From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Designed byJan Wieck
DeveloperPostgreSQL Global Development Group
First appearedOctober 30, 1998; 25 years ago (1998-10-30)
Influenced by

PL/pgSQL (Procedural Language/PostgreSQL) is a procedural programming language supported by the PostgreSQL ORDBMS. It closely resembles Oracle's PL/SQL language. Implemented by Jan Wieck, PL/pgSQL first appeared with PostgreSQL 6.4, released on October 30, 1998.[1] Version 9 also implements some ISO SQL/PSM features, like overloading of SQL-invoked functions and procedures.[2]

PL/pgSQL, as a fully featured programming language, allows much more procedural control than SQL, including the ability to use loops and other control structures. SQL statements and triggers can call functions created in the PL/pgSQL language.

The design of PL/pgSQL aimed to allow PostgreSQL users to perform more complex operations and computations than SQL, while providing ease of use. The language is able to be defined as trusted by the server.[3]

PL/pgSQL is one of the programming languages included in the standard PostgreSQL distribution,[4] the others being PL/Tcl, PL/Perl[5] and PL/Python.[6] In addition, many others are available from third parties, including PL/Java,[7] PL/pgPSM,[8] PL/php,[9] PL/R,[10] PL/Ruby,[11] PL/sh, PL/Lua and PL/v8. PostgreSQL uses Bison as its parser,[12] making it easy to port many open-source languages, as well as to reuse code.

Comparing with PSM[edit]

The SQL/PSM language is specified by an ISO standard, but is also inspired by Oracle's PL/SQL and PL/pgPL/SQL, so there are few differences. The PL/pgPSM contributed module implements the standard. The main features of PSM that differ from PL/pgSQL:[8][13]

  • Exception handlers are subroutines (continue handlers);
  • Warnings can be handled like an exception;
  • Declaration of variables should be based on SQL query result.

All three languages (Oracle PL/SQL,[14] PostgreSQL PL/pgSQL and ISO SQL/PSM[15]) are originally descended from the Ada programming language.


CREATE FUNCTION sales_tax(subtotal real) RETURNS real AS $$
    RETURN subtotal * 0.06;
$$ LANGUAGE plpgsql;

Inline documentation external support[edit]

Formal pseudo-language for documentation can be embedded in SQL and PL/pgSQL scripts. This documentation is then processed by a documentation generator—an external tool which extracts data and generates hypertext. Since PL/SQL: supports some of these tools, PL/pgSQL is expected to provide full or partial support as well.

Tool Full PL/pgSQL Javadoc style Other style PL/pgSQL projects using it
Document! X ? Yes Yes ?
Natural Docs ? No Yes ?
ROBODoc ? Yes No ?

Other documentation tools: Doxygen, DBScribe, HyperSQL, Universal Report.


  1. ^ "PostgreSQL Documentation, Appendix E: Release Notes, Release 6.4". PostgreSQL Global Development Group.
  2. ^ "feature T322", SQL standard features (9 ed.), PostgreSQL.
  3. ^ "PL/pgSQL – SQL Procedural Language". PostgreSQL. Retrieved 2007-11-15.
  4. ^ "Procedural Languages".
  5. ^ "PL/Perl", Docs (current ed.), PostgreSQL.
  6. ^ "PL/Python", Docs (current ed.), PostgreSQL.
  7. ^ "PL/Java", Gborg (project), PostgreSQL.
  8. ^ a b SQL/PSM (manual), PostgreSQL.
  9. ^ "PL/PHP", Community, Command prompt.
  10. ^ Conway, Joe, PL/R, archived from the original on 2014-06-19, retrieved 2005-02-25.
  11. ^ PL/Ruby (project), Ruby lang, 2018-11-23.
  12. ^ "Parser stage", Docs (9 ed.), PostgreSQL
  13. ^ Stehule, P, "Proposal: PL/pgPSM for pg9.3", Hackers (mailing list), PostgreSQL.
  14. ^ "C. PL/SQL Program Limits", PL/SQL Language Reference, Database Online Documentation (11g Release 1 (11.1) ed.), Oracle, p. 87, PL/SQL is based on the programming language Ada.
  15. ^ "1", Stored procedures (ODP), O’Reilly.

External links[edit]