Extensions for PostgreSQL

In this chapter we discuss the extended support that doobie offers for users of PostgreSQL. To use these extensions you must add an additional dependency to your project:

libraryDependencies += "org.tpolecat" %% "doobie-postgres" % "0.9.0"

This library pulls in PostgreSQL JDBC Driver as a transitive dependency.

Setting Up

The following examples require a few imports.

import cats._
import cats.data._
import cats.effect._
import cats.implicits._
import doobie._
import doobie.implicits._
import doobie.util.ExecutionContexts

// We need a ContextShift[IO] before we can construct a Transactor[IO]. The passed ExecutionContext
// is where nonblocking operations will be executed. For testing here we're using a synchronous EC.
implicit val cs = IO.contextShift(ExecutionContexts.synchronous)

// A transactor that gets connections from java.sql.DriverManager and executes blocking operations
// on an our synchronous EC. See the chapter on connection handling for more info.
val xa = Transactor.fromDriverManager[IO](
  "org.postgresql.Driver",     // driver classname
  "jdbc:postgresql:world",     // connect URL (driver-specific)
  "postgres",                  // user
  "",                          // password
  Blocker.liftExecutionContext(ExecutionContexts.synchronous) // just for testing

doobie adds support for a large number of extended types that are not supported directly by JDBC. All mappings (except postgis) are provided in the pgtypes module.

import doobie.postgres._
import doobie.postgres.implicits._

Array Types

doobie supports single-dimensional arrays of the following types:

  • bit[] maps to Array[Boolean]
  • int4[] map to Array[Int]
  • int8[] maps to Array[Long]
  • float4[] maps to Array[Float]
  • float8[] maps to Array[Double]
  • varchar[], char[], text[], and bpchar[] all map to Array[String].
  • uuid[] maps to Array[UUID]

In addition to Array you can also map to List and Vector. Note that arrays of advanced types and structs are not supported by the driver; arrays of Byte are represented as bytea; and arrays of int2 are incorrectly mapped by the driver as Array[Int] rather than Array[Short] and are not supported in doobie.

See the previous chapter on SQL Arrays for usage examples.

Enum Types

doobie supports mapping PostgreSQL enum types to Scala enumerated types, with the slight complication that Scala doesn’t really support enumerated types as a first-class notion. We will examine three ways to construct mappings for the following PostgreSQL type:

create type myenum as enum ('foo', 'bar')

The first option is to map myenum to an instance of the execrable scala.Enumeration class via the pgEnum constructor.

object MyEnum extends Enumeration {
  val foo, bar = Value

implicit val MyEnumMeta = pgEnum(MyEnum, "myenum")
sql"select 'foo'::myenum".query[MyEnum.Value].unique.transact(xa).unsafeRunSync
// res0: MyEnum.Value = foo

It works, but Enumeration is terrible so it’s unlikely you will want to do this. A better option, perhaps surprisingly, is to map myenum to a Java enum via the pgJavaEnum constructor.

// This is Java code
public enum MyJavaEnum { foo, bar; }
implicit val MyJavaEnumMeta = pgJavaEnum[MyJavaEnum]("myenum")

And the final, most general construction simply requires evidence that your target type can be translated to and from String.

sealed trait FooBar

object FooBar {

  case object Foo extends FooBar
  case object Bar extends FooBar

  def toEnum(e: FooBar): String =
    e match {
      case Foo => "foo"
      case Bar => "bar"

  def fromEnum(s: String): Option[FooBar] =
    Option(s) collect {
      case "foo" => Foo
      case "bar" => Bar


implicit val FoobarMeta: Meta[FooBar] =
  pgEnumStringOpt("myenum", FooBar.fromEnum, FooBar.toEnum)
sql"select 'foo'::myenum".query[FooBar].unique.transact(xa).unsafeRunSync
// res1: FooBar = Foo

Geometric Types

The following geometric types are supported, and map to driver-supplied types.

  • the box schema type maps to org.postgresql.geometric.PGbox
  • the circle schema type maps to org.postgresql.geometric.PGcircle
  • the lseg schema type maps to org.postgresql.geometric.PGlseg
  • the path schema type maps to org.postgresql.geometric.PGpath
  • the point schema type maps to org.postgresql.geometric.PGpoint
  • the polygon schema type maps to org.postgresql.geometric.PGpolygon

It is expected that these will be mapped to application-specific types via xmap as described in Custom Mappings.

PostGIS Types

doobie provides mappings for the top-level PostGIS geometric types provided by the org.postgis driver extension.

Mappings for postgis are provided in the pgistypes module. Doobie expects postgis dependency to be provided, so if you use this module you should add postgis as a dependency.

libraryDependencies += "net.postgis" % "postgis-jdbc" % "2.3.0"
// Not provided via doobie.postgres.imports._; you must import them explicitly.
import doobie.postgres.pgisimplicits._
  • PGgeometry
  • PGbox2d
  • PGbox3d

In addition to the general types above, doobie provides mappings for the following abstract and concrete fine-grained types carried by PGgeometry:

  • Geometry
  • ComposedGeom
  • GeometryCollection
  • MultiLineString
  • MultiPolygon
  • PointComposedGeom
  • LineString
  • MultiPoint
  • Polygon
  • Point

Other Nonstandard Types

  • The uuid schema type is supported and maps to java.util.UUID.
  • The inet schema type is supported and maps to java.net.InetAddress.
  • The hstore schema type is supported and maps to both java.util.Map[String, String] and Scala Map[String, String].

Extended Error Handling

A complete table of SQLSTATE values is provided in the doobie.postgres.sqlstate module. Recovery combinators for each of these states (onUniqueViolation for example) are provided in doobie.postgres.syntax.

val p = sql"oops".query[String].unique // this won't work

Some of the recovery combinators demonstrated:

p.attempt.transact(xa).unsafeRunSync // attempt is provided by ApplicativeError instance
// res2: Either[Throwable, String] = Left(
//   org.postgresql.util.PSQLException: ERROR: syntax error at or near "oops"
//   Position: 1
// ) // attempt is provided by ApplicativeError instance

p.attemptSqlState.transact(xa).unsafeRunSync // this catches only SQL exceptions
// res3: Either[SqlState, String] = Left(SqlState("42601")) // this catches only SQL exceptions

p.attemptSomeSqlState { case SqlState("42601") => "caught!" } .transact(xa).unsafeRunSync // catch it
// res4: Either[String, String] = Left("caught!") // catch it

p.attemptSomeSqlState { case sqlstate.class42.SYNTAX_ERROR => "caught!" } .transact(xa).unsafeRunSync // same, w/constant
// res5: Either[String, String] = Left("caught!") // same, w/constant

p.exceptSomeSqlState { case sqlstate.class42.SYNTAX_ERROR => "caught!".pure[ConnectionIO] } .transact(xa).unsafeRunSync // recover
// res6: String = "caught!" // recover

p.onSyntaxError("caught!".pure[ConnectionIO]).transact(xa).unsafeRunSync // using recovery combinator
// res7: String = "caught!"

Server-Side Statements

PostgreSQL supports server-side caching of prepared statements after a certain number of executions, which can have desirable performance consequences for statements that only need to be planned once. Note that this caching happens only for PreparedStatement instances that are re-used within a single connection lifetime. doobie supports programmatic configuration of the prepare threshold:

  • For a given Connection you can set and query the prepare threshold with the ConnectionIO constructors doobie.postgres.hi.connection.pgSetPrepareThreshold and pgGetPrepareThreshold.
  • For a specific PreparedStatement you can set and query the prepare threshold with the PreparedStatementIO constructors doobie.postgres.hi.preparedstatement.pgSetPrepareThreshold and pgGetPrepareThreshold.

See the JDBC driver documentation for more information.


PostgreSQL provides a simple transactional message queue that can be used to notify a connection that something interesting has happened. Such notifications can be tied to database triggers, which provides a way to notify clients that data has changed. Which is cool.

doobie provides ConnectionIO constructors for SQL LISTEN, UNLISTEN, and NOTIFY in the doobie.postgres.hi.connection module. New notifications are retrieved (synchronously, sadly, that’s all the driver provides) via pgGetNotifications. Note that all of the “listening” operations apply to the current connection, which must therefore be long-running and typically off to the side from normal transactional operations. Further note that you must setAutoCommit(false) on this connection or commit between each call in order to retrieve messages. The examples project includes a program that demonstrates how to present a channel as a Stream[IO, PGNotification].

Large Objects

PostgreSQL provides a facility for storing very large objects (up to 4TB each) in a single uniform storage, identified by unique numeric ID and accessed via fast byte-block transfer. Note that “normal” large object columns types such as bytea and text can store values as large as 1GB each, so the large object API is rarely used. However there are cases where the size and/or efficiency of large objects justifies the use of this API.

doobie provides an algebra and free monads for the driver’s LargeObjectManager and LargeObject types in the doobie.postgres.free package. There is also [the beginnings of] a high-level API that includes constructors for creating large objects from files and vice-versa. The example project contains a brief usage example.

Please file an issue or ask questions on the Gitter channel if you need to use this API; it will evolve as use cases demand.

Copy Manager

The PostgreSQL JDBC driver’s CopyManager API provides a pass-through for the SQL COPY statement, allowing very fast data transfer via java.io streams. Here we construct a program that dumps a table to Console.out in CSV format, with quoted values.

val q = """
  copy country (name, code, population)
  to stdout (
    encoding 'utf-8',
    force_quote *,
    format csv

val prog: ConnectionIO[Long] =
  PHC.pgGetCopyAPI(PFCM.copyOut(q, Console.out)) // return value is the row count

See the links above and sample code in the examples/ project in the doobie GitHub repo for more information on this specialized API.

doobie also provides a specialized API for very fast batch inserts using upates of the form COPY ... FROM STDIN and a Text typeclass that defines how data types are encoded in Postgres text format (similar to Put; instances must be present for all fields in the data type to be inserted).

First a temp table for our experiment.

val create: ConnectionIO[Unit] =
      name       VARCHAR,
      vegetarian BOOLEAN,
      calories   INTEGER

And some values to insert. Text instances are provided for all the data types we are using here.

case class Food(name: String, isVegetarian: Boolean, caloriesPerServing: Int)

val foods = List(
  Food("banana", true, 110),
  Food("cheddar cheese", true, 113),
  Food("Big Mac", false, 1120)

Our insert statement must have the form COPY ... FROM STDIN, and we can insert any Foldable.

def insert[F[_]: Foldable](fa: F[Food]): ConnectionIO[Long] =
  sql"COPY food (name, vegetarian, calories) FROM STDIN".copyIn(fa)

We can run it thus, yielding the number of affected rows.

(create *> insert(foods)).transact(xa).unsafeRunSync
// res8: Long = 3L


doobie provides an algebra and free monad for constructing programs that use the FastPathAPI provided by the PostgreSQL JDBC driver, however this API is mostly deprecated in favor of server-side statements (see above). And in any case I can’t find an example of how you would use it from Java so I don’t have an example here. But if you’re using it let me know and we can figure it out.


The PostgreSQL server can provide an analysis of any query, using the EXPLAIN keyword. doobie can run EXPLAIN on any Query0 or Query object, as long as doobie.postgres._ and doobie.postgres.implicits._ have been imported. Using an example from earlier in the book:

sql"select name from country"
  .query[String]    // Query0[String]
// Seq Scan on country  (cost=0.00..7.39 rows=239 width=11)

Similary, explainAnalyze will analyze the query and run it, comparing the query planner’s estimates with real performance. Using the example above again:

sql"select name from country"
  .query[String]    // Query0[String]
// Seq Scan on country  (cost=0.00..7.39 rows=239 width=11) (actual time=0.012..1.799 rows=239 loops=1)
// Planning Time: 0.147 ms
// Execution Time: 4.005 ms

explain and explainAnalyze both return a ConnectinIO[List[String]] result, where each member of the list is one row of the query planner’s output.

The source code for this page can be found here.