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PostgreSQL Identity Column

In this section, we are going to understand the working of the PostgreSQL IDENTITY and GENERATED constraint, which is used to generate the PostgreSQL Identity column for a particular column, examples of altering an Identity column and understand the working of Sequence options with example.

We will also see the example of adding an identity column to the current table and modify the Identity column to delete the GENERATED AS IDENTITY Constraint using the ALTER TABLE command.

What is the PostgreSQL Identity Column?

From the PostgreSQL version 10, the PostgreSQL developers announced a new constraint called GENERATED AS IDENTITY, which is used to assign a unique number to a column automatically.

Syntax of PostgreSQL Identity column

The Syntax for PostgreSQL GENERATED AS IDENTITY constraint is as follows:

In the above Syntax, we have the following points, which needs to be remembered while using in the real-time example:

  • The type parameter can be SMALLINT, INT, or BIGINT.
  • The GENERATED ALWAYS is used to require PostgreSQL to create a value for the identity column constantly.
  • PostgreSQL will occur an error if we try to update or insert the values into the GENERATED ALWAYS AS IDENTITY column.
  • But if we supply a value for insert or update, the GENERATED BY DEFAULT is used to tell PostgreSQL to create a value for the identity column.
  • And to use the system-generated value, PostgreSQL will use the particular value for inserting into the identity column.

Example of PostgreSQL Identity column

Let us see different examples to understand how the PostgreSQL identity column works.

  • Example of GENERATED ALWAYS

We are creating one new table as Vegetable with the CREATE command's help and inserting some values using the INSERT command.

To create a Vegetable into an Organization database, we use the CREATE command.

The Vegetable table contains the two columns such as veggie_id and Veggie_name column, where we use the Veggie_id as the identity column:

Output

On executing the above command, we will get the following message, which displays that the Vegetable table has been created successfully into the Organization database.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

When the Vegetable table is created successfully, we will insert some values into it with the INSERT command's help.

Output

After implementing the above command, we will get the following message window, which displays that the one value have been inserted successfully into the Vegetable table.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

As we know that the Veggie_id column has the GENERATED AS IDENTITY constraint, that's why PostgreSQL creates a value for it as we can see in the following command:

Output

After successfully implementing the above command, we will get the below output, which displays all the data present in the Vegetable table:

PostgreSQL Identity Column

Now, we will insert a new row by supplying values for both Veggie_id and Veggie_name columns:

Output

After executing the above command, Postgresql raises the below error: we cannot insert the value into the veggie_id column because the Veggie_id column is an identity column and described as GENERATED ALWAYS.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

We can use the OVERRIDING SYSTEM VALUE clause to resolve the above error in the following command:

Output

We will get the following message window after executing the above command, which displays that the specified values have been inserted successfully into the Vegetable table.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

Note: In its place of GENERATED ALWAYS AS IDENTITY, we can use the GENERATED BY DEFAULT AS IDENTITY.

Example of GENERATED BY DEFAULT AS IDENTITY

Let us see sample examples to understand how the Generated by default as identity works.

Step1

Firstly, we will drop the Vegetable table and reconstruct it by using the GENERATED BY DEFAULT AS IDENTITY in its place of GENERATED ALWAYS AS IDENTITY:

Output

After executing the above command, we will get the below message window, which says that the Vegetable Table has been dropped successfully.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

Step2

Now, we will create a similar table using the GENERATED BY DEFAULT AS IDENTITY, as shown in the following command:

Output

On executing the above command, we will get the following message window, which displays that the Vegetable table has been created successfully.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

Step3

After successfully created the Vegetable table again, we will insert some value into using the INSERT command, as shown below:

Output

After implementing the above command, we will get the following message window, which displays that the one value have been inserted successfully into the Vegetable table.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

Step 4

After that, we are inserting some more values into the Vegetable table having the Veggie_id as shown in the following command:

Output

After executing the above command, we will get the following message window, which displays that the four values have been inserted successfully into the Vegetable table.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

Note: If we compare both the commands, we can see that the usage of the GENERATED ALWAYS AS IDENTITY constraint occurs an error whereas the GENERATED BY DEFAULT AS IDENTITY constraints executed successfully and not raise any error.

  • Example of Sequence options

We can define the sequence options for the system-generated values as the GENERATED AS IDENTITY constraint uses the SEQUENCE object.

Let us see an example to see the working of Sequence options.

In the below command, we described the starting value and the increment value, as shown below:

Output

After executing the above command, we will get the following message window, which shows that the specified table has been dropped successfully.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

Now, we will create the same table (Vegetable) once again, but this time, we are using the Start and Increment parameter as shown in the below command:

Output

We will get the following message window on executing the above command, which displays that the Vegetable table has been created successfully into the Organization database.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

In the above command, the system-generated value for the Veggie_id column begin with 5, and the increment value is also 5.

Now, we will insert a new value into the Vegetable table with the help of the INSERT command:

Output

After executing the above command, we will get the following output:

PostgreSQL Identity Column

After creating and inserting the Vegetable table's values, we will use the SELECT command to return all rows of the Vegetable table:

Output

After successfully implementing the above command, we will get the below output, which displays the starting value for Veggie_id column is 5:

PostgreSQL Identity Column

Once the above command executed successfully, we will insert some more row into the Vegetable table:

Output

We will get the following message window after executing the above command, which displays that the specified values have been inserted successfully into the Vegetable table.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

The value for the Veggie_id of the second row is 10 because we used the increment option while creating the Vegetable table:

Output

After successfully executing the above command, we will get the below output, which displays all the existing data in the Vegetable table:

PostgreSQL Identity Column

Adding an identity column to the current table

We can add the identity columns to the current table with the help of below Syntax of the ALTER TABLE command:

The Syntax for adding an identity column to the current table

The following illustration is used to add an identity column to an existing table:

Let us see one sample example to understand the following:

To add an identity column to an existing table, we have to follow the below steps:

Step1: Creating a new table

We are creating one new table as Structure with the CREATE command's help.

To create a Structure into an Organization database, we use the CREATE command.

The Purchase_details table contains the two columns, such as Str_id and Str_name

Output

We will get the following message window on executing the above command, which displays that the Structure table has been created successfully into the Organization database.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

Step2: Modify the Str_id column to the identity column

In the following command, we will use the ALTER Table command to change the Str_id column to the identity column:

Output

After implementing the above command, we will get the following message window, which displays that the Structure table has been altered successfully.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

Note: The Str_id column needs to have the NOT NULL constraint; therefore, it can be modified to an identity column. Or else, PostgreSQL will occur the following error:

Describe Structure table in SQL Shell(psql)

For describing the Structure table in the SQL shell(psql) tool, we can use the following command, but before using the describe command, we will follow the below process:

  • Firstly, we will open the psqlin our local system, and we will connect to the database where we want to create a table.
  • For connecting an Organization database, we will enter the below command:

Output

After executing the above command, we will get the following output:

PostgreSQL Identity Column
  • Now, we will enter the below command to describe the Structure table into the Organization

Output

On implementing the above command, we will retrieve the below output, which is what we expected from the Structure table:

PostgreSQL Identity Column

Altering an identity column

The ALTER TABLE command is also used to alter the features of a current identity column, as shown in the following illustration:

The Syntax of altering the identity column

The following Syntax is used to change the identity column:

Let us see one sample example for our better understanding of how we can change the identity column using the ALTER TABLE command:

In the below command, we modified the Str_id column of the Structure table with GENERATED BY DEFAULT constraint:

Output

After implementing the above command, we will get the following message window, displaying that the Structure table has been modified successfully.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

And to describe the design of the Structure table in the psql; we will use a similar command as above:

Output

After executing the above statement, we will get the following output, which shows that the Str_id column has been modified from GENERATED ALWAYS to GENERATED BY DEFAULT.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

Deleting the GENERATED AS IDENTITY Constraint

To delete the GENERATED AS IDENTITY constraint from the current table, we will use the below syntax:

The Syntax for deleting the Generated AS Identity Constraint

The following illustration is used to delete the Generated as Identity Constraint from the specified table:

Let us see one example, which shows the working of removing the Generated AS Identity Constraint.

In the below command, we are deleting the GENERATED AS IDENTITY constraint column from the Str_id column of the Structure table:

Output

After implementing the above command, we will get the following message window, which shows that the GENERATED AS IDENTITY constraint column of the Structure table have been removed successfully.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

We will use the below command once again to check whether the GENERATED AS IDENTITY constraint column from the Str_id column of the Structure table has been removed successfully or not in the SQL shell (PSQL):

Output

After implementing the above command, we will get the following result, which displays that the GENERATED AS IDENTITY constraint column has been deleted from the Structure table.

PostgreSQL Identity Column

Overview

In the PostgreSQL Identity Column section, we have learned the following topics:

  • We learned the working of PostgreSQL Identity Column by using the GENERATED AS IDENTITY
  • We have seen the examples of GENERATED ALWAYS constraint and GENERATED BY DEFAULT AS IDENTITY constraint.
  • We understood the working of Sequence options with some sample examples.
  • We can also add an identity column to an existing table with the ALTER TABLE command's help.
  • In this section, we also understand how to modify the Identity column using the ALTER TABLE command.
  • We used the ALTER TABLE command to delete the GENERATED AS IDENTITY Constraint.

Next TopicPostgreSQL Upsert




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