- publishing free software manuals
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)

Sales of this book support the PostgreSQL project! Get a printed copy>>>

9.8.3.3 Returning Cursors

PL/pgSQL functions can return cursors to the caller. This is useful to return multiple rows or columns, especially with very large result sets. To do this, the function opens the cursor and returns the cursor name to the caller (or simply opens the cursor using a portal name specified by or otherwise known to the caller). The caller can then fetch rows from the cursor. The cursor can be closed by the caller, or it will be closed automatically when the transaction closes.

The portal name used for a cursor can be specified by the programmer or automatically generated. To specify a portal name, simply assign a string to the refcursor variable before opening it. The string value of the refcursor variable will be used by OPEN as the name of the underlying portal. However, if the refcursor variable is null, OPEN automatically generates a name that does not conflict with any existing portal, and assigns it to the refcursor variable.

Note: A bound cursor variable is initialized to the string value representing its name, so that the portal name is the same as the cursor variable name, unless the programmer overrides it by assignment before opening the cursor. But an unbound cursor variable defaults to the null value initially, so it will receive an automatically-generated unique name, unless overridden.

The following example shows one way a cursor name can be supplied by the caller:

CREATE TABLE test (col text);
INSERT INTO test VALUES ('123');

CREATE FUNCTION reffunc(refcursor) RETURNS refcursor AS '
BEGIN
    OPEN $1 FOR SELECT col FROM test;
    RETURN $1;
END;
' LANGUAGE plpgsql;

BEGIN;
SELECT reffunc('funccursor');
FETCH ALL IN funccursor;
COMMIT;

The following example uses automatic cursor name generation:

CREATE FUNCTION reffunc2() RETURNS refcursor AS '
DECLARE
    ref refcursor;
BEGIN
    OPEN ref FOR SELECT col FROM test;
    RETURN ref;
END;
' LANGUAGE plpgsql;

BEGIN;
SELECT reffunc2();

      reffunc2
--------------------
 <unnamed cursor 1>
(1 row)

FETCH ALL IN "<unnamed cursor 1>";
COMMIT;

The following example shows one way to return multiple cursors from a single function:

CREATE FUNCTION myfunc(refcursor, refcursor) RETURNS SETOF
 refcursor AS $$
BEGIN
    OPEN $1 FOR SELECT * FROM table_1;
    RETURN NEXT $1;
    OPEN $2 FOR SELECT * FROM table_2;
    RETURN NEXT $2;
END;
$$ LANGUAGE plpgsql;

-- need to be in a transaction to use cursors.
BEGIN;

SELECT * FROM myfunc('a', 'b');

FETCH ALL FROM a;
FETCH ALL FROM b;
COMMIT;
ISBN 0954612035PostgreSQL Reference Manual - Volume 2 - Programming GuideSee the print edition