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The PostgreSQL 9.0 Reference Manual - Volume 1A - SQL Language Reference
by The PostgreSQL Global Development Group
Paperback (6"x9"), 454 pages
ISBN 9781906966041
RRP £14.95 ($19.95)

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3.8.1 Caveats

Note that not all SQL commands are able to work on inheritance hierarchies. Commands that are used for data querying, data modification, or schema modification (e.g., SELECT, UPDATE, DELETE, most variants of ALTER TABLE, but not INSERT and ALTER TABLE ... RENAME) typically default to including child tables and support the ONLY notation to exclude them. Commands that do database maintenance and tuning (e.g., REINDEX, VACUUM) typically only work on individual, physical tables and do no support recursing over inheritance hierarchies. The respective behavior of each individual command is documented in the reference part ( Volume 1B: 1 SQL Commands).

A serious limitation of the inheritance feature is that indexes (including unique constraints) and foreign key constraints only apply to single tables, not to their inheritance children. This is true on both the referencing and referenced sides of a foreign key constraint. Thus, in the terms of the above example:

These deficiencies will probably be fixed in some future release, but in the meantime considerable care is needed in deciding whether inheritance is useful for your application.

Deprecated: In releases of PostgreSQL prior to 7.1, the default behavior was not to include child tables in queries. This was found to be error prone and also in violation of the SQL standard. You can get the pre-7.1 behavior by turning off the sql_inheritance configuration option.

ISBN 9781906966041The PostgreSQL 9.0 Reference Manual - Volume 1A - SQL Language ReferenceSee the print edition