Dustin Wyatt Dustin Wyatt - 2 years ago 232
SQL Question

How to include excluded rows in RETURNING from INSERT ... ON CONFLICT

I've got this table (generated by Django):

CREATE TABLE feeds_person (
id serial PRIMARY KEY,
created timestamp with time zone NOT NULL,
modified timestamp with time zone NOT NULL,
name character varying(4000) NOT NULL,
url character varying(1000) NOT NULL,
email character varying(254) NOT NULL,
CONSTRAINT feeds_person_name_ad8c7469_uniq UNIQUE (name, url, email)

I'm trying to bulk insert a lot of data using
with an

The wrinkle is that I need to get the
back for all of the rows, whether they're already existing or not.

In other cases, I would do something like:

INSERT INTO feeds_person (created, modified, name, url, email)
VALUES blah blah blah
ON CONFLICT (name, url, email) DO UPDATE SET url = feeds_person.url

Doing the
causes the statement to return the
of that row. Except, it doesn't work with this table. I think it doesn't work because I've got multiple fields unique together whereas in other instances I've used this method I've had just one unique field.

I get this error when trying to run the SQL through Django's cursor:

django.db.utils.ProgrammingError: ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE command cannot affect row a second time
HINT: Ensure that no rows proposed for insertion within the same command have duplicate constrained values.

How do I do the bulk insert with this table and get back the inserted and existing ids?

Answer Source

The error you get:

ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE command cannot affect row a second time

indicates you are trying to upsert the same row more than once in a single command. In other words: you have dupes on (name, url, email) in your VALUES list. Fold duplicates (if that's an option) and it should work. But you will have to decide which row to pick from each set of dupes.

INSERT INTO feeds_person (created, modified, name, url, email)
SELECT DISTINCT ON (name, url, email) *
FROM  (VALUES blah blah blah) v(created, modified, name, url, email)  -- match column list
ON     CONFLICT (name, url, email) DO UPDATE
SET    url = feeds_person.url

Since we use a free-standing VALUES expression now, you have to add explicit type casts for non-default types. Like:

    (timestamptz '2016-03-12 02:47:56+01'
   , timestamptz '2016-03-12 02:47:56+01'
   , 'n3', 'u3', 'e3')

Your timestamptz columns need an explicit type cast, while the string types can operate with default text. (You could still cast to varchar(n) right away.)

There are ways to determine which row to pick from each set of dupes:

You are right, there is (currently) no way to get excluded rows in the RETURNING clause. I quote the Postgres Wiki:

Note that RETURNING does not make visible the "EXCLUDED.*" alias from the UPDATE (just the generic "TARGET.*" alias is visible there). Doing so is thought to create annoying ambiguity for the simple, common cases [30] for little to no benefit. At some point in the future, we may pursue a way of exposing if RETURNING-projected tuples were inserted and updated, but this probably doesn't need to make it into the first committed iteration of the feature [31].

However, you shouldn't be updating rows that are not supposed to be updated. Empty updates are almost as expensive as regular updates - and might have unintended side effects. You don't strictly need UPSERT to begin with, your case looks more like "SELECT or INSERT". Related:

One cleaner way to insert a set of rows would be with data-modifying CTEs:

WITH val AS (
   SELECT DISTINCT ON (name, url, email) *
   FROM  (
      (timestamptz '2016-1-1 0:0+1', timestamptz '2016-1-1 0:0+1', 'n', 'u', 'e')
    , ('2016-03-12 02:47:56+01', '2016-03-12 02:47:56+01', 'n1', 'u3', 'e3')
      -- more (type cast only needed in 1st row)
      ) v(created, modified, name, url, email)
, ins AS (
   INSERT INTO feeds_person (created, modified, name, url, email)
   SELECT created, modified, name, url, email FROM val
   ON     CONFLICT (name, url, email) DO NOTHING
   RETURNING id, name, url, email
SELECT 'inserted' AS how, id FROM ins  -- inserted
SELECT 'selected' AS how, f.id         -- not inserted
FROM   val v
JOIN   feeds_person f USING (name, url, email)
   SELECT 1 FROM ins
   WHERE  name  = v.name
   AND    url   = v.url
   AND    email = v.email

This is ignoring the order of rows, since it's not well defined while you still did not define how to fold duplicates exactly. You can have any order you want ...

The complexity should pay for big tables where INSERT is the rule and SELECT the exception. Else you might just INSERT .. ON CONFLICT DO NOTHING, followed by a SELECT for all rows - within the same transaction.

Either solution leaves a tiny window for a race condition if a concurrent transaction changes existing rows between INSERT and SELECT.

To close this window for good, use DO UPDATE on excluded rows, but add a condition to the update to not actually update any rows that don't need an update:

SET name = name WHERE FALSE  -- never executed, only locks rows

Because (the manual for Postgres 9.5):

Only rows for which this expression returns true will be updated, although all rows will be locked when the ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE action is taken. Note that condition is evaluated last, after a conflict has been identified as a candidate to update.

Bold emphasis mine.

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