PostgreSQL / PostgREST proxy to Google Translate API, with caching and multiphrase support
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PostgreSQL/PostgREST proxy to Google, Bing and Prompt Translate APIs, with caching and ability to combine multiple text segments in one single request. It allows to work with those Translate APIs right from Postgres or via REST API requests.

Build Status

This tiny project consists of 2 parts:

  1. SQL objects to enable calling Translation APIs right from SQL environment (uses plsh extension)
  2. API method (uses PostgREST)

Part (1) can be used without part (2).

Table translation_proxy.cache is used to cache API responses to speedup work and reduce costs. Also, it is possible to combine multiple phrases in one API request, which provides great advantage (e.g.: for 10 uncached phrases, it will be ~150-200ms for single aggregated request versus 1.5-2 seconds for 10 consequent requests). Currently, Google Translate API accepts up to 128 text segments in a single request.

⚠️ Limitations

In general, working with external things (even pretty predictable and fast like Google API) might introduce significant limitations to capability to scale for your master. However, this project shows how powerful PostgreSQL is: you don't need to use PHP/Python/Java/Ruby to work with external JSON API.

To make it scalable, one could run PostgREST on multiple slave nodes to avoid this limitations. The ony thing is to think about – writing to cache table (TODO: check if it is possible to call master's writing functions from plpgsql code being executed on slave nodes).

To minimize impact on the master node, it is a good idea to combine multiple text segments in a single request (see examples below).

It is worth to mention, that due to use of plsh and curl, a separate process (curl) is invoked on each non-cached request. Alternative approach is discussed in the Issue #3.

Also, see related notes "Why This is a Bad Idea".


  1. cURL
  2. PostgREST – download the latest version. See circle.yml for example of starting/using it.
  3. plsh – PostgreSQL contrib module, it is NOT included to standard contribs package. To install it on Ubuntu/Debian run: apt-get install postgresql-X.X-plsh (where X.X could be 9.5, depending on your Postgres version). For Archlinux use AUR package 'postgresql-plsh'.
  4. Ruby for easy installer (optional)

Installation and Configuration

Simple method

Edit setup.yml then execute setup.rb. You need to have the ruby interpreter been installed.

Step-by-step method

For your database (here we assume that it's called DBNAME), install plsh extension and then execute _core SQL scripts, after what configure your database settings: translation_proxy.promt_api_key, translation_proxy.bing_api_key and translation_proxy.google_api_key (take it from Google Could Platform Console):

psql DBNAME -c 'create extension if not exists plsh;'
psql DBNAME -f install_core.sql
psql -c "alter database DBNAME set translation_proxy.google_api_key = 'YOUR_GOOGLE_API_KEY';"
psql -c "alter database DBNAME set translation_proxy.google_begin_at = '2000-01-01';"
psql -c "alter database DBNAME set translation_proxy.google_end_at = '2100-01-01';"

Alternatively, you can use ALTER ROLE ... SET translation_proxy.google_api_key = 'YOUR_GOOGLE_API_KEY'; or put this setting to postgresql.conf or do ALTER SYSTEM SET translation_proxy.google_api_key = 'YOUR_GOOGLE_API_KEY'; (in these cases, it will be available cluster-wide).

Parameters translation_proxy.google_begin_at and translation_proxy.google_end_at are responsible for the period of time, when Google Translate API is allowed to be called. If current time is beyond this timeframe, only the cache table will be used.

To enable REST API proxy, install PostgREST, launch it (see cirle.yml as an example), and initialize API methods with the additional SQL script:

psql DBNAME -f install_api.sql


psql DBNAME -f uninstall_api.sql
psql DBNAME -f uninstall_core.sql
psql DBNAME -c 'drop extension plsh;'


In SQL environment:

-- Translate from English to Russian
select translation_proxy.google_translate('en', 'ru', 'Hello world');

-- Combine multiple text segments in single query
select * from translation_proxy.google_translate('en', 'ru', array['ok computer', 'show me more','hello world!']);


curl -X POST -H "Content-Type: application/json" \
    -H "Cache-Control: no-cache" \
    -d '{"source": "en", "target": "ru", "q": "Hello world"}' \
curl -X POST -H "Content-Type: application/json" \
    -H "Cache-Control: no-cache" \
    -d '{"source": "en", "target": "ru", "q": ["ok computer", "hello world", "yet another phrase"]}' \