I have CSV import data that comes from multiple vendors with 50+ different columns, and each vendor has slightly different naming.

Instead of trying to spend hours mapping all of the column names to a master table with tons of columns, instead I want to store the original CSV row as a JSON column, such as csv_data.

I also want to store a unique identifier that is shared by all of the vendors, like email.

So my columns in my `contacts table would be:


Then I was hoping I could create a view or materialized view which I could start with a small subset of columns that I know I will need (and will spend time mapping). Then, if I ever need the new columns later I could modify the view with new mappings.

I was hoping I could do some kind of case switch, like this:

    WHEN vendor_id = 100 THEN
        csv_data->>'fullname' AS full_name,
        csv_data->>'age' AS age,
        ... etc ...
    WHEN vendor_id = 101 THEN
        csv_data->>'FULL NAME' AS full_name,
        csv_data->>'AGE' AS age,
        ... etc ...
    WHEN vendor_id = 102 THEN
        csv_data->>'full name' AS full_name,
        csv_data->>'cust_age' AS age,
        ... etc ...
FROM contacts

Unfortunately this is a syntax error... is there any more sane way to do this? I couldn't come up with good ideas. I truly don't want to create some enormous mapping as so many of the column names are messy and probably will never be used. I want to store the data in case I need it, but for my 'results' query I want to create a nice clean mapping that I only add to when I need it.

I'm open to better ways of doing this overall as well. I was trying to avoid the nuclear route of the massive massive table. But I guess I would if I absolutely advised as the best way.

  • 2
    Will all vendors have the same set of target columns (but different JSON keys), or a varying number per vendor? Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 23:26
  • UNION ALL might be your friend here.
    – J.D.
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 23:53
  • @ErwinBrandstetter yes, they will have the same target columns, and if it doesnt exist within that vendor (and their json) I just want it to be NULL (for example if vendor A and B offer phone, and C does not, I would have a phone column thats just NULL for vendor C)
    – Tallboy
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 0:27
  • Aside: Postgres 9.6 has reached EOL. Consider upgrading to a current version. postgresql.org/support/versioning Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 1:13

1 Answer 1


If you go that route, storing original JSON data (I suggest as jsonb rather than json - cleaner and faster to extract), then consider a translation table with key names for every relevant target column per vendor. Conveniently as another single jsonb value. Like:

CREATE TABLE key2col (
  vendor_id int PRIMARY KEY
, keys jsonb NOT NULL

  (100, '{"full_name":"fullname", "age":"age"}')
, (101, '{"full_name":"FULL NAME", "age":"AGE"}')
-- more ...

Then your query can simply be:

SELECT c.vendor_id, c.email
     , c.csv_data->>(k.keys->>'full_name') AS full_name
     , c.csv_data->>(k.keys->>'age') AS age
FROM   contacts c
LEFT   JOIN key2col k USING (vendor_id);

db<>fiddle here

This is even fit for any varying set of key --> column translation per vendor. Every field that has no JSON key for the given vendor in key2col.keys will be NULL. Same if the vendor did not actually provide the declared key in contacts.csv_data.

The LEFT JOIN in the query retains rows from contacts without any registered columns. You may want a plain JOIN instead ...

  • Truly amazing ,thank you
    – Tallboy
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 1:02
  • That makes total sense
    – Tallboy
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 1:02
  • That is so amazingly clever, I love it. How woudl I handle the case where vendor 101 doesnt provide age?
    – Tallboy
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 1:04
  • Well, for starters, you wouldn't use "age" to begin with, that being a wide-spread antipattern. Use "birthday" instead, which doesn't bitrot as quickly. That aside, if a vendor does not provide a key, the result is NULL. Seems ok? Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 1:07
  • 1
    Ha, then I'll tolerate age for the example! :) Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 1:19

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