postgresql Accessing PostgreSQL with the C-API


Example

The C-API is the most powerful way to access PostgreSQL and it is surprisingly comfortable.

Compilation and linking

During compilation, you have to add the PostgreSQL include directory, which can be found with pg_config --includedir, to the include path.
You must link with the PostgreSQL client shared library (libpq.so on UNIX, libpq.dll on Windows). This library is in the PostgreSQL library directory, which can be found with pg_config --libdir.

Note: For historical reason, the library is called libpq.soand not libpg.so, which is a popular trap for beginners.

Given that the below code sample is in file coltype.c, compilation and linking would be done with

gcc -Wall -I "$(pg_config --includedir)" -L "$(pg_config --libdir)" -o coltype coltype.c -lpq

with the GNU C compiler (consider adding -Wl,-rpath,"$(pg_config --libdir)" to add the library search path) or with

cl /MT /W4 /I <include directory> coltype.c <path to libpq.lib>

on Windows with Microsoft Visual C.

Sample program

/* necessary for all PostgreSQL client programs, should be first */
#include <libpq-fe.h>

#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>

#ifdef TRACE
#define TRACEFILE "trace.out"
#endif

int main(int argc, char **argv) {
#ifdef TRACE
    FILE *trc;
#endif
    PGconn *conn;
    PGresult *res;
    int rowcount, colcount, i, j, firstcol;
    /* parameter type should be guessed by PostgreSQL */
    const Oid paramTypes[1] = { 0 };
    /* parameter value */
    const char * const paramValues[1] = { "pg_database" };

    /*
     * Using an empty connectstring will use default values for everything.
     * If set, the environment variables PGHOST, PGDATABASE, PGPORT and
     * PGUSER will be used.
     */
    conn = PQconnectdb("");

    /*
     * This can only happen if there is not enough memory
     * to allocate the PGconn structure.
     */
    if (conn == NULL)
    {
        fprintf(stderr, "Out of memory connecting to PostgreSQL.\n");
        return 1;
    }

    /* check if the connection attempt worked */
    if (PQstatus(conn) != CONNECTION_OK)
    {
        fprintf(stderr, "%s\n", PQerrorMessage(conn));
        /*
         * Even if the connection failed, the PGconn structure has been
         * allocated and must be freed.
         */
        PQfinish(conn);
        return 1;
    }

#ifdef TRACE
    if (NULL == (trc = fopen(TRACEFILE, "w")))
    {
        fprintf(stderr, "Error opening trace file \"%s\"!\n", TRACEFILE);
        PQfinish(conn);
        return 1;
    }

    /* tracing for client-server communication */
    PQtrace(conn, trc);
#endif

    /* this program expects the database to return data in UTF-8 */
    PQsetClientEncoding(conn, "UTF8");

    /* perform a query with parameters */
    res = PQexecParams(
        conn,
        "SELECT column_name, data_type "
            "FROM information_schema.columns "
            "WHERE table_name = $1",
        1,            /* one parameter */
        paramTypes,        
        paramValues,
        NULL,        /* parameter lengths are not required for strings */
        NULL,        /* all parameters are in text format */
        0            /* result shall be in text format */
    );

    /* out of memory or sever communication broken */
    if (NULL == res)
    {
        fprintf(stderr, "%s\n", PQerrorMessage(conn));
        PQfinish(conn);
#ifdef TRACE
        fclose(trc);
#endif
        return 1;
    }

    /* SQL statement should return results */
    if (PGRES_TUPLES_OK != PQresultStatus(res))
    {
        fprintf(stderr, "%s\n", PQerrorMessage(conn));
        PQfinish(conn);
#ifdef TRACE
        fclose(trc);
#endif
        return 1;
    }

    /* get count of result rows and columns */
    rowcount = PQntuples(res);
    colcount = PQnfields(res);

    /* print column headings */
    firstcol = 1;

    printf("Description of the table \"pg_database\"\n");

    for (j=0; j<colcount; ++j)
    {
        if (firstcol)
            firstcol = 0;
        else
            printf(": ");

        printf(PQfname(res, j));
    }

    printf("\n\n");

    /* loop through rosult rows */
    for (i=0; i<rowcount; ++i)
    {
        /* print all column data */
        firstcol = 1;

        for (j=0; j<colcount; ++j)
        {
            if (firstcol)
                firstcol = 0;
            else
                printf(": ");

            printf(PQgetvalue(res, i, j));
        }

        printf("\n");
    }

    /* this must be done after every statement to avoid memory leaks */
    PQclear(res);
    /* close the database connection and release memory */
    PQfinish(conn);
#ifdef TRACE
    fclose(trc);
#endif
    return 0;
}