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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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3.2 Default Values

A column can be assigned a default value. When a new row is created and no values are specified for some of the columns, those columns will be filled with their respective default values. A data manipulation command can also request explicitly that a column be set to its default value, without having to know what that value is. (Details about data manipulation commands are in section 4 Data Manipulation.)

If no default value is declared explicitly, the default value is the null value. This usually makes sense because a null value can be considered to represent unknown data.

In a table definition, default values are listed after the column data type. For example:

CREATE TABLE products (
    product_no integer,
    name text,
    price numeric DEFAULT 9.99
);

The default value can be an expression, which will be evaluated whenever the default value is inserted (not when the table is created). A common example is for a timestamp column to have a default of CURRENT_TIMESTAMP, so that it gets set to the time of row insertion. Another common example is generating a “serial number” for each row. In PostgreSQL this is typically done by something like:

CREATE TABLE products (
    product_no integer DEFAULT nextval('products_product_no_seq'),
    ...
);

where the nextval() function supplies successive values from a sequence object (see section 7.15 Sequence Manipulation Functions). This arrangement is sufficiently common that there's a special shorthand for it:

CREATE TABLE products (
    product_no SERIAL,
    ...
);

The SERIAL shorthand is discussed further in section 6.1.4 Serial Types.

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