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Is there a way I can set up a column in PostGreSQL 9.2 such that the default value is a query? I am having to track down query statements from different sources that don't respect the "default" behavior that would like to be seen in the various projects that are writing to the DB.

INSERT INTO Person(name, token, priv, sc)
VALUES ('Frank Josephson', '**fake token**', 'user', (SELECT COUNT(*) FROM Person WHERE name='Frank Josephson'))

Otherwise, it's just me auditing a bunch of excel sheets and applications to make sure this new directive goes through. Any way to set this up as a trigger without running into race conditions?

share|improve this question
How about using Triggers ? – Houari Jan 10 '14 at 16:20
@Houari I'd be ok with a trigger as long as it didn't induce a race condition. Then again, I might just be ok with it if it did. Post an answer. Hell, even "No, this isn't possible but a work around is..." would be great. – wheaties Jan 10 '14 at 16:22
Please see my response – Houari Jan 10 '14 at 16:34
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Here is how you can achieve that using a trigger:

  RETURNS trigger AS
if tg_op='INSERT' then
end if;

return new;
  COST 100;

and you can associate this trigger to your person table with:

CREATE TRIGGER before_insert_trigger
  ON person
  EXECUTE PROCEDURE default_sc_value();
share|improve this answer

I have read your explanation several times and failed to comprehend what you are trying to do exactly. So this is an educated guess.

Most likely a default value or trigger are not suitable solutions. The values inserted automatically are snapshots and quickly invalidated by subsequent writes to the table.

You should use a VIEW or a "generated column".

Example for "generated column"

All you need is a function that takes the table type as parameter:

  RETURNS bigint AS
SELECT count(*) FROM person WHERE name=$

Now, you get the current count with

FROM   person p
WHERE  name = 'Frank Josephson';

Details in the related answer on SO.

share|improve this answer
No, I don't want a view, I want an INSERT such that the sc column contains the Nth value of that name inserted into the TABLE. – wheaties Jan 10 '14 at 20:16
@wheaties: The "Nth time at the time of insert", not to be changed by any subsequent changes to the table? Then my guess was wrong. This comment would have been instrumental in the question. – Erwin Brandstetter Jan 10 '14 at 20:24

Maybe try to create a function that returns the value of count(*) and use that in the insert query.

CREATE FUNCTION mycount(personname varchar) RETURNS integer AS $$
retval integer;
SELECT COUNT(*) FROM Person WHERE name=personname into retval;
return retval;
$$ LANGUAGE plpgsql;

then use it in the query:

INSERT INTO Person(name, token, priv, sc)
VALUES ('Frank Josephson', '**fake token**', 'user', mycount('Frank Josephson'))
share|improve this answer
I accepted the trigger answer because I can do that on my end without having to find every single app which is "doing it wrong." – wheaties Jan 10 '14 at 16:52
No prob! If that is the solution for you it is good you accepted it. Cheers! Actually forgot also to mention that you could have used the function in the table itself by setting it as default value. – Fabrizio Mazzoni Jan 10 '14 at 16:54
you could? That will avoid a race condition. – wheaties Jan 10 '14 at 17:17
How would I make a 1 argument function the default for a column? Could you add the CREATE TABLE with your answer? – wheaties Jan 10 '14 at 17:52
Do excuse me as I made a terrible mistake in the comment. You cannot use a column as an argument in a function as default. please do excuse me!!!!! – Fabrizio Mazzoni Jan 10 '14 at 18:59

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