Null row vs. row of nulls in plpgsql

From: Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us>
To: pgsql-hackers(at)postgreSQL(dot)org
Cc: "Oleg Serov" <serovov(at)gmail(dot)com>
Subject: Null row vs. row of nulls in plpgsql
Date: 2008-09-27 18:56:36
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I looked a bit at the bug report here:

ISTM that the fundamental problem is that plpgsql doesn't distinguish
properly between a null row value (eg, "null::somerowtype") and a
row of null values (eg, "row(null,null,...)::somerowtype"). When that
code was designed, our main SQL engine was pretty fuzzy about the
difference too, but now there is a clear semantic distinction.

For plpgsql's RECORD variables this doesn't seem hard to fix: just
take out the code in exec_move_row() that manufactures a row of nulls
when the input is null, and maybe make a few small adjustments
elsewhere. For ROW variables there's a bigger problem, because those
are represented by a list of per-field variables, which doesn't
immediately offer any way to represent overall nullness. I think it
could be dealt with by adding an explicit "the row as a whole is null"
flag to struct PLpgSQL_row. I haven't tried to code it though, so I'm
not sure if there are gotchas or unreasonably large code changes needed
to make it happen.

I thought for a little bit about whether we couldn't get rid of ROW
variables entirely, or at least make them work more like RECORD variables
by storing a HeapTuple instead of a list of per-field variables. But
I soon found out that the reason to have them is to be able to describe
the assignment target of SQL statements that assign to multiple scalar
variables, eg "SELECT ... INTO x,y,z".


regards, tom lane


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