If a trigger event occurs, the trigger manager (called by the Executor)
sets up a TriggerData information structure (described below) and calls
the trigger function to handle the event.
The trigger function must be defined before the trigger itself can be
created. The trigger function must be declared as a
function taking no arguments and returning type trigger.
(The trigger function receives its input through a TriggerData
structure, not in the form of ordinary function arguments.)
If the function is written in C, it must use the "version 1"
function manager interface.
The syntax for creating triggers is:
CREATE TRIGGER trigger [ BEFORE | AFTER ] [ INSERT | DELETE | UPDATE [ OR ... ] ]
ON relation FOR EACH [ ROW | STATEMENT ]
EXECUTE PROCEDURE procedure
where the arguments are:
The trigger must have a name distinct from all other triggers on
the same table. The name is needed
if you ever have to delete the trigger.
Determines whether the function is called before or after
The next element of the command determines what event(s) will trigger
the function. Multiple events can be specified separated by OR.
The relation name indicates which table the event applies to.
The FOR EACH clause determines whether the trigger is fired for each
affected row or before (or after) the entire statement has completed.
Currently only the ROW case is supported.
The procedure name is the function to be called.
The arguments passed to the function in the TriggerData structure.
This is either empty or a list of one or more simple literal
constants (which will be passed to the function as strings).
The purpose of including arguments in the trigger definition
is to allow different
triggers with similar requirements to call the same function.
As an example, there could be a generalized trigger
function that takes as its arguments two field names and puts the
current user in one and the current time stamp in the other.
Properly written, this trigger function would be independent of
the specific table it is triggering on. So the same function
could be used for INSERT events on any table with suitable fields,
to automatically track creation of records in a transaction table for
example. It could also be used to track last-update events if
defined as an UPDATE trigger.
Trigger functions return a HeapTuple to the calling executor. The return
value is ignored for triggers fired AFTER an operation,
but it allows BEFORE triggers to:
Return a NULL pointer to skip the operation for the
current tuple (and so the tuple will not be
For INSERT and UPDATE triggers only, the returned tuple becomes the
tuple which will be inserted or will replace the tuple being updated.
This allows the trigger function to modify the row being inserted or
A BEFORE trigger that does not intend to cause either of these behaviors
must be careful to return the same NEW tuple it is passed.
Note that there is no initialization performed by the CREATE TRIGGER
handler. This may be changed in the future.
If more than one trigger is defined for the same event on the same
relation, the triggers will be fired in alphabetical order by
name. In the case of BEFORE triggers, the possibly-modified tuple
returned by each trigger becomes the input to the next trigger.
If any BEFORE trigger returns NULL, the operation is
abandoned and subsequent triggers are not fired.
If a trigger function executes SQL-queries (using SPI) then these queries
may fire triggers again. This is known as cascading triggers. There is no
direct limitation on the number of cascade levels. It is possible for
cascades to cause recursive invocation of the same trigger --- for
example, an INSERT trigger might execute a query that inserts an
additional tuple into the same table, causing the INSERT trigger to be
fired again. It is the trigger programmer's
responsibility to avoid infinite recursion in such scenarios.