The COPY command in PostgreSQL has options to read from or write to the network connection used by libpq. The functions described in this section allow applications to take advantage of this capability by supplying or consuming copied data.
The overall process is that the application first issues the SQL
COPY command via
PQexec or one of the equivalent functions. The
response to this (if there is no error in the command) will be a
PGresult object bearing a status code
of PGRES_COPY_OUT or PGRES_COPY_IN (depending on the specified copy
direction). The application should then use the functions of this
section to receive or transmit data rows. When the data transfer is
complete, another PGresult object is
returned to indicate success or failure of the transfer. Its status
will be PGRES_COMMAND_OK for success or
PGRES_FATAL_ERROR if some problem was
encountered. At this point further SQL commands can be issued via
PQexec. (It is not possible to
execute other SQL commands using the same connection while the
COPY operation is in progress.)
If a COPY command is issued via
PQexec in a string that could contain
additional commands, the application must continue fetching results
PQgetResult after completing the
COPY sequence. Only when
PQgetResult returns NULL
is it certain that the
string is done and it is safe to issue more commands.
The functions of this section should be executed only after
obtaining a result status of PGRES_COPY_OUT or PGRES_COPY_IN from
A PGresult object bearing one of these status values carries some additional data about the COPY operation that is starting. This additional data is available using functions that are also used in connection with query results:
Returns the number of columns (fields) to be copied.
0 indicates the overall copy format is textual (rows separated by newlines, columns separated by separator characters, etc). 1 indicates the overall copy format is binary. See COPY for more information.
Returns the format code (0 for text, 1 for binary) associated with each column of the copy operation. The per-column format codes will always be zero when the overall copy format is textual, but the binary format can support both text and binary columns. (However, as of the current implementation of COPY, only binary columns appear in a binary copy; so the per-column formats always match the overall format at present.)
Note: These additional data values are only available when using protocol 3.0. When using protocol 2.0, all these functions will return 0.
These functions are used to send data during COPY FROM STDIN. They will fail if called when the connection is not in COPY_IN state.
Sends data to the server during COPY_IN state.
int PQputCopyData(PGconn *conn, const char *buffer, int nbytes);
Transmits the COPY data in the
specified buffer, of length nbytes, to the server. The result is 1 if the data
was sent, zero if it was not sent because the attempt would block
(this case is only possible if the connection is in nonblocking
mode), or -1 if an error occurred. (Use
PQerrorMessage to retrieve details if the return
value is -1. If the value is zero, wait for write-ready and try
The application can divide the COPY data stream into buffer loads of any convenient size. Buffer-load boundaries have no semantic significance when sending. The contents of the data stream must match the data format expected by the COPY command; see COPY for details.
Sends end-of-data indication to the server during COPY_IN state.
int PQputCopyEnd(PGconn *conn, const char *errormsg);
Ends the COPY_IN operation successfully if errormsg is NULL. If errormsg is not NULL then the COPY is forced to fail, with the string pointed to by errormsg used as the error message. (One should not assume that this exact error message will come back from the server, however, as the server might have already failed the COPY for its own reasons. Also note that the option to force failure does not work when using pre-3.0-protocol connections.)
The result is 1 if the termination data was sent, zero if it was
not sent because the attempt would block (this case is only
possible if the connection is in nonblocking mode), or -1 if an
error occurred. (Use
to retrieve details if the return value is -1. If the value is
zero, wait for write-ready and try again.)
After successfully calling
PQgetResult to obtain the final result status of
the COPY command. One can wait for this
result to be available in the usual way. Then return to normal
These functions are used to receive data during COPY TO STDOUT. They will fail if called when the connection is not in COPY_OUT state.
Receives data from the server during COPY_OUT state.
int PQgetCopyData(PGconn *conn, char **buffer, int async);
Attempts to obtain another row of data from the server during a
COPY. Data is always returned one data row
at a time; if only a partial row is available, it is not returned.
Successful return of a data row involves allocating a chunk of
memory to hold the data. The buffer
parameter must be non-NULL. *buffer is set to point to the allocated memory,
or to NULL in cases where no buffer is
returned. A non-NULL result buffer should
be freed using
PQfreemem when no
When a row is successfully returned, the return value is the
number of data bytes in the row (this will always be greater than
zero). The returned string is always null-terminated, though this
is probably only useful for textual COPY.
A result of zero indicates that the COPY
is still in progress, but no row is yet available (this is only
possible when async is true). A result
of -1 indicates that the COPY is done. A
result of -2 indicates that an error occurred (consult
PQerrorMessage for the reason).
When async is true (not zero),
PQgetCopyData will not block waiting
for input; it will return zero if the COPY
is still in progress but no complete row is available. (In this
case wait for read-ready and then call
PQconsumeInput before calling
PQgetCopyData again.) When async is false (zero),
PQgetCopyData will block until data is available
or the operation completes.
PQgetCopyData returns -1,
PQgetResult to obtain the final
result status of the COPY command. One can
wait for this result to be available in the usual way. Then return
to normal operation.
These functions represent older methods of handling COPY. Although they still work, they are deprecated due to poor error handling, inconvenient methods of detecting end-of-data, and lack of support for binary or nonblocking transfers.
Reads a newline-terminated line of characters (transmitted by the server) into a buffer string of size length.
int PQgetline(PGconn *conn, char *buffer, int length);
This function copies up to length-1
characters into the buffer and converts the terminating newline
into a zero byte.
EOF at the end of input, 0 if the entire
line has been read, and 1 if the buffer is full but the terminating
newline has not yet been read.
Note that the application must check to see if a new line consists of the two characters \., which indicates that the server has finished sending the results of the COPY command. If the application might receive lines that are more than length-1 characters long, care is needed to be sure it recognizes the \. line correctly (and does not, for example, mistake the end of a long data line for a terminator line).
Reads a row of COPY data (transmitted by the server) into a buffer without blocking.
int PQgetlineAsync(PGconn *conn, char *buffer, int bufsize);
This function is similar to
PQgetline, but it can be used by applications
that must read COPY data asynchronously,
that is, without blocking. Having issued the COPY command and gotten a PGRES_COPY_OUT response, the application should call
PQgetlineAsync until the end-of-data signal is
PQgetline, this function
takes responsibility for detecting end-of-data.
On each call,
return data if a complete data row is available in libpq's input buffer. Otherwise, no data is
returned until the rest of the row arrives. The function returns -1
if the end-of-copy-data marker has been recognized, or 0 if no data
is available, or a positive number giving the number of bytes of
data returned. If -1 is returned, the caller must next call
PQendcopy, and then return to normal
The data returned will not extend beyond a data-row boundary. If possible a whole row will be returned at one time. But if the buffer offered by the caller is too small to hold a row sent by the server, then a partial data row will be returned. With textual data this can be detected by testing whether the last returned byte is \n or not. (In a binary COPY, actual parsing of the COPY data format will be needed to make the equivalent determination.) The returned string is not null-terminated. (If you want to add a terminating null, be sure to pass a bufsize one smaller than the room actually available.)
Sends a null-terminated string to the server. Returns 0 if OK and EOF if unable to send the string.
int PQputline(PGconn *conn, const char *string);
The COPY data stream sent by a series
of calls to
PQputline has the same
format as that returned by
PQgetlineAsync, except that applications are not
obliged to send exactly one data row per
PQputline call; it is okay to send a partial line
or multiple lines per call.
Note: Before PostgreSQL protocol 3.0, it was necessary for the application to explicitly send the two characters \. as a final line to indicate to the server that it had finished sending COPY data. While this still works, it is deprecated and the special meaning of \. can be expected to be removed in a future release. It is sufficient to call
PQendcopyafter having sent the actual data.
Sends a non-null-terminated string to the server. Returns 0 if OK and EOF if unable to send the string.
int PQputnbytes(PGconn *conn, const char *buffer, int nbytes);
This is exactly like
except that the data buffer need not be null-terminated since the
number of bytes to send is specified directly. Use this procedure
when sending binary data.
Synchronizes with the server.
int PQendcopy(PGconn *conn);
This function waits until the server has finished the copying.
It should either be issued when the last string has been sent to
the server using
PQputline or when
the last string has been received from the server using
PGgetline. It must be issued or the
server will get "out of sync" with the
client. Upon return from this function, the server is ready to
receive the next SQL command. The return value is 0 on successful
completion, nonzero otherwise. (Use
PQerrorMessage to retrieve details if the return
value is nonzero.)
application should respond to a PGRES_COPY_OUT result by executing
PQgetline repeatedly, followed by
PQendcopy after the terminator line is seen. It
should then return to the
PQgetResult returns a null
pointer. Similarly a PGRES_COPY_IN result
is processed by a series of
calls followed by
return to the
PQgetResult loop. This
arrangement will ensure that a COPY
command embedded in a series of SQL commands will be executed correctly.
Older applications are likely to submit a COPY via
assume that the transaction is done after
PQendcopy. This will work correctly only if the
COPY is the only SQL command in the command string.