My PostgreSQL Notes

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Stack Overflow INSERT on DUPLICATE UPDATE discussion

In PostgreSQL 9.5 and newer you can use INSERT ... ON CONFLICT UPDATE.

See the documentation.

A MySQL INSERT ... ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE can be directly rephrased to a ON CONFLICT UPDATE. Neither is SQL-standard syntax, they're both database-specific extensions. There are good reasons MERGE wasn't used for this, a new syntax wasn't created just for fun. (MySQL's syntax also has issues that mean it wasn't adopted directly).

e.g. given setup:

CREATE TABLE tablename (a integer primary key, b integer, c integer);
INSERT INTO tablename (a, b, c) values (1, 2, 3);

the MySQL query:

INSERT INTO tablename (a,b,c) VALUES (1,2,3)
  ON DUPLICATE KEY UPDATE c=c+1;

becomes:

INSERT INTO tablename (a, b, c) values (1, 2, 10)
ON CONFLICT (a) DO UPDATE SET c = tablename.c + 1;

Differences:

  • You must specify the column name (or unique constraint name) to use for the uniqueness check. That's the ON CONFLICT (columnname) DO
  • The keyword SET must be used, as if this was a normal UPDATE statement

It has some nice features too:

  • You can have a WHERE clause on your UPDATE (letting you effectively turn ON CONFLICT UPDATE into ON CONFLICT IGNORE for certain values)
  • The proposed-for-insertion values are available as the row-variable EXCLUDED, which has the same structure as the target table. You can get the original values in the table by using the table name. So in this case EXCLUDED.c will be 10 (because that's what we tried to insert) and "table".c will be 3 because that's the current value in the table. You can use either or both in the SET expressions and WHERE clause.

For background on upsert see How to UPSERT (MERGE, INSERT ... ON DUPLICATE UPDATE) in PostgreSQL?

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