Snowball Snowball - 2 months ago 12
JSON Question

Check if a Postgres JSON array contains a string

I have a table to store information about my rabbits. It looks like this:

create table rabbits (rabbit_id bigserial primary key, info json not null);
insert into rabbits (info) values
('{"name":"Henry", "food":["lettuce","carrots"]}'),
('{"name":"Herald","food":["carrots","zucchini"]}'),
('{"name":"Helen", "food":["lettuce","cheese"]}');


How should I find the rabbits who like carrots? I came up with this:

select info->>'name' from rabbits where exists (
select 1 from json_array_elements(info->'food') as food
where food::text = '"carrots"'
);


I don't like that query. It's a mess.

As a full-time rabbit-keeper, I don't have time to change my database schema. I just want to properly feed my rabbits. Is there a more readable way to do that query?

Answer

As of PostgreSQL 9.4, you can use the ? operator:

select info->>'name' from rabbits where (info->'food')::jsonb ? 'carrots';

You can even index the ? query on the "food" key if you switch to the jsonb type instead:

alter table rabbits alter info type jsonb using info::jsonb;
create index on rabbits using gin ((info->'food'));
select info->>'name' from rabbits where info->'food' ? 'carrots';

Of course, you probably don't have time for that as a full-time rabbit keeper.

Update: Here's a demonstration of the performance improvements on a table of 1,000,000 rabbits where each rabbit likes two foods and 10% of them like carrots:

d=# -- Postgres 9.3 solution
d=# explain analyze select info->>'name' from rabbits where exists (
d(# select 1 from json_array_elements(info->'food') as food
d(#   where food::text = '"carrots"'
d(# );
 Execution time: 3084.927 ms

d=# -- Postgres 9.4+ solution
d=# explain analyze select info->'name' from rabbits where (info->'food')::jsonb ? 'carrots';
 Execution time: 1255.501 ms

d=# alter table rabbits alter info type jsonb using info::jsonb;
d=# explain analyze select info->'name' from rabbits where info->'food' ? 'carrots';
 Execution time: 465.919 ms

d=# create index on rabbits using gin ((info->'food'));
d=# explain analyze select info->'name' from rabbits where info->'food' ? 'carrots';
 Execution time: 256.478 ms