are mapped to Perl hashes. The extensions for PL/Python are called hstore_plpythonu, hstore_plpython2u, and hstore_plpython3u (see Section 45.1 for the PL/Python naming convention). If you use them, hstore values are mapped to Python dictionaries.

Caution

It is strongly recommended that the transform extensions be installed in the same schema as hstore. Otherwise there are installation-time security hazards if a transform extension's schema contains objects defined by a hostile user.

F.16.8. Authors

Oleg Bartunov , Moscow, Moscow University, Russia

Teodor Sigaev , Moscow, Delta-Soft Ltd., Russia

Additional enhancements by Andrew Gierth , United Kingdom

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