For a new project I will be using PostgreSQL. I have more experience with MySQL at this point so I wanted to quickly learn about PostgreSQL and port over some of the skills I have.


Permissions are managed with “roles”. To see all roles, type \du. A Superuser is created that is the same as my login user. To see the privileges for all tables, run \l. Here is a list of privileges.

Working with Rails

For a Rails application, create a rails role and make it the owner:

createdb -O rails app_name_development

From a psql prompt, type \list to see all databases, and \c database to connect to a database by name. \dt will show all the tables.

If the rails user did not have create database privileges, there will be an error running rake in a rails project when the database is dropped. To add the permission to the rails user using psql:

alter role rails createdb

To verify this role as added run the following query. A role full list is here.

select rolcreatedb from pg_roles where rolname = 'rails';

Working with CSV data

Like Mysql, PostgreSQL supports working with data from CSV files. The following example uses a company_stuff database with a customers table. First we need to create the database, connect to it, and create the table.

create database company_stuff;
\c company_stuff;
create table customers 
    (id serial not null primary key, 
    email varchar(100), 
    full_name varchar(100)); 

Type \d customers to verify the table is set up correctly.

Now assuming we have the same CSV text file from the previous article when I covered how to work with CSV files using MySQL, we can load it into PostgreSQL using the copy command. This example specifies the column names, and note that the primary key column value is populated automatically.

% cat customers.txt,Bob Johnson,Jane Doe
copy customers(email, full_name) 
from '/tmp/customers.txt' 
delimiter ',' CSV;

Verify the contents of the customers table.

select * from customers;
 id |      email       |  full_name
  1 |  |  Bob Johnson
  2 | |  Jane Doe

Now we can insert a new record, then dump all the records out again as new CSV file.

copy customers(email, full_name) 
to '/tmp/more_customers.csv' 
with delimiter ',';

Verify the output of the CSV file:

~ $ cat /tmp/more_customers.csv, Bob Johnson, Jane Doe,andy

Running one-off queries

Running a query from the command line then combining it with grep or other command line tools is very useful. Here is quick search in the “customers” database for columns named something like “email”, using grep:

~ $ psql -U andy -d company_stuff -c "\d customers" | grep email
     email     | character varying(100) |

More Mysql to PostgreSQL articles