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The PostgreSQL 9.0 Reference Manual - Volume 2 - Programming Guide
by The PostgreSQL Global Development Group
Paperback (6"x9"), 478 pages
ISBN 9781906966065
RRP £14.95 ($19.95)

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9.6.1.2 RETURN NEXT and RETURN QUERY

RETURN NEXT expression;
RETURN QUERY query;
RETURN QUERY EXECUTE command-string [ USING 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 by a sequence of RETURN NEXT or RETURN QUERY 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 QUERY appends the results of executing a query to the function's result set. RETURN NEXT and RETURN QUERY can be freely intermixed in a single set-returning function, in which case their results will be concatenated.

RETURN NEXT and RETURN QUERY do not actually return from the function--they simply append zero or more rows to the function's result set. Execution then continues with the next statement in the PL/pgSQL function. As successive RETURN NEXT or RETURN QUERY 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).

RETURN QUERY has a variant RETURN QUERY EXECUTE, which specifies the query to be executed dynamically. Parameter expressions can be inserted into the computed query string via USING, in just the same way as in the EXECUTE command.

If you declared the function with output parameters, write just RETURN NEXT with no expression. On each execution, the current values of the output parameter variable(s) will be saved for eventual return as a row of the result. 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.

Here is an example of a function using RETURN NEXT:

CREATE TABLE foo (fooid INT, foosubid INT, fooname TEXT);
INSERT INTO foo VALUES (1, 2, 'three');
INSERT INTO foo VALUES (4, 5, 'six');

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION getAllFoo() RETURNS SETOF foo AS
$BODY$
DECLARE
    r foo%rowtype;
BEGIN
    FOR r IN SELECT * FROM foo
    WHERE fooid > 0
    LOOP
        -- can do some processing here
        RETURN NEXT r; -- return current row of SELECT
    END LOOP;
    RETURN;
END
$BODY$
LANGUAGE 'plpgsql' ;

SELECT * FROM getallfoo();

Note: The current implementation of RETURN NEXT and RETURN QUERY 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 might 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 might 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 9781906966065The PostgreSQL 9.0 Reference Manual - Volume 2 - Programming GuideSee the print edition