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Postgres Triggers

Siddhant Kumar
Web Developer
Originally published at siddhant.codes Updated on ・3 min read

Today in this blog, I want to talk about Postgres triggers. I will also go through an example use case to learn how to use it.

The Scenario

I have an e-commerce app to sell books and I am implementing the cart functionality in the database. So, there is a carts table that stores unique cart entries per user and a books table. For cart items, we have another table, carts_books. The carts and carts_books are using a many-to-many relation. So, A cart can have many books, and a book can be used in many carts.

Whenever a row is inserted or updated in the carts_books table, I want to calculate the total price of the cart used. I also want to take the multiplier column of the carts_books table into account. This multiplier column is the quantity of a single book. That means I am allowing a customer to buy many copies of a book.

Let's use Postgres triggers to solve this problem. Before that, below is the list of columns of every table discussed so far.

The schema

                               Table "public.carts"
   Column    |           Type           | Collation | Nullable |      Default
------------------+--------------------------+-----------+----------+--------------------
 created_at  | timestamp with time zone |           | not null | now()
 updated_at  | timestamp with time zone |           | not null | now()
 archived_at | timestamp with time zone |           |          |
 amount      | numeric                  |           | not null |
 status      | text                     |           | not null | 'ENQUEUED'::text
 user_id     | text                     |           | not null |
 id          | uuid                     |           | not null | gen_random_uuid()


                                     Table "public.books"
   Column    |           Type           | Collation | Nullable |              Default
------------------+--------------------------+-----------+----------+-----------------------------------
 created_at  | timestamp with time zone |           | not null | now()
 updated_at  | timestamp with time zone |           | not null | now()
 archived_at | timestamp with time zone |           |          |
 name        | text                     |           | not null |
 price       | numeric                  |           | not null |
 user_id     | bigint                   |           | not null |
 id          | bigint                   |           | not null | nextval('books_id_seq'::regclass)
 description | text                     |           | not null |

              Table "public.carts_books"
   Column   |  Type   | Collation | Nullable | Default
-----------------+---------+-----------+----------+---------
 book_id    | bigint  |           | not null |
 multiplier | integer |           | not null |
 user_id    | text    |           | not null |
 cart_id    | uuid    |           | not null |
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The Solution

We want to run a procedure (also known as a function) after a row in the tablecarts_books is INSERTED or UPDATED.

For this let's create two Postgres triggers, one for UPDATE and the other for INSERT.

CREATE TRIGGER update_cart_price
  AFTER UPDATE ON public.carts_books
  FOR EACH ROW
  EXECUTE PROCEDURE public.update_cart_price ();

COMMENT ON TRIGGER update_cart_price ON public.carts_books IS 
'update the price of the related cart based on the updated cart item(s) in relation carts_books';

CREATE TRIGGER calculate_cart_price
  AFTER INSERT ON public.carts_books
  FOR EACH ROW
  EXECUTE PROCEDURE public.update_cart_price ();

COMMENT ON TRIGGER calculate_cart_price ON public.carts_books IS 
'update the price of the related cart based on the updated cart item(s) in relation carts_books';
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Above is the code that creates two Postgres triggers. Let's understand the syntax and what each clause used above means.

To create a Postgres trigger, we want to tell Postgres about the following things:

  1. Name of the trigger. In this case, I have used names, update_cart_price and
    calculate_cart_price.

  2. When you want the code to run? I want to know the values that are inserted,
    for this, I have to use the AFTER INSERT and the AFTER UPDATE clause.

  3. How do you want to run this trigger? There are two options, one is to run this trigger for each affected row. Another option is to run the trigger `per statement.

  4. What do you want to run? I have these triggers to run the procedure called update_cart_price().

You must create the function before using it in a function.
A function must return TRIGGER in order to be used in a trigger.

The function that I want to run on these triggers is defined as:

`sql

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION public.update_cart_price ()
RETURNS TRIGGER
AS $$
DECLARE
item record;
new_amount numeric := 0;
BEGIN
FOR item IN
SELECT
price,
multiplier
FROM
carts_books
JOIN books ON book_id = books.id
WHERE
cart_id = NEW.cart_id LOOP
new_amount := new_amount + (item.price * item.multiplier);
END LOOP;
UPDATE
carts
SET
amount = new_amount
WHERE
id = NEW.cart_id;
RETURN new;
END;
$$
LANGUAGE plpgsql;

`

This function selects the price and multiplier of all the books used inside the cart. It then updates the cart's amount column to reflect the updated amount.

The data of the changed row is made available through the new record.

Also, the function cannot use plain SQL language, you must use a procedural
language.

The Conclusion

Postgres triggers make it easy to execute small business logic on data changes.

Also, we do not need to care about the network latency that we would face if we execute the same logic in a different service (a nodejs app for example).

Good Reads

In addition to this post, I also recommend reading these to know more about Postgres
triggers.

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