CREATE TYPE

CREATE TYPE

Defines a new data type.

Synopsis

CREATE TYPE name AS ( attribute_name data_type [, ... ] )

CREATE TYPE name AS ENUM ( 'label' [, ... ] )

CREATE TYPE name (
    INPUT = input_function,
    OUTPUT = output_function
    [, RECEIVE = receive_function]
    [, SEND = send_function]
    [, INTERNALLENGTH = {internallength | VARIABLE}]
    [, PASSEDBYVALUE]
    [, ALIGNMENT = alignment]
    [, STORAGE = storage]
    [, DEFAULT = default]
    [, ELEMENT = element]
    [, DELIMITER = delimiter] )

CREATE TYPE name

Description

CREATE TYPE registers a new data type for use in the current database. The user who defines a type becomes its owner.

If a schema name is given then the type is created in the specified schema. Otherwise it is created in the current schema. The type name must be distinct from the name of any existing type or domain in the same schema. The type name must also be distinct from the name of any existing table in the same schema.

Composite Types

The first form of CREATE TYPE creates a composite type. The composite type is specified by a list of attribute names and data types. This is essentially the same as the row type of a table, but using CREATE TYPE avoids the need to create an actual table when all that is wanted is to define a type. A stand-alone composite type is useful as the argument or return type of a function.

Enumerated Types

The second form of CREATE TYPE creates an enumerated (ENUM) type, as described in Enumerated Types in the PostgreSQL documentation. Enum types take a list of one or more quoted labels, each of which must be less than NAMEDATALEN bytes long (64 in a standard build).

Base Types

The third form of CREATE TYPE creates a new base type (scalar type). The parameters may appear in any order, not only that shown in the syntax, and most are optional. You must register two or more functions (using CREATE FUNCTION) before defining the type. The support functions input_function and output_function are required, while the functions receive_function, send_function and analyze_function are optional. Generally these functions have to be coded in C or another low-level language. In Greenplum Database, any function used to implement a data type must be defined as IMMUTABLE.

The input_function converts the type's external textual representation to the internal representation used by the operators and functions defined for the type. output_function performs the reverse transformation. The input function may be declared as taking one argument of type cstring, or as taking three arguments of types cstring, oid, integer. The first argument is the input text as a C string, the second argument is the type's own OID (except for array types, which instead receive their element type's OID), and the third is the typmod of the destination column, if known (-1 will be passed if not). The input function must return a value of the data type itself. Usually, an input function should be declared STRICT; if it is not, it will be called with a NULL first parameter when reading a NULL input value. The function must still return NULL in this case, unless it raises an error. (This case is mainly meant to support domain input functions, which may need to reject NULL inputs.) The output function must be declared as taking one argument of the new data type. The output function must return type cstring. Output functions are not invoked for NULL values.

The optional receive_function converts the type's external binary representation to the internal representation. If this function is not supplied, the type cannot participate in binary input. The binary representation should be chosen to be cheap to convert to internal form, while being reasonably portable. (For example, the standard integer data types use network byte order as the external binary representation, while the internal representation is in the machine's native byte order.) The receive function should perform adequate checking to ensure that the value is valid. The receive function may be declared as taking one argument of type internal, or as taking three arguments of types internal, oid, integer. The first argument is a pointer to a StringInfo buffer holding the received byte string; the optional arguments are the same as for the text input function. The receive function must return a value of the data type itself. Usually, a receive function should be declared STRICT; if it is not, it will be called with a NULL first parameter when reading a NULL input value. The function must still return NULL in this case, unless it raises an error. (This case is mainly meant to support domain receive functions, which may need to reject NULL inputs.) Similarly, the optional send_function converts from the internal representation to the external binary representation. If this function is not supplied, the type cannot participate in binary output. The send function must be declared as taking one argument of the new data type. The send function must return type bytea. Send functions are not invoked for NULL values.

You should at this point be wondering how the input and output functions can be declared to have results or arguments of the new type, when they have to be created before the new type can be created. The answer is that the type should first be defined as a shell type, which is a placeholder type that has no properties except a name and an owner. This is done by issuing the command CREATE TYPE name, with no additional parameters. Then the I/O functions can be defined referencing the shell type. Finally, CREATE TYPE with a full definition replaces the shell entry with a complete, valid type definition, after which the new type can be used normally.

While the details of the new type's internal representation are only known to the I/O functions and other functions you create to work with the type, there are several properties of the internal representation that must be declared to Greenplum Database. Foremost of these is internallength. Base data types can be fixed-length, in which case internallength is a positive integer, or variable length, indicated by setting internallength to VARIABLE. (Internally, this is represented by setting typlen to -1.) The internal representation of all variable-length types must start with a 4-byte integer giving the total length of this value of the type.

The optional flag PASSEDBYVALUE indicates that values of this data type are passed by value, rather than by reference. You may not pass by value types whose internal representation is larger than the size of the Datum type (4 bytes on most machines, 8 bytes on a few).

The alignment parameter specifies the storage alignment required for the data type. The allowed values equate to alignment on 1, 2, 4, or 8 byte boundaries. Note that variable-length types must have an alignment of at least 4, since they necessarily contain an int4 as their first component.

The storage parameter allows selection of storage strategies for variable-length data types. (Only plain is allowed for fixed-length types.) plain specifies that data of the type will always be stored in-line and not compressed. extended specifies that the system will first try to compress a long data value, and will move the value out of the main table row if it's still too long. external allows the value to be moved out of the main table, but the system will not try to compress it. main allows compression, but discourages moving the value out of the main table. (Data items with this storage strategy may still be moved out of the main table if there is no other way to make a row fit, but they will be kept in the main table preferentially over extended and external items.)

A default value may be specified, in case a user wants columns of the data type to default to something other than the null value. Specify the default with the DEFAULT key word. (Such a default may be overridden by an explicit DEFAULT clause attached to a particular column.)

To indicate that a type is an array, specify the type of the array elements using the ELEMENT key word. For example, to define an array of 4-byte integers (int4), specify ELEMENT = int4. More details about array types appear below.

To indicate the delimiter to be used between values in the external representation of arrays of this type, delimiter can be set to a specific character. The default delimiter is the comma (,). Note that the delimiter is associated with the array element type, not the array type itself.

Array Types

Whenever a user-defined base data type is created, Greenplum Database automatically creates an associated array type, whose name consists of the base type's name prepended with an underscore. The parser understands this naming convention, and translates requests for columns of type foo[] into requests for type _foo. The implicitly-created array type is variable length and uses the built-in input and output functions array_in and array_out.

You might reasonably ask why there is an ELEMENT option, if the system makes the correct array type automatically. The only case where it's useful to use ELEMENT is when you are making a fixed-length type that happens to be internally an array of a number of identical things, and you want to allow these things to be accessed directly by subscripting, in addition to whatever operations you plan to provide for the type as a whole. For example, type name allows its constituent char elements to be accessed this way. A 2-D point type could allow its two component numbers to be accessed like point[0] and point[1]. Note that this facility only works for fixed-length types whose internal form is exactly a sequence of identical fixed-length fields. A subscriptable variable-length type must have the generalized internal representation used by array_in and array_out. For historical reasons, subscripting of fixed-length array types starts from zero, rather than from one as for variable-length arrays.

Parameters

name
The name (optionally schema-qualified) of a type to be created.
attribute_name
The name of an attribute (column) for the composite type.
data_type
The name of an existing data type to become a column of the composite type.
label
A string literal representing the textual label associated with one value of an enum type.
input_function
The name of a function that converts data from the type's external textual form to its internal form.
output_function
The name of a function that converts data from the type's internal form to its external textual form.
receive_function
The name of a function that converts data from the type's external binary form to its internal form.
send_function
The name of a function that converts data from the type's internal form to its external binary form.
internallength
A numeric constant that specifies the length in bytes of the new type's internal representation. The default assumption is that it is variable-length.
alignment
The storage alignment requirement of the data type. Must be one of char, int2, int4, or double. The default is int4.
storage
The storage strategy for the data type. Must be one of plain, external, extended, or main. The default is plain.
default
The default value for the data type. If this is omitted, the default is null.
element
The type being created is an array; this specifies the type of the array elements.
delimiter
The delimiter character to be used between values in arrays made of this type.

Notes

User-defined type names cannot begin with the underscore character (_) and can only be 62 characters long (or in general NAMEDATALEN - 2, rather than the NAMEDATALEN - 1 characters allowed for other names). Type names beginning with underscore are reserved for internally-created array type names.

Because there are no restrictions on use of a data type once it's been created, creating a base type is tantamount to granting public execute permission on the functions mentioned in the type definition. (The creator of the type is therefore required to own these functions.) This is usually not an issue for the sorts of functions that are useful in a type definition. But you might want to think twice before designing a type in a way that would require 'secret' information to be used while converting it to or from external form.

Before Greenplum Database version 2.4, the syntax CREATE TYPE name did not exist. The way to create a new base type was to create its input function first. In this approach, Greenplum Database will first see the name of the new data type as the return type of the input function. The shell type is implicitly created in this situation, and then it can be referenced in the definitions of the remaining I/O functions. This approach still works, but is deprecated and may be disallowed in some future release. Also, to avoid accidentally cluttering the catalogs with shell types as a result of simple typos in function definitions, a shell type will only be made this way when the input function is written in C.

Examples

This example creates a composite type and uses it in a function definition:

CREATE TYPE compfoo AS (f1 int, f2 text);

CREATE FUNCTION getfoo() RETURNS SETOF compfoo AS $$
    SELECT fooid, fooname FROM foo
$$ LANGUAGE SQL;

This example creates the enumerated type mood and uses it in a table definition.

CREATE TYPE mood AS ENUM ('sad', 'ok', 'happy');
CREATE TABLE person (
    name text,
    current_mood mood
);
INSERT INTO person VALUES ('Moe', 'happy');
SELECT * FROM person WHERE current_mood = 'happy';
 name | current_mood 
------+--------------
 Moe  | happy
(1 row)

This example creates the base data type box and then uses the type in a table definition:

CREATE TYPE box;

CREATE FUNCTION my_box_in_function(cstring) RETURNS box AS 
... ;

CREATE FUNCTION my_box_out_function(box) RETURNS cstring AS 
... ;

CREATE TYPE box (
    INTERNALLENGTH = 16,
    INPUT = my_box_in_function,
    OUTPUT = my_box_out_function
);

CREATE TABLE myboxes (
    id integer,
    description box
);

If the internal structure of box were an array of four float4 elements, we might instead use:

CREATE TYPE box (
    INTERNALLENGTH = 16,
    INPUT = my_box_in_function,
    OUTPUT = my_box_out_function,
    ELEMENT = float4
);

which would allow a box value's component numbers to be accessed by subscripting. Otherwise the type behaves the same as before.

This example creates a large object type and uses it in a table definition:

CREATE TYPE bigobj (
    INPUT = lo_filein, OUTPUT = lo_fileout,
    INTERNALLENGTH = VARIABLE
);

CREATE TABLE big_objs (
    id integer,
    obj bigobj
);

Compatibility

This CREATE TYPE command is a Greenplum Database extension. There is a CREATE TYPE statement in the SQL standard that is rather different in detail.