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If I have a table with the columns:

id | name | created_date

and would like to add a column, I use:

alter table my_table add column email varchar(255)

Then the column is added after the created_date column.

Is there any way I can specify the position for the new column? e.g. so I can add it after name and get a table like:

id | name | email | created_date
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There is no need to do that. Just put them into your select statement in the order you want them. – a_horse_with_no_name Jun 12 '11 at 16:00
@jonas so you could also create a view that show's it in that order... technically the position of the column shouldn't matter as you can define them in any order in a query... and you generally shouldn't be doing a select * – xenoterracide Jun 12 '11 at 16:00
@a_horse: Well, it's much harder to work (as a developer/admin) with the tables when the columns has many different orders. When I have 15 columns in a table I really prefer to have them in the same order in all databases. – Jonas Jun 12 '11 at 16:22
@jonas you can define column names when doing inserts and updates and thus make the order irrelevant. – xenoterracide Jun 12 '11 at 16:38
@Jonas: Then write your own alternative to \d that reports the columns in the order you want (it is only a query on the system tables: try using the psql -E switch to see the actual query) – Jack Douglas Jun 13 '11 at 8:06
up vote 18 down vote accepted

ALTER TABLE ADD COLUMN will only add the new column at the end, as the last one. In order to create a new column in another position you need to recreate the table and copy the data from the old/current table in this new table.

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That's right.. but does anyone really use this method? :-) – Marian Jun 15 '11 at 7:25
If it is easier than recreating the table and all children tables, foreign keys and grants :) I thought the link might be useful either way as it offers an explanation of why you can't specify position and hope that it might be implemented in a future version. – Jack Douglas Jun 15 '11 at 8:49

You'll need to recreate the table if you want a certain order. Just do something like:

alter table tablename rename to oldtable;
create table tablename (column defs go here);
insert into tablename (col1, col2, col3) select col2, col1, col3 from oldtable;

Create indexes as needed etc.

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