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Re: General advice on user functions

From: "Merlin Moncure" <mmoncure(at)gmail(dot)com>
To: "Dan Harris" <fbsd(at)drivefaster(dot)net>
Cc: "PostgreSQL Performance" <pgsql-performance(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Re: General advice on user functions
Date: 2007-02-21 19:30:50
Message-ID: (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgsql-performance
On 2/21/07, Dan Harris <fbsd(at)drivefaster(dot)net> wrote:
> I have a new task of automating the export of a very complex Crystal
> Report.  One thing I have learned in the last 36 hours is that the
> export process to PDF is really, really, slooww..
> Anyway, that is none of your concern.  But, I am thinking that I can
> somehow utilize some of PG's strengths to work around the bottleneck in
> Crystal.  The main problem seems to be that tens of thousands of rows of
> data must be summarized in the report and calculations made.  Based on
> my recent experience, I'd say that this task would be better suited to
> PG than relying on Crystal Reports to do the summarizing.
> The difficulty I'm having is that the data needed is from about 50
> different "snapshots" of counts over time.  The queries are very simple,
> however I believe I am going to need to combine all of these queries
> into a single function that runs all 50 and then returns just the
> count(*) of each as a separate "column" in a single row.
> I have been Googling for hours and reading about PL/pgsql functions in
> the PG docs and I have yet to find examples that returns multiple items
> in a single row.  I have seen cases that return "sets of", but that
> appears to be returning multiple rows, not columns.  Maybe this I'm
> barking up the wrong tree?
> Here's the gist of what I need to do:
> 1) query count of rows that occurred between 14 months ago and 12 months
> ago for a given criteria, then count the rows that occurred between 2
> months ago and current.  Repeat for 50 different where clauses.
> 2) return each count(*) as a "column" so that in the end I can say:
> select count_everything( ending_date );
> and have it return to me:
> count_a_lastyear   count_a_last60    count_b_lastyear    count_b_last60
> ----------------   --------------    ----------------    --------------
>   100                150               200                 250
> I'm not even sure if a function is what I'm after, maybe this can be
> done in a view?  I am embarrassed to ask something that seems like it
> should be easy, but some key piece of knowledge is escaping me on this.

this could be be done in a view, a function, or a view function combo.
 you can select multiple counts at once like this:

select (select count(*) from foo) as foo, (select count(*) from bar) as bar;

but this may not be appropriate in some cases where something complex
is going on.  you may certainly return multiple columns from a single
call using one of two methods:

* out parameters (8.1+)
* custom type

both of which basically return a record instead of a scalar.  any
function call can be wrapped in a view which can be as simple as

create view foo as select * from my_count_proc();

this is especially advised if you want to float input parameters over
a table and also filter the inputs via 'where'.


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