Library for doing Postgres transactions in Javascript
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This is a Javascript library modeled heavily on the DBConnection interface in C#, and Go's database/sql library.

What are transactions? At a basic level, they let you update multiple records (or multiple tables) and guarantee that all of the updates succeed or all of them fail. They also ensure the rest of your application can't see the transaction's intermediate states - they can see all of the data (when the transaction is committed) or none of it. These are exceptionally valuable properties for guaranteeing the consistency of your data - properties that many NoSQL databases (like MongoDB) cannot provide.

The quintessential example is updating two bank records; say I want to decrement User A's balance by ten dollars and increment User B's balance by ten dollars. I really want those updates to both succeed or both fail, and I really want to make sure I can never read a partially applied balance transaction, otherwise I can end up with an inconsistent amount of money in the system!

We use them in several places at Shyp. When we assign a pickup to a driver, we want to update the pickup (so it can't be assigned to a different driver) and update the driver (so they can't be assigned other pickups). If one of those updates succeeded but not the other one, we'd end up in a state where the pickup didn't have a driver, or the driver was assigned, but didn't have a pickup to collect.


If you need to make a query, call:

DBConnection.get(config, function(err, conn) {
  conn.query('SELECT foo FROM bar', function(err, result) {

You'll need to release the connection yourself. It's not recommended, but it's safe to call conn.release() twice.

If you need a database transaction, call DBConnection.begin:

DBConnection.begin(config, function(err, txn) {
  txn.query('UPDATE ... ', function(err, result) {
    txn.rollback(); // or txn.commit()

The DBTransaction object that's returned has the same interface, but instead of releasing the connection, call rollback or commit, which will release the connection for you.

You should NOT continue to use the connection after calling release, commit, or rollback.

The DBTransaction object has three methods:

  • query, which has the same interface as client.query in the node-postgres library
  • commit, which commits the transaction. Note this is asynchronous and accepts a callback.
  • rollback, which aborts the transaction. Note this is asynchronous and accepts a callback.

Example usage:

DBConnection.begin(config, function(err, txn) {
  txn.query("UPDATE foo WHERE bar='baz'", function(err, result) {
    txn.query("UPDATE bankaccounts WHERE bar='baz'", function(err, result) {
      if (result.rowCount === 0) {
      } else {

Open transactions are extremely harmful to performance, and should be avoided. The caller should ensure all code paths are calling commit() or rollback(). Better yet, just use normal database queries for situations where it's not critical that two records are updated in sync.

A transaction will also be aborted in the event of a Postgres syntax error, constraint failure, or a connection error.


make install

The library comes with a stub Metrics interface. In our Shyp codebase, we publish metrics about our database connection usage to our metrics framework. You will probably want to edit the code here to do likewise, or remove the calls to Metrics in this library.

This is fairly dangerous code; you should certainly read through it and decide whether you understand how it behaves in various scenarios, and whether it's correct, before implementing in your own codebase.

Running the tests

make test

The tests depend on you having a Postgres server, and they'll attempt to connect using the default configuration (the database user is your current user, on localhost, with no password).


We'll accept pull requests for:

We're unlikely to accept pull requests for:

  • Making connections to other backing datastores; you should steal this interface and most of the code and release your own library!
  • Support for any particular ORM, if it would involve changing the interface presented here.
  • Grunt/Gulp/editorconfig/other JS lint or build tools.
  • Nested transactions or save points; if you need this behavior, you can do it by running txn.query('SAVEPOINT') or txn.query('ROLLBACK TO SAVEPOINT').


This library should be widely compatible with the node-postgres library; it depends on the pg.connect(config, (err, client, release) interface, and the client.query(sql, values, callback) interface. Tests run against the latest released version of node-postgres.