If a schema name is given then the type is created in the specified schema. Otherwise it is created in the current schema. The type name must be distinct from the name of any existing type or domain in the same schema. (Because tables have associated data types, the type name must also be distinct from the name of any existing table in the same schema.)
The second form of CREATE TYPE creates a new base type (scalar type). The parameters may appear in any order, not only that illustrated above, and most are optional. You must register two or more functions (using CREATE FUNCTION) before defining the type. The support functions
are required, while the functions
are optional. Generally these functions have to be coded in C or another low-level language.
converts the type's external textual representation to the internal representation used by the operators and functions defined for the type.
performs the reverse transformation. The input function may be declared as taking one argument of type cstring, or as taking three arguments of types cstring, oid, integer. The first argument is the input text as a C string, the second argument is the type's own OID (except for array types, which instead receive their element type's OID), and the third is the typmod of the destination column, if known (-1 will be passed if not). The input function must return a value of the data type itself. The output function must be declared as taking one argument of the new data type. The output function must return type cstring.
converts the type's external binary representation to the internal representation. If this function is not supplied, the type cannot participate in binary input. The binary representation should be chosen to be cheap to convert to internal form, while being reasonably portable. (For example, the standard integer data types use network byte order as the external binary representation, while the internal representation is in the machine's native byte order.) The receive function should perform adequate checking to ensure that the value is valid. The receive function may be declared as taking one argument of type internal, or as taking three arguments of types internal, oid, integer. The first argument is a pointer to a StringInfo buffer holding the received byte string; the optional arguments are the same as for the text input function. The receive function must return a value of the data type itself. Similarly, the optional
converts from the internal representation to the external binary representation. If this function is not supplied, the type cannot participate in binary output. The send function must be declared as taking one argument of the new data type. The send function must return type bytea.
You should at this point be wondering how the input and output functions can be declared to have results or arguments of the new type, when they have to be created before the new type can be created. The answer is that the input function must be created first, then the output function (and the binary I/O functions if wanted), and finally the data type. PostgreSQL will first see the name of the new data type as the return type of the input function. It will create a "shell" type, which is simply a placeholder entry in the system catalog, and link the input function definition to the shell type. Similarly the other functions will be linked to the (now already existing) shell type. Finally, CREATE TYPE replaces the shell entry with a complete type definition, and the new type can be used.
performs type-specific statistics collection for columns of the data type. By default, ANALYZE will attempt to gather statistics using the type's "equals" and "less-than" operators, if there is a default b-tree operator class for the type. For non-scalar types this behavior is likely to be unsuitable, so it can be overridden by specifying a custom analysis function. The analysis function must be declared to take a single argument of type internal, and return a boolean result. The detailed API for analysis functions appears in src/include/commands/vacuum.h.
While the details of the new type's internal representation are only known to the I/O functions and other functions you create to work with the type, there are several properties of the internal representation that must be declared to PostgreSQL. Foremost of these is
. Base data types can be fixed-length, in which case
is a positive integer, or variable length, indicated by setting
to VARIABLE. (Internally, this is represented by setting typlen to -1.) The internal representation of all variable-length types must start with a 4-byte integer giving the total length of this value of the type.
The optional flag PASSEDBYVALUE indicates that values of this data type are passed by value, rather than by reference. You may not pass by value types whose internal representation is larger than the size of the Datum type (4 bytes on most machines, 8 bytes on a few).
parameter specifies the storage alignment required for the data type. The allowed values equate to alignment on 1, 2, 4, or 8 byte boundaries. Note that variable-length types must have an alignment of at least 4, since they necessarily contain an int4 as their first component.
parameter allows selection of storage strategies for variable-length data types. (Only plain is allowed for fixed-length types.) plain specifies that data of the type will always be stored in-line and not compressed. extended specifies that the system will first try to compress a long data value, and will move the value out of the main table row if it's still too long. external allows the value to be moved out of the main table, but the system will not try to compress it. main allows compression, but discourages moving the value out of the main table. (Data items with this storage strategy may still be moved out of the main table if there is no other way to make a row fit, but they will be kept in the main table preferentially over extended and external items.)
A default value may be specified, in case a user wants columns of the data type to default to something other than the null value. Specify the default with the DEFAULT key word. (Such a default may be overridden by an explicit DEFAULT clause attached to a particular column.)
To indicate that a type is an array, specify the type of the array elements using the ELEMENT key word. For example, to define an array of 4-byte integers (int4), specify ELEMENT = int4. More details about array types appear below.
To indicate the delimiter to be used between values in the external representation of arrays of this type,
can be set to a specific character. The default delimiter is the comma (,). Note that the delimiter is associated with the array element type, not the array type itself.
Whenever a user-defined base data type is created, PostgreSQL automatically creates an associated array type, whose name consists of the base type's name prepended with an underscore. The parser understands this naming convention, and translates requests for columns of type foo into requests for type _foo. The implicitly-created array type is variable length and uses the built-in input and output functions array_in and array_out.
You might reasonably ask why there is an ELEMENT option, if the system makes the correct array type automatically. The only case where it's useful to use ELEMENT is when you are making a fixed-length type that happens to be internally an array of a number of identical things, and you want to allow these things to be accessed directly by subscripting, in addition to whatever operations you plan to provide for the type as a whole. For example, type name allows its constituent char elements to be accessed this way. A 2-D point type could allow its two component numbers to be accessed like point and point. Note that this facility only works for fixed-length types whose internal form is exactly a sequence of identical fixed-length fields. A subscriptable variable-length type must have the generalized internal representation used by array_in and array_out. For historical reasons (i.e., this is clearly wrong but it's far too late to change it), subscripting of fixed-length array types starts from zero, rather than from one as for variable-length arrays.