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PostgreSQL Reference Manual - Volume 2 - Programming Guide
by The PostgreSQL Global Development Group
Paperback (6"x9"), 408 pages
ISBN 0954612035
RRP £19.95 ($34.95)

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RETURN NEXT expression;

When a PL/pgSQL function is declared to return SETOF sometype, the procedure to follow is slightly different. In that case, the individual items to return are specified in RETURN NEXT commands, and then a final RETURN command with no argument is used to indicate that the function has finished executing. RETURN NEXT can be used with both scalar and composite data types; with a composite result type, an entire “table” of results will be returned.

RETURN NEXT does not actually return from the function--it simply saves away the value of the expression. Execution then continues with the next statement in the PL/pgSQL function. As successive RETURN NEXT commands are executed, the result set is built up. A final RETURN, which should have no argument, causes control to exit the function (or you can just let control reach the end of the function).

If you declared the function with output parameters, write just RETURN NEXT with no expression. The current values of the output parameter variable(s) will be saved for eventual return. Note that you must declare the function as returning SETOF record when there are multiple output parameters, or SETOF sometype when there is just one output parameter of type sometype, in order to create a set-returning function with output parameters.

Functions that use RETURN NEXT should be called in the following fashion:

SELECT * FROM some_func();

That is, the function must be used as a table source in a FROM clause.

Note: The current implementation of RETURN NEXT for PL/pgSQL stores the entire result set before returning from the function, as discussed above. That means that if a PL/pgSQL function produces a very large result set, performance may be poor: data will be written to disk to avoid memory exhaustion, but the function itself will not return until the entire result set has been generated. A future version of PL/pgSQL may allow users to define set-returning functions that do not have this limitation. Currently, the point at which data begins being written to disk is controlled by the work_mem configuration variable. Administrators who have sufficient memory to store larger result sets in memory should consider increasing this parameter.

ISBN 0954612035PostgreSQL Reference Manual - Volume 2 - Programming GuideSee the print edition